Friday, August 17, 2012

Interview & Review: Fatty Patty by Kathleen Irene Paterka

Kathleen Irene Paterka fell in love with writing (and food) at a very young age. By the time she graduated high school, she’d completed her first manuscript and she weighed 300 lbs. Though the extra pounds have long since disappeared, Kathleen still carries the emotional scars of being a former fatty. FATTY PATTY was born from the cruel teasing she endured on the school playground. Kathleen is the author of numerous novels which embrace universal themes of home, family life and love, including the Women's Fiction series, "The James Bay Novels". Kathleen is the resident staff writer for Castle Farms, a world renowned castle listed on the National Historic Register, and co-author of the non-fiction book FOR THE LOVE OF A CASTLE, published in 2012. Having lived and studied abroad, Kathleen's educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Michigan University. She and her husband live in the beautiful north country of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Kathleen loves hearing from readers.

Q. At what age did you realize you wanted to write? What inspired you?

I’ve wanted to be an author all my life. I fell in love with books in 3rd grade and stumbled across the 1st in the Trixie Belden mystery series (THE SECRET OF THE MANSION by Julie Campbell). Wow! Who knew? It was like discovering a whole new world! Up to that point, I’d been stuck with picture books like “DICK AND JANE”. Can we talk b-o-r-i-n-g? I devoured the Trixie Belden books as fast as I could read them. They didn’t include pictures and they actually had a plot! As to what inspired me, I think it was because so many of my friends didn’t like to read. I thought they were really missing out. I remember thinking that I wanted to write stories that would involve my friends in the world of books, and open their eyes and hearts to what falling in love with a story was all about.

Q. In your author's biography that was included at the end of the book, it stated that you went through a similar situation like Patty; did you find writing "Fatty Patty" to be more emotional or empowering?

Writing FATTY PATTY was emotionally very difficult for me. Though I’ve been at a normal weight for 35+ years, bringing Patty’s story to life forced me to confront many food-related issues that I thought were far behind me. The novel was originally written in 3rd person, which actually was a blessing, for it helped me distance myself from Patty’s character. It was only last year that I made the decision to re-write it in 1st person. And that’s when the emotional connection was made and the story really took off.

Q. What is the most rewarding thing about writing for you?

Knowing that I’m living a life beyond my wildest dreams through the lives and times of the characters that live in my mind. My novels are all character-driven, and I always allow my characters to take the lead. I have a timer on my desk, which I religiously set before I begin writing. When I begin writing, I get lost in the world of the story and time ceases to exist. It’s like watching a dream slowly unfold before your eyes on a computer screen. I love it!

Q. Do you have a writing ritual , if so what does it consist of?

I do have a day job (I’m our resident staff writer at a Castle! How romantic!), so it’s necessary for me to allocate my time very carefully. Good thing I’m a morning person! I’m also very disciplined and believe in schedules. Every morning my alarm goes off at 5 AM. By 6:30, I’m dressed, have had breakfast, and am at my computer where I work for two hours on my latest writing project. I shut down at 8:30 AM, and then I’m off to work at The Castle ( Evenings, refreshed after a short nap and dinner with my husband, I might sit back down at the computer to answer emails or hop on Facebook. On my days off, I pretty much follow the same scenario, except my alarm doesn’t go off at 5 AM… plus, I allow four hours for writing, rather than two. But regardless of whether I’m working my day job or not, mornings are reserved for my novels. That’s when my creative juices are fresh and flowing.

Q. Do you believe in writers' block? If yes, how do you deal with it? If no, then why not?

I’ve heard of writer’s block, but I’ve never experienced it. However, what DOES scare me silly is the thought that my current project will be my last. I’m always fearful that I’ll never come up with another plot, that I’m burned out, that my imagination will desert me, and I’ll never write another book. My critique partners tease me about this constantly… basically because my fears never materialize. Something always triggers a new idea in my brain when I least expect it, and voila! A new plot, new characters, a new story emerges. I’m currently finishing up edits on my latest project, ROYAL SECRETS, which will be released in 2013. I’d been nervous for a few months about what I’d be working on after that. However, just in the past few weeks, two separate characters from two separate storylines have begun chatting in my head. Hooray! I now have two more novels waiting to be written!

Q. How many novels can we expect in the James Bay series? Will there be any novels told from Priscilla's point of view?

There are four novels in the James Bay series. They are all stand-alone titles, meaning you can read one or all four, and they will all make sense (hopefully!). The characters and town are all interspersed throughout the four novels. FATTY PATTY is the first in the series. HOME FIRES (contemporary romantic suspense, involving an arsonist at work in James Bay) is the 2nd in the James Bay series, and will be released in August 2012. LOTTO LUCY, the 3rd novel, and FOR I HAVE SINNED, the 4th novel, will be released later this year. At this point, I have no plans to revisit James Bay or write a novel from Priscilla’s point of view. However, you just never know. Stay tuned!

Q. What are you currently reading?

I’m reading THE CHAMBER by John Grisham… an oldie-but-goodie that somehow slipped through my to-be-read pile. When I’m working on a project, I tend to read things outside my own genre so as not to influence my writing. I also love reading biographies. Some of my favorite fiction authors are Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Berg, Jane Porter, Maeve Binchy, and Roxanne St. Claire.

Q. What are you currently working on?

ROYAL SECRETS is my latest project, and I’m very excited about it! I’ll share the back cover blurb with you. Growing up in Las Vegas in the shadow of The Royal Wedding Chapel, Lily Lavendar once believed in happily-ever-after endings… but those days are gone. Disillusioned by her mother’s numerous divorces, Lily distanced herself from the fairy-tale nonsense of their family owned wedding business by fleeing Las Vegas and The Royal Wedding Chapel. But when Lily’s own teenaged daughter runs off to Las Vegas to help run The Chapel, Lily’s life as a single mom and accountant is suddenly turned upside down. Left with no choice, she heads for Las Vegas—only to discover her mother has had a stroke. With The Chapel booked for weddings and her daughter refusing to budge, Lily reluctantly agrees to take over running the family business while her mother recuperates. But while Lily’s busy working with the brides, she discovers a secret or two that threatens to close The Chapel forever. Will Lily play the heroine and come to her mother’s rescue? Is it possible she can immerse herself in the royal world of weddings she left behind, and still survive? If she saves The Chapel, she risks losing her daughter to the nonsensical stuff of which fairytales are made—and just as easily destroyed. Lily is faced with a royal dilemma: what is most important? Saving yourself or those you love?

Q. What can you tell us about the next book in the James Bay series?

HOME FIRES is the 2nd in the James Bay series. It’s about an arsonist on the loose in James Bay. My husband Steve is a fireman. One weekend years ago, our small town was plagued by a series of arson fires that kept the firemen busy trying to control the blazes for nearly two days. My husband and his fellow firefighters were exhausted. I never forgot that weekend, and it started me thinking about how one person, one arsonist, could wreak havoc on a small community. And since I’ve lived with a fire monitor in our house for the past 32 years, I’ve grown used to Central Dispatch toning the guys out to fight another fire. They never fail to respond. I wanted to write a book about firemen, about their devotion to duty, about the courageous men (and women) who are on call, keeping us safe, 24/7. The heroine of HOME FIRES, Rose Gallagher, is a corporate attorney who left James Bay years ago, lured to the city by dreams of success. When a family health crisis draws her back to the small resort community where she was born and raised, Rose settles in for a six week stay, only to find herself musing two unexpected job offers and other things, too… such as the string of arson fires threatening James Bay, and a handsome fireman named Mike Gallagher who sparks an unexpected fire in her heart. But when the arson investigation blazes a trail which seems to lead directly to an old family friend, Rose sets out to prove her fireman wrong. Mike is determined to keep this pretty litigator from snooping around in his ongoing investigation, and Rose is equally determined not to give up on her quest to prove her friend’s innocence—even if it means giving up a possible future with Mike. Will these two find a way to resolve their differences, or will their dreams of romance go up in smoke?

Personally, I love HOME FIRES because it deals with firemen, a subject close to my heart. Naturally, it’s my husband’s favorite book!

Q. In "Fatty Patty," Patty has a twin, have you ever wanted a twin sister?

I’m a ‘single’ and can’t imagine having a twin, but I certainly had lots of fun with the relationship between Patty and her fraternal twin, Priscilla. The idea of twins has always intrigued me. My husband is an identical twin, our daughter Abby has twin boys, and my sister had two sets of twins. The inspiration for the idea of twins in FATTY PATTY was actually born out of a TV news clip I happened to catch one night on our local news station. It featured a story about a woman who’d given birth to a set of fraternal twins, both girls. Baby #1 weighed less than two pounds at birth while the other was fat and healthy. Somehow, Baby #2 had received most of the nourishment while in their mother’s womb. Baby #1 spent weeks in the hospital’s neo-natal unit. Baby #2 went home much sooner. I couldn’t stop thinking about those babies. One fat, one thin. How would they grow up? What would they be like as adults? Would Baby #1 gain weight and catch up with her sister, or would Baby #2 always be fatter? The thought that one twin could enter the world healthy and thriving, while the other twin was sickly and scrawny, got me wondering. And suddenly I heard their mother’s voice in my head. “Take care of your sister, Patty. She’ll never be strong like you.” Thus was the idea for FATTY PATTY born. A fat baby (Patty) and her sick twin (Priscilla).

Q. What is your advice for aspiring authors?

Write every day. You cannot edit a blank page. Write every day. Do not give up. As one of my mentors (a NY Times best selling author) told me years ago, “This is a devastatingly hard business. Perseverance and persistence, along with discipline, determination and confidence, are EVERY bit as important as talent... Your belief in yourself is THE ONLY THING that separates you from the hundreds that will fall by the wayside without their dreams and goals realized." Great advice from my mentor, don’t you think? Write every day. Believe in yourself. Write every day. NEVER NEVER NEVER QUIT.

Title:  Fatty Patty
Author:  Kathleen Irene Paterka
Genre:  Women's Fiction
Publisher:  Kathleen Irene Paterka
Release Date:  May 7, 2012
File Size/Pages:  454 KB/382 pgs
Source:  CLP Blog Tour

My Rating5/5

Summary:  Small towns, long memories. Everyone in the exclusive summer resort of James Bay, Michigan remembers FATTY PATTY, the chubby little girl with the round face and wild red curls. All grown up now, Patty Perreault teaches at the same elementary school where the painful playground memories still taunt her. She hasn’t forgotten the cruel nickname—plus she still hasn’t lost those extra pounds. Convinced her weight is the biggest reason why she’s a four time loser in the semi-finals for Teacher of the Year, Patty resolves to make some changes in her body and her life.  Sam Curtis, an overweight accountant she meets at the community pool, swims into Patty’s life with romance on his mind. But as their friendship grows, Patty finds it hard to see beyond his extra pounds. She’s torn as Sam refuses to deal with his own overweight issues. Her heart tells her one thing, but her eyes see another. She’s not interested in an overweight boyfriend. When it comes to winning the Grand Prize in life and love, Patty has some hard lessons to learn. Will she be able to confront her fears about the kind of woman she yearns to be? Will she be able to put down the fork and give her heart a try?

Review:  Patty Perreault, the main character, is a fifth grade teacher who wants nothing more than to win "Teacher of the Year," well, and maybe lose some weight too.  In the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to Patty and her twin sister, Priscilla.  Despite the fact they look nothing alike, the sisters are actually quite close.  While Patty is at the pool, attempting to swim off some pounds, she meets Sam.  He seems like a good guy, but Patty has a problem with him being overweight.  When the school year starts, she meets the new fifth grade teacher, Nick; and he's all perfect and all hers.  With both men vying for her attention, Patty can barely decide who she wants; handsome Nick or Big Sam.  Overall, I really enjoyed this story, and I was rooting for Patty the entire time.  I found Patty's character to be hysterical, despite the fact she refused to see beyond Sam's weight.  I loved Patty, flaws and all.  This is a book you don't want to pass up!!

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Kathleen Irene Paterka said...

Hi Josie,

I'm so glad you enjoyed Patty's story! Thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your blog! I had a wonderful time!


Samantha said...

So thrilled you loved the book!

Shannon Ro said...

It is inspiring how you wake up early every day to write. I'd love to start writing but I don't know if I have the commitment and dedication to wake up at 5am everyday!