Me and Patry Francis at BookSmart, March 2007.
The best introduction I can give you to Patry Francis, author, generous human being, fellow sufferer on this planet, sage, mother, wife, loyal friend, is through her own words. The above passage is from her novel The Liar's Diary, just out in paperback--lucky for you if you missed the extremely good boat last year when it came out in hardcover.
I was racking my brains trying to remember when I first "met" Patry online. I only know that one day her blog Simply Wait became a part of my daily reading, and I grew antsy when she hadn't yet posted anew. Then, somehow, we became blog pals--she'd comment here, I'd comment there. I participated in her Third Day Book Club online for a brief stint...but I still can't remember who introduced me to her, or how I came to know her. It's almost as if Patry was always a friend--someone I could talk life and writing with over coffee in a little cafe. Yet as she lives on the east coast, and I, on the west, I've just reconciled myself to the fact that some people feel like old friends because they're purely, truly themselves.
Patry writes about life, love, disappointment, joy, writing and waittressing--her former career before selling her novel. And now she writes about her endeavor with cancer, as beautifully as before, though sharpened by the clarity of pain and the threat of loss. I call it an endeavor, not a "struggle" or a "challenge" because it has become evident to me and anyone who follows Patry's blog, that she has tackled her healing with a sense of purpose and discipline no less serious than what she brings to her writing.
As with all endeavors it takes a lot of time and energy. It's hard to be your own healer, as well as a writer and a publicist. Yet now, more than ever, Patry needs attention for her fabulous book, excerpted at top.
Here is what she says about her book in a recent post:
"Though my novel deals with murder, betrayal, and the even more lethal crimes of the heart, the real subjects of THE LIAR'S DIARY are music, love, friendship, self-sacrifice and courage. The darkness is only there for contrast; it's only there to make us realize how bright the light can be. I'm sure that most writers whose work does not flinch from the exploration of evil feel the same."
I met Patry in person last year, when, on her west coast book tour, and in particular, an exhausting run in the bay area, she came to BookSmart where I coordinate events. Because she already felt like an old friend, I knew we'd get along. I knew I would like her. I knew she was the generous, funny, wry, talented person you'll hear about all over the blogosphere today. What I also learned was, girlfriend can hold her own! The word "tough" is utterly wrong to describe Patry. She doesn't come off as street or truck-stop tough in the slightest. But she's solidly herself. You can't waittress for two decades without learning how to deal with the whining, insensitive world in a firm and competent manner.
And when, in the gathered crowd at the bookstore, someone began to pontificate and draw the conversation away from the hearty discussion that followed her reading, Patry elegantly, but firmly, took control, shutting off the slightly hysterical tangent without shutting the person down.
I don't know about you, but I like that in a person. What's more, it comes through in her characters.
So here is my exhortation to those of you who visit today. Buy a copy of Patry's suspense novel, The Liar's Diary, for yourself, a friend or a family member, and post a comment here saying you have done so.