“I feel better on
the days I write. Happier. Clearer.
I’m unsettled when I’m not writing."
— Patricia Bailey
author of The Tragically True
Adventures of Kit Donovan
Welcome to Fast Five Interviews, where we ask five questions to open the door to know more:
Patricia Bailey — Trish — lives in Klamath Falls, Oregon, a small town in southern Oregon. Her debut novel, The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan tells the story of a sharp and spunky 13-year-old girl who defies age and gender expectations to stand up for what’s right.
The young adult novel has earned numerous accolades, including 2018 Oregon Book Award for Children’s Literature, the Oregon Spirit Award from the Oregon Council of Teachers of English, and the 2018 Willy Literary Award from Women Writing the West.
Are you Kit?
Not nearly enough to suit me. She’s far braver and way more outspoken than I am. She’s also much more likely to say what she thinks regardless of the consequences. She’s kind of my hero.
How did you come to writing?
Slowly. Or rather I should say I came to see myself as a writer slowly. When I was kid I realized that sorting out my thoughts on paper and making up stories was fun – more fun for me than it was for many of the people I went to school with. I liked trying to get each sentence just right. I enjoyed the buzz I got when I found just the right word. In college I discovered that my classmates and friends seemed to like to read what I wrote – that I could make them laugh or make them sad or make them think with my words. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I could write outside of a classroom assignment. It was later still when I realized that the real writers that I admired were just ordinary people who wrote – not magical, mythical creatures – and that with hard work and persistence I might actually become one too.
What writers or books have most strongly influenced you?
This shifts for me almost day-to-day, depending on what I’m thinking and what I’m currently working on. That said, I think the one book that stands out for me the most is Pam Houston’s Cowboys Are My Weakness. I remember finding it at a bookstore when I was in college and devouring it. It was the first book I read that felt familiar. I knew these people. I’d been to these places. I had stories like this. It was the very first hint that maybe I had things to say that people would read. That my stories might actually matter too.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve received?
I’m a slow writer, so I think the best advice I’ve gotten is to just take the time you need to get the story right. I’d love to be able to write a quick draft and go from there, but it just doesn’t work for me. Remembering that my process is my process and it takes how long it takes is helpful when I’m feeling old and overwhelmed.
Writing — and publishing — can be difficult work. In the face of challenge, what keeps you going?
I think the act of writing does. I feel better on the days I write. Happier. Clearer. I’m unsettled when I’m not writing. So, if I can remember that the act of writing makes me happy - no matter how hard the day is – and focus on just that part, the other worries seem to shrink a bit.
I’m a word collector and keep a running list of favorite words. What are your favorite words?
Glimmer, jellyfish, moon, smarmy, moxie, shiver, loaf, and about a million more I can’t recall just know. I really should keep a list.