Thursday, February 18, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Pat Nichols

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Pat Nichols 

Linda: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your latest release, Starstruck in Willow Falls. Where did you get the inspiration for the story? Did you set out to write a series or was that unexpected? 

Pat: Two years into my writing journey an idea emerged and took root—a series following the lives of three women, strangers brought together by a tragedy and a long-held secret. Raised in Willow Falls—a North Georgia town on the brink of failure—Emily yearns to write a novel about the town’s unique history to attract visitors. Sadie returns to Willow Falls after serving a thirty-year prison term for killing the town hero. Rachel, raised in Atlanta, abandons her dream to act to live the life her father chose for her. 
The settings in The Secret of Willow Inn, book one in the series, are divided between Atlanta and Willow Falls. The fictional town plays an integral role in the stories as the quirky, opinionated residents invest time and resources to transform their community into a tourist attraction. In Trouble in Willow Falls Rachel, Emily, and Sadie struggle to overcome challenges threatening to undermine residents’ efforts. When planning Starstruck in Willow Falls, my publisher and I brainstormed ideas on how to disrupt the small town’s new normal. The result? An invading Hollywood film crew and famous movie stars. 
LM: The age old question for writers: are you a plotter or a pantster? 

Pat: In essence I’m a plotter with panster tendencies. I begin each manuscript by creating an excel spreadsheet separated into beginning, middle and end. Each section has four columns—word count, POV character, setting, and action. The panster part happens when the characters take me in different directions, which happens often. The spreadsheet makes it easy to move scenes around to accommodate the changes. 
LM: Research is an important part of writing a book. How did you go about researching Starstruck in Willow Falls, and did you unearth a particular fun fact you knew you had to include in the story? 
Pat: Research began with two memories, the first from a trip years ago. My husband and I happened
upon the filming of a street scene featuring Henry Winkler dashing to a phonebooth. That short segment took hours to set up, including wetting the street for effect. The second memory from the eighties when I spent three of my twenty-seven-year corporate career as one of five regional public relations managers. One summer we were filmed in New York City for an internal publicity story. The remainder of my research was online to learn about filming equipment and processes. The fun fact was explaining a dolly track to a curious senior citizen. 
LM: How do you come up with your characters? Are any based on people you know or yourself? 

Pat: While the characters in the Willow Falls series are straight from my imagination, they are composites of real people. For example, my mother was an only child who longed for a sister. Emily, Rachel, and Sadie are only children. 
Snippets from my own experiences seem to find their way into the stories. Emily flavors her coffee with vanilla creamer and honey. I use the creamer and our daughter the honey. One of Rachel’s favorite meals? Rack of lamb. Mine too, although I’ve only indulged in restaurants. Maybe one day I’ll summon the courage to prepare it at home. And then again, maybe not. 

LM: What is your favorite part of the writing process? 

Pat: Developing each chapter to build on the last and lead to the next. While some authors prepare a complete rough draft before editing, I prefer to edit as I write. Although that process doesn’t eliminate the need for an in depth edit before submission, it helps me identify plot holes as the characters take on a life of their own. 

LM: What do you do to prepare for writing (e.g. listen to music, set up in a certain location, etc.)? 

Pat: My husband and I normally awake at 5:30. Following morning devotions, I settle on a recliner in our living room, with my computer on a lap desk. My goal? Write 1000 words a day. Some days I finish by noon. By mid-afternoon, my brain and fingers call it quits. I record the day’s word count and reward myself with a square of dark chocolate. 
LM: What is your next project? 
Pat: After submitting a proposal for a stand-alone novel inspired by a young woman who drifted in and out of our lives for years, I began outlining another manuscript. The sixth since 2014, but not the last. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 


About Starstruck in Willow Falls

Two women whose dreams are about to come true find themselves in a town turned upside down. 

As a Hollywood film crew and famous movie stars swoop into Willow Falls to film a full-length motion picture, the town’s new normal as a popular North Georgia tourist destination is thrown into chaos. 

Rachel Streetman fears her life-long dream to act is drifting into oblivion and leaving behind bitter regret. Weeks away from marrying Charlie Bricker, the manager of the town’s new winery, Rachel questions if auditioning for a role in the movie will boost her lackluster career or open the door to a lifestyle incompatible with the small-town life she has come to accept. 

Rachel’s twin sister, Emily Hayes, also has a dream—to be a famous author. But the release of her debut novel is upstaged by the Hollywood invasion. When she and Rachel accept the job as the director’s liaisons, their patience is stretched to the limit by starstruck residents.