She has been in the limelight for most of her life and is the daughter of one of our nation's most beloved Presidents. Today, Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, has self-published a lesbian love novel called “Till Human Voices Wake Us.” It has already gained the attention of many and is getting rave reviews throughout the world! I connected with Patti recently on Facebook and was thrilled to speak with her about her new book!
MICK: Congratulations on the release of your new book "Till Human Voices Wake Us"!
PATTI: Thank you! I'm just being this obsessive author now! My ranking keeps going up and then down so I am just out here spreading the word about it!
MICK: I know that this book is a fiction but is it based on anybody that you know?
PATTI: No. Years ago I overheard a conversation between two people that I don't know and never met. They were talking about two sisters in law who fell in love with each other and simultaneously divorced their husbands. They had no history of being gay and no history in bisexuality. They just fell in love! I thought that was just wonderfully complicated! as a writer, I thought that was a great centerpiece for a novel. So when I was thinking about turning this into a novel, I had to figure a way into this. A woman just doesn't sit across a lunch table from her sister in law and all of sudden say "Oh my God, I just fell in love with you!". Another thing from my distant past was a woman I knew whose 3 year old son drowned in her swimming pool. I remember she said to me "I don't know who left the screen door open". That stayed with me. Those two things kind of came together and it made sense to me how shattered someone is with the loss of a child. In the
grief that follows, anything can happen. In my novel, the woman's husband sort of abandons her emotionally. Her sister in law is the one that is there for her. The story then took on a life of it's own as fiction does. The characters lead me in terms of where they wanted to go.
The question that does drive the story is who left the screen open! She does find out at the end. I didn't even know what the answer to that was going to be until I got there! I was even wondering who it was! I know there are writers who continually outline their stories and they know every point of the story. I'm not one of those writers. I'm one of those writers who is taking on an adventure by these characters and the story goes places that i did not anticipate. I did not know until I got close to that point and it kind of surprised me!
MICK: That sounds like an exciting way to write!
PATTI: It's the only way I know how! I remember hearing in an interview with Stephen King years ago about a TV mini series called "Storm of the Century". The lead character, a black-eyed, stocking-capped stranger, says throughout the movie "Give me what I want and I'll go away". In the interview, King said "When I was writing this, when the man kept saying "give me what you want and I'll go away", I was wondering what he wanted!"
It turned out he was a devil and he wanted one of the children. But that was late in the series by the time we found out. I loved that King had lead us into his process and I loved that at the point when the rest of us found out what the guy wanted was also the point in which King found out! There's something very organic about that!
MICK: Did you get the title of your book “Till Human Voices Wake Us” from a line in T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, a poem about drowning in memories?
PATTI: Yes I did! I love T.S. Eliot! I fell in love with that stanza and just thought it fit with this book.
MICK: Is this your first fiction book?
PATTI: No it's not. In fact, my first book in the 1980's "Homefront" was a novel. That's the book I got so much heat for. I did what every writer does. I culled from my life and I built a fictional story around it. There were obvious pieces of my life because I was the daughter of the newly elected President. It was totally a work of fiction. I thought so naively that it was obvious as I made the girl much older than me and old enough to be in the thick of things in the 60's. I was in high school in the 60's. I was so blasted for that novel! Then I wrote a second novel called "Deadfall" and it really didn't do well. Then in 1994, I wrote a novel called "Bondage" which was an erotic novel. These days it would be considered pretty tame. I've written several works of fiction and this is my latest! I have two other novels that I may self publish also. My literary agent never took my book around. A previous agent, who has since passed away, did take it around
a little bit years ago and there was interest in it but I think people were surprised that it was me and they are used to my nonfiction books. They couldn't get their heads around it.
I have a young adult fiction book called "The Blue Hour" coming also. Right now I'm liking swimming in these self publishing waters!
MICK: How long did it take you to write this particular book?
PATTI: I started this in the late 90's. I worked on it in pieces. I remember working on it after 9/11. The grief that we were all feeling brought me back to this novel. But I was doing a lot of magazine work and I did two other published books. I kept going back to this novel and after working on it for so long, I saw that there were some dated references that had to be updated. So I made the changes! I really love this book! I was watching Kindle Publishing and was reading up on it and decided to go in this direction. What's the worse that could happen?
MICK: How are sales doing so far?
PATTI: It's doing really well! Page Six in the NY Post wrote a little thing on it. They put a provocative title on it about a lesbian love story! I first thought when I saw the headline "Oh great! Now I'm never going to get a boyfriend now!" Fortunately the first line of the text was "Patti Davis is NOT a lesbian but she's written this novel..." There was a huge jump in sales then! People were emailing me saying they were trending me on Yahoo. It's slowed up a little bit now. I'm trying to so as much as I can in the social media. Facebook has been really helpful! Plus it's interesting that the timing right now has worked in my favor with the Supreme Court stuff going on. I did not plan that!
MICK: It's getting great revues on Amazon! Is it available on any other sites?
PATTI: No but I am going to do a Createspace actual paperback book with it. Kindle Direct Publishing has been so helpful with me. I really can't say enough about them. I am not a tech savy person and I was thinking that I would have to pay a computer person to sit with me and do it. But I listened to their video tutorial about how to self publish a book and I followed their steps. I did it! It got enough press that somebody from Kindle Direct Publishing contacted me about doing a Createspace book as a physical book. So I'm doing that now!
MICK: How is your mom doing these days?
PATTI: She's doing ok these days. She is 91 now. She is fragile. I see her on Sundays and she misses my father.
MICK: Is she aware of your new book?
PATTI: No she's not because she doesn't have a Kindle! I think I mentioned it to her years ago and she had sort of a negative reaction.
MICK: Do you keep in touch with your brother Ron?
PATTI: Yes all of the time!
MICK: You told me previously that you were going to an Alzheimer's support group a few nights a week. Did you start that group?
PATTI: I did start that group! I had this idea for an Alzheimer's support group for caregivers and family members of people suffering from Alzheimer's. I took the idea to UCLA and they said yes! Two nights a week I run this support group.I titled it "Beyond Alzheimer's" because in the ten years of my father's illness, I really learned to look beyond the disease. I learned to keep remembering that in my belief my father's soul could not have Alzheimer's.
It was a daily and constant exercise in looking beyond the walls of the disease. Not only as it affected him but as it affected me. Family members are sort of imprisoned as well.I'm really proud of it. I've been doing this for a couple years now and it's got a lot of attention. UCLA has been very good to me and very supportive of this. It doesn't cost people anything to come, just pay for parking! It's been very gratifying to see people make the changes that not only help their loved ones but also help them. I've also written a little book called 'Beyond Alzheimer's" that tells about the principles that I've brought to this group. There is a publisher interested in that so that will be an actual published book!
MICK: Are you involved politically at all?
PATTI: Not really. I really don't like politics. I'm very passionate about wolves and the environment. I am a democrat and I do speak out at times. I do support President Obama but I'm still disappointed environmentally. I would have never anticipated the horrible things that are going on, particularly with wolves, in this administration. I am disappointed. Politics is not on my front burner but certain issues are. Politics seems like the problem to everything! We are playing politics with this planet! we are playing politics with guns! I don't get it.
MICK: Were you a democrat when your dad was President?
PATTI: Yes I was! We disagreed on things. But my father did come out and support a ban on assault weapons. Not immediately after he was shot but he did! In the 70's when he was governor of California, he came out against an initiative that would ban gay teachers from a school. There were things we agreed on!
MICK: Are you doing any more acting?
PATTI: Oh my God no! That was many years ago. All I ever wanted to be was a writer. At some point at the end of high school, someone said to me that you have to have a backup career. They meant something where you get a degree, like a business degree, a law degree, etc... So my backup profession was acting! It doesn't make a lot of sense but that was it! I wasn't very good and I made a little money with it!
MICK: What is a typical day for you like?
PATTI: I have a pretty simple life. I get up at dawn, I walk my dog, I work out a lot. I may hang out with friends. There's the support group and things like lectures I do for that.
MICK: Do you have any hobbies besides writing?
PATTI: I love gardening. I'm a really good gardener. Maybe that should have been my backup profession! I spend a lot of time writing. I just love it! I'm always working on more than just one thing at a time. I love doing journalistic pieces. That's got to be more problematic than it used to be. I like doing it even though you don't get paid as much as you used to!
MICK: Will you be traveling the country to promote your new book?
PATTI: I don't think so. If "Beyond Alzheimer's" gets published, then I will have to be out there promoting that. For this book, I think social media and interviews takes care the promoting. The days of going to cities and doing book signings are scarce these days because there are not many book stores around anymore. Times have changed. Now we are connected through social media like Facebook and you can reach a lot more people. There are some annoying things about social media but for the most part, it's a really good thing! In the world right now, it does allow people to be connected. I'm very happy with it! You can do a lot right from your computer and you don't have to get on a plane!
MICK: What are your plans after this book?
PATTI: I think "Beyond Alzheimer's" is going to get published. I have these two novels that I may also self publish. I would really love if I could get film rights sold for "Till Human Voices Wake Us". I think it could be a really cool movie, along the lines of 'The Kids Are Alright".
I think all of the characters would be good vehicles for actors and actresses!
You can order Patti Davis's new book "Till Human Voices Wake Us" at: