Interview with Patti Hornstra, Author of When He Was Anna

17 Nov 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, When He Was Anna?

My journey started almost three and a half years ago when my youngest child, my fourth, announced that she was transgender and intended to live life as a male. She was not quite seventeen. I was shocked. I jumped right into denial. There were no signs.

Life became a whirlwind of tension, research, confusion, and therapy; none of which proved to be productive, at least not for me. The tension was unbearable. The research just added to the confusion. Therapy seemed to offer no help, although it did seem to add to the tension and confusion.

After two years it became clear that my emotional survival was up to me. And my relationship with Tristan, my fourth child who used to be Anna, was up to me. I had been in survival mode for two years; it was time to step up my emotional game. So, I did a thing. I started to write. I wrote my thoughts, my memories, my feelings. And then, one day, I had written a book.

When He Was Anna; A Mom’s Journey Into the Transgender World is my no BS tale of a clueless mom who finds herself trying to navigate life as the mom of a transgender child. It’s raw and often politically incorrect. But, it’s honest. And it’s me.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always wanted to write, and I don’t remember an inspiration. I’ve always know that someday I would publish, I just never imagined that my first book would be a memoir.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Expecting Adam, by Martha Beck (my all-time favorite book)

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Martha Beck for sure. I’d ask her to tell me more about “The Seeing Thing” she writes about in Expecting Adam. I’d ask if it’s still a “thing” for her.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

It’s an escape for me. I sort of get in a zone. Very often I read what I’ve written afterward and frankly wonder who in the heck wrote that.

What is a typical day like for you?

I’m a real estate broker by day, so my days are typically very reactive. Lots of phone calls, research on the computer, paperwork, problem-solving, (some days in and out of houses but not everyday), glamorous stuff like that.

What scene from When He Was Anna was your favorite to write?

All of Chapter One. So many good memories. The kids were young, life was simple (although I didn’t realize it then, of course).

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

My favorite quote of all. Years ago I printed it and put it on the wall of my office so that I could read it everyday:

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people maybe jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today maybe forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

― Mother Teresa

Patti Hornstra is the author of the new book When He Was Anna.

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