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THE ARTIST COLONY by Joanna Fitzpatrick - Interview

What happens in the mind of a writer? What makes them tick, or inspires them to put pen to page? Joanna Fitzpatrick shares her historical fiction mystery novel, The Artist Colony, and a gives us a glimpse into the mind the writer.

THE ARTIST COLONY by Joanna Fitzpatrick

The Artist Colony

Paris, July, 1924…

Sarah, a young Modernist painter, receives a cable from California. Her estranged older sister, Ada Belle, has died under suspicious circumstances. When she arrives two weeks later at San Francisco’s Union Station, Sarah is confronted by a newspaper headline: “Inquest Verdict: Artist Commits Suicide.”

Sarah remembers the last haunting words Ada Belle said to her: “Ars longa, vita brevis: Art is long, life is short.” But Ada Belle’s work is selling, and her upcoming exhibition of portraitures would bring her even wider recognition. Why would she kill herself? Sarah’s quest to find the truth of what happened to Ada Belle leads her to join the bucolic artist colony to look for clues. As she delves into her sister’s underworld, tensions surface. The darker things get, the closer she comes to terrible danger. How far will a killer go before he kills again?


Q&A with Author

Joanna Fitzpatrick

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

The most energizing moment comes just before I write the first draft of a manuscript. It's the moment when the silver lining of an idea shows up and I ask myself "what if . . ." Then a tsunami of "what ifs" overpower any doubts I might have.

That's when I sit down at my desk, click Word and a blank page magically appears on my screen. These exhilarating tsunamis don't come along everyday and, when they do, you must show up because that's when your adventure as a writer begins. So fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

The first draft is for my eyes alone. And there's a good reason. It shuts down my inner critic and I'm free to wander in my imagination. Anything goes. Plot lines bring me to locations and locations to characters that become tangible. Scenes flow from my mind, down my arms and into fingers that tap to the rhythm of my imagination. It's a vigorous tap dance.

Exhaustion comes later, when I'm waiting between drafts for my editor's comments. Or when I tear myself apart by asking my inner critic if the manuscript is good enough to send to my agent. Your inner critic is the last one you should ask. It will have a heyday telling you why no one will want to read it.

And then the moment comes when I have a finished manuscript. The weight of a million words balanced in my hands. That's when the excitement returns and the energy to start all over again on the next novel.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“I adore Life. What do all the fools matter and all the stupidity. They do matter but somehow for me they cannot touch the body of Life. Life is marvelous. I want to be deeply rooted in it - to live - to expand - to breathe in it - to rejoice - to share it. To give and to be asked for Love.”

― Katherine Mansfield, (1888-1923) short story writer and the only writer Virginia Woolf was ever jealous of.

I was so inspired by Katherine Mansfield that I wrote an historical novel based on her life: Katherine Mansfield, 10th Anniversary edition (La Drome Press).

What do you think about when you are alone in your car?

I think way too much when I'm in my car. It's distracting and dangerous. It's just that being behind a steering wheel is so boring and, in my opinion, such a terrible waste of time. When I lived in Manhattan I rode in taxis or on a train and read the paper or just looked out the window.

My sister knits at traffic lights. I fiddle with my smarter-than-me phone checking for messages, which is an absolute no-no, take a French lesson on Pimsleur, listen to a podcast, or belt the lyrics to a Lady Gaga tune.

Let me make it perfectly clear: I don't recommend my foolish car habits to anyone. I should just drive, which would be a lot safer.

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?

I have to be alone and I prefer writing to music. One of the benefits of writing to music is you can write in a crowded coffee shop but feel like you're alone.

I write to soundtracks amplified be those little pods I stick in my ears so the music is literally inside my head. Music is Pavlovian for me. I stick those pods in my ears and my inner lights go on and I forget all about going to the market to get milk or washing the dishes in the sink.

My Spotify playlist is a collection of movie soundtracks. I see scenes cinematically when I write, so soundtracks enhance my writing. I only listen to singers when I need lyrics that capture a feeling I'm trying to express.

I have a tremendous admiration for film composers. They know how to write tender melodies that pull my heartstrings when I'm watching a movie but never distract me from the story.

What has been your greatest pleasure in writing "The Artist Colony."

"When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no one is nearby to hear it, does it make a sound?" I don't think so. My greatest pleasure is when someone reads my novel.

Without a reader, my words do not exist other than in my own head. Not that it isn't very satisfying to write for the sake of writing, but how much more satisfying when your story is actually read by someone else.

I am forever grateful to my readers. Thank you!

“The Artist Colony” is a sumptuous ride through the Carmel-by-the-Sea, circa 1920, as Sarah Cunningham, newly arrived from Paris, attempts to uncover the truth about her sister’s mysterious death. Atmospheric and delicious, FitzPatrick delivers a thrilling page-turner woven with artistic flourish. This exquisite novel does not disappoint! Highly recommended!” — Michelle Cox, author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series


The Author

Author Joanna Fitzpatrick

Joanna FitzPatrick was born and raised in Hollywood. She started her writing habit by applying her orange fountain pen and a wild imagination to screenplays, which led her early on to produce the film White Lilacs and Pink Champagne. At Sarah Lawrence College, she wrote her MFA thesis Sha La La: Live for Today about her life as a rock ’n’ roll star’s wife. Her more recent work includes two novels, Katherine Mansfield and The Drummer’s Widow. The Artist Colony is her third book. Presently, FitzPatrick divides her time between a mountaintop cottage in Northern California and a small hameau in Southern France where she begins all her book projects.



Genre: Historical Fiction

Release: September 7, 2021

Pages: 328pp

Publisher: She Writes Press

Type: Novel

Content Rating: PG (1)

View our rating system

“The dramatic landscapes of Carmel, beautifully depicted by FitzPatrick, are central to the plot, whose blow-by-blow story keeps us gripped to the final revelation of Ada’s murderer . . . a must-read novel for anyone who loves historical fiction, art, detective stories, and the West Coast.” — Maggie Humm, author of Talland House

Tour Giveaway

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Artist Colony by Joanna FitzPatrick! There are 2 copies up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the U.S. only and ends September 24, 2021. You must be 18 or older to enter. Void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is sponsored by the author and hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

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