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Friday, November 5, 2010


Our Book Club Friday guest mystery author today is Pat Brown. Born in Canada, Pat's approach to life was tempered in the forges of Los Angeles and after eight years in the City of Angels she was endowed with a fascination for the darker side of life and the professionals who patrol those mean streets. She considers those eight years a lifetime's worth of experience that she mines regularly in her novels. She is not afraid to explore the darker sides of her characters and the streets they inhabit, including the ones most people are afraid to walk down alone at night.

Pat has generously offered a copy of
LA Heat, the first book in her LA series to one of our blog readers who posts a comment this week. -- AP

My Journey as a Reader Turned Writer

I come from a family that loves books and learning. All of us were encouraged to go to University and our house overflowed with books of all types. We also always had library cards wherever we went. In fact, one of the first things I do whenever I’ve moved is search out the library and get a library card as soon as I can. I've had library cards from 3 countries -- Canada, the USA and Bermuda (I still have the Bermuda card.)

As children, I remember my mother taking us down the street when the mobile library would come around, and even today I can remember the smell and sight of all those books just waiting for me to thumb through them and select the two or three I was allowed. They were treasures then and they are treasures now. Even today, I hate shopping, but let me find a bookstore or library and I will spend hours roaming the shelves.

I would read anything. I had a very religious grandmother who lived too far away for us to visit in those days and our only contact with her were gifts at Christmas. My mother must have told her of my love of reading because I remember one year in my late pre-teens getting a couple of books from her. I have no memory of the titles or authors. All I do recall about them is that they were fundamental Baptist or some other strict religion that didn't believe in dancing or partying or pretty much anything.

Even then I had a touch of rebellion in me -- I stopped going to church when I was 13 -- but I read them anyway. Each one was about teenagers facing challenges such as being invited to a party with a boy and wanting to go until they realized the error of their way and rejected the wild lifestyle. I'm sure my grandmother had only the best intentions and probably sincerely hoped I would see the light. But she should have looked back and remembered her own daughter, my mother, and she would have realized that wasn't going to happen.

My mother was a bit of a rebel in her day -- moving away from home when she was young to live with her aunt in the big city, where she played cards and learned to smoke and even drink on occasion. She joined the air force when the war broke out. Stationed overseas, she met my father who had also fled his life on the farm and they married right after the war ended. 

There were a lot of strong women on my mother's side, including a published poet. Her uncle was a famous newspaper editor who was very influential in politics in his day. So writing was in my roots. I can't remember a time I wasn't reading. I started writing in public school. In Grade 5 I had a teacher, Mr. Sanderson, who loved what I wrote and encouraged me, one of the few adults who did. Years later I met two of his daughters in high school and when they found out who I was, they knew me -- their father had talked about me and had even kept a poem I gave him. He had never let them see it (probably not a bad thing, I was like 10 or 11 when I wrote it) But even without encouragement I wrote from then on.

I wrote my first book when I was 17. The first book I published was the year I turned 50, proving that lifelong dreams can come true. In between the first book and the published one, like my mother, I moved far away from home, in my case to Los Angeles, which has been immeasurably influential in all my writing since then. I like to think I inherited some of my mother's strength and my father's insatiable curiosity and that my books live up to them.

Thanks for being our guest today, Pat! Readers, if you’d like a chance at winning a copy of LA Heat, don’t forget to leave a comment and check back tomorrow to see if you’re the lucky winner. -- AP


Unknown said...

Thanks for having me, Lois. Taking that trip down memory lane was fun.

Carol- Lynn Rossel said...

What a rich life in books you've had!

Carol M said...

I enjoyed your post. I, too, have always had a library card. My mom started taking me there even before I could read.

Jill McCullough said...

Pat, since most kids remember the ice cream truck, it makes me smile that you remember your mobile library truck. I enjoyed reading about your journey.

AP, Cloris' cranberry walnut cookies sound yummy. Homemade cookies beat Halloween candy any day.

Have a great weekend, all!

Kay said...

I loved hearing about your life & your love of libraries. I remember my dad would always take me to the library every Saturday. I would check out the maximum limit allowed, 20 at the time, and have them all read & ready to go back the next Saturday. Love, love, love the library.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. And I am dying of curiosity about who the famous newspaper editor was!

Also, thanks for the chance to possibly win a copy of LA Heat.


Jenny Milchman said...

Pat, what an inspiration the spread between 17 and 50 is! I am letting the fact of that flow through me...like syrup...as I wait here with my novel on submission. It can be done!

Of all the memories, Mr. Sander saving your poem struck me as the most touching. He is your first reader--and you were only 10.

jeff7salter said...

An early love of books and libraries is no doubt a significant reason I spent 30 years in the library profession.
Books are among my most valued possessions.
I was also "writing" in grade school, but I didn't get "serious" about it until 10th grade.
I too was blessed with teachers who encouraged my writing, especially Mrs. Fleming in 8th and Mrs. Sherman in 10th.
I got external validation by winning some local, regional, and even (a few) national poetry contest awards. Plus I worked in newspapers for several years and published some 150 bylined articles. Always loved seeing my name in print. Ha.
But I didn't see my material published in covers until two monographs I co-authored with my brother which were released by a one of the top three (royalty) publishers of library-related books (at that time). I was 38 for the first book and 41 for the second.
I didn't transition to novel-writing until I took an early retirement at age 55 and began devoting "full-time" to writing.
I've written five completed manuscripts in these 51 months ... and I'm at work on others.
None published yet ... but an agent is holding a FULL on my 4th ms.
That's a long way around to saying: I agree. If writing is your life-long dream, you should keep writing even if it takes decades to get 'published' in the way that you want.


Thanks so much for being our guest today, Pat. Great post! I also have fond memories of time spent at the library as a child.

And thanks to all of you who stopped by today and posted comments this week. Don't forget to check back Sunday to see if you're the winner of LA HEAT.

Kari Wainwright said...

It's always great to "meet" another book lover. Thanks for sharing your memories with us and for offering the opportunity to win a copy of your book.

gkw9000 [at] gmail.com

Unknown said...

Like you, I hate shopping unless it's at a bookstore, when I usually leave when I can't carry anymore.