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On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, author Patricia Ricketts discusses her career, her creative writing style, and the inspiration behind her new book, Speed Of Dark.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Patricia Ricketts about her life and career, what inspires her writing, and the story of her new book, Speed Of Dark.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

Patricia Ricketts, Speed of Dark, on The Table Read
Patricia Ricketts

I am a creative sort who paints, writes, and sings in order to share what I care about. I am a mother, a grandmother, a partner and friend who values loving relationships, the connectivity of the cosmos and this planet Earth.

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When did you first WANT to write a book?

I began writing in early high school and used to read my pieces to my mom as she prepared dinner in the kitchen [which was one way to get out of helping]. My writing is best when the spirit takes over and my logical brain gets out of the way.

Having said that, I live for the written word as I taught high school English and composition for thirty years, studying and teaching about diction and cadence, syntax and sound. And while that may sound utterly boring, let’s just say, it’s not. Definitely not.

When did you take a step to start writing?

I’ve always been engaged in writing something; however, when my three children were small, I wrote the draft of my first novel—Even, After All the Years—from 1:00 p.m. ‘til 3:00 as they napped upstairs. Took me a year to complete that first draft, typing on my 1938 maroon Sterling-Smith manual typewriter. That novel, however, got me an agent in Chicago, one Jane Jordan Browne. Sadly, it got lost in the move [pre-computer days] when we relocated to Kansas City. So, unfortunately, it was never released. Helluva story though, if I do say so myself.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

Speed of Dark will be my first released novel with a May 3, 2022 pubdate. I dabbled in plot and characters for about five years, then got serious about finishing it when the Corona virus unleashed its deadly, multifarious crowns on us all.

What made you want to write Speed Of Dark?

My love for Lake Michigan, my fondness for and friendship with a couple of Chicago bluesmen I know, my interest in the journey of grief and loss: each contributed to the characters and plotline of Speed of Dark.

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What were your biggest challenges with writing Speed Of Dark?

Oh, dear…perhaps imagining that others might not like it. But once I got over that, I was off and running.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

There are two protagonists. Each is expressed through his or her own voice as Mary Em Phillips and Mosely Albright. Mary Em’s inspiration came from women I have known who’ve lost partners, parents and/or children. Mosely’s inspiration came from my friends in the musical community of Chicago blues.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

The real antagonist is humanity whose careless handling of the Earth’s natural resources could bring about dwindling supplies and weakening life of our planet. However Mishigami, the Ojibwe name for Lake Michigan meaning “Great Water,” acts the part of the antagonist for some of the novel, too. It’s a clever manifestation of how fresh water might view our rapacious consumption and cavalier abuse of something so essential for life. [Btw, did you know that North America’s Great Lakes house 20% of the planet’s fresh water? Hmmm?]

Speed Of Dark by Patricia Ricketts on The Table Read
Speed Of Dark

What is the inciting incident of Speed Of Dark?

Mary Margaret Phillips has lost her beloved Mamie who raised her, her husband Jack who left her for another woman, and her precious son Petey who died suddenly from a freak bacterial infection. Consequently, she has nothing left to live for and plans to do herself in in the opening scene of the novel.

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What is the main conflict of Speed Of Dark?

Each of the three characters, as told through his/her POV, has a main conflict.

Mary Em’s losses cause her to plan to take her own life.

Mosely’s desire for a loving relationship sets him on an unplanned path seeking love.

Mishigami’s fear that he is dying necessitates his need to find a champion who can save him from slow, but certain death.

Did you plot Speed Of Dark in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

A bit of both. While I often have a general outline, I think my writing is best when the spirit takes over and my logical brain gets out of the way. I should tell you about Nona Concetta just showing up on the Metra in Speed of Dark…and asking to be in the story, to which I responded, “OK, you’re in.” Then I waved her inside.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Speed Of Dark need?

Friends, colleagues and relatives read and edited, as did I. By the time I sent Speed of Dark to SheWritesPress, it was in great shape. Having said that, I am amazed that even in my ARC edition, I found errors.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Just do it—apologies to Nike. Even if what you’re writing is terrible at first, there lies something wonderful within that deserves to be brought to light.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Sure. I am working on my next novel, The End of June, which tells about a woman, June, who’s writing a YA novel titled Bless me, Juney, which tells the trials and tribs of a young Juney who experiences oppression at the hands of her patriarchal post-war society. [Whew…right?!]  

June, the writer, lives in Chicago during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Finding confinement in city and soul, she fords out on a cross-country road trip in a 1982 Vanagon seeking solace from nature and finding strength in the hinterlands through confrontation and challenge.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Absolutely, I am proud. It’s been a lifelong dream, a worthy goal and now a reality.

Further, I am eager for you to read Speed of Dark.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Author website: [N.B. don’t forget the “j”]

Facebook page: [N.B. leave off the “j”]

Instagram page: [N.B. don’t forget the “j”]

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