Meet Patry Francis! Patry was one of my first blog friends when I started blogging a little over a year ago. I glommed onto her blog when I realized she and I shared a publisher, and that her first novel, The Liar's Diary, would be coming out a few months before mine. I read all about her year as she experienced landmarks (seeing the cover, getting advance copies, doing her first signing) months before I did, and when I finally had a chance to read the book, I seized it! And then, when I learned Patry was taking a little excursion to the West Coast to promote the book, I seized the opportunity to meet her in person and throw her a little party in honor of the book.
That was last night, and it was such fun!
Here's the book:
It's about a woman whose best friend is murdered, and what happens when her own teenage son is accused of the crime. It's twisty and turny and gripping and a wonderfully natural, flowing read. Last night, I asked Patry some interview questions to get discussion going, but it did not occur to me to record or even take note of her answers, so I shall try to reconstruct some basic sense of what was said.
Earlier in Patry's career as a writer, she wrote mainly poetry (though narrative poetry with characters and plots), then moved into short stories, and when she took the leap to the novel form she spent ten years writing an 800-page novel! That book was not The Liar's Diary, which is actually the third novel that she has written. The previous two had not sold, and the process in each case had been fairly grueling, so by the time her agent was sending out the Liar's manuscript, Patry's hope was at a low ebb. However, it sold almost at once! And happy dances were danced!
Patry lives in Cape Cod with her husband Ted. They have four children and two dogs, and Patry has recently completed her next novel, though I will of course leave it to her to write about that one on her own blog, which is wonderful and can be found here. When I asked her what was, for her, the hardest part of writing, she said that it was first drafts. This is the case for me, too -- though she did not necessarily share my desire to kick people in the shins when they say they wrote their book in two weeks, or that the "characters took over and wrote it for them." She was more gracious than I.
When she was asked (by blog friend Jone, in attendance), what was the "spark" for the book, Patry answered that the idea came from a high-profile murder case in her area, in which a "wonderful" teenage boy from a "wonderful" family murdered his best friend's mother. She said that in that case, the family and the boy were so well liked that the victim's family came to seem almost like the villains, and she became really interested in the dynamic and started out to explore them for herself, in fiction. Though, as you will know if you have read the book, the story develops far beyond those simple facts.
Another blogger in attendance was Citizen of the Month, aka Neilotchka, who was in town with Sophia from LA and stopped by. It was great to meet them! And of course, my friends, local cool creative chics and bloggers Alexandra and Maggie, were here too. Thanks for the banana bread, Al!
Here are Sophia, Alexandra, and Neil:
Here's the gathering:
And here are Patry and me with our books, both of which are brought to you courtesy of the Penguin.
It was a delightful evening for me. Patry couldn't have been more gracious, fun, funny, and wonderful!
P.S. The real fun for me began after the party ended. First, I scorched my fingertip badly while blowing out the mood candles. Then, early early this morning, lurching out of bed to hit snooze, I kicked the stair post with my bare toes and it hurt like a you-know-what and still does, and then, falling back to sleep heedless of the alarm, I had really bizarre dreams, including one in which I was traveling through a particularly jungly neighborhood of London by aerial tram and the prim English bus conductor put on a safari hat, popped the sun-roof and started shooting a bb gun to scare off the marauding monkeys and cheetahs. Weird.