Thursday, April 28, 2016

Author Interview with Pat Simmons

LaToya: Hi Pat, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Pat: I’m multi-published with 30 Christian titles. I’m a two-time recipient of the Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance and have been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.

As a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth, I’m passionate about researching my ancestors and then casting them in starring roles in my novels. As a Christian, I describe the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. God is the Author who advances my stories.

Currently, I oversee the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions. I hold a bachelor’s of science in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Here’s the fun part about me. I’ve converted my sofa-strapped, sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. We have a son and a daughter.

LaToya: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Pat: I want each book to be better than the last.

LaToya: Which writers inspire you?
Pat: For fiction, Brenda Jackson and Beverly Jenkins. These two women have worked hard to reach the success they have today. I’m proud to personally know them. Non-fiction, Isabel Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize.

LaToya: What are you working on at the minute?
Pat: JET The Back Story to Love Led By the Spirit. It’s an emotional short story.

LaToya: What genre are your books and why?
Pat: Christian romance, because Christ inspires me in this genre.

LaToya: In 10 words or less can you create a quote that describes you and your writing?
Pat:  Inspiring stories about redemption, love, hope and happy endings

LaToya: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Pat: I would like to see some fresh African American faces. There are so many talented actors/actresses that only need a break.

LaToya: When did you decide to become a writer?
Pat: Two answers. I gave it some thought when I worked in radio as talk host. I had the opportunity to interview some great authors like Brenda Jackson, Travis Hunter and the late Francis Ray. I also wanted to read romance stories that were about romance and not the sex. Since those stories were hard to find, I decided to write them myself, and I learned I wasn’t the only one looking for authentic Christian romance.

LaToya: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Pat: Full-time

LaToya: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Pat: I prefer to write in the morning and start by ten o’clock. Before I do anything else, I read and study my Bible, then I eat or go for a short walk with my husband. I try to answer emails and post an inspiration quote on FB. Once I’m writing, I try to stay off social media and not answer emails until I’ve finished a chapter or scene.

LaToya: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Pat: I’m a scene-by-scene writer. Sometimes, that could be five pages or two chapters. It depends on how draining the scene.

LaToya: Where do your ideas come from?
Pat: People, the news, conversations, anywhere

LaToya: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Pat: Because I have multiple releases throughout the year, I leaned on outlines more. I usually follow the outline until about chapter seven. By then, usually the story takes over.

LaToya: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Pat: I’ve learned the craft through content, copy, and line editors through my publishers and free-lance. Plus, proofreaders.

LaToya: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Pat: When the scenes and dialogues are flowing, but I can’t get to my laptop, either because I’m trying to sleep (for real), or I’m doing other things.

LaToya: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Pat: EVERY WOMAN NEEDS A PRAYING MAN was six weeks late because of my lazy writing. I had skipped crucial scenes in the story and didn’t realize it until my editor pointed it out. I can’t believe I have the couple getting married without officially going on a date. I rectified that!

LaToya: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Pat: Knowing I can inspire a reader’s relationship with the Lord and give readers a happy ending no matter how complex the story line.

LaToya: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Pat: It depends on the deadline set by the publisher or me. Usually 3-4 months for a novel. Two months for a novella.

LaToya: Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Pat: Honest answer: wherever God leads me. That could mean I’m still writing, or He has touched me to do something different.

LaToya: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Pat: Don’t quit your day job, because it takes money to invest in yourself to be successful.

LaToya: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Pat: My second-great grandmother Charlotte Jamison Wilkerson. She was born into slavery, but died a free woman living in the background of a former slaveholder. I would love to hear her story.

LaToya: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Pat: I never thought about it.

LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Pat: read other authors’ work and learn from great and bad writing; attend workshops/conferences; and don’t release anything without professional editing. I have more writer tips on my website.

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