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Dreams of Drowning

1)      What is your author name (pen name if you use one)?


Patricia Averbach


2)    What is the first book that made you cry?


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


3)    Does writing energize or exhaust you?


It generally exhausts me, although there are wonderful days when I get lost in it and never want to come up for air.


4)    Does a big ego help or hurt writers?


It takes a certain amount of ego to imagine that other people will care about your ideas and be interested and amused by your world view.


5)    Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?


I certainly write with readers in mind and do my best to create characters and plots they’ll find entertaining and engaging. However, my main objective is to write the cleverest, funniest, most insightful book that I can and then trust that my readers are smart and savvy enough to enjoy a story that’s more nuanced and unexpected



6)    What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?


During my years as director of The Chautauqua Writers Center I had the opportunity to spend my summers with some of the finest writers working today. Many of them taught workshops through our writer-in-residence program or through the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival and I was able to learn from all of them. That said, the four writers who have helped me the most are the not so famous members of a writers group I’ve been part of for the past eight years. Although we meet online in a virtual world we’ve come to know one another well and have each produced three or four novels over our time together. Two members, not me, have completed PhDs in creative writing during that time as well. One of us is a publisher as well as an author, and one of us, again not me, spent most of his career writing for television before starting to write novels. The fourth is a poet and a Sikh who has spent most of his life in Australia, Singapore and India. Our voices are diverse and each of us produces work that is distinctive and unique, yet we’ve come to rely on one another for comments and advice. I don’t know if I’d have ever completed anything without their encouragement.


7)    Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?


Each of my books stands on its own, although I toyed with the idea of setting my second novel in the same small town where the first novel took place. The first book was set in the mid-seventies, the second around forty years later so I thought of having the young characters in my first book make cameo appearances as old codgers in the second, but the story went in a different direction so that never happened. Maybe I’ll go back and write a sequel one day, but probably not. I’m always chasing the shiny, new object in front of me.


8)    If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t listen to your mother. I told my mother I wanted to be a writer when I was in college and she told me that if I had any real talent I would already be famous – or words to that effect. Even then I knew that was crazy, but I felt deflated and defeated anyway. Writing as a career is tough and it takes time to learn your craft and to find your voice. You’ll almost certainly need a day job or some other career to sustain you until your writing starts to make more money than it costs. But don’t give up. The journey itself is worth the effort and you’re never too old to begin. 


9)    As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?


A turtle? My writing practice is definitely slow and steady, not fast and flashy. If I wanted to flatter myself, and who doesn’t, I’d make my turtle very old and wise, like the old sea turtle in Alice in Wonderland. The Mock Turtle tells Alice that his teacher was an old sea turtle called Tortoise and when Alice asks why they called him Tortoise if he was a turtle, he replies, “Why, we called him Tortoise because he taught us.” 


10)  What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?


Nothing, since I don’t base my characters on particular people. When I’m asked where I get my characters I always answer, “They aren’t based on anyone I know. They’re based on everyone I know. They’re all composites of actual people, fictional people, people I read about in the newspaper and people who populate my dreams.


11)  Describe your writing space.


I’d love to say that I’ve created a writing sanctuary in a garden overlooking the sea, or in a snug cabin in a pine wood, but that would be a lie. I work out of a walk-in closet that’s been outfitted with a desk, a chair and a bookcase. I try to ignore the laundry drying on the rack behind my head and my husband talking on the phone in the next room.


12)  What time of the day do you usually write?


They say that young people write at night and old people write in the morning. I write in the late morning or early afternoon. That’s not because I’m middle aged, which I’m not, but because it takes me that long to stop procrastinating and to get down to business.


13)  On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?


I don’t write every day. I write two or three hours a day three or four days a week. Slow but steady.


14) How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?


I’ve found that there is an aspect of writing that is very similar to acting, except that an author plays all the characters. I’ve definitely wept real tears when writing a sad scene or felt my heart race when I’ve put a character in danger, but I love when that happens. That’s my body telling me that the story’s come alive. 


15) Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.


There’s an elderly gentleman in my newest book named Jacob Kanter. He’s a retired archaeology professor who’s dealing with failing health, the loss of his wife and a son who wants him in an old age home. But even in his eighties, even as he approaches the end of life, his spirit remains vibrant and alive. He’s funny, wise and adventurous to the end. I can still hear his voice in my head and I’d love to go on talking to him.


16) Where can readers purchase your books?


My books are available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Google Play and through my website:


17) In general, where can readers find out more about you and your books?


You could start with my website: or just google Patricia Averbach, author.


18) Have any of your books been made into audiobooks? If so, what are the challenges in producing an audiobook?


I’m glad you asked about audiobooks since Dreams of Drowning will be coming out in audio this spring. I’m paying for the audio publication myself since my publisher only has the print and digital rights to the book. It’s expensive and it’s likely that I won’t make my money back, but as another author told me when he produced an audio book, “What price joy?”


19) Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?


I’m working on another novel right now. Not to give too much away, it takes place in Cleveland during the build up to World War Two, and involves a Jewish family living in my grandmother’s old neighborhood. The family includes a young girl, her spinster aunt, her grandfather and a ghost. I’ll say no more.


20) What book is currently on your bedside table?


The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese and I’m loving every minute of it. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s one of those books that you wish would never end.


21) How many bookshelves are in your house?


My husband bought five matching bookcases for my old office that covered an entire wall of our old house. We filled those bookcases plus all the bookcases in the family room and my daughters’ bedrooms and there were more books in boxes in the basement. We had a lot of books. And then we sold the house and moved into a condo that meant leaving a lof of things, including most of our books behind. We still have several bookcases filled with our old favorites, but I’ve learned to let go and to let the books I love live in memory and the library.


22) What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating?


I love cooking and food usually finds its way into everything I write. We eat a lot of fish and pasta since my daughters are pescatarians. However, my husband is an unrepentant carnivore so I cook brisket and braised short ribs as well. I especially like ethnic recipes that include a lot of vegetables, spice and seasoning.


23) Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.


At the risk of making myself seem goofy, I spend quite a bit of time in a computer generated world called Second Life. There’s a vibrant writing community in that virtual world and I’ve made good friends and valuable contacts in there, plus I always look great and never have a bad hair day. In fact, my avatar was on the cover of Lilith Magazine the year they published my article about the Jewish community in Second Life. Imagine, being a cover girl at my age.


24)  Can you tell me a little bit about your book(s)?


Dreams of Drowning

Genre: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism


Dreams of Drowning is a work of magical realism that moves between real time where lives are buffeted by political conflict, tragedy and loss and another mysterious time where pain is healed, and love is eternal.It’s 1973 and Amy, an American ex-pat, is living as an illegal immigrant in Toronto where she’s fled to escape the scandal surrounding her twin sister’s death by drowning. Joanie’s been gone two years, but Amy still hears her cries for help. Romance would jeopardize the secrets Amy has to keep, but when she meets Arcus, a graduate student working to restore democracy in Greece, she falls hard. Arcus doesn’t know about Amy’s past, and she doesn’t know Arcus has secrets of his own, including the shady history of an ancient relic he uses as a paperweight.In 1993 Toronto, Jacob Kanter, a retired archaeologist, is mourning his dear wife and grappling with his son’s plans to move him to a nursing home. Despite double vision, tremors, and cognitive impairment, he remembers sailing as a youth and sets out toward the lake where he boards a ferry boat embarking on its maiden voyage. He expects a short harbor cruise, but the Aqua Meridian is larger than it looks, and time is slippery on the water. When he hears a drowning woman call for help his story merges with Amy’s, and they discover they have unexpected gifts for one another.


25)  Now tell me a little bit about yourself?


Patricia Averbach began her writing career at sixteen as the entirely unqualified literary assistant to Anzia Yeszierska, Jewish-American author of the immigrant experience. A native Clevelander, she’s a former director of The Chautauqua Writers Center in Chautauqua, New York. Her upcoming novel, Dreams of Drowning (Bedazzled Ink, 2024), was a finalist for the Tucson Festival of Books and Chanticleer’s Somerset Award for Literary Fiction. Previous novels include Painting Bridges (Bottom Dog Press, 2013) and Resurrecting Rain (Golden Antelope Press, 2020.) Her poetry chapbook, Missing Persons, (Ward Wood Publishing, 2013) was cited by Times of London Literary Supplement (November 2014) as one of the best small collections of the year. She lives with her husband in a suburb of Cleveland when she’s not visiting her daughters in Toronto, Maui and Peru or hanging out in a virtual world called Second Life


26)  You mentioned it before, but what is your author’s website? so that readers can easily find it?




27)  Where else can readers find and follow you?




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