I am honored and pleased to introduce today’s guest blogger and fellow Hawaii resident, Patricia Wood. She also has a wonderful blog that’s attracting readers and writers from around the world. Her debut novel, LOTTERY (Putnam, August 2007), is a poignant and wise novel about a very rich underdog who shows everyone just how little his IQ says about his smarts. Read on and learn more about the book, Patricia and her road to publication … I guarantee you’ll love it all.
Patricia was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She has served in the U.S. Army, worked as a Medical Technologist, horseback-riding instructor, and most recently as a marine science teacher working with high-risk students in Honolulu. Patricia is an avid SCUBA diver, has assisted with shark research, won the Hawaii State Jumper Championship with her horse Airborne, crewed in a 39-foot sailboat across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to San Francisco, and is now pursuing her dream of writing. Currently a PhD student at the University of Hawaii, her work is focused on education and the study of disability and diversity. She has been fortunate to have the guidance of author Paul Theroux, who spends his winters in Hawaii and has been her mentor. Patricia lives with her husband, Gordon aboard ORION, a 48-foot sailboat moored in Ko`Olina, Hawaii. She has a son, Andrew who lives in Everett, where Lottery takes place.
“What I love about LOTTERY is that it is much more than a novel about a windfall affecting a simple soul — it’s a book about a stupendous event affecting a great number of people, especially the reader.”
Perry’s IQ is only 76, but he’s not stupid. His grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive: She taught him to write things down so he won’t forget them. She taught him to play the lottery every week. And most important, she taught him who to trust. When Gram dies, Perry is left orphaned and bereft at the age of 31. Then his weekly Washington State Lottery tickets wins him 12 million dollars, and he finds he has more family than he knows what to do with. Peopled with characters both wicked and heroic who leap off the pages, LOTTERY is a deeply satisfying, gorgeously rendered novel about trust, loyalty, and what distinguishes us as capable.
IN HER OWN WORDS
Where was I a year ago?
When Mia e-mailed to ask if I would be willing to guest blog I leapt at the chance. I mean, why not take the opportunity to procrastinate legitimately from both my current work in progress (to be further known as WIP) and my ongoing obsession as to the exact status of LOTTERY (two weeks from ARC and final galley proof production for release August 2, 2007 in 140 days not that I am counting) at my publishers?
But what would I write about?
What could I say about this last year?
Would I talk about my long arduous journey to obtain an agent? The serendipitous connections I have made with published authors? About my premise that arrived in minutes, written in months, but simmered for years in the recesses of my mind? The jubilation after priming myself to wait interminably for a sale that happened in less than two weeks?
What would I say?
There is an aura of unbelievable circumstance that surrounds me now. A dreamlike quality to each day.
I turn to my husband at least once a week and say, “Can you F***ing BELIEVE this?”
I am no longer filled with envy when I read about another published author’s path. Each e-mail received asking for a bio, picture requests, letters asking why I wrote my novel — each contract that arrives from another country — each time I surf the Internet and find my name — all give me pause. And I think back.
A year ago.
What was I doing a year ago?
The struggle. The doubt. Had I wasted three years of my life producing manuscripts that would never be read unless copied and bound using my own dime and handed out on street corners?
This was a year of serendipitous change and opportunity for me. At each fork in the road –each month it seemed — I was being given a chance to go for it or to hang back.
To grab that ring or let it pass by.
And each time I chose to take the risk. Working with Paul Theroux was one of those situations that arrive unwarranted and without expectation.
And the idea – the premise of LOTTERY that jelled and formulated in my mind — that was another.
This premise was different.
This novel was different.
I could feel it deep in my bones — in my gut.
When I confided in Paul, he told me to drop everything and write that novel. NOW!
That validation of my idea as a good one sustained me through the first draft. It was written quickly as if fully formed in my subconscious, which, if I am honest, much of it was. It utterly became my story. I lived it. Breathed it. Rolled in it like a dog in dead fish, emerging exhausted, smelly, but triumphant.
When Paul predicted LOTTERY would be my first work published, I unaccountably believed him because I felt that same way in my heart. With no evidence. No explanation. Just an amorphous sense of what the universe had in store for me.
My mother died in April of that year. Grief gave me even greater impetus.
Death became an opportunity. An opportunity to take stock of where I was going and what I wanted to do. Draft two. Three. Four. The spirit of my mother sat on my shoulder. She was a voracious reader but her mind was claimed by dementia.
Would it eventually claim me as well? That thought gave me even more energy and speed.
At the end of May, the very first agent I e-queried asked for the full of LOTTERY to be sent as an attachment. More evidence I was on the right track.
I continued to edit and submit. Although that agent passed with regret, others requested fulls and partials.
The last week of June.
There is no such thing as a Dream Agent. I know this.
But all that year I kept coming across an agency: William Morris.
And a name: Dorian Karchmar.
I studied what she represented. Read interviews she gave.
I decided to query her. Forty minutes later the request for the full came.
She offered representation July 20, 2006 at 5:15 a.m.
It would have been my mother’s 86th birthday.
Some times things are really to be.
The universe works in just this way.
And I am gratified.
I am oh so gratified.