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Monday 12 December 2016

ℚ My Letter to Fear - Patricia Steffy

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about My Letter to Fear: Essays on life, love and the search for Prince Charming (, Patricia Steffy, 130 pages), a Multi-Person Memoir.

"Steffy's writing not only makes you feel as if she has experienced all these personal journeys, but that you have as well. Her prose is sharp, articulate, warm, and hilarious. This is a book for  all women." ~ 5* Amazon review.

"Though "My Letter to Fear" takes on a wide range of ages and female perspectives within its pages, author Patricia Steffy manages to connect each individual one with a raw emotionality that lends itself to being universally relatable."
~ Amazon review

|| Synopsis || Trailer || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Patricia Steffy; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for My Letter to Fear?

"I had been writing a blog called “Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths” that started focusing on what it was like to start dating in Los Angeles (a place with a particularly challenging social scene) after a very long-term relationship. That blog quickly morphed into pieces about aging, beauty myths and life expectations, among other things. Somewhere in that process, after some encouragement from friends, I started trying to pull a collection of those essays together to see what I had.

Around that time, I had lunch with a friend of mine, who is a therapist, who mentioned a technique sometimes used in therapy where patients write letters to whatever issues they are dealing with at that moment. They would write letters to anxiety, depression, addiction, fear, etc. I became fascinated with the idea, but I knew that I wanted to go beyond my own experiences. So, I started to interview women to see what issues they were dealing with, what they would say when confronting certain things. Over time, that process became refined, and the friends started passing the questions on to other friends. Those responses became the foundation for “My Letter to Fear” and all of its funny and heartbreaking elements. So, I suppose you could say that women were my inspiration to start writing the collection."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I was the first person to answer the questions that I would eventually pose to other women. My own experiences with starting over again and with struggling with the unmet expectations of youth are mixed into the essays. Also, my utter confusion about “beauty” regimes like “anal bleaching” definitely color those pieces. :)

I also decided to unify the voices. While the experiences described are largely the result of the responses from other women, my perspective on those responses shaped the book."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for My Letter to Fear - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"Trying to choose the right cover gave me fits at first! Many of the options that were open to me looked more like women's fiction covers. I loved them, but while they fit with some of the more light-hearted essays, they didn't feel right for the more serious subjects. Similarly, there were some very abstract ones that appealed to me visually, but didn't feel like they said anything about the project itself.

In the end, I worked with a really fabulous designer (owik studio) who entered a competition through I sparked to the combination of the older style typewriter, the visual of editing a draft letter and how easy it was to read."

Why should we read My Letter to Fear and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"Women have a lot to say about life. There are pieces of this that are very funny. There are moments in this that are incredibly heartbreaking. There are some universal experiences that speak to readers.

While not every piece is going to include something a reader has experienced, there is something relatable in each one. Someone once described their experience reading the book as having a conversation with a close friend – all the awkward, wonderful, ugly things that can come out in that safe space appear here."
Can you tell us something quirky about My Letter to Fear, its story and characters?
"Because it is about multiple people and their experiences, the book doesn't necessarily follow an arc. There are ups and downs as you go – much like life. There is no one goal that a main character wants to achieve. Each essay is looking to reveal an aspect of living.

Also, as a writer, I tend to infuse even the most serious subject matters with humor and the most humorous matters with a serious undertone. You rarely get just one aspect in these pieces."
Who would you recommend My Letter to Fear to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I would recommend this book to anyone who has looked at their lives and wondered “is this it?” I would recommend it to anyone who has had to start over again (romantically or in terms of career). I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wonders if they are alone in dealing with the often ridiculous realities of aging, dating or expectations.

There are essays that deal with difficult issues like abuse, rape and addiction. It also goes into some frank descriptions of things like vajazzling and other “beauty” elements that might be uncomfortable. I'm not sure how teen readers would respond to it – although, unfortunately, many are dealing with at least some of the issues covered."
If you could / wished to turn My Letter to Fear into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Wow! That would be difficult. I'm a fan of so many actresses that I'd be thrilled to have any of them take a turn at a live reading or filmed event. Oddly enough, the first few pieces of the collection (before it became a formal book) were part of a charity staged reading and then after the book was published, we hosted one. We had so many talented actresses here in LA take on pieces from the published collection, and it was a thrill to hear my words come to life like that. You can see clips of it here."

What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I love writing about complex characters and people (when writing non-fiction). I love writing characters with flaws who struggle and don't always make the right choices. There are times when those characters do terrible things in the name of their bigger goals. That's interesting to me.

So far, I've written “My Letter to Fear” which is a non-fiction/multi-person memoir, a film script that is a drama and a (mostly) comedic web-series. So, while those genres are very different, that complexity is there."
What is your writing process?
"I tend to like locking myself away in a dark-ish room while listening to rain sounds. Seriously! Once, when I was trying to force myself to really focus on a script re-write, I went up to Cambria and stayed in a hotel room for three days with the blinds closed just so that I would force myself to focus. Luckily, I don't usually have to resort to those extreme measures. However, I have found that to be truly creative, I cannot write around people. I'm envious of the coffee shop writers (and not because I just got a sudden craving for a chocolate chip muffin). I can only do that if I'm working on something factual or technical. It's also very difficult for me to write to music that has lyrics. The rain sounds are soothing, moody and help eliminate outside distractions."
What is in store next?
"As soon as I get over this ridiculous cold, I'm going to start the next book. This one is fiction and a comedy (mostly) about taking a big leap in life. You always hear about the big leaps that are hugely successful. This explores what happens when you take the leap and hit more obstacles than you imagined.

I'm also about to take out to readers a film script that I'm very excited about. It's jumping off point is actually the same as the piece Legacy in “My Letter to Fear.” And because this type of character fascinates me, it deals with a female lead that is very smart, very determined and not always noble.

I also shot a sizzle reel for a comedy web series based on that earlier blog also called “Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths.” It stars Lesley Fera (“Pretty Little Liars”), Jen Lilley (“Days of Our Lives”), Tamara Taylor (“Bones”) and Kris Polaha (“Life Unexpected”). You can see the trailer here.

I'm not quite sure when we will get the chance to move forward with the full series, but I'm thrilled I got the chance to see these characters come to life at the hands of these wonderful actors!"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I don't have a pet, but I do have an Andy. He's very cute and rarely sheds. :)"
Love that!
Hello Andy! **waves**
Thank you for sharing Andy with us, Patricia (on this occasion we won't send our usual head scratches and belly rubs to him ;-) )

My Letter to Fear
Available NOW!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Patricia said...

Thank you so much for hosting my book!

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post :)

Patricia said...

Thank you for reading!