MTAR had the chance to chat with Patricia Kiyono, author of Aegean Intrigue, The Christmas Phoenix, and The Legacy.  Her newest book, The Samurai’s Garden, is slated for a fall release.

  • The Legacy, from Astraea Press, July 2011
  • The Christmas Phoenix, from Astraea Press, November 2011
  • Aegean Intrigue, from Astraea Press, February 2012

Patricia Kiyono has taught in elementary and junior high school in the past. She currently teaches music education at Grand Valley State University .

MTAR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Patricia: I’m a busy mom and grandma. My favorite things to do are to spend time with my eight (and counting) grandkids, or making things for them. I hate to do housework, but fortunately my grandkids don’t mind helping me out by cleaning for extra pocket money, and my husband likes to cook.

MTAR: What do you do when you are not writing?

Patricia: I’m usually sewing or reading. I love to make things for my grandkids, and I belong to a quilting group at my church.

MTAR: How did you choose the genre you write in?

Patricia: I always loved reading romances, because of the “happily ever after” ending. I think it was natural that I ended up writing them, too.

MTAR: What books or authors have influenced your writing?

Patricia:Debbie Macomber writes characters I care about and believe in.

Donna Andrews writes cozy mysteries with lots of charm, very intelligent characters, and hilarious plots.

MTAR: How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

Patricia: I use facebook and twitter, and blog when I can. I belong to several author support groups, including the Astraea Press authors, who are wonderful about promoting each other.

MTAR: Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Patricia: The Samurai’s Garden is a book I started seven years ago, right after I retired from public school teaching. It’s a historical romance set in Japan during the 1870s – the beginning of the Meiji period, which abolished the feudal system. My hero is a samurai soldier who finds himself needing to find a new vocation. He wanders to the rural north, where he meets a lovely subsistence farmer who brings new meaning to his life.

MTAR: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

Patricia:In my novellas, I’ve often gotten the complaint that the story is too short, or that the ending is too rough, or that the relationship between the couple isn’t developed enough.

MTAR: What has been the best compliment?

Patricia:I’m most flattered when someone says my stories are believable.

MTAR: What book are you reading now?

Patricia: Switched Too by Diane Burton

MTAR: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Patricia: I’ve been trying to read as many works by other Astraea Press authors as I can, as well as publications by friends in my two writing groups. I’d have to say books written by people I know, either personally or online, are my new favorites. It’s always more fun to get into a story when you know the author.

MTAR: What are your current projects?

Patricia: I’m working on a Christmas story, and a series of short stories about a group of women who belong to a quilting club.

MTAR: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Patricia: I love to travel, but I think my stories spring from the things I see, instead of the other way around. A trip to Greece inspired Aegean Intrigue, and The Christmas Phoenix was written after driving through snowy Michigan weather.

MTAR: Who designed the covers?

Patricia: Elaina Lee designed the covers for The Legacy and The Christmas Phoenix, and Ginny Glass designed the cover for Aegean Intrigue. Both are staff designers for Astraea Press.

MTAR: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your latest book to life?

Patricia: My biggest challenge in writing The Samurai’s Garden is the language barrier. There are lots of resources about that time period that have been translated to English, but it was difficult finding answers to specific questions, such as “could this have happened in this way during this time period and in this location?”

MTAR: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

Patricia: I love to write about different locations. Wherever I go, I keep my eyes and ears open, looking for some little scenario that might inspire a story. When I travel I take notes and lots of pictures so I can capture the flavor of a place.

MTAR: Do you work with an outline, or just write?

Patricia: I start with an outline, determining the opening, the ending and various turning points in the story. I also include scenes in which action can take place. But once I start writing, things often change.

MTAR: Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?