|photo: Shawn Heifert Photography
Patti Callahan Henry has published nine novels, including And Then I Found You, inspired by a true adoption story (St. Martin's Press, April 9, 2013). Henry has been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and nominated four times for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Novel of the Year. Her work has appeared in many magazines; two novels were Okra Picks; and Coming Up for Air was selected for the August 2011 Indie Next List. A full-time writer, wife and mother of three, Henry lives in Mountain Brook, Ala.
On your nightstand now:
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. It has been recommended to me so many times that I finally started reading it.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Oh, I loved Edward so.
Your top five authors:
C.S. Lewis--even when I don't agree with him, I am stunned by his ability to manipulate words into a coherent, but captivating whole. His ability to tell the truth in fairy tale and myth and fantasy influenced my writing and my reading permanently. Madeleine L'Engle--her search for something deeper, something underneath the words, enchants me. Stephen King and not for the horror, but for the storytelling. How does he keep me turning the pages? When I figure this out, I'll have it made. Pat Conroy for all the obvious reasons. A fifth? It's a collective fifth: my friends and cohorts who write, all of us out here trying our best to write a well-told story while living a well-lived life.
Book you've faked reading:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Until this past month when I did read it so I could talk to my daughter (who has read it four times) in some intelligent manner.
Book you're an evangelist for:
I can't give just one! I just can't. But mostly I'll narrow it down to past and present: Beach Music by Pat Conroy; The Stand by Stephen King; A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. And new: I Want to Show You More, stories by Jamie Quatro.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. The book was even better than the extraordinary cover.
Book that changed your life:
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I read this book when I was very young, and re-read it numerous times as an adult. It changes meaning and significance for me through the years. This was the first book I encountered where sarcasm was acceptable and part of the story's structure. In the beginning, as a reader, I admired the story. As a writer, I admired the structure and voice. I still consider it one of the more clever stories told.
Favorite line from a book:
"We don't want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us." --Madeline L'Engle, from Walking on Water. I read this book when I first started writing, and I've held onto this thought, to this very goal.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. Oh, the twists. The turns. You can't go there for the first time ever again.