Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author, Patti Callahan Henry—The Favorite Daughter
Can you tell us when you started THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, how that came about?
It all began when I decided I wanted to write about memory. Sometimes my novels start with an image; sometimes a question, and this time with a theme. I have long been fascinated with the power of memory – how it defines us; how it shapes us, and what happens if we lose it. My master’s degree in pediatric nursing focused on brain injuries so I often say “It’s not often that an author’s past and a books future come together like this.”
What do you hope for people to be thinking after they read your novel?
I never like to tell people what I want them to come away with – I believe that stories are living things and mean something different to each person. BUT I do hope that readers come away thinking more about their families, their memories and what “home” really means to them. I hope it spurs discussion about brain health and about family.
What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
The most memorable chapter for me is the one where a great twist happens in the story. It meant the most to me not only for its emotional impact but also because I did not see it coming, so it stunned me as much as I hope it stuns the reader.
Are there certain qualities that make a novel better for you?
I love a novel with a good transformational journey where the character must overcome great obstacles to become who she/he is meant to be. A love story is a bonus:)
Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?
Oh yes! When someone writes to me in person or in a review and mentions something that really impacted them, something that I hadn’t even noticed about the work, my perspective shifts. I realize in those moments that I am just in service to the work, and that I am not in control of how it touches others.
What part of Lena did you enjoy writing the most?
I adored writing about Lena from beginning to end. But I especially loved writing the scenes with her father. They had a loving and supportive relationship that most daughters dream about. I loved writing about her memories with him and then of course when the secret comes out….
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I am so excited about the book I am currently writing. It is a dual timeline novel set in present-day Savannah and 1838 Savannah. The novel centers around a real shipwreck that has just been discovered off the coast of North Carolina. It is both fascinating and terrifying. It is a tragic story that changed the face of Savannah and has been lost to time.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Wow. I love this question. I would introduce C. S. Lewis to Gavin Donohue. I bet they’d be best friends and have a pint in the pub together.
When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
Last week! Before that, I couldn’t have said when. But I went to my P. O. Box (where people can send letters or ask for signed bookplates) and found a few letters from people telling me what my last novel meant to them, I felt completely compelled to return their letters the same way they’d been written to me – on paper.
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I want to go back to England and stay for a bit. I want to see and experience it not as a tourist but as a local. I think living that kind of life so separate from my own would be the grandest adventure.
What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Being stuck in closed spaces. Just writing that makes my heart pick up pace.
What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
I had a horrific hiking accident about six years ago. I fell off a cliff in the middle of nowhere Tennessee and it took a long while for help to come. And when the paramedics did arrive, I had to be rescued with something they call a “high angle rescue”. I was terrified; out of my body terrified. But all is well, and now with hardware in my ankle, I still hike!
What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
My stories or my kids depending where I am with each. How I’d love to hear everyone’s answer to this! How interesting.
If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would have taken more literature and writing classes in college. My degree was in Nursing, so I focused on the Sciences and Psychologies. But dang, what I’d give to take a few literature classes.
TEN FAVORITE READS EVER
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene; The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis; Beach Music by Pat Conroy; The Paris Wife by Paula McLain; Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons; The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve; Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; Walking on Water by Madeline L’Engle; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Interview with JeanBookNerd
About Jean Vallesteros:
I am a devoted book lover and book reviewer for fictional books (YA + adult). My goal is to provide in-depth opinions on these books and be able to share thoughts and ideas with other book lovers.
ABOUT THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop at Water's End, here is a lush, heart-wrenching novel about the power of memory, the meaning of family, and learning to forgive.
Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home--until she learns of her dad's failing health.
Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family's Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters' rift. While Alzheimer's slowly steals their father's memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena's own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.
Praise for THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER
"A satisfying read about family and forgiveness." —PopSugar
"Henry's latest packs an emotional wallop, delving into the bonds and tragedies that make a family....Readers of thoughtful family dramas will be drawn to the travails of the Donohue clan." —Booklist
“Readers will be immersed in this moving tale, hungry to learn whether love and family will overcome betrayal, secrets, and heartache.” —Publishers Weekly
“Patti Callahan Henry is quickly becoming one of my favorites. [This] is a story of reflection, forgiveness, and surprising twists.” —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The Favorite Daughter is both heartfelt and heartbreakingly honest in its portrayal of a family once divided by scandal and brought together through the power of memories....Moving, intelligent, full of twists and turns, I loved it! Patti Callahan Henry shines at family dramas and The Favorite Daughter is her best!" —Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Guests
“In exquisitely-wrought prose, Patti Henry lyrically examines the meaning of forgiveness and the inexorable tug of home.” —Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The High Tide Club
“A layered, spellbinding novel about families and lovers and the meaning of home. Above all, it’s about memory, how it shapes us, fools us, and warms our hearts. This is one truly beautiful book.” —Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of A Nantucket Wedding
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