We are pleased to welcome Mary Pat Hyland to the blog. She brings with her some delectable treats, some tasty and some not so much. Let’s sit down for a spell and sample what she has to offer at The Terminal Diner.
How did you come up with the idea for your book? The Terminal Diner’s humble beginning was a short story I wrote for a contest. Spice of Life didn’t win, so it was tucked away in my short story file. I started thinking about the story again with the angle of involving one of the main characters in the military and played with it a bit, but set it down again. Another contest came up—the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award—and I thought the story could be revisited as a possible entry. This time I wove in the events of Sept. 11 into the story. Since then it has been revised further with some new characters I adore.
What do you think readers will appreciate most about your book? The
characters Rhey White and Simon. Rhey is an unexpected delight and Simon
steers the story into magic realism. My stories often detour that way. I
think it’s the influence of Latin American literature on my writing.
What is different about this book compared to others you’ve written? This book deals with some very difficult issues (had a few sleepless nights
after writing a couple of scenes) and it’s my first foray into the
suspense genre. That said, it retains the humor in my other works, too.
What is the most unique or unusual research you’ve ever done for a book? One of my characters in the Maeve Kenny series, Andy Krall, is a paraplegic. To understand what someone with that disability experiences, I visited a chat board where people hoping for a viable stem cell treatments gather. It
gave me a good idea of the flexibility people with his spinal cord injury
would have, the daily health issues they face as well as the power of
humor in their lives.
What is your greatest writing strength? Dialogue. I’m also a musician, and
when I write conversations, I hear the cadence of speech in my mind. When
I was younger, I was quite shy and spent a good deal of time sitting
silent while others chatted on. Because of this, I’d pick up details about
people that everyone else would miss. Useful skill for a writer.
What is the hardest part about writing? Keeping a commitment to write
every day. It’s like exercise. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Who inspired you to write this book? Inspiration came from several angles.
When Sept. 11 occurred, I was working at a daily newspaper. With
Associated Press bulletins flying across the wires all day, it was
absolutely terrifying in the newsroom. A couple of days later I found out
that an old friend was killed at the World Trade Center. It was
heartbreaking to see the toll his death took on the family. The loss has
changed their attitudes and given them courage to greet each new day that
I find inspiring.
Who are your favorite authors? Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Anne
Tyler, John Irving.
Why did you decide to write in this genre? The story decided it for me. As
I made revisions it turned down a path I’d never been on before. I
thought, OK, let’s see where this takes me. I found out that it was quite
fun to write suspense.
Can you tell us a little about your next project? I’ve already written the
first draft of the third book in my Maeve Kenny series, due in December.
No title yet. In November, I’ll start writing The House With the
Wrap-Around Porch for NaNoWriMo. A collection of short stories might come
out before that.
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cxwu8B2UYo
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