Monday, May 19, 2014

Love in the Stacks: A Chat With Author/Editor Patience Bloom

by Christyna Hunter)

One of the joys of working at a public library is that you get the chance to see a variety of books. And by doing so, you might find one that you end up liking but wouldn't normally read. Such was the case about a month ago. I was checking in new books and came across Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last by Patience Bloom. With keywords such as "romance" and "love at last," you know I had to read it!

Ms. Bloom chronicles her real-life journey of not only finding true love but finding herself. Through her honest tales, she admits the highs, lows, and surprises of her voyage. As I read the book, I appreciated that honesty and her willingness to share the human side of trying to find that special someone. As much as I adore romance novels, a bit of reality is good, too.

So it was with pleasure that I got to interview Patience for HEA! She shares some of her experiences with libraries and how her life has been since her book came out at the beginning of this year.

Christyna: Would you like to share any library experiences, current or from your youth?

Patience: I grew up going to libraries. My mother took me to libraries all over the country. For me, libraries were a safe haven and a peaceful alternative to the world outside. In Romance Is My Day Job, I mention my special fondness for the Oberlin College library. My freshman year of college, I liked to study in their "womb" chairs. You could hide in them for hours and even fall asleep. Eventually, I parked myself in a section of the library's basement — a large room with rows of long tables, where you could people-watch and study. After college, I spent Saturdays at the library in Lakewood, Ohio. The romance novels on the shelves were especially well worn, and this was my favorite section, of course. Now, my nearest library is five blocks from home, and I'm four subway stops from the New York Public Library where Carrie Bradshaw had her almost-first wedding to Mr. Big. Oh, and I got married in the library at The Yale Club!

Christyna: You mention several favorite romance titles in your book, such as The Thorn Birds and The Fall of Shane MacKade. Any others?

Patience: There are too many favorites to count, but it's safe to say I am often reading Susan Mallery, Brenda Novak, Emily Giffin, Mary Burton, Tami Hoag, and Tracey Garvis Graves — along with a long roster of category romance authors. My tastes are varied, from thriller to memoir and everything in between (except maybe books on physics, economics, or parenting). I'm fortunate to be the midpoint between the library and Barnes & Noble. Right now I'm reading Diane Chamberlain's oeuvre and then I'll pick up some Sharon Sala, another one of my favorite storytellers.

Christyna: If your story was turned into a romance novel, what would the title be?

Patience: The Perks of Being a Wallflower! No, that title's taken. Maybe The Unexpected Over-Forty Bride Wore Blue (maybe take out the "over-forty").

Christyna: Do you know if your local library has your book in their catalog? Do you have a library card?

Patience: Yes, they do have it! I love my library card, though I sometimes mistake it for my gym membership, which causes confusion at both places. The online checkout system makes it very easy to reserve books no matter where I am in the city. I am a fan.

Christyna: Is there still a "library" at Harlequin similar to the one you helped clean out in Chapter Six of your book? Or is everything pretty much electronic now?

Patience: In the New York office, we had to sacrifice our central library because our staff expanded and space was limited. I can't tell you how sad we were to let this go. Many of us took large stashes of these books and still have them. We do house electronic versions, but it's not the same as being able to look at physical shelves. I am lucky to be a hybrid reader in that, I buy books online and in bookstores and I use the library. Having so many options only fuels my reading addiction. I'm sure I'm not alone.

Christyna: Since your book came out earlier this year, what sort of experiences have you had? Are you enjoying being a writer? Have you learned something about being a published writer now that you didn't know before?

Patience: The most fun experience has been receiving mail from readers or hearing from old friends. Because I've spent the last year hibernating, it's wildly exciting to have contact with people and to hear their reactions. I thoroughly enjoyed being a writer. It's rough work, though, and can make you pretty crazy. I did often go outside feeling vampiric, a little undead and sensitive to sunlight. But I'd do it all over again.

Christyna: You've now worn the editor and writer hats. Which is harder to wear? :)

Patience: It's much harder for me to write. I've been editing nearly every day for 16 years, so for me, that side of the desk doesn't rip my guts out the way writing does. For Romance Is My Day Job, I had to learn a lot about writing a memoir and editing in a short amount of time, which made the process all the more intense — but I absolutely loved the pressure. I did discover that I love both sides of the desk.

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Despite being born with a disability, Christyna Hunter has surpassed all perilous predictions. She graduated from college where a friend introduced her to romance novels, started a freelance writing career, self-published two romance novels, and worked at a non-profit organization. Currently she works as a library associate with Loudoun County Public Libraries in Virginia, reads romance novels in her free time, and prays often to her writing muse. Check out her blog at

MORE ON HEA: Check out another interview with Patience Bloom