Interview with Award-Winning Author Patricia H. Rushford

Get to know Patricia… 

Internationally known author, speaker and teacher, Patricia H. Rushford has book sales totaling over a million copies. She has written over fifty books, including, What Kids Need Most in a Mom and Have You Hugged Your Teenager Today. She has also written five mystery series three for adults and two for children.  Her recent projects include writing novels for the Guidepost books such as the Mystery and the Minister’s Wife series and the medical series, Hope Haven.  In addition, she has written a soon to be released romantic suspense, Strangers in the Night.

Patricia was nominated for an Edgar by Mystery Writers of America, received the Silver Angel for excellence in media and has received a number of other prestigious awards. Patricia has a degree in nursing and holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling. In addition, she conducts writer’s workshops for adults and children and served as director of the Oregon Christian Writer’s Summer Conference from 2005 through 2010.

In addition to writing, Patricia loves arts and crafts. She is an avid quilter and knitter and works in a number of other crafting areas such as drawing and watercolor.  She is currently active in making charity quilts for Clark County Quilting. Patricia is enthusiastic, loves people, and enjoys teaching and encouraging writers. For more info, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin! 

What is your worst scar? How did you get it? (Mentally or physically)

There’s a song about the first cut being the deepest.  Back in 1975 I received a phone call telling me I had a malignant melanoma. Cancer. The scar was deeper and larger than it probably needed to me, and ruined my chances of ever wearing a bikini again, but it saved my life.  I am a two time cancer survivor and carry a lot of scars from various medical problems.  In time you learn to accept those scars. I was never much of a bikini girl anyway.

Physical scars heal—emotional ones, not so much.  I’ve developed a few deep scars related to writing over the years—and I think the one that cut the deepest was seeing one of my books arrive with the worst cover imaginable. I pulled the book out of the package, excited to see it at last and I wept.  They—the powers that be—had ruined my wonderfully creative and humorous how-to book on relationships.  The book?  Love is a Many Splintered Thing. It still cuts me to the core, but very soon, I shall resurrect it as an e-book.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

When I first started writing I focused on non-fiction how-tos.  As an RN I had letters behind my name, but as a woman, I had experience with children and other life situations that mattered to people. I wrote Have You Hugged Your Teenager Today, What Kids Need Most in a Mom, Caring for Your Elderly Parents and a long list of books that offered hope and help in life’s sometimes painful journey.

I write mysteries because I love the concept of good versus evil and my mind seems to be able to conjure up all sorts of mayhem, murder and mystery. Give me a minute and I’ll give you a mystery.

I write for middle grade (The Max & Me Mysteries) and YA (The Jennie McGrady Mysteries) because I want to offer kids clean, exciting stories that challenge them to think for themselves and provide positive role models.  A young girl wrote to me a few years ago saying that she was thinking of committing suicide, but decided not to because “…Jennie wouldn’t do that.”

What genre do you avoid writing? 

I don’t see myself writing straight romance or formulaic books where the couple must be together for x number of pages.  Nearly everything I write has an element of mystery and suspense, along with a little romance.  I like to let the stories take me on the journey.

How do you recharge your creative batteries?

Being a writer is part of my creative process—I am first an artist. Before I became a writer, I was a production potter.  If I run out of steam with one project I move to another for a while.  I cook, quilt, knit, draw, paint and do a number of crafts.  I also read, or walk or hike in a beautiful place. Sometimes I develop a new idea.  I am never without something to do, though I have been known to pause and sit a while in God’s presence and not do a thing.

Is any material in your books based on real life experiences or purely imagination? 

I don’t believe that one can write what has not been experienced in one form or another.  Not that one must commit a murder to write about one of course.  I use a lot of information I see on television or read in the news—I create characters based on people I know or have met.  The important thing if that the story has to make sense in some way—the reader must be able to connect on some level with the characters and the plot.

How many words have you written in one writing session?

I think around 10-12 pages, which always includes a fair amount of dialogue—maybe 25,000 words.  I am not a marathon writer.  I am most comfortable writing for a couple of hours each day.  When I am on deadline I make myself work harder and longer hours than I really want to.

Are you a person who makes the bed in the morning?

Every morning—sometimes even before I get up.  J  I like to have a tidy bedroom. Messes tend to make me feel disorganized and out of sorts.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

My biggest challenge was learning how to write a book proposal and then how to actually write the book once I got the contract.  I was extremely fortunate to meet an editor at my very first writer’s conference who took an interest in my ideas.  He saw something in me—humor, experience, honesty—I’m not sure.  On second thought I think the biggest challenge was getting the courage to send my work to him.  I had a hard time believing I could produce anything worth publishing.   My editor nudged me—rather sharply several times before I complied.  I really and truly own my success as a writer to this man.

What is your very favorite part of the day?

Morning.

What was the worst advice you’ve ever been given? 

At my first writer’s conference an editor told me no one was interested in what I had to share because I was not famous.  Fortunately, I met with others who assured me that was not the case.  I never forgot those words and sometimes they still haunt me.  I am no one important.  Keeps one humble.

How did you celebrate your first book being published? Has the excitement worn off with each book you publish?

I went to the library to find my name and ISBN number in the catalog file.   The excitement of having a new book come out never ends.  There’s always that hope and awe—that wonderment in seeing your book take on a life of its own. Sometimes it sinks and sometimes it swims, but it is out there—born into the world.

Best writing advice you’ve ever received? 

Years ago, Lee Roddy spoke at a conference I attended.  I am spinning my own take on his advice to writers but in essence he said, you will be asked to do a lot of things other than write—things other’s can do.  Leave those things to others and you do what the Lord has called you to do. Write!  

What is your worst personality characteristic? 

I get depressed easily.  If I get one bad review and ten good ones—I will remember the bad one. I have to fight against letting it drag me down.

What was the best thing that happened to you this year? 

In May, my husband and I went back toGrand Forksto see my daughter and her family.  That’s always the highlight of my year.  This was especially exciting since they had just moved themselves and their ministry (Stable Days Youth Ranch) to this wonderful place on the river.  They rescue horses and kids and I loved being a part of that. I’d never worked so hard, but enjoyed every minute of it—except for the aches and pains.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? What was it? 

Last spring I took a class to learn how to create a picture with thread using a sewing machine.  It’s a quilting technique for art quilters.  That’s a lot of stitches.

If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

I would create a writer’s retreat where writers could escape the clamor of the world. Here, I would offer writing time, critique and hands on classes.

What is your definition of a productive day?

This would be a day of writing, cooking something gourmet, finishing a quilt and not playing one single game of solitaire.

What is your definition of a relaxing day? 

Hiking in the mountains, walking by a stream, wandering through the fair.

What was your favorite thing to play with as a child?

My imagination.  Because I ended up being the good guy.

If you could be any animal in the world for 24 hours, which animal would you be?

A female cat.  I admire cats and it would be like being queen for a day.

Have you ever jumped out of a plane? If you knew you would survive, would you do it?

I doubt it, but I would try a zip line through the jungle.

Can you share your journey from writing to author?

My writing journey oozed out of a depression I’d fallen into in my early thirties.  I’d tried being supermom—an I-am-Woman woman and failed. I wrote to escape the pain and it often came out in verse.  This was my writing-to-heal phase.  Once I escaped the darkness I felt led to share my experience with others.  Most of my personal writings/journaling has never been published and probably never will be.  Moving from focus on self to focus on others with their wants and needs led me to write my first book, Have You Hugged Your Teenage Today, where I shared stories out of my past and wrote about how to survive the parenting years.  


What is your biggest pet peeve?

Reviewers who give away too much of the plot.

Name a turning point in your life that makes you smile.

I think that would have to be the day I stopped being a Doing person and became a Being person.  It was the day I realized that I didn’t have to do anything to receive God’s favor.  God’s love is mine simply because I am.  

If you were to be on a reality TV show, which would it be and why?  

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a reality show where you can watch author’s write?  It would probably be as good or better than some of the nutsy stuff out there now.  ;-)  

Think of the craziest What If question. Do you think you could write an entire book based off of this question? 

What if I went to leave the house via the garage and as I opened the door a man stood in the doorway with a gun. He shoots me and the noise brings my husband.  My husband rushes forward and the man shoots him. My husband lands on top of me. Later the doctors tell me that the pressure of his body on mine slowed the bleeding and saved my life.  What if….  Yes, morbid as it is, I could write an entire book.

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