Write Despite

The write-20-minutes-a-day-for-365-days-come-hell-or-high-water challenge

Welcome Author Patricia Henley

The diverse and accomplished Patricia Henley joins us today to share her thoughts on lucky breaks, practice-practice-practice, and how starting a novel feels like falling in love.

Patricia is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, four short story collections, two novels, a stage play, and numerous essays. Her first book of stories, Friday Night at Silver Star (Graywolf, 1986) was the winner of the Montana First Book Award. Her first novel, Hummingbird House (MacMurray & Beck, 1999) was a finalist for the National Book Award and the New Yorker Fiction Prize. Pantheon published her second novel, In the River Sweet, and it was widely praised in newspapers and magazines. In the River Sweet was a Border’s Original Voices selection and was translated into Polish and published in Poland in 2004. Engine Books published Patricia’s fourth collection of stories – Other Heartbreaks – in 2011.

Here’s what Oprah magazine had to say about Other Heartbreaks:

O Magazine Review

Learn more about Patricia and her work at www.patriciahenley.org or at www.enginebooks.org

Please welcome Patricia to Write Despite.

1. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Here are two bits of advice. Pay yourself first — that is, write first thing in the morning. After that, everything feels easy. Pursue wordless recreation. This is even more important now than it was when I first read it thirty years ago because we are bombarded with so many more words now than ever.

2. Please tell us your favorite three authors

Hilary Mantel
Alice Munro
William Trevor

3. Briefly describe your journey to publication. (How were you first published and how has that led to where you are now?)

I first published poetry in journals around Baltimore in the 1970’s. I started writing fiction in 1979 when I was living in the Pacific Northwest. I submitted a short story manuscript to a contest – the Montana First Book Award. I won, and, as a result, Graywolf Press published my first book of stories in 1986. They made sure it was reviewed nationally and that was my lucky break.

4. Advice for those now on the road to publication?

Don’t stop writing. There are plenty of gifted or talented writers who can’t stick with it. They allow themselves to get distracted when it’s not easy. Getting published is about practice, practice, practice.

5. Do you write every day?

When I’m working on a project, yes, I write every day. Once in a while I take some time off. But a week or two without writing and I begin to feel as if I’m living in a black and white movie. I have to write.

6. What are you writing now? (If nothing, what are you reading now?)

I recently finished a memoir – You Will Be Taught To Fly — I do not have a publisher for it yet. I’m writing a YA novel with Elizabeth Stuckey-French. It’s titled Where Wicked Starts. Engine Books will publish it in 2014. I recently started what I hope will be a novel set in Cincinnati. I haven’t made a firm commitment to it yet, but it’s fun. The first 100 pages of a novel feel like falling in love.

Oxford, 2012

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4 thoughts on “Welcome Author Patricia Henley

  1. aj hillyer on said:

    What a rich career. It’s good to see writers branch out and keep growing. Keep up the good work.

  2. Elizabeth on said:

    “Pay yourself first…”
    I like that. We need to value our own work if we expect anyone else to…

  3. Michael Greenwood on said:

    Very enjoyable column. Keep up the good work, Write Despite!

  4. Thank you for this interview. Wise words…
    ‘There are plenty of gifted or talented writers who can’t stick with it.’
    What helps me is to stay in love with writing for its own sake–not for future glory or riches. At times, this isn’t easy. But when my head is in this space life much sunnier.

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