A Bookish Conversation with Patricia Yager Delagrange
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Patricia attended St. Mary’s College, studied her junior year at the University of Madrid, received a B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get a Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and Jack. Her Friesian horse Maximus lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.
Her latest book is the romantic women’s fiction, Moon Over Alcatraz.
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About the Book:
Brandy Chambers was looking forward to the birth of her first child. She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project. Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.
But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face. Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart. This new distance leads them both to disaster. Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together. Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.
Everything is once again going according to plan—until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant. While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal. Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together? Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?
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Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Patricia! Can you tell us where you are from?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the small man-made island city of Alameda (population 80,000).
Q: How did you come up with your title?
The title Moon Over Alcatraz comes from a scene in the first chapter of the book when the two main characters, Brandy and Weston, are talking. She says, “We were living in San Francisco. We made love on the deck. You could see the full moon—like a huge medallion, hanging by an invisible chain over Alcatraz.” That was a time in their relationship before tragedy arrived at their door. They were happy.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
The cover for Moon Over Alcatraz was designed by Kit Foster, an artist who lives north of Edinburgh in Scotland. I found him on Google+ when I was looking for a cover artist. I think he did a great job portraying the theme of the book. A young woman is dragging a baby blanket behind her, symbolizing the loss of an infant.
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
Though the genre is women’s fiction because it tells of a woman’s journey through tragedy, it is filled with romance and has a satisfying Happy Ever After ending. Moon Over Alcatraz is not a depressing novel though Brandy and Weston share a sad experience in their marriage at the beginning of the book. Brandy works through this difficult time and the book is progressively uplifting as it unfolds.
Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?
The message I want the reader to know is that life is filled with difficulties and sadness and tough times but with a positive attitude and hope for the future, it’s possible to find happiness. As tragic as Brandy’s experience is to go through and the difficult aftermath of struggle, good things begin to happen to her again and by the end, she’s happy again and her life’s on track.
Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
My most favorite chapter is a scene at the end of the book when Brandy and her best friend Cecilia are shopping for a wedding dress. If I reveal any more than that it will give away the ending.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
I have two children, a biological son and an adopted daughter. I have never known what it’s like to lose a child and hope I never do. However couples deal with the death of their children every single day. I wanted to take that experience and dig deep and discover how I would feel if it happened to me. That’s how I write all my books. I ask myself “what if” and go from there. I want the reader to feel an emotion when reading my novels. I believe that’s why people read books.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
A deep, dark secret? I have five sisters and only have a relationship with one of them. That’s deep and dark and sad. But it can’t be helped. No family is perfect and people can be evil. That’s not my fault but I do have to deal with it. I believe everyone has someone in their life with whom it’s better not to have a relationship. For me, it just happens to be four of my sisters.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would go back to Switzerland. I visited Lucerne after my year living in Madrid, studying at the University. Lucerne was a beautiful, clean, old city with a peaceful atmosphere. I have good memories of walking the hills and streets of Lucerne, enjoying the gorgeous views and perfect weather.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
I wake up pretty darn early when my husband’s alarm goes off at 5:10. He sleeps in for another half-hour but once I’m awake, I’m awake. So I get up and shower and put on my make-up and do my hair then I feed the dogs and myself and jump on the computer. It’s definitely a productive time for me.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
My daughter started writing a couple of books and I liked her writing. For being twelve years old at the time she wrote the beginnings of a novel, and I think she had promise. Unfortunately she threw both of them away and never began another. That’s sad.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
I dreamed of becoming a nun for many years while attending Catholic grammar school. After I turned ten years old, we moved and in my new school I encountered several mean nuns and changed my mind. Then I entered college and wanted to be a psychiatrist but after working and living at Napa Mental Hospital, I changed my mind. I’m an “empath” and it was just too depressing working with teens who had horrific backgrounds of physical and mental abuse. Then I wanted to be a translator since I had a B.A. in Spanish and had studied both Italian and German. But I realized it would take me too many years to conquer two additional languages because you needed three to be a translator. So I got my Master’s degree in College Student Services Administration and worked at U.C. San Francisco as a financial aid advisor.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
My wish would be to rid the world of sickness and disease. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. You can’t experience life to its fullest if you’re sick.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thank you or hosting me. Your questions were insightful and made me think. That’s something an author often doesn’t delve into – the “why” of their writing and the “why” of their theme. I enjoyed answering your questions.