Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Meet Patti Lacy, Author of What the Bayou Saw

List your published books.
An Irishwoman’s Tale. What the Bayou Saw.

Which book did you find the hardest to birth?
Definitely An Irishwoman’s Tale. Poor Mary, the Irishwoman, had to endure at least twenty rewrites.

Which book is your current favorite?
Goodness, Tia. That’s like asking a mom to pick her favorite kid. An Irishwoman’s Tale captures the forgiving, brave character of my best friend. What the Bayou Saw takes me back to the Southern roots that I love…and hate.

How would you describe your writing style?
I try to explore music pertinent to the text within my book. I wove Irish folk song lyrics into An Irishwoman’s Tale and tried to capture the mystical minor key of the Irish whistle and flute, the squawk of the cliff birds, the exhale of the wind. Perhaps a touch of that lyricism reaches the words.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
Definitely! Billie Holiday and Odetta and The Eagles and B.B. King got me through What the Bayou Saw. Each manuscript demands its own type of music. For My Name is Sheba, set in Jazz-era New Orleans, it was blues and New Orleans jazz and the classical songs that my protagonist, Sheba, yearned to play on the piano.

Tell us anything about you as a writer that you think might be interesting or unusual.
Since running clears my brain of extraneous material and lets plots surface, I carry a cell phone along on my jog to call myself and leave detailed messages of writing ideas. I also LOVE doing research and don’t hesitate to call Normal police, sewage pipe fitters, DNA labs, and get right to the heart of the matter. In fact during the drafting of My Name is Sheba, I met a “computer geek” at a faculty party I attended with my husband and discovered that a novelist lurked inside that nice man. This geek just happened to be a Thai native who helped me craft the perfect ending (I think!) for my third baby. Thanks, Winn!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write, read, write, read…constantly! Keep notepads by your bed, in your car. Live the lives of your characters. And whatever you do, write for the Audience of One, or you will never be satisfied with all the “junk” that goes on in the money side of the business. Write your stories as a gift to lay at the foot of the Throne. And that will be enough, dear writer friend. That will be enough. (P.S.: It helps to find soulmates who share this view with you. Accept their manna as often as you need it! And you will need it.)

Writers are often encouraged to write what they know. Have you found that to be the case with your writing? For my first book, that was true as I wrote about my encounter with the Irishwoman Mary and our quest to find out the truth about her past. Of course we had to travel to the rocky cliffs of County Clare to see the place first-hand and to meet those neighbors. The setting for What the Bayou Saw was my own back yard in Monroe, Louisiana, but the image that inspired the story was gifted by a woman from Mobile, Alabama. However, I lived in the South for most of my pre-college life and got a few glimpses of what it’s like down there.

Segregation and a chain link fence separated twelve-year-old Sally Flowers from her best friend, Ella Ward. Yet a brutal assault bound them together. Forever. Thirty-eight years later, Sally, a middle-aged Midwestern instructor, dredges up childhood secrets long buried beneath the waters of a Louisiana bayou in order to help her student, who has also been raped. Fragments of spirituals, gospel songs, and images of a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans are woven into the story.

Visit Patti on line at www.pattilacy.com.
View the full blog tour schedule at


Renee Williams said...

Another great interview! I wish you success in all that you do.

Patti Lacy said...

Thanks, Tia and Renee! It's been a fun tour so far...

Ty said...

Hey Tia,
Thanks for hosting Patti on your blog today. Much appreciation.
- Ty