Sunday, January 3, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Patricia Yager Delagrange, author of 'Moon Over Alcatraz'

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Patricia attended St. Mary’s College, studied her junior year at the University of Madrid, received a B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get a Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and Jack. Her Friesian horse Maximus lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.

Her latest book is the romantic women’s fiction, Moon Over Alcatraz.

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About the Book:

Brandy Chambers was looking forward to the birth of her first child. She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project. Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.

But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face. Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart. This new distance leads them both to disaster. Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together. Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.

Everything is once again going according to plan—until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant. While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal. Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together? Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?

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Thank you for joining us at the book club today, Patti!  Can we begin by having you tell us why you chose to write a romantic women’s fiction book?  What is it about the genre you love so much?  Did you choose it or did it choose you?

Patti: The first book I wrote is about a woman’s journey through troubled times that has a Happily Ever After (HEA). After I finished writing the book, I found out I had written a women’s fiction novel. I hadn’t known at the time. I thought it was romance because the woman falls in love and marries the guy in the end. I was quickly apprised that when you write a book that focuses on a woman and how she deals with her personal experiences, whether romance is involved or not,  you’ve written women’s fiction.
Moon Over Alcatraz centers around Brandy Chambers and what happens in her marriage after she loses her child.

I write women’s fiction because I love building a life around a character who is realistic, who has problems, and who struggles through those problems just as we all do in real life. Not every problem has a happy ending. My books aren’t about X meeting Y and living happily ever after. They’re about X perhaps finding Y but getting a divorce from Y or maybe Y dies and then she meets Z and they have their HEA - after jumping over hurdles and going through sad times and experiencing troubles that aren’t easy. But she does it - YAY - happy ending!

Can you tell us a little bit about each of your main characters?

Patti: Brandy Chambers is an author who’s very much in love with her husband Weston. She has it all - a lovely house, a great career, a loving husband, and she’s pregnant with her first child. But she loses that child at birth and becomes very depressed. She struggles and is doing her best to make it through each day.
Weston is a structural engineer who is offered a great opportunity to work across the U.S. on the East Coast for several months, soon after they lose their first child. He finds it difficult to understand what his wife is going through and isn’t all that understanding, expecting her to return to her “normal” self in a short time.

While Weston is gone, Brandy accidentally runs into Edward, an old high school friend, at the local coffee house and they renew their friendship. They find spending time together an enjoyable experience.

Moon Over Alcatraz focuses on the age old dilemma – the love triangle.  Brandy and Weston lose their baby and are torn apart.  She falls in love with someone else only to find out she’s carrying Weston’s baby.  Ouch.  When she first finds out, do her feelings for Weston return?

Patti: When Brandy finds out she’s pregnant again, she and Weston’s relationship has already gotten back on track and their love life blossoms. When Brandy discovers the baby she’s carrying isn’t Weston’s child, she is very angry with Edward for forcing her to have the DNA test.

Does the “other man” find out about it or does she try to keep it a secret as long as possible?

Patti: Edward is the person who forces Brandy to have the DNA test in the first place. When he returns to Alameda and finds out Brandy’s pregnant, he does the math and guesses that the baby is likely his child and not Weston’s.

Where is this story set and why did you choose it?

Patti: The story is set in my hometown of Alameda, California, population 76,000. I want to inject as much truth and realism possible when I’m creating a book’s setting, and I’ve lived in Alameda most of my life. It’s small and safe and yet is surrounded by the San Francisco Bay Area with lots of things to see and do.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader can’t put the book down.  What’s one of the pivotal points in Moon Over Alcatraz?

Patti: I think the pivotal point in this book is early on, when Brandy runs into Edward at the coffeehouse after not having seen him since high school. You can just tell there’s a spark there that hasn’t been extinguished with time.

What’s one thing you want to tell your readers about your book that they might not know?

Patti: They don’t know from the get-go what is going to happen between Brandy and Weston’s marriage, even after she finds out she’s carrying Edward’s child. I place a lot of troubles and hurdles in Brandy’s path to happiness.

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