Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Patti Hill answers the tough questions. Help!
Can you make up stories on the spot - at the drop of a hat?
I was a champ at this as a child, but Mom considered it lying. Sadly, I was very good at it. I love Jesus for taking my sin and redeeming it into something that benefits His kingdom. At least, that's my intention. Now that I've matured a bit, I percolate story ideas. I believe strongly in the power of staring out the window. It helps to have a splendid view.
Of your favorite books, what one do you wish you had written, and why?
I deeply regret waiting so long to read To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s stellar book. I love the story because it confronts a dark truth in our history without ever feeling preachy. And Scout's voice, oh my, it's spot on--strong and clear. The writing is elegant in its simplicity. I really, really wish I’d written it.
Conflict is central to fiction, but how do you create a work of fiction that is tense, difficult, and sometimes even frightening, yet make it a place readers want to go to, spend time in, and get to know well?
As a beginning writer, this was a tough aspect of storytelling. I don’t like conflict, so I was much too nice to my characters. They all lived in La-La Land. Very boring. And then, interestingly enough, I went through a tough trial. The experience transformed me down to my soul. After that, I have no problem dishing out the conflict for my character. How else are they going to change?
More to the point, I have a rather odd sense of humor. I found something amusing in all of my medical tests, even a lumbar puncture and an episode with a car battery! My readers will see my quirky perspective in my writing. In other words, humor makes conflict more palatable.
What is Christian fiction?
Christian fiction is written by someone who relies on the saving grace of Jesus, believes He is the hope of the world, and writes accordingly. The story doesn’t necessarily have Christian content such as believing characters or Bible verses (although mine do), but the story must reflect the eternal truths of Christianity, things like redemption, forgiveness, sacrificial love. Examples of Christian fiction that fit my definition range from The Shack to The Lord of the Rings.
Where is the strangest place that you had a brainstorm and had to stop and write down an idea or snippet of dialogue?
Bonnie and I have this in common. All of my best ideas happen in the shower! And why not, it's warm and quiet in there. I once had a four-idea shower. That’s a record. I’ve learned to step out of the shower to write the ideas down, or they swirl down the drain with my shampoo. I must get some of those bath tub crayons.
Which one of your characters most resembles you and how did you draw from your life to create them?
Amy in The Queen of Sleepy Eye is very close to how I was at seventeen. I knew everything, certainly had God all figured out, and was convinced that I was bulletproof. Fortunately, I remember that part of my life pretty well (but don’t ask me what I had for lunch). My life, however, was much easier than Amy’s. I dragged that poor girl through the mud. Fortunately, by God’s grace, we've both landed on our feet. Phew!
Tell us about the relationship between your writing and your spiritual life.
I consider my office a holy place where God and I get to play together. As I’m writing, I look for His footprints in the dewy grass and do my best to follow. It’s a breath-taking game of follow the leader, that’s for sure.
I thoroughly enjoyed our first visit. I'd like to know what you remember about yourself at seventeen.
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Grow in grace, dear readers...Patti