Patti M. Hall, B.A. (Toronto), MES (York)
Patti M. Hall is an author, educator and writing coach living in Bradford, Ontario with her two very tall sons. Hall is a non-fiction writer specializing in the stories of individuals who demonstrate resilience in the face of trauma and personal challenge. She is the author of two manuscripts awaiting publication: Promises Never Die: Living Your Best Days Even Through Death and Dreams Under Construction: The Life and Legacy of John E. Bahen. Promises Never Die tells the story of a 46-year-old man dying of advanced pancreatic cancer. Hall is currently working with a publisher on the first edit of her newest novel, Giants Among Us: raising a giant in an average-sized world, is her own story about living and coping with child who has a rare, stigmatizing, life-shortening disease.
An instructor and coach of creative and memoir writing, Hall has more than ten years experience supporting writers in telling the story they were born to write. Hall is a member of the International Association of Journal Writers (IAJW), the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW), the York Region, Durham Region and Simcoe County Writer’s Communities (YRWC, DRWC, SCWC) and the Bradford West Gwillimbury Writer’s Circle.
* * *
An Interview with non fiction author Patti M. Hall
-Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk about your book Giants Among Us: raising a giant in an average-sized world.
-I’m pleased to be able to share my latest work with you.
Q: Could you explain a bit about your motivation for encapsulating your experiences in this book?
A: The rarity of the disease that Adam was diagnosed with was the primary impetus for writing the book. We very much felt that getting his story out there might diagnose another child, and hopefully many people, earlier. Earlier diagnoses for children with gigantism can mean a great deal in terms of the length of their life.
It is also a story of survival, of the disease, the medical treatment, and the hospital system, one which we hope can be a supportive resource for other parents of chronically and critically ill children.
Q: How does your son, Adam, feel about your project?
A: He is somewhat indifferent now that he is almost 21 years old. As he puts it, “if just one kid gets diagnosed because their parent notices a symptom earlier, it will all be worth it.” He has been involved in the selection of title, and the promotional photos, but his strongest role is in reminding me about content that he feels is important but that might get forgotten or minimized. He especially felt that our funny relationship needed to be in the book—the comedic, and often goofy way that we act in order to get through very difficult ‘hospital days’, was in particular, very significant content for Adam.
Q: What has been one of the most difficult moments to write about and why?
A: Memoir writing forces us to remember. While that is a tremendously rewarding function in almost every way, there is pain and suffering in the recalling. Certainly remembering Adam’s surgery days, and reliving the moments where we heard bad news, or the worst, where I had to give him bad news was the most difficult to write about. There are moments in our lives that nearly break us the first time we live them, and in the writing, we must go back to the place and the feeling exactly.
Q: Has your writing background helped you work your way through trials like this and others that have arisen while penning your memoir?
A: I am a therapeutic writing instructor and coach, and yes, relying on the writing to draw me out of my pain has been useful for me. In truth though, I have needed to be less-than-subtly reminded by kind and knowing people near me to ‘go to the page’ in order to restore my coping skills.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to an author debating whether or not to pen their own life story, what would it be?
A: We all have a story. Your story will push itself to the surface if it must be told. To follow that fire to write it is my advice. For whatever reasons, our stories fuel the ability of readers to find meaning in their own lives, and for that reason we are compelled to give in to the urge to write. Just give in to it. (and get a good coach!)
Q: What have been the biggest hurdles to overcome in bringing Giants Among Us to publication?
A: The proposal for agents and publishers is being written now. Certainly the proposal is the biggest hurdle for this book. Being my memoir, and my current life (as Adam is still in treatment and always will be) it is very difficult to extract yourself from the situation and write about it as only “the book” in terms of marketing, competition, and quality. I am living it, which makes being objective about the content very challenging.
Q: What advice would you give any novelist currently standing on the precipice of finding the right agent or publisher?
A: There is nothing to be done but try. But the proposal comes first.
-It has been an honour discussing writing, publishing, and life with you, Patti. I wish you well as you plunge into the abyss of publication and author-dom.
–Thank you M.J.