Author Interview: Patricia Yager Delagrange
Hi, Patricia. Thank you for allowing me to interview you. I am honored and pleased to have you here on my blog.
Would you take a moment and introduce yourself to us?
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically the small city (80,000) of Alameda, where Moon Over Alcatraz takes place. I attended St. Mary’s College my first two years, studied at the University of Madrid, then graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Spanish. I went on to get my Master’s degree in Education from Oregon State University.
How long have you been writing?
My story is this: my daughter came home from school one day in 2009 and told me her friend asked her why her mommy didn’t have a job. I had been an at-home mom since the birth of my son in 1994. This question shook me up a bit and I thought to myself, “Yeah, I have more time now. Why don’t I do something else?” So, I went to the Apple Store, bought a MacBook, and said, “I’m going to write a book.” So I did.
Would you mind telling us a little more about your book, Moon Over Alcatraz?
The loss of a child is quite difficult to bear. Not that many would cover the subject. How did you come up with the idea for the story?
Every time I’d see an Amber Alert, I’d feel sick to my stomach. Every time I’d watch another news release about someone shooting random kids at a school, I’d want to throw up. I’ve always been obsessively fascinated about how parents can go through something like that. That idea segued into how parents deal with the death of a newborn baby.
Do you have a favorite character from the book itself?
My favorite character is Brandy because she’s a strong woman who has to deal with the death of her baby, her husband’s depression, her own depression, her fight to find balance in her life, her infidelity, her husband’s infidelity, a fetal DNA test, birthing classes, new love, a loved one in a coma. Those are a lot of hurdles in a person’s life path. And Brandy gets through it because she knows she has to. And she knows deep-down that she can.
From the small excerpt I read of your book, Brandy’s faith seems to be wavering because of what she’s gone through. Were you aware that some may consider that your story has a sort of Christian faith undertones in it?
I have to say, I’ve never been asked that about Moon Over Alcatraz, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic grammar and high schools, joined the Way – a Christian bible-study group, then became an agnostic.
There are several instances in Moon Over Alcatraz when Brandy talks about how her “faith” has changed. She now believes in kharma, what goes around comes around, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. She still holds a belief that there is a “force” out there where goodness flows in and out to all people. Her belief in the typical God figure she learned about in her younger Catholic years has metamorphosed into something different; but she’s not an atheist.
What sort of research did you do for the book itself?
The research for this book was all internal. Trying to put down in words the emotions I was feeling for Brandy and her husband after they lost their child was difficult. When you hear the expression, “One can only imagine”, that’s what I had to do – put myself in their places and dig as deeply as I could to bring up just exactly how I would react if my baby died at birth.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell my readers about?
I just finished writing my fourth novel Brenda’s Wish. It’s about a divorced mother of a 17-year-old son whose ex-husband, who’s a cop, is murdered. It takes place in San Francisco, one of my favorite venues, and involves Brenda and her son’s tangled and upset lives, when they both are held suspect for the crime. It does have a happy ending, though.
Do you have some sort of ritual you go through when preparing to write or do you just dive in when inspiration takes you?
My fourth book was the first one for which I wrote an synopsis and chapter outlines and followed them. I’m a pantser and don’t like to hold completely to any outline for a book. I let my imagination wander and add and subtract ideas while I’m writing. The synopsis surrounds my writing like a glove and I write within that boundary.
What’s your favorite book and why?
I don’t have a favorite but I do have favorite(s). Nineteen Minutes, The Horse Whisperer, The Cedar Cover Series, and The Notebook come to mind. I love anything by Nicholas Sparks, Richard Paul Evans, Debbie Macomber, and Jodi Picoult.
Have you written anything for different genres besides this one?
Of my four books, three are women’ fiction and Taken Away is from a male veterinarian’s point of view. Do they call that “men’s fiction”? I doubt it.
Do you have any recommendations for books that you think the blog’s readers may enjoy?
You know, most books I read, if not all of them, have some sort of romance going on but they aren’t strictly “romance”. Right now I’m reading Barbara Freethy’s book Daniel’s Gift. It’s the second book I’ve read that she’s written and I am hooked – all the way! There IS romance but it’s not just about that. I call it women’s fiction because the central female character has some really heavy-duty obstacles to overcome.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time I ride my Friesian horse, Maximus (and I read books). I learned to ride (am still learning to ride) about 8 years ago and I am in love with my big black horse. It’s one of THE most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s harder, for me, than writing. When you’re on top of a 1.425-pound horse that feels like a small locomotive, everything fades into the background except you and him. You can’t think of anything but “the riding” and so it’s a real stress-buster. You learn to concentrate 100 percent.
Plotter or pantser?
Do you have any tips, or thoughts, that you would like to offer to the blog’s readers?
If you’re a writer, DO NOT EVER GIVE UP. I started late in life with this writing thing and I refused (and still refuse) to back down, stop writing, or cry over rejection letters.
If you’re a reader, try reading new authors. That’s what I started doing. There are many, many awesome writers who are not and never will be on the New York Times Best Seller List. But they SHOULD be.
Thank you so much for such a lovely interview, Patricia. I wish you the very best with your future works and am looking forward to what’s to come.
Following the death of their baby during a difficult birth, Brandy and Weston Chambers are grief-stricken and withdraw from each other, both seeking solace outside of their marriage; however, they vow to work through their painful disloyalty. But when the man Brandy slept with moves back to their hometown, three lives are forever changed by his return.
About The Author:
Fascinated by broken-hearted couples and atypical families, Patricia weaves engaging tales of men and women who create cohesive families where love reigns supreme. She sprinkles her books with intriguing characters who struggle to find balance in life after tragedy. Whether an unwed teenager, desperate widow, abandoned father, or a couple who stray from their marital vows, her characters form relationships impacted by their desire to create a family.
Aside from writing, her favorite things to do include riding her Friesian horse, Maximus, dot-to-dot for adults, and watching Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington movies. She spends a majority of her days writing while her two very large Chocolate Labs lounge on the couch cuddled next to her and her MacBook.
She writes a blog every Wednesday, so if you’re interested, sign up to be on the mailing list and she’ll notify you after she posts her blog on this website. Or just drop by Wednesday mornings and leave a comment.
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