Welcome to a special edition of Author Wednesday. Since I didn’t have any authors lined up for the last two weeks in December, I thought I’d take a chance on answering my own interview questions. I found the experience slightly weird, but fun. Here goes. Patricia welcomes her alter ego, P.C. Zick, to Author Wednesday.
Welcome, P.C. You’re looking mighty fine this morning. I know you’re a great admirer of Rachel Carson (Silent Spring). She once said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.
I saw a docu-drama based on Rachel Carson’s life, and when the actress portraying her spoke the line about a subject choosing the writer, I cried. It described perfectly how I feel about my writing, particularly fiction. My husband, the engineer, was with me and for the first time, he understood my writing passion. I thought I’d have to explain to him why I was crying, but when I turned to him, he had tears in his eyes, and I knew he understood. Sometimes a line will come to me during sleep. That happened with Tortoise Stew. I woke one morning with the first line in my head without even knowing I was going to write a novel about Florida developers and environmentalists gone mad. The line was “The bomb sat in a bag on Kelly Sands’ desk for an hour before she noticed it.” I even had the character’s name choosing me. That remained the first line of the book throughout all the revisions. My latest novel Trails in the Sand came to me in a similar manner although I changed the first line of that book many times. However, the first line, “My family didn’t understand when I married my sister’s husband,” remained a part of the plot of the book.
What messages or themes do you try to convey to your readers?
I like to write about redemption to show it’s never too late to turn a life around to the positive aspects of life. I suppose some of that comes from being raised by a mother who was certain she—and our entire family—was cursed. I’ve fought my whole life to break out of that syndrome. I hope to make a difference through my writing and life, and even though my mother died in 1998, I think I’m trying to show her life is much better when living on the light and positive side. Trails in the Sand contains elements of that message. I also try to convey the importance of communication. Often times, we don’t express our deepest thoughts to those that matter and it results in all sorts of complications. Expressing our truths to those we love is the best legacy we can leave.
How does setting play a role in your books?
I lived in north Florida for thirty years. For several years, I worked as a reporter and covered several small towns on the brink of entering Florida’s out-of-control land grab and development. There are so many characters weirdly real in Florida, and the setting is sometimes magical, sometimes frightening, but most of all interesting. Plus, using the weather as a plot device is one of my favorites. Hurricanes and tropical storms are good for building tension. I’ve developed a new genre—Florida Environmental Novels—and I plan on continuing as long as the ideas come to me.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my next Florida novel, Native Lands, which delves into the disappearance of a whole tribe of Native Americans after the arrival of the Spanish. The novel goes between the past and the present day as an international conglomerate attempts to turn Florida—from the Everglades to St. Augustine—into one complete living environment. It stresses the concept of connection between people and between ecosystems. It also showcases the traditional thinking of development in Florida, which is to destroy the natural environment to build a fake environment for people to enjoy. Disneyworld is the shining example of this concept in central Florida just north of Lake Okeechobee and the gateway to the Everglades. Also, I’m pulling together a series of my travel essays for Odyssey to Myself, which I hope to publish in the coming months.
Are your books traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?
When I first started out writing novels, I went the traditional route. Small publishers picked up my first three books. I even had an agent for a few years. It sounded so professional and successful to say, “My publisher” or “My agent.” But the reality is different because nothing happens unless the author is willing to get out and sell her books, no matter who publishes it. And the amount of money given over to agents and publishers is far too much based on the amount of work required by the author. I dropped out of this world around 2007 after publishing Tortoise Stew. I probably sold 500 books of my first novel A Victorian Justice after literally pounding the pavement and setting up book signings. It was exhausting work, and I only received a pittance in return. I tried half-heartedly with A Legal Legacy and Tortoise Stew, but I lost enthusiasm for book signings. The toll was far too high for the return. So I kept writing, but I didn’t enter into the query, rejection, query cycle. In 2011, I decided to enter into the new revolution of Indie Authors and eBooks. I reissued A Lethal Legacy and Tortoise Stew. I published the novel I wrote from 2007-2009, Live from the Road, and then this past year Trails in the Sand. I’ve also published two nonfiction books, From Seed to Table and Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier. I’ve sold far more books by sitting in my lovely office as an Indie Author. I love the freedom it offers me, and it fits my personality. It’s not for everyone, but for me, it’s perfect. I work well on my own, set deadlines and keep them, and continue to write. At this point, I can’t imagine going the “traditional” route again. Someday soon, the Indie Author path will become the “traditional” way of publishing.
What book are you reading right now?
I’m reading Anya’s Story by Julia Gousseva on my Kindle. I’m also reading a book on starting an editing business online, which I’m in the process of doing right now. I have at least fifty books in the queue on my Kindle. I have a shelf lined with books to be read. And I’m reading passages from several books on Florida and its environment. I’m never without a book in hand. I love my Kindle because I can slip it in my purse easily and take it wherever I go, but I still get a thrill from reading hard copy books.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. Remember to think about gifting some Indie Author books that I’ve featured on this site. Most of the books are in eBook or paperback form. There’s some real talent out there and most of us do it because this thing called writing has chosen us, and it won’t let go. Happy reading.
Patricia (and P.C.)