Friday, March 18, 2011

Interview with Patricia Sprinkle, author of Friday's Daughter

What is the backstory behind Friday's Daughter?

Deborah "Teensie" MacAllester is the youngest of three sisters. The oldest, Susan, is a poet and a college professor. The second, Regan, is beautiful and married to a very wealthy and handsome man. Teensie is neither brilliant nor beautiful,but she likes to help people, so she became a nurse. Fifteen years ago, she put her own career on hold to return home to care for her elderly aunt and then her mother, but Teensie, a nurse, dreamed of opening a small, private home where impoverished elderly people could live out their lives in gracious surroundings. Her father--a former college president and Georgia state senator--promised if she'd remain with him until he died, he would leave her her his large marble home and enough money to make her dreams come true. The book opens on the day of his funeral, followed by the day his will is read, on which Teensie discovers how little he and her sisters valued all she has done for the family.

You recently switched from writing mysteries series to women's fiction. Why did you make the change and was it a difficult transition considering you were so familiar with your series characters?

I made the change because for twenty years or more I had been deferring writing novels that were haunting me, in order to keep writing the mysteries. I decided it was time to write the novels before I got too old. I also changed because of the death of the magistrate in Middle Georgia who had served as the inspiration for my longest series, the Thoroughly Southern mysteries. It was no longer fun to write the books without her encouragement and enjoyment of the stories. Of course, twenty years before I had switched from writing primarily about world hunger to writing mysteries, so it wasn't as if I had been a mystery writer all my life. So many books I want to write, so little time!

I know you've been writing books for many years, what's are some of the biggest difference you've seen in publishing business during that time?

I've watched the gap in advances stretch so that some people eventually got incredibly (and often unwarranted) advances while those of us in the midlist got small increments each year, and I watched that gap shrink a little as the economy tightened a lot of belts. I watched the mystery world spread itself too thin with mysteries for every conceivable interest group, and shrink as publishers discovered that mystery buyers are only going to buy a certain number of books in a given year. I've watched breaking in for new authors go from hard to very difficult to almost impossible. I've watched a number of authors decide to publish their own books--some of them did pretty well and some discovered how difficult it was to sell books once they had them stacked in their garage. Now we are seeing travelers who prefer to carry a thousand books in a Kindle or a Nook to carrying a suitcse full of paperbacks on a long trip. But what has never changed is the dedication of writers to the stories they have been given. It astonishes me how a story can grip us until we have to write it, whether anybody buys it or not. Truly, this is not a profession, it is an obsession!

What books are currently on your nightstand?

I don't have a nightstand, we have a bed with an angled headboard for easy reading in bed and a long flat top where we can stack LOTS of books, but if you want to know what I'm reading, I just finished The Time Traveler's Wife, which was intriguing, and now am slowly savoring the new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which is excellent. Of course, I read a mystery in the middle of those. This past week it was Erica Spindler's Blood Vines, a rapidly moving tale set in Sonoma Valley, California.

How has your writing changed over the years?

I hope I am getting better at telling a story and developing characters. A primary goal for me all these years is "To write well." I am constantly seeking ways to improve. And nowadays I find that the puzzles interest me less, and I no longer want to kill people for fun and profit. Rather, I want to explore and explain what makes women do some of the things we do and what changes us and those around us.


  1. Great interview! I want a headboard like hers!

  2. This book sounds fantastic! Can't wait to read it . . .

  3. Patricia, I was fortunate to attend your seminar at one of our local CAG Christian Writers' Conferences a year ago. The lessons you shared have stayed fresh in the minds of our members. I am so glad to have picked your brain in the QA. Your books were a delight and difficult to put down. Unfortunately, I missed this year's conference as well as our Spring's Coffee and Quill. Anxious for more good reads! JSpicer