Today, I’m pleased to be joined by my fellow 2017 Debut Author, Patricia Bailey, whose book, The Tragically True Adventures Of Kit Donovan, is scheduled to come out April 25 from Albert Whitman & Company
Hi, Patricia and thanks for joining us today!
JR: Before we begin, can you tell us a little bit about The Tragically True Adventures Of Kit Donovan and the impetus behind writing it?
PB: A road trip and a conversation with a old dude at a road-side rock/junk/antique shop on the side of the highway pretty much set the whole thing in motion. My husband and I stopped to stretch our legs at the edge of a small town called Goldfield, Nevada, and I struck up a conversation with the guy who owned the shop. He tried to convince me A) that the old wheel chair I was looking at belonged to famed old west lawman Virgil Earp, and B) that the practically deserted run-down town I was in was once a full-on boom town and the happenist spot east of San Francisco. Once we hit Las Vegas and had internet access again I discovered he was telling the truth on both counts. And, of course, my imagination just took off from there.
(Love the cover!)
JR: I saw on your website, www.patriciabaileyauthor.com, that you like exploring forgotten places. That sounds really cool. Can you give us some examples?
PB: I’m a sucker for those little markers you see next to ditches when you’re driving down the road. The ones that say “The Battle of Pistol River” or “Oldest tree is Grant County” and give you a little blurb. I stop, get out, walk around – then try to find someone or somewhere that can tell me more. I’ve been known to drive forty minutes down rutted forest service roads because something over there looks old and kind of cool or because there used to a logging site around here somewhere. I once found and filed an opal claim because someone said they heard a story that there was some fire opal up on one of these hills. Give me the slightest hint that something historical happened somewhere, and I’ll go looking. And if I can’t find any hard proof, that’s okay, I’ll just make it up in my head – as any good writer would.
(I do the same. Will stop abruptly for history!)
JR: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing journey getting to this point?
PB: I worked on this book for a good five years – and once I finally came to the conclusion that I didn’t know enough to do anything more with it, I signed up for an agent critique at the Oregon SCBWI conference. There I met the awesome Kerry Sparks, who loved the story, requested a full, and called me like a week later. And because I’m a go-with-my-gut kind of gal, I signed with her, and totally skipped the query, rejection cycle. I did get a taste of that when we submitted to publishers, though. But then Kerry met an editor from Albert Whitman & Company at a conference and sent her the manuscript. She loved it and made an offer and a deal was made.
JR: What’s your writing process like?
PB: Man, I wish I knew. I bounce back and forth between plotter and panster, and between writing everyday like clockwork and procrastinating like it’s my job. Mostly, I take a lot of walks, make a lot of notes on index cards and sticky notes, write a solid beginning, flounder, rewrite the beginning, flounder some more, and finally push through to the end. Then I revise. And revise again. And again. Until I don’t know anything anymore. Then I start something new.
JR: What’s your favorite book and who’s your favorite author?
PB: Only one? I’ll go historical and say True Grit. It’s got a great voice and Mattie Ross is kind of a fun mix of awesome and annoying. My favorite author is tougher. Currently, I’ll have to say Kate DiCamillo for middle grade. If I ever manage to write anything with half of that much heart, I’ll feel complete as a human.
(Love the movie)
JR: What’s your favorite movie?
PB: The Big Lebowski.
(One of my favorite movies of all time also!)
JR: Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
PB: Aside from the fact that The Big Lebowski is my favorite movie? I have a black belt in aikido.
JR: Do you do a lot of research when you write?
PB: I did a ton of research for The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan. I hung out in Goldfield a few times wandering around, taking pictures, and getting a feel for the place. I visited the Central Nevada Museum and spent time in their library. And I picked up a ton of books about Goldfield online and from the museum bookstore. I’m kind of a museum junkie – and I love a museum book store. But I even do research for contemporary stories. It’s important to me to get the setting right – both the feel of the actual place and a real sense of the people who live there. So much of who we are is formed by where we are living. I like to delve into that. Plus, I like to get the little details right. What kinds of trees grow here? What’s the light like at 5:00 pm in October? Do people say Coke or pop or soda? These things matter.
JR: Here at the Tuesdays, a big part of our success and the purpose of this site, has been being involved in a critique group. Are you involved in one and if so, how has it helped you?
PB: Oh, I love my critique group and it’s only because of them that this book is being published at all. My group is online, and I haven’t met any of them in person, which is a little strange when I think of it because I feel so close to them. They provide great insight on every piece I write. They catch mistakes and offer suggestions when I’m feeling stuck. And they provide support – which is invaluable in this whole writing for publication business.
JR: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and is there any advice you can give to writers looking to break in?
PB: Write the story you want to write – and worry about publication later. I think that advice is good at every stage of the game. My advice would be just keep stepping out there. Do the scary things – write, go to conferences, send your work out, send your work out again, start something new, repeat. And find someone you trust to remind you how great you are when your confidence falters.
JR: What are you working on next?
PB: A middle grade contemporary novel set in the Pacific Northwest and a historical middle grade set near the town where I grew up.
JR: Is there anything that else you want to share with our readers or perhaps tell them how they can follow you on social media?
PB: Keep at it. And remember that the story really is the most important thing.
If you want to connect, I’d love to hear from you. You can find me at:
Or on social media at:
JR: Before we go, I always like to ask, who’s your favorite member of The Tuesdays? It could be anybody, let’s say me, for example . . . or it could be someone like Faran, who, as everyone knows, spent this weekend setting up bear traps for the Easter Bunny in his yard.
PB: I’m going to have to say Faran Fagen – because I have a secret love of sports novels and in middle school I had to write an explanation for every event mentioned in “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” A side effect of that assignment is that the song plays in my head more often than I’d care to admit. I think Faran will be able to relate to this.
JR: Sigh . . . fine. I guess maiming holiday icons is now considered an acceptable form of entertainment. Anyway, thanks again for joining us, and best of luck with The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan!