Interview with Patricia Yager Delagrange, author of Maddy’s Phoenix
08 Aug 2017
What can you tell us about your new release, Maddy’s Phoenix?
Maddy’s Phoenix is the story of a struggling, 22-year-old truck stop waitress from the small town of Monte Rio, California, who miscarries for the second time, then finds an abandoned baby in a dumpster behind work. Determined to keep the baby and raise her as her own, Maddy takes her tip jar savings and patches together a plan to move to the San Francisco Bay Area. She wants to study to become a nurse so she can make a life for sweet little Judith, certainly better than the life her mother provided for her before she abandoned her when she was a teen. But Maddy knows she’ll need help if she’s to work and go to school. Her older waitress friend, Cheryl, volunteers to go with her, to take care of Judith.
Maddy’s Phoenix is a happy story about how Maddy refuses to let a lifetime of adversity deny her the happiness she deserves. The lives of Maddy and baby Judith are suddenly turned upside down when she falls in love with Dr. Bryce Russell, one of her professors, who researches rare childhood diseases. MADDY’S PHOENIX delivers the happily ever after that readers seek!
What’s the last book you read?
I just finished a book titled The Letter, by an author I’d never read, Kathryn Hughes. It’s a love story about a woman who works in a second-hand shop and comes across an old letter in the pocket of a man’s suit there. Her decision to find the man who wrote the love letter alters the course of her life forever.
What fictional literary world would you most like to visit?
I’d love to the visit the fictional world of Lord of the Rings. The movie was so delightfully beautiful and filled with scenery the likes of which I’ve never seen. I’d like to be dropped onto one of the winding paths alongside a gnome-sized house set next to a stream lined with super-green grass and abundant colorful flowers. When I think of the movie, I see lush hillsides and quaint towns. That would be such an adventure.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
What I love most about writing is creating a fictional world of characters. While all my characters are fictional, I do enjoy drawing on aspects of personalities of people whom I know or have met in real lie. Sometimes the names of my characters begin with the same letter as such a person, which helps me imbue that character with some similar personality traits. I enjoy using experiences that have actually happened to me or someone I’ve heard about, to design a world that is both believable as well as interesting for the reader.
If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
The first person who comes to mind is James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano in the television series The Sopranos. I absolutely loved watching him create a character who was horrendous in the things he did as a mafioso and at the same time was a soft-hearted, sweet man whose family meant everything to him. And he made us like him! I know James Gandolfini and the producers spoke with real people in the mafia to inject the show with realism, and I’d really enjoy knowing more about the mafia, which I find intriguing and definitely out of my comfort zone.
How do you like to spend a rainy day?
If it’s not raining cats and dogs (and usually the rain in the San Francisco Bay Area is so light I don’t even own an umbrella), I enjoy riding my Friesian horse Maximus in the rain. He doesn’t mind being sprinkled with raindrops, and while sitting on his back I’m comfortably warm, because his average body temperature is 100 degrees. It’s especially fun walking through the forest, hearing the plop-plop of the raindrops on the leaves along with the clippitty-clop of his hooves on the path. It works wonders for reducing stress!
What scene in Maddy’s Phoenix was your favorite to write?
I enjoyed writing the scene where Maddy discovers the baby in the dumpster behind the restaurant where she works. I could easily picture the back of that restaurant with the big green dumpster filled with discarded food and napkins, in the middle of which a tiny infant lies underneath a half-eaten corn cob on top of a large piece of lettuce. I could well imagine how surprised and horrified I’d be to make that discovery.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Yes, I do. Having been raised Catholic, I attended Catholic grammar and high schools and went to hundreds of masses where the priest would give a sermon each day. One sermon that stuck was the philosophy of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I believe if we all would live by that motto, we’d have a kinder nation with fewer murders, rapes, burglaries, and drugs. And a world like that will never happen unless we each live our own individual lives as if that philosophy matters, all of us determined to make a difference in the lives of others.
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