AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: PATRICIA KIYONO
Busy mom and author Patricia Kiyono has stopped by to chat about her recent release…
Patricia what is your most current work out?
My most recent release is actually a book I co-wrote with author Stephanie Michels (The Calico Heart), but my most current work of my own is The Samurai’s Garden, published by Astraea Press.
Tell us a little about The Samurai’s Garden. What inspired you to write it?
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I start out with a general outline. I try to work out the goals motivations and conflicts (GMCs) of the hero and heroine. And I usually have an idea of the basic story line. But once I start writing, the characters often take over and make changes.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I started writing romance because these are the stories I love to read. When I worked full time while raising two daughters, I would often end my day with a romance. Going through the characters’ conflicts, I would feel their pain, and by the end of the happily ever after I would be able to sleep better, knowing all was right in their world. I like to read cozy mysteries too, but I’m not sure if I’m wired for writing those. My family tells me I’m not very logical.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I like all my main characters, but I think I have a special place in my heart for Hiro Tanaka, my hero in The Samurai’s Garden. He’s strong, but gentle. Fierce, yet loyal and protective. He’s going to play a major part in the next two books in the series.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
It’s always difficult for me to get into the mind of the villain, so the Greek tycoon Zotis in Aegean Intrigue and the unscrupulous daimyo in The Samurai’s Garden were both characters who gave me trouble.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I think most of my characters stem from experiences I’ve had, or from people I’ve met. Jake Thompson, the ice carver in The Christmas Phoenix, was inspired by a local ice sculptor, Randy Finch, who graciously answered my many questions about his craft.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Sticking with one project until it’s done. I usually have at least three projects going at any given time.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I’m very indecisive. Sometimes I get tripped up by the tiniest details and I don’t know what to do. This hampers my writing sometimes, from deciding what project to work on to what I should have the characters do. I find it really annoying. In my everyday life, my world becomes cluttered because I can’t figure out what to do with the “stuff” I have – where to put it, what to do with it. Sometimes I wonder how I’ve managed to do the things I’ve done.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I love to play Words With Friends and do Sudoku puzzles. I do these when I should be sleeping.
What TV Shows are you addicted to?
I don’t watch much television, but recently I started watching episodes of Downton Abbey on Hulu.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I always write better if I have either total silence or classical music playing. I also need a mug of coffee or tea next to me.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
I like to have classical music playing as I write. I also have a recording of traditional Japanese instrumental music that sort of inspired me while I worked on The Samurai’s Garden. And I also have a CD called Creativity by Steven Halpern that has been helpful. But most of the time, I tend to prefer total silence around me.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I don’t watch a lot of movies, so I had to google Japanese-American actors for this! Candace Kita looks like a good fit for Hanako, and Shin Koyamada looks like he’d be a great candidate for Hiro.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was at home, and the contract came in an email from Stephanie Taylor. My husband was asleep, so I think I emailed my children and my brothers.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I read a lot when I was young, but I don’t remember reading romance until I was in my 30s and had two young kids. I loved being a mom, and I really didn’t mind being a working mom, but sometimes I needed to escape. And romance novels were an inexpensive way to “get away” from it all.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Robyn Carr – I LOVE her Virgin River series!
If you still have one of those pesky non-writing jobs what is it?
I took early retirement (at age 49!) from my full-time teaching job. Now I teach part-time at a university nearby, and I work about twenty hours a week at a local bakery.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m working on a sequel to The Samurai’s Garden as well as another book in the Stitching Post Romance series, which I’m writing with partner Stephanie Michels. As for the Samurai stories, the tentative plan is to take the family all the way to the present generation of Tanakas.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I am currrently working on a series of books with author Stephanie Michels. The Stitching Post novels are about a group of women who belong to a quilting group. The first book, The Calico Heart, was released by Astraea Press in January. I love working with Stephanie because she’s a very detailed person, while I tend to look at the big picture, so it works out great.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I’m not sure I have a method. I just pick a name that appeals to me. For foreign names, I check the meanings before using them.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I think attraction at first sight is fine, but I don’t really think true love is something that has to grow, based on mutual experiences and learning about each other.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Milk chocolate, in any form and with any other type of dessert food. Preferably with nuts.
Ranger or Morelli?
Joe Morelli for sure! Ranger is definitely appealing, but Morelli is the better choice for the long haul. As awful as his grandma is, he’s got family and roots. And he’s yummy, too.