We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Patricia Furstenberg, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of October 2022.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
I am honored and delighted to have been recognized in this way by Spillwords Press and its Community, and by fellow authors. Being voted Author of the Month means I now have the obligation to push my boundaries as a fiction and poetry writer. This recognition is not just for show, but it’s a symbol of respect and to me it means the acceptance of a greater responsibility, which is my legacy.
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
I was fortunate to have parents, teachers, and friends who supported and nourished my love of reading and writing. This resulted in me starting down the writing path early in my life.
Today, my husband and my children are encouraging and supportive in every possible way. I think that family and life experiences have influenced my desire to write for children and adults alike, and in various genres (historical fiction, contemporary, but also poetry). Also, my life experiences, extensive travelling, and influences show in the recurrent motives surfacing in my writing: unconditional love, war, and survival.
What inspires you to write?
Every writer has heard this question, but for each story, or poem, the answer will be different. For me, the inspiration can be a vista, a legend, an article read, or a place I visited. But this will only be the spark, the desire to write about it. The itch. To develop it, I need more, I need the “what if” that will feed this seed and help it bloom.
What was your writing catalyst?
There were two major catalysts to my writing career that I’ll always hold close to my heart. One was being a winner in the “Write Your Own Christie” Competition (judged by Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie’s grandson, and Christie’s British and American Publishers, David Brawn and Daniel Mallory respectively – who were very supportive and appreciative of my writing). The second was the 2017 Kindle Storyteller when my historical fiction novel “Joyful Trouble” received special acclaim and later it became an Amazon Bestseller.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
Writing starts my day and most often ends it. I write early in the morning, before the call of the rooster, and I think about my writing as I drift off to sleep in the night. I write best in my study, at my desk, surrounded by hand notes, post-its, and research material. It’s like a cocoon of words and is the place that benefits me most.
Writing poetry and fiction can mean following different routes, and this will vary for any author. For me, writing poetry (such as Rain) is like painting. You begin with a spark, create a sketch, then you add to it, or remove. You carve with words, the way an artist uses his hands to mold the clay. I usually read out loud my poetry and hear its rhythms, the way it dances, the way it makes the air vibrate.
Writing fiction (such as A Love Letter to Coffee) means starting with a question that needs an answer or with a story that I feel must be told and shared. Writing fiction means plodding along for days, weeks, and months. Like a dog after a bone. Following the scent of the tale without looking back until that first draft is finished. Without having concrete proof; until that second, no, that third, fourth, or fifth draft is polished. Forging ahead, through thick and thin.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
I love this question. It is that wonderful feeling when the words just flow and I can’t type fast enough. The idea pours through me, I don’t know where it comes from, but it ignites me and it sets my fingertips alight. Or when the scene is done, and everything feels just right, the way I’ve seen it in my mind. Then the feeling of accomplishment you get when finishing that first draft, and then when you hold your book in your hand. After 18 published books, it still feels surreal to me.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Telling stories is certainly written in human DNA. Storytellers do that by using language, but also our facial expressions, the tone of our voices, and our hands, to underline scenes within the tale. A novelist will strive to create imagery using words alone. A poet too. A photographer can use images focused only on details to tell a bigger story. In a way the reverse of what a writer does. So yes, imagery is part of the building blocks that make a story.
What is your favorite reading genre?
Historical fiction and crime and medical thrillers are my favorite reading genres, what I reach for when I want to wind down and escape reality. I like to learn through my reading too, and historical fiction introduces me to various locations and eras. Due to my medical background, I can relate to medical thrillers and there’s nothing like a fast-paced novel by Tess Gerritsen or Kathy Reichs to turn me into a happy reader.
What human being has inspired you the most?
My mother. A woman of outstanding achievements, tremendous perseverance, and utmost kindness. My Mom is my heroine, through all of her sacrifices – those I know of and those I don’t know, yet I wish I would so that they will not be forgotten.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
Thank you all so much. I would not be here without you believing in me.
Everything we do, whether small or great, has a cause and effect. Our actions, our words, or our stories have an effect on those around us, in one way or another. Therefore, we must hold ourselves responsible for the message we share, and the quality of the thoughts that stood at the foundation of that written piece. As a parent, I try to lead by example. As a writer, leading by example means not only producing work of a higher quality than the previous one but also using social media (that greatly expands our capabilities of reaching our readers) and being mindful of the content we release into the world.
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
I would like my stories to be remembered through their main characters and the stories they told, be it, civilians, soldiers or military working dogs caught in war zones (“Joyful Trouble” or “Silent Heroes”), or unknown souls who lived a long time ago, but dealt with the same heart-break, and daydreaming as we do today (“Dreamland” and “Transylvania’s History A to Z”).
Stories can help us go through life’s most difficult moments, but stories also teach, and they can elate us too.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
An appealing poem or a glossy book cover is only the tip of the iceberg.
The writing process that they rest on is tremendous and often harrowing. It involves a human being metaphorically chained to a desk, typing on a computer keyboard until his fingertips develop callouses. The process of creating a poem or completing a novel always takes its toll on the writer – on his eyes, knees, and back; they all pay the price. He, the writer, went through highs and lows, climbed Everest on his own, and often only in slippers, then plunged through valleys of self-doubt and despair. Yet he never gave up, but forged on, and on, and on, following only the burning passion he carried in his heart, and the feeling that his story is worth telling, and he is the only one to do so.
He did it all, endured it all for you, for the reader he never met, and perhaps he’ll never meet.
OCTOBER 2022 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Novelist and poet Patricia Furstenberg has a degree in Dentistry and is the author of 18 books including DREAMLAND, 100-Word Stories, TRANSYLVANIA’s HISTORY A to Z, SILENT HEROES – chosen “One of the Five Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime”, and JOYFUL TROUBLE – Amazon Bestseller. Patricia Furstenberg’s writing focuses on people, on how history surprised them, and on the footprints they left, memories that should not be forgotten.