Patricia Bell is an Arizonian who has traveled much of the world. Growing up a military brat and joining the Navy herself, at the age of eighteen, has allowed her to see many places and experience the world. She’s also served on Mission trips to Uganda, Africa, which has greatly changed her perspective on life and living.
She has since settled down and now writes YA and Mystery Novels. She is an avid reader of Christian fiction of any kind, and sometimes dabbles into the unknown worlds of Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and John Grisham.
She’s married to the love of her life and has three children who are now grown and facing the world on their own. Years of raising her teenagers has given her plenty of experience in the YA realm. As a matter of fact, if you read her stories, you may glimpse some of their characteristics within.
How did you get started writing fiction and getting published?
I have enjoyed reading and writing since I was a young child. When your life circumstances are less than optimal, it’s easy to drown yourself in fantasy. Publishing. Hm. Well I had been writing for about a good ten years before anyone (besides my husband) knew I was writing. Just writing. And Writing. And writing. Stockpiling story after story. Never believing anyone would ever want to read what I have to say. After all there are thousands of really great authors out there right?
When Amazon began advertising independent publishing I started getting an itch. A calling if you will. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was from God or my husband… or God through my husband. Anyway, I decided what did I have to lose? No one can form an opinion one way or another if I keep my stories locked up on a hard drive somewhere in the depths of my laptop. So, here I am.
You write thrillers, but you make a point that they are completely clean. What exactly do you mean by having them clean? Usually thrillers are associated with grit and hardcore material. How do you reconcile that with your point of keeping yours clean?
When I say clean I mean there is no foul language, erotic scenes, witchery, or explicit violence. What’s a thriller without at lease one of these key elements? I’m glad you asked. I believe you can tell a story without it. The bad guy, for instance, he’s got to have a foul mouth right? And he does. He’s as rotten as they come, but I don’t believe I have to say the words in order for my reader to get a visual of his mentality. For instance, in A Light in the Darkness, the “bad guy” is a psychopath of the worst kind. A child rapist/murderer. He’s already buried 6 bodies in shallow graves and has kidnapped another. I don’t go into detail about what he does to the girls, but the reader knows without a doubt that he is one sick puppy.
If you want to know the truth, I think authors don’t give enough credit to their readers to be able to use their own imaginations when reading a story. When I say, “He shouted a string of expletives.” You say. “Oh! He just said…” (You decide) So there you have it. Oh and all of my stories come with an extra… A moral.
Can you tell us something about your writing process and how you put together your books?
I am what you would call a Pantser. Don’t know what that means? Neither did I until a couple of months ago. It means I get a thought in my head and I sit down at the computer and I start writing. I don’t mull it over, or write out an outline on what will happen next, I just write whatever comes to mind and am usually shocked at how it all unfolds. I have no idea how the next chapter will go until I write it.
You write YA novels as well as thrillers. How does the experience of writing the two genres vary?
The funny thing about that is… well maybe it’s not funny at all. I have this thing with writing about kids and young adults. Maybe it’s the influence of my now 18-year-old daughter, who has unmercifully driven me out of my mind. She has given me enough fodder for a dozen (or more) books. I love her to death, but… well anyway, sometimes I write YA and sometimes I write thrillers (I’d rather say suspense) and sometimes the two intermingle. But my YA series has been read by many more mature adults than young. Categorically it’s listed as a YA but it’s really a good read for people of all ages.
You grew up as a military kid, living all over the world, and later served in the Navy. In addition, you have taken mission trips to Uganda. Have these experiences influenced your writing?
If the military or mission trips have influenced my writing I would say it would be in the way of seeing the condition of the world. The poverty level and the sadness of how so many people live. If I had the money and power, I would love to help so many of the people I’ve met. But I’m not rich or powerful, so instead I write, hoping to influence one person. To put a smile on someone’s face. And if I make money in the process… the day is successful.
The official description of your books don’t indicate that they are Christian novels, but some of the reviews suggest that they are. Will non-Christian readers still enjoy your books, or are they geared more towards people of the Christian faith?
Okay so here’s the secret. (Not really a secret) I am a Christian author. I write books to inspire people. Christian, non-Christian, Atheist, I don’t care. I believe that God has led me to this. He has equipped me with an imagination and a means to share it. If one person is inspired by something I write… I am honored. If anyone is stirred by my books… a seed is planted. If someone is led to Christ… He is honored. If they get nothing out of it besides a good story… I’ve done my job.
What kind of research do you perform for your books, and how do you go about doing it?
It depends on what the book is about. In one of my stories, The Surrogate, I had to do some research on the process of surrogacy. I spoke to a couple of people who had gone through the IVF process and did some probing on the Internet for the rest. Each book is different; therefore each process is different. Sometimes there’s no research at all.
You administer a Facebook group geared towards supporting clean material on Twitter. Can you tell us about this? Where can people go to participate in this?
Yes I do. Actually two of them. The first one is called Christian/Cleanread Retweet Group and it can be found here –
http://bit.ly/2pImv2x. It’s a group where we share each others tweets, so that not only our followers see what we are tweeting, but other audiences can see it as well. I started this group because I was in a couple other similar groups and found some of the material I was required to retweet to be… well let’s just say I didn’t want to retweet them. So I said “If you can’t join them, do it yourself.” and I did. I made my own groups where people can come and share their tweets without worrying that the things they may have to post on their own pages would be disagreeable to them.
Oh and the other group is the Christian/Cleanread Facebook Book shares group. It was created for the same reason but as the title says, it’s for sharing books on Facebook. The concept of it is, you share two other posts into your Facebook feed and then you post your own book for others to share. Each time you share two books, you are allowed to post another. If you are interested you can join here. http://bit.ly/2qJbXk6
What authors have influenced your own writing career?
I am a big fan of Christian and secular authors alike. I enjoy everyone from Terri Blackstock to Stephen King. I love John Grisham and James Patterson as well. On the Christian side I enjoy Nancy Mehl, Francine Rivers, and Beverly Lewis. But for great inspiration, I enjoy reading books by fellow indie authors. I review for Reader’s Favorite and enjoy getting to be a part of the writing process for many new authors.
Thank you Vicki for your well thought out questions. It has been my pleasure to be your guest. Have a wonderful day and may God bless you.
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