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Patricia Sprinkle

Patricia Sprinkle grew up in North Carolina and Florida, graduated from Vassar College, and afterwards spent a year writing in the Scottish Highlands. She has been writing mysteries full time since 1988, and currently lives in Smyrna, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. She and her husband have two grown sons. When she is not writing, Patricia is active in advocacy for abused, neglected, and deprived children.


Friday's Daughter

A contemporary novel of sisterhood, the South, and matters of the heart.

Teensie MacAllester's two elder sisters consider her an insignificant appendage to their illustrious family. For fifteen years they have been delighted to let her care for their ailing relatives. After all, Teensie is both a nurse and a Friday's child, naturally loving and giving.

As Teensie deferred her life, a dream sustained her: autocratic King MacAllester promised her the bulk of his estate. But when King's will is read it divides his property equally among his daughters. Teensie's share is scarcely enough to make a new start. Her sisters have a solution: Teensie can continue to serve as the family care-giver. But Teensie is determined to claim a life of her own. Throwing off the yoke of family expectations, Teensie sets in motion some surprising changes.

Beyond The Book - Patricia Sprinkle: Friday's Daughter

Lee : What do you love most about being a writer?

Patricia: Taking an idea and some nebulous characters and working to help them flesh themselves into the story of real people.

Lee : How many books have you got under your belt now? What's the journey been like since you became published? Does the thrill ever fade?

Patricia: I've written 29 books since 1988 and 3 before that. The thrill of seeing my books in a library or on a store shelves has become more commonplace over the years. Two thrills, however, have never faded: the excitement of taking an idea and some nebulous characters and shaping them into the story of real people, and the thrill of meeting somebody new who says, "I've read most of your books and I love them." That NEVER gets old!

Lee : Please tell us about the premise of FRIDAY'S DAUGHTER. What sparked the idea for this novel?

Patricia : The first scene I got for this book was the one where Teensie, Coco, and Wonder get stuck in the mud. Wonder names the spot "the stucking place," and when Teensie says, "No, it's a sticking place," Wonder points out that a sticking place is one you can get out of, but a stucking place is one where you are so stuck you can't do anything else until you get unstuck. One question I mulled over for years before I knew it would be this book was how people who have gotten stuck in attitudes, relationships, and life scripts can get unstuck—and what happens to those in relationship to them when one person does get freed. I think the second piece to fall into place was the fairy tale about a king with three daughters. Working out how fairy tale sibling relationships might come to life in our own generation was a big part of the book.

Lee : What's your writing process? Do you have a set routine?

Patricia : On my best days, I get to my desk around 10 and work until 2, have lunch, maybe run some errands, and come back to write until 7, when I stop to fix dinner. But if I am deeply into what I'm writing, I may not stop for lunch until 3 or I may go back after dinner and work until 11. And on days when I have other types of work to do—editing, promotion, or writing for blogs (!), I may not write at all. But when leave the writing for a time, it leaves me, as well, and it is far harder to get back into it.

Lee : Do you flesh out all your secondary characters before you start the writing process or do they sort of take life as you write?

Patricia : I have a character template of questions I want answered about any character who will play an important role in the book before I start to write. If I do not do this, I waste a lot of time trying to "discover" my characters, whereas if I start by interviewing each character first, they are real enough in my head for me to write about them from the beginning. This would probably not work for everybody, but it works for me.

Lee : Have any of your secondary characters ever surprised you by doing something you weren't expecting?

Patricia : I never believe a book is going to "work" until somebody I thought was a secondary or even a very minor character steps forward and says, "Here I am, and I am critical to your plot." In Friday's Daughter it was Wonder, the four-year old bi-racial daughter of Teensie MacAllester's niece. I was writing the second scene in the book, where the sisters have gathered for the reading of their father's will, and I was wishing something unusual would happen when all of a sudden I could see a hideous face at the window and hear a roar. That turned out to be Wonder, her face pressed to the screen, to startle her relatives.

Lee : What was the best or most fun part about writing this story? The not-so-great part?

Patricia : The most fun about writing this story was shaping a fairy tale into a contemporary story, and working with the characters of Teensie, Regan, and Wonder. As a sister myself, I enjoyed watching the dynamics between those two sisters change during the story, and Wonder was always a delight to write. The least fun was trying to get the relationship between Teensie and Tobias right. What I didn't realize until I was into the story was that he was as stuck as Teensie and her family all were, and that the book would need to "unstuck" him, too.

Lee : What do you enjoy doing when you aren't writing?

Patricia : I read a lot, like to work in our yard (when that involves planting flowers, not when it involves weeding or mulching leaves), and am an active advocate for the rights of children, particularly foster kids. I also like to teach writing to middle school students, and my favorite sport—if it counts as that—is snorkeling.

Lee : What sort of research did you have to do for this book? What's the most interesting thing you discovered research wise, while writing this story?

Patricia : The most interesting research was into Cherokee folklore and history, particularly the history of the Cherokee in Georgia. Perhaps the most unexpected thing I learned from my research was that the Cherokee felt betrayed by their own leaders as well as by the Federal Government, but after reading the history of Andrew Jackson's betrayal of those who had helped him, I am as resentful as some Cherokee of having his picture on the twenty dollar bill.

Lee : What does success mean to you?

Patricia : Taking a nebulous idea and working with it long enough and hard enough to get something I recognize at the end.

Lee : What advice would you give aspiring writers today?

Patricia : Start young and start small. Don't expect to publish books at the beginning. Settle for stories and articles. They are excellent training grounds, and are more likely to give you initial success than the arduous process of writing a whole book only to have it rejected. Once you've learned how to work with editors, meet deadlines, and persevere, then write your books.

Lee : How can fans contact you?

Patricia : E-mail me at or on Facebook at Patricia Sprinkle's Readers.