In memory of our sweet Gita! She arrived as a pup at our casa in Mexico and was delighted to have a home. Always kind and happy, especially when she heard the words FOOD or WALK. We miss her but are comforted knowing she is now pain free and flying high. She lives on— in our hearts forever!
Over the years, I have had the privilege of interviewing a variety of interesting people. They were interesting to me, not because of their positions in life, but rather because they were curious souls with a sense of adventure, a yearning to learn and explore—to play. Remembering how much I enjoyed doing these interviews and getting to know these interesting people, I interviewed an author friend in February and enjoyed it so much, I decided it was time for me to PLAY and interview curious, creative people again.
Welcome to my “Why Create?” interview series!
Author Patricia Steele was born in Woodland, California to an English/Dutch mother and a Spanish father, Patricia has always felt like a gypsy. She began writing short stories while her young children were napping. After working in the health insurance industry for over 30 years, she retired in 2011 and became a full time writer. She has written mysteries, travel memoirs, and a “Cooking Drunk” cookbook. Pursuing her passion in genealogy, Patricia researched her Spanish heritage and followed her ancestor’s trek walking across the miles of Spain, through the flowers and sugar plantations of Hawaii and into the state of California.
Susan Joyce: Welcome Patricia Steele! I write to make sense of my life and the world around me. Why do you create?
Patricia Steele: Because the words won’t stop coming and I can’t NOT create. Creating stories is second nature to me and my brain thinks that’s what I was born to do.
Susan Joyce: I know you have written books in a variety of genres. Which genres do you especially enjoy reading?
Patricia Steele: I love adventure entertaining me WITHOUT using the F word, intense love scenes or blood.
Susan Joyce: Are there genres you avoid?
Patricia Steele: Yes – Paranormal, books filled with blood and guts and books filled with sex sans story.
Susan Joyce: Do you have a regular writing schedule?
Patricia Steele: No — I think me and my computer are connected at the hip…whether it’s right after my coffee or at 4 a.m. when words flow and sleep stops.
Susan Joyce: What has been seminal in your development as an author?
Patricia Steele: Reader’s responses to my stories have been the most positive and uplifting part of my love of writing
Susan Joyce: What is your strongest childhood memory?
Patricia Steele: My strongest childhood memory is when my mother and step-father uprooted me from California to Oregon when I was nine. The feelings I had at that time helped me write The Girl Immigrant — the immigration story about my abuelita (grandma) when she and her family fled Spain in 1911. She was also nine years old and my memories became her feelings in order to write the book from her viewpoint. I never quite got over losing all my family when I left them behind to move to Mars (smile).
Susan Joyce: Mars?
Patricia Steele: When I was a child and my parents moved me from California to Oregon, I was nine. I had no idea where I was going and Oregon could have been Mars for all I knew. That feeling of intense loss helped me stand in my grandmother’s shoes when she was yanked out of Spain when she was nine. Mars is defined as any place you have no idea what waits for you.
Susan Joyce: What inspired you to become an author?
Patricia Steele: I have always loved words, words and more words. Telling stories to my children became second nature and when I decided to actually write my first book, it was after the death of my daughter (2 weeks before her 9th birthday) See? That number follows me still. I took several creative writing classes over the years and absolutely loved writing. I am still trying to write my book about Chrissy and the memoir is half finished. Now, after 39 years, I can write about her without crying. Maybe this year?
Susan Joyce: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Patricia Steele: (1) Successful writers are the people who are amateurs who never gave up. (2) Believe in yourself and write with passion or not at all.
Susan Joyce: Patricia Steele thank you for sharing your creative thoughts and adventures!
Follow Patricia Steele’s blog at:
My friend Betty is arriving tomorrow for a five day visit. She is an American woman I met while studying Hebrew in Israel in the late 60s. Haven’t seen her since 1974, following the Cyprus War. It’s exciting to know we can share those “Remember when?” moments and celebrate being together.
Not sure she will recognize me when we meet at the Montevideo port tomorrow morning. Perhaps a “Welcome Betty!” sign will jar her memory. There aren’t many woman named Betty in South America.
Take a moment and give thanks for your good, long-lasting friendships! Mine inspire me. I am blessed!
Living most of the year in Atlántida, Uruguay, I seldom see a McDonald’s except in the heat of summer when one opens for four months, in the center of our sleepy beach town, to serve the throngs of tourists who flock here from December through March. I’ve never stepped inside, but our son often hung out there with his friends when he lived here. He said he loved their fries (papas fritas). I suspect he also loved girl-watching from that strategic location.
Each time I walk past the now-shuttered building, I’m reminded of an exchange of vibrancy I experienced years ago while visiting my friend Michael in LA. Yes, it involved McDonald’s.
Michael was close friends with an artist who created original murals for the McDonald’s restaurant chain in the early 80s. Knowing I was also an artist, the friend invited me and Michael to visit his warehouse studio one afternoon. I remember walking into the immense space and being in awe of the feeling of vitality surrounding me. As I walked down the long aisles I saw dozens of apparently identical paintings. I noticed some were unfinished and the blank canvas spaces had tiny numbers written on them. I stopped to ask.
“Paint by number,” he said, smiling. “I design and paint the original and then other artists paint the copies by duplicating the design and colors I’ve used.”
“Wow!” I said, wondering exactly how that worked.
He showed us his latest design and then invited us to join him for tea time. As we sipped our tea, he and Michael talked about their involvement with an intense personal development program called Silva—a meditation program to help people visualize and tap into their greatest potential. I was looking forward to attending the Silva weekend workshop that Michael was teaching.
We talked about the process of being creative. The mural artist said that he knew as a child that he would become an artist.
“I did as well,” I said. “As a kid, I dreamed of being an artist, a writer, a singer, a song writer. I always dreamed of creating original things.”
“And now you are,” Michael said.
“Destiny,” Michael’s friend added.
We talked at great length about the ‘rushes of pure energy’ that go into creating works of art, literature, and music, and how artists pour their most intense vitality into an original piece.
“An original painting is the first telling of a story,” he said. “It’s filled with passion and zest.”
I remember getting goosebumps with those words, knowing it to be true from my own experience. “Total awareness,” I said. “Being aware of a deeper knowledge and knowing you’re on the verge of making something magical happen through a creative endeavor. I always had a need to express myself after discovering new information. My inner voice encouraged me to take the information, stir my imagination, and create something unique.”
“Being able to go with that flow of energy and follow one’s passion to action is glorious,” he said.
“Come with me.” He stood and motioned me to follow. “I’ll bet you can pick out my original paintings from a line-up.”
I followed him to a large group of identical-looking murals. I walked up and back down the aisle, in a relaxed meditative state. I stopped in front of one painting and felt sparks pulse up through my body. The colors vibrated with light. “This one,” I said. “It’s dancing.”
He smiled and nodded.
I followed him to another row of murals and again picked his original creation.
I did this a third time and looked around the warehouse filled with identical colorful paintings. On the surface they all looked the same–same size, same design, same colors. But the original had a natural flow of vibrant, focused energy–it danced with attitude and spontaneity creating something magically unique.