Q&A with featured writer Patricia Bandurka
Patricia shares insights into writing and publishing a series
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I’m so happy to share with you this month’s Q&A with one of my dear friends, author Patricia Bandurka. We met in high school and share so many memories—even sharing some classes together, including music and Writer’s Craft (so fitting for the topic of this newsletter!). I value our friendship and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Patricia’s stories, in addition to admiring the way she wrote them. I’m so pleased and excited to share Patricia’s writing experience and sincere, helpful insights with you!
I remember reading Patricia’s 2016 debut novel The Protector, a riveting romantic time travel mystery that takes place around Christmas. When I read the sequel, The Defender, I found myself rereading sentences to admire the language. Patricia also recently co-wrote a third novel, entitled The Hypnotic Hand.
In addition to writing, Patricia enjoys golf, curling, reading and travelling to places where she can golf with her friends. She works as a coordinator at her curling club and as the tour communications and logistics manager at GTAAM tour.
Marisa: When did you first know you’re a writer?
Patricia: I heard somewhere once that we aren't all writers, but we are storytellers. I don't think I ever really believed I could write. I struggled with the basics. I recall having a hard time putting once sentence together, let alone two.
Once I immersed myself in books and started reading, that's when I thought I could do this. When my idea for The Protector came about, it was something in my head and I just wanted to try and see what I could write down. Over time, I started to tell a story and lost myself in the world I created.
To make a long story short, I knew I was a writer the moment I finished my first draft. My words were on a page and it was interesting to see how the process came from nothing to something.
Marisa: Can you tell us about your writing process? For example, when do you do most of your writing, and how deeply do you plan or not plan as you write a new story?
Patricia: My writing process varies. With my first book, I kind of winged it. I knew how it started and how it ended, but missed the middle. I worked forwards and backwards. Ironically, that is a title of one of the chapters in the book and also the last one I wrote. I don't recommend it, but sometimes you know where the story has to go, but you have to figure out how to get there.
I plan better now. I still know how it starts and how it ends—I just figured out how to weave it all together better. I also started recording my chapters before writing them. Sometimes, when I hear the conversation, it becomes a little more real. What would I say? What would I want to hear? I empathize with the characters and put myself in their shoes.
It was different co-authoring a book. That one needed more structure and I had to pay attention more. We were writing and dealing with history, to a degree, and dealing with time. It was planned out carefully and consideration had to be taken for consistency.
A new story can just hit you. For The Hypnotic Hand, it was an idea from the author I worked with. He had written a story and I started thinking. Messaged him and one year later it was done.
Marisa: When you’re done writing your first draft, what is your editing process?
Patricia: My editing process is simple to start. I won't edit it for a month. I want fresh eyes on it. I don’t want to think about it at all.
When I do start editing, I just read the first go-around. I will make a note for grammar or content, but I will not edit it. I give myself a week and when I have time, I go back to it. I will then send it to someone to read. I ask them for grammar and content too. More so, what do you think?
I remember this with the Protector. Someone read it and said they like the story, but they couldn't get behind cheering for the main male character. I was stunned. I then re-read it from what they were telling me and, sure enough, I realized that I knew why the character was the way that he was being portrayed, I just never showed the reader why. That was a revelation for me.
Once I have made changes and additions, I leave it alone again. A clear head makes for a better edit.
Marisa: What was your journey to publishing like? Any tips for fellow writers?
Patricia: Publishing isn't easy. I thought okay, I like my book. People who read it enjoyed it, this should be easy. After sending a few queries, with some replies or none at all, I had a feeling it wasn't going to be a walk in the park.
I tried self-publishing and got burned. The company had its merits but, at the end of the day, they wanted money and it didn't matter how much you would spend. I know some people have been successful, but read reviews from others first and feel out the self-publishing company, too.
When I went through my struggles with that, by sheer luck, I was at my curling club and talking about what I wrote. The gentleman, John Sliz, who is also the author I co-wrote The Hypnotic Hand with, said that he owned his own company. Needless to say, we chatted. He was intrigued by my story. He read it and agreed to publish it. The fact that he knew what I had gone through made me understand and appreciate that the book writing industry is no easy feat. I am forever grateful to John and for getting my book out there. He made it all happen and for that I will always be thankful to him.
To writers out there, don't give up and don't stop writing. Be patient and, if it is something you want, then find a way to make it happen.
Marisa: You’ve written two books that are part of the same series (which I really enjoyed and super recommend). When in the creative process did you envision your story having a sequel (with a third book coming)?
Patricia: Initially, I always thought I wanted to make it a series. When I let others read my story, they didn't like how it ended. They wanted closure and not a cliffhanger. Sometimes, when you write, you can see where the characters are going and that their end game goes beyond one book. I guess the easiest answer for me to give you is that I think I always did know. I just didn't know if I was committed to making it happen.
Marisa: In which ways is creating the second or third book in a series different from creating the first? Any tips for fellow writers considering writing a series?
Patricia: The first book is always memorable. You have set the tone. You are able to create and develop your characters and get a feel for how you want to portray them and the story you want to tell. When you write a second or third instalment, you want to be true to the characters you created. You want to show depth and growth. I often found myself referring to the first book for guidance.
I will be reviewing The Protector and will actually be changing a few things. My writing has changed and grown too. The tone from the first book doesn't quite match The Defender and The Guardian. When I look at it now, there's nothing wrong with what is there—I just want to convey it a little differently.
To other writers, just make sure that you love your characters. The moment you fall out of love with them, that's the moment the story falls flat. It gets tougher to get them their ending. Create characters you want around for awhile.
Marisa: What’s some advice that has helped you grow as a writer?
Patricia: Show...don't tell. Believe what you are writing, too. Also, accept criticism from those you have asked to read the book. You may not like it, but it will help you understand that your story may not be for them.
Read! I find that getting lost in another world can actually help you with yours.
Patricia, thank you SO much for sharing these sincere, open, insightful and helpful answers to help fellow writers!
If you’d like to read Patricia’s books, I highly recommend her novel The Protector, a riveting romantic (sort of enemies to lovers) time travel mystery that takes place around Christmas. Christmas + mystery + romance = superb ingredients for a good story! I also recommend the sequel entitled The Defender; I found myself rereading sentences to admire the language!
Q&As are available to all subscribers, with early access granted to paid subscribers. Access is granted to free subscribers a few weeks later.
I hope you enjoy and wish you happy writing!