When you’re the mother of six, juggling all the things in the air might not come naturally, but it’s a must. Add in a side of writing some of the most adored YA romances and you’re talking about one talented author — Huntley Fitzpatrick. Which is why I’m not surprised Huntley pulls from her own life - the quirks, the comments, and the hilarious dialogue - since every conversation, interaction between her fictional tight-knit families feel ever so real and heartfelt. It's as if the characters inhabiting the book were pulled from the clutches of reality and forever preserved in the pages of her sweet romances.
And woah — wow factor, does Huntley know sexy and mysterious and adventurous in a first hand way. If you hadn’t heard, there was an incident on a train that involved kissing a stranger. Yep… the lady doth not protest, and gave up all the glorious details of a passing in the night story that was all her own making. Such a romantic moment!
Okay so I keep hearing about this stranger you kissed on a train — what’s the story behind this moment? Are you able to expand upon it? Is the stranger still a stranger? This is what you get when you are honest about things no one knows about you! But seriously, yes, I did kiss a stranger, and to this day, I don’t know his story. Or remember his name, though he did tell it to me. I was taking the train from Boston to Washington, D.C. The guy I’d been in love with for several years had put me on the train. I was still in the friend zone with him, but the guy who sat down next to me must have adding up my wistful gaze out the window and air of general pining. He was quiet, kind of shy, gorgeous in an understated blond Robert Redford type way (that’s how I described him in my journal —sounds almost impossible, though). We talked all the way to Philadelphia. It was late at night, and the train lights were low. The train was pretty empty. We rested our feet on the seat opposite us and whispered back and forth and finally he asked if he could kiss me. I said yes. It was completely unlike me. But I have never regretted it for a second. Although it might have made a better story if the stranger had turned out to be Obama or John Green.
[See… See… is that not the most romantic story? If that was her real life, no wonder she has no problem jumping from it to fictional writing. However, as darling as that moment is, she also knows the flip side of things given people have no problem offering advice on her large family and it’s not always the nicest reactions either. I felt horrible for Mrs. Garrett at the comments she had to withstand in THE BOY MOST LIKELY. Her children, her choice and Huntley channeled her feelings and incidents into a beautiful, kind mother who has rubbed off on Alice — Tim’s love interest here.]
How do you schedule in writing time with six children and does it coincide with your favorite part of the day to write? Do you have certain times of the day where you are more inspired to write? One of the things I’m always getting told as the mother of a large family is how easy-going I am. This usually comes right after “You’ve certainly got your hands full” and immediately before “What were you thinking?” (**Yes, every one of the comments made to Mrs. Garrett in the supermarket came directly from my journal). The fact is, I’m easy-going and disciplined in equal measure, and that combo works for me with both writing and family. I write when I can, where I can (although it really really helps if I’m alone and it’s quiet)—and whether that’s at 2 a.m. or in the library at dinner time or away at a hotel for a weekend or for twenty minutes when I have to call down the stairs to only disturb me if there’s blood or unconsciousness, that’s what I do.
What do your children think of your career and how do they inspire your novels, your writing? They have a big mix of feelings. They’re proud of me—they love having me visit their classrooms, they tell their friends and their teachers to read me, they move my books so the cover rather than the spine faces out when they see them at a bookstore, they come home with stories they think I might be able to ‘use’, they are honest about what words I use that are totally not “real kid” words. But they also want to be sure that their needs are met first and foremost, they get embarrassed by my love and kissing scenes, they miss me when I’m at conferences and they fear that I’ll use their lives as material. I don’t use anybody’s life but my own and my imagination as material, but having kids does keep the feelings of being young right in front of me, not just in my memories, my journals, and my heart.
You’ve mentioned having a desire to possibly breakaway from YA romance, has that happened yet? Your next novels — will we find them in historical fiction or New Adult? Are you even allowed to give us a hint of what you’re working on next? YA still feels like my home and the place for the stories I want to tell right now. But I read all genres, and I’ve tried writing several (mystery, historical fiction, new adult). Right now I have an idea for a woman’s fiction story percolating in my mind. I make notes on it, and sort of noodle on how to make it work when I’m waiting in line or stuck in traffic, etc…it’s not a story I ever thought I’d find myself writing. I also wrote an (unpublished) New Adult several years ago, and I periodically wonder about updating it. But for now, I’m all YA.
My next book features a crash, a mystery, and a pair of teenagers on a quest to discover their fathers’ true identities. But it’s contemporary YA romance like the previous three.
Out of all the jobs you’ve had – besides author – which do you think best suited you and why? Which one shaped you most into the person you are? How much of your experiences at these jobs filter into your novels, your characterizations of persons in your novels. You have a wide array of characters, all with varied backgrounds and vices — from where do you think you draw the most inspiration for them?Great question—like all the above, it really got me thinking. The jobs I most adored was being an editor at Harlequin—I got to do pretty much every single thing I loved, and get paid for it. I practically sprinted from the subway to the office every day. But by the time I got that job, I was in my late twenties and already knew who I was. All the other jobs along the way shaped me—I think that’s true of everyone, but certainly me. I got to live multiple lives because of all those jobs—I remember clearly what it’s like to be a waitress, and babysit, and the stress of owning your own business, I’ve been both the privileged visitor to the summer community and the hardworking local. I hope I’m easier to work with as a writer because I was an editor, the same way I hoped the reverse. Personally, I try to bring everything I was into who I am all the time—to imagine how it feels to be on the flip side. It works wonders when dealing with your children, and it’s not a bad way to live in general.
[No it is not a bad way to live at all. In fact, it’s quite a lovely sentiment and one a lot of people espouse. Of course, I think my mom was fond of the saying: Walk a mile in another person’s shoes before you even begin to think of understanding them. As if I’d put my feet in someone else’s shoes. Yeah… I was a bit of a smart-mouthed brat sometimes. You’ve got the idea though, right?]
ABOUT HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK:
Born to parents who read anything and everything, the young, shy and nearsighted Huntley found herself searching for books that let her fall in love… with the story and the boy. It was only natural that one day she would decide to pursue a career in writing. In whole-hearted support, her father presented her with a typewriter, a package of Lucky Strike cigarettes, a bottle of Scotch and a note advising her to “Be Bold, Be Bold, Be Bold.”
For her tenth birthday.
Skipping the Scotch and the smokes, she began to write. Her first story involved a family with twenty children who lived by the ocean. The parents were twenty-two. To this day, some things remain constant in Huntley’s life: her love of family, salt air, summer and beaches and a shaky grasp of math.
In her teenage years, Huntley’s writing involved forcing friends to listen to her stories. At times this involved a twenty-page analysis of a two minute conversation with her current crush and included such phrases as “Pause. Silence. Much audible blushing.” Already, she was well on the path to exploring the paradoxical emotions involved in first love and true love. Sometimes we get lucky and they are the same thing.
Huntley spent her college years majoring in Shakespeare and completing a minor in daydreaming, following which she spent time working as a waitress, a caterer, a publicist’s minion, a bartender, an account firm assistant, romance novel editor, and co-owner of a café.
Along the way she, too, fell in love.
Today, Huntley lives on the coast of Massachusetts with her encouraging husband and their six energetic children who, thankfully, let her pick their brains, advising her on whatever is currently cool and reminding her of what always matters. In between – and sometimes during – the moments of chaos that surround her large family, Huntley can often be seen dashing to her computer or scribbling with whatever writing implements are on hand—lipstick or eyebrow pencil on an ATM receipt is fair game. Thoughts of young love are never far from her mind.