Interview with Patricia Iles

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I can't say I remember the first story I ever wrote; I've been writing since I was a child. Poetry, short stories, essays, the only time I wasn't writing is when I was reading.
What is your writing process?
I am a complete pantser. For me, writing is a lot like playing Barbies when I was a child. I have my characters, I put them in a situation and I imagine what those people would do and say.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
While I do not remember a specific first story, I do remember the impact that stories had on me and always have. They take me places I might never get to go otherwise. I get to meet people, often people who remind me of someone I know in real life. If it is a wonderful story that touches something in me, I may reread it (maybe many times) and visit that place again!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That is a very difficult question. The thing I love about all my favorite books is always the characters. When I can feel like I would recognize that character if I were to bump into them in the grocery store, I'm hooked.

I loved "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee for how accessible the characters felt. The relationship between Scout and Jem reminded me of my older brother and me. I think it was the first book I read that enflamed my outrage at injustice.

"Clan of the Cave Bear" by Jean Auel was one book I started to read after dinner, and the next thing I knew, the sun was rising. The very premise is so captivating, it makes your mind reel. And yet, the characters are so like people that we all know, the book feels almost like a grandmother's story. I will confess, however, that Ms. Auel does get pretty deep into descriptions of the scene and I tend to skip paragraphs until we get back to the people. (Sorry, Ms. Auel!)

"Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry (along with the other three books in that series) is one I could read every year for the rest of my life and never grow weary of it. The characters are wonderful, the setting is sweeping, and his themes touch on all of life's most important lessons.

"The Good Earth" by Pearl Buck is another wonderful story that I have re-read many times. Wang Lung and his wife O-Lan such swings of the pendulum of good luck vs. bad, it is breathtaking. And through it all, you are reminded that human folly is human folly, no matter where you find it on the globe.

I was about 10 when I first read "The Hollow Hills" by Mary Stewart and it remains a favorite. Yes, it is a different retelling of the King Arthur story. She does a magnificent job with it.

Another favorite is the classic "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". If you haven't read this American classic, you are missing out. Truly! Francie Nolan is the central figure of this coming of age story and every character in it rings true in the deepest part of my soul. A complete and total MUST READ.

My favorite books are all over the map, all over the ages and all over the genres. Every one of them tells me something true, something I can relate to, something I can learn from and always, always, something I can laugh about.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read EVERYTHING! From the cereal box in the morning, to reading the FAQs on whatever internet site I might be looking at, I read it all. My favorite genre is generally historical fiction, but I've been reading Michael Pollan's books lately (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food and so on) and have been enjoying those very much. Next on my reading list is a book by Janet Evanovich.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I've only ever owned an android tablet until a couple of weeks ago, so I don't really have a dog in this fight. How can you choose among options you have never sampled?
Describe your desk
My desk at work ranges from revolting chaos to neat and orderly, depending on where in the financial cycle we are. My writing space at home is usually my own lap or sometimes my kitchen table: overlooking the lake and bathed in the cool light of the Montana forest.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book was inspired by the single women who banded together to form wagon trains and traveled to the western territories. The Mercer Girls is a famous example of that, but it happened many times. I am intrigued by how often people can marry for reasons that have nothing to do with love, and love can grow into something strong, solid and everlasting. I am intrigued by people who are willing to cast caution to the wind and will take a chance like the one those women took.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had a story to tell! My first book, "A Gathering of Light" was finished and I wanted to get it out there, but I wanted control of it. Indie publishing was coming into its own at the time, and it was an exciting new frontier.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It is difficult to describe, but for some people, writing is a need, just like breathing and eating are needs. There are so many stories in my head, in some stage of fermentation. To sit down, with my hands on the home row, and get those stories out of my head and into something that others can see is deeply rewarding.
What do your fans mean to you?
If I ever get any fans, I'm sure I'll be thrilled!
What are you working on next?
I still want to write the story of my grandparents, but since my last four books were historical romances, I'm thinking I'd like to step off into the future for the next one.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The only inspiration I need to get out of bed each day is that life is waiting! I am blessed to be married (almost 32 years now) to a wonderful man, I live in a beautiful place, have two amazing grown sons and two good dogs. I can get out of bed without help, there is food in the fridge, coffee in my cup and so many choices about what to do each day, it's dazzling. Life is waiting!

That said, my bed is damn cozy and I often wish I could stay in it for just another hour. :-)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
There is a mind-numbing array of things to choose from each day. I love to cook (more specifically, I love to feed people), I'm trying to teach myself how to play the guitar, there is a constant battle in my house to keep the floors halfway clean, I love to read, am trying to learn how to loom-knit, I can sew, or talk walks in our woods, teach my puppy something new, or teach him not to do something he already does. There are deer to watch, wines to taste, a garden to plan, a fire to tend, talks with my Sweet Hubs, soaks in the hot tub, internet sites to visit, pictures to take and friends to talk to. In the summer, I might want to sit on the pebble beach on the lake, or go fishing, In the fall, it might be hunting. Oh, and I DO have a job.

Not to sound like I'm scolding, but if you're bored, it's your own fault.
Published 2016-12-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Sisters, West!
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 70,590. Language: English. Published: December 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Romance » Western
An historical romance inspired by the many women who traveled to the western frontier in order to find love, freedom and lives of purpose and meaning.
The Light of a Fire Opal
Series: Light Gatherers, Book 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 57,330. Language: English. Published: March 10, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA, Fiction » Romance » Historical
The orphaned child of a runaway slave demonstrates a mysterious gift of healing. Her adoptive family must hide her wondrous power from the plantation masters. When The Civil War brings a harvest of wounded to their door, the secret is out. Join her as she grows and builds a life of love and freedom. Romantic, clean, historical fiction with a paranormal twist.
A Light in the Mountains
Series: Light Gatherers, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 78,590. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Romance » General
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Geneva Nash must face her frontier life with the challenge of her hostile mother-in-law, her many children and her mysterious gift. She and her husband Abram will endure a painful separation from their son, the dangers of the wilderness and a life-changing loss.
A Gathering of Light
Series: Light Gatherers, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 62,950. Language: English. Published: November 7, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA, Fiction » Romance » Historical
(4.86 from 7 reviews)
Union soldier Lieutenant Hixson Morris is dying on the battlefield, gut shot. But instead of dying he finds himself in the care of beautiful, mysterious Sarah Westbay who has a miraculous gift. Sarah's tragic and troubled history is turned toward a new hope and a new beginning. In saving Hixson she saves herself. Hixson learns that he can offer Sarah something that no one else can.