Author Interview with Author Patty G Henderson

Posted: August 20, 2015 in Author Interview
Tags: , ,

I had the very great fortune of interviewing Patty G Henderson, author of beautifully – dramatic lesbian historical fiction novels. Her characters are elegant and sophisticated,  draped in velvet and lace but with an iron will and determination. It is so easy to fall into places that Patty has created, whether it is a grand ball or an estate which has fallen into disrepair.

Patty is a master at spinning a Gothic Historical Romantic tale, and I am so happy to have discovered her works. I first interviewed her on bookkaholic.com back in December of 2014, and she graciously accepted my request for a second interview for my very own blog!

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RS: You’ve been writing since the late 60s, and in that time you have authored numerous novels in various genres; from paranormal mysteries to lesbian Gothic Historical Fiction. Have real-life events influenced these transitions in you work?

PGH: I just want to say that Rachel truly plans her interviews for the individual author and her questions are thought provoking and unique. As for your question, I wouldn’t say that any of my real life events play any part in my fiction. I am strictly a pure fantasist…by that, I mean that I like to create complete worlds, tales and characters that have as little to do with me and my mundane world as I can possible make them. I write and I read for entertainment. I’m not looking for deep meaning or brutal reality and current day problems and angst in my books and stories. I think a little bit of me sneaks in there, but no author can deny that a little spark of them plays a part in the writing process. But mostly, my life has little to do with anything I write. It’s all just pictures and tales that collect in my fertile imagination and then explode into a book. I want to take readers to a different, bygone era or take trip into the world of the paranormal and solve a mystery along the way. Escapism. That means anything but true life scenarios and current affairs. But even our fantasies are what make each of us unique.

RS: The gift of writing demands something from the author; it draws on one’s emotions, and even takes a physical toll. Throughout history there are examples of authors succumbing to these demands. Have you ever found the need to write to be overwhelming and consuming?

PGH: Never overwhelming and most definitely not consuming. I’ve never felt the absolute need to write, and certainly not to where it consumed me. My writing has always been a very measured, joy-filled experience. If the tale in my head is pressing to be written down and told, then I’ve done so. To be honest, if I didn’t feel that the current market almost demands that an author publish at the very least, a book a year just to remain visible and viable, I would probably write at a much more leisurely pace. If I feel pressured to write, I end up…not writing. As an indie author, I can choose whether or not to impose a deadline. I find that if I set a deadline for myself, I will definitely not keep it. A wall of creative rebellion immediately goes up. Being a bit rebellious in nature, I am mostly bohemian in my approach to writing and the writing life.

RS: Like any other task, good writing requires work and dedication which are fueled by a passion to create. As with any intimate relationship, this passion can fade over time. Have you ever reached a point in your writing career where you have lost the passion? How do you navigate stagnate waters?

PGH: What a timely question, Rachel. I’m at that point right now, I’m afraid. I’ve been buffeted around hard in the last several years. After my mama passed away in 2010, it really has been a struggle to find passion again….for anything. Struggling financially and with my health, my writing took a hit. Writing became more of a “must do…should do” kind of thing, and if you see from one of my responses above to another question, I don’t function well or feel I can create in that kind of mind frame. I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve been writing since the 1960s, on and off. There was always an eagerness….stories wanting to be told. I had the confidence to tell them and publish. You have to have confidence in yourself and your skill as a writer to publish, especially in today’s cutthroat publishing market. It’s a struggle for me today to put any thought or find motivation to writing. I’ve hit an all time low. I do feel my passion for writing has waned. It’s a bit frightening, especially when in my head, there are at least two projects I truly want to finish, yet I fight off that desire each time I think I want to write something. I’ve never really had much of what some authors consider writer’s block, at least until now. Is this what it feels like? I always thought writer’s block was where the author just ran out of things to write or say. I still have stories, I just fight writing them down. Kind of like fighting with two versions of myself. Writing…creating…takes much from the inner self and if you aren’t centered, I believe creation suffers. I haven’t figured out how to navigate through this tough lull in my writing, but I wake up each day hopeful I can ignite that spark again.

RS: Writing is an incredibly personal act. You are creating something you wholly believe in, something that is a part of you. And then you have to put it on display to be judged. When you first began writing, was it difficult to share your work with others? Has this changed over time?

PGH: I started my writing career by creating my own comic book hero and the story behind his life and super power. I had no shame or thought of rejection. I did a crude a drawing and sent on to DC Comics. I was all of maybe 15 years old or so. I was filled with youthful exuberance and naivety. I waited for DC Comics to call me or write and offer me a comic book with my own character! Needless to say, I never got a phone call or a letter. I got wrapped up in other things and then began writing dark and fantastical poems, which lead to short stories. I met with great success and was published in various semi-pro fanzines like Paragon and Moonbroth. In the late 70s, I put away the typewriter and lived my life without writing. I did a little watercolor painting, but didn’t find the passion for writing again until the mid 90s. I wrote a vampire tale inspired by many visual images in my head and a desire to tell a tale of a female lesbian vampire that was a bit different from the norm. At that time, so many vampire tales were male-centered. SO DEAD MY LOVE was my first novel and first published novel as well. That led to the Brenda Strange Paranormal Series and most currently, my Gothic Historical Romances. I’ve always enjoyed sharing my work with readers. But anytime you put your creation out there for mass consumption, you should have a ready coat of armor to take all the incoming blows of negativity. There will be reviews which attack your writing talent. Others will attack you personally. In today’s publishing world, you aren’t just marketing your books, you’re putting your own self on the block. Your face becomes a brand that you must peddle in order to be successful. Sometimes, the arrows pierce the armor you fought so hard to forge. For me, as I age, as I find finishing a book more and more tedious, the negativity is striking too close to the heart. I find I am no longer as sure or confident as when I was 15 years old, and I begin to wonder if it’s all worthwhile anymore. Ah, to have some of that exuberance and naivety just about now.

RS: You have authored several lesbian novels; not exactly main stream, and won’t be for many years to come. But even in the main stream literary world there are banned books. Many great works challenge readers to open their minds to the world around them, and it scares people. What kind of emotion does banning books spark within you?

PGH: The word “banned” has no place in a modern democracy. As for books, personally, I wouldn’t be caught reading anything like “50 Shades of Gray” or erotica. That’s just not who I am. However, what gives anyone the right to impose their personal beliefs, likes and dislikes on anyone else and take away the freedom from other people enjoying it? Banning books has unfortunately been with us for a long time. We can only fight it by continuing to break open all channels of available places to find books and for writers not to be intimidated from writing the books they want to write.  Books that are banned will be sought out and read by those wanting to read them. There will always be those that seek to create a world they can control. They will try to put fences around freedom of reading choice. We can only hope that it will only create more of  a demand and hunger for the very literature they seek to ban. But the wonderful thing is that we, as a society, have evolved. There is no iron fist preventing us from sharing all kinds of literature. My books are lesbian, but any reader can enjoy them. I think lesbian literature has put itself in a tiny box. There is no reason why lesbian books cannot and should not be marketed in the mainstream. Readers have choices. We have the freedom to choose. I would love to see more lesbian authors market to both mainstream and lesbian markets. Jump out of that box!

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