Award-winning author, Pat Nichols is proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams. Nine years after retiring from a twenty-seven-year corporate career with an international beauty company, her love for writing resurfaced and prompted her to launch career number two as a novelist. Now she draws on her experience to write stories with tension-laced challenges and heart-warming triumphs. The Secret of Willow Inn is a 2020 Selah Award winner. Starstruck in Willow Falls is a NGCWC Georgia Peach Award winner. Her short story The Vet and Valentine Day also won a NGCWC Georgia Peach Award.
Pat is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. She has been featured on WATC Television Atlanta Alive, in Southern Writer’s Magazine, and in Voyager Magazine http://voyageatl.com/interview/meet-pat-nichols-author-duluth/
Pat was born in Illinois and grew up in Orlando. She and her high-school-sweetheart husband of fifty-plus years have called the Atlanta area home since the eighties. She is the mother of two and grandmother of four. One precious granddaughter lives with the angels. She volunteers in guest services for Gwinnett Church, a Northpoint Ministries campus.
Q’s and A’s
What inspired you to become an author? In 2005 I retired from a twenty-seven-year corporate career. For the next eight years my husband and I finished decorating our home and checked off every item on our travel bucket list. Then in 2014 a young woman who had drifted in and out of our family’s lives for more than twenty years tragically passed away. As a cathartic exercise I began writing a story loosely based on her life. By the time I finished, I knew God had placed my feet on a new path. So, I came out of retirement, studied writing, attended conferences, and wrote another book. In the meantime an idea for a series took root and blossomed. In 2017 I officially became a published author with the release of my debut novel The Secret of Willow Inn. I’m loving my second career and plan to continue writing for years to come.
What inspired you to write the Willow Falls series? My mother was an only child. The three main characters in the series are also only children. The first paragraph in The Secret of Willow Inn reflects how Mom longed for siblings:
As far back as Emily Hayes could remember, her heart yearned for a sister. She directed her earliest requests to Santa Claus, which made Christmas mornings a confusing blend of excitement and disenchantment. Later she bargained with God. He disappointed her too. When she learned where babies came from, she petitioned her mom with promises to keep her room clean and be the best sister in the whole-wide world. Nothing worked. At some point the pleas stopped, but the lingering desire left a hole in her heart.
Why did you use a real city and a fictional town in your Willow Falls series? I chose to have Rachel live in Atlanta so I could write about real places I had visited. When it came to Emily, I wanted to create a town that could change and expand with each new book in the series. I drew a map of Willow Falls on a poster board and referred to it when writing descriptions.
What happened with that first book you wrote? After I finished writing the first draft I sent it to a close friend who’s a published author and a professional editor. She helped me understand that I had made a lot of rookie mistakes. God always places people along our paths who can help guide us to where He wants us to go. Anyway, after I finished writing the Willow Falls series, I rewrote that first manuscript for the sixth time. The result? Jenny’s Grace released September 2022. It truly was a labor of love.
Are you traditionally or Indie published? Both. I was blessed to have a contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina’s (later merged with Iron Stream Media) for the first three books in the Willow Falls series. Then, with encouragment from author friends I stepped out in faith and became an independently published author.
How long does it take you to write a book? My first and second manuscripts each took a little more than a year to write. The first because I was a novice and the second because I was deep into the learning curve. Now my goal is to write and release three novels a year. In 2023 my new women’s fiction series The Butler Family Legacy will release.