Patti Callahan is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of fifteen novels, including the (Historical Fiction), Becoming Mrs. Lewis—The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. She discusses her most recent release, Surviving Savannah, in the March issue of Welcome Home. She’s generously answered a few questions today on my blog!
1. Why did you become a writer?
I have been a book worm nerd all of my life. The power of story has helped me to understand and navigate my life for so very long that one day I sat down and tried to do the same. I believe that no matter how old or young we are, we need stories to believe in, stories to guide us or to just plain old entertain us. Clarissa Pinkola Estes once said that stories set hte inner life in motion and I whole heartedly believe that. I want to tell those kinds of stories!
2. What inspired your current book?
I am endlessly fascinated with the untold story of a tale you think you know. The sinking of the Steamship Pulaski, called the Titanic of the South, was a Savannah story that had become lost to time. Over and over a dear friend in Bluffton tried to tell me about this tragedy, but it didn’t sound interesting to me — until it did. I read an article about the night of 1838 and realized that there was a family of eleven who boarded the ship and not all of them survived. For those who did survive, they completely altered Savannah and maritime history (for good and bad). I began to ask the question — how do we survive the surviving? On a personal level, there is a memorial marker in a small park by the river that I ride my bike by in Bluffton, South Carolina. It reads — For Samuel Parkman and his four daughters: perished on the Pulaski. When I learned about this disaster I saw the marker with new eyes, I knew I wanted to tell the untold parts of the story, the parts that matter to families, children and the mystical city of Savannah.
3. What is next for you?
I have two books out after Surviving Savannah. The first is a story in an anthology that honors Dorothea Benton Frank; it is called Reunion Beach and comes out in April, 2021. The next is a novel that I am so excited about that I am going to burst, but I can’t burst yet! We haven’t announced anything but the pub date — October 19th, 2021. Keep your ears and eyes open. Meanwhile I am writing some very sloppy words to find my next book.