Patti, What the Bayou Saw is your latest book. Where did the “What if” for this book come from?
Wow, Cara, what a great question! Kinda reminds me of the title of the New York Times bestseller What is the What (a must read, by the way!
Sheila Flanagan, assistant director of the Museum of Mobile, broke my heart when she shared one of her first memories. In the 60s, segregation and a chain link fence had separated Sheila from her friend, another twelve-year-old girl. For seven years, the two friends stuck toys through the spaces in the fence in an attempt to play. I loved the image of those two hands, one light, one dark, and their determination to find community despite of society’s twisted views. A “gotta write this one” thought grabbed my brain and wouldn’t let go!
Sally was a key character in An Irishwoman’s Tale. Did you know when you wrote that book, that she would demand her own story?
Cara, you make me laugh. It’s one of the few things I DID know when I started out writing! Originally, Sally’s and Mary’s stories tangled together like an old ball of yarn. My poor brother, numero uno editor, battled a desire to toss the whole mess in the trash. Somehow tact prevailed and he helped me separate out the two novels.
The setting for this book is very different from your first book. How did you select it?
I originally wanted to set the story in Mobile, Sheila’s home, but since we’d only lived in Mobile for one year, I turned to Monroe, Louisiana, a town where I attended elementary, junior, and senior high schools.
Normal, Illinois, was a logical choice since we Lacys live here!
In tribute to my beloved New Orleans, I wove Katrina and post-Katrina stories into the plot. May God bless the Crescent City during this troublesome time.
With each book, I try to push myself to improve over prior books. Was there an element you focused on for this book?
Oh, my, yes! Since An Irishwoman’s Tale was meant to reach those struggling with a wide range of mental health issues, I left the plot door a bit too wide open. In What the Bayou Saw, one goal was to provide closure—for at least one day—to my eclectic cast of characters. Then there’s the passive voice issue and the show-and-not-tell issue and the likeable protagonist issue…
Recently a friend who’s suffered a stroke begged me to read to her An Irishwoman’s Tale. (I had vowed never again to open the book’s gorgeous cover.) Oh, it has been a painful—and humbling—experience to see things you wish you’d known “then” so the book would be better written!
What do you hope readers discover as they read What the Bayou Saw?
That lying lips soil everything they touch. That God can use women who have endured sexual assault. That though racism still stains relationships in America, respectful dialogue can promote healing. Hopefully readers will gain insight about a Southerner’s venture north of the Mason-Dixon Line as well!
Thanks for your time, Cara, and for the chance to appear on your popular blog!
What the Bayou Saw
By Patti Lacy
When Sally Stevens left Louisiana, she buried the secrets of her childhood under a sunny smile and sugar-coated lies. But when one of her students is raped, Sally’s memories bubble unbidden to the surface. As her carefully woven web of deceit unravels, will she be able to face the truth . . . whatever the consequences? 320 pages, softcover from Kregel.