My Letter to Fear
by Patricia Steffy
Over the course of two years, Steffy conducted interviews with the fabulous women around her and their equally fantastic friends. She put no restrictions on age, or ethnicity. They just needed to be willing to answer some questions. The questions covered a variety of topics, including aging, body image, abuse, rape, addiction, confidence, loss, beauty myths, and fear. Steffy asked them about the expectations they had for their lives when they were very young versus their current realities as adults. She asked them to tell her the best things about themselves (a question which was surprisingly difficult for people to answer) and the worst things. Those answers—the funny, the heartbreaking, and the hysterical—and her own experiences became the basis for these essays.
From Beautiful Women
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get a woman to admit that she is beautiful? Seriously. Give it a try. Ask five of your friends right now if they are beautiful. You might get their best two minute stand-up routine on why they are "FINE," but a quiet moment of admission is rare—even from women who are held up by society as being examples of physical perfection.
Do we demur because we're afraid that an admission of beauty makes us shallow, vain or arrogant? Or do we deny so that we can beat others to it? Ask a woman what she loves about her looks, and you'll see her searching for an answer. Is she looking for an acceptable answer, or is she genuinely searching for something that she wouldn't change?
Now ask a woman what she hates about her looks. Watch her not even pause ...
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Patricia Steffy attended Kenyon College and American University. She is a recent refugee from the corporate world where she worked as an analyst for a law firm for more than 16 years. An escape plan started to develop as she pursued her interests as a writer and producer through Circe’s World Films. She has been involved in co- and exec-producing a number of feature and short films ranging from broad comedy to psychological drama, including the award-winning short Touch. She is currently developing Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths as a web series. The series is based on her long-running blog of the same name.
Pieces from My Letter to Fear were featured in a one-night only special showcase event. The showcase was directed by Danielle Turchiano and featured readings from Nikki DeLoach (Awkward.), Lesley Fera (Pretty Little Liars), Stevie Lynn Jones (Crisis), Jen Lilley (Days of Our Lives), Roma Maffia (Pretty Little Liars), Dennisha Pratt (The Sunny Side Up Show), and Carla Renata (Hart of Dixie). You can see excerpts from the readings here: http://www.patriciasteffy.com/showcase/
Book Buy Links
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-letter-to-fear-patricia-steffy/1118328490?ean=2940045599153
Interview with Patricia Steffy
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
More than once I've been inspired by something I've read in the news or heard on the radio. If the story makes me angry, or I think it is ridiculous, that's all the better. That kind of passion can fuel "foundation" writing that can then be shaped and worked into a complete story.
I also love situations where someone gets their “moment.” When I see people experience the moment where they see their work or passions realized, I get very emotional. That always inspires me.
For “My Letter to Fear,” the early pieces were re-workings of blog pieces I had written years ago. The original pieces were often opinion blogs about beauty myths, aging, starting over again after a long-term relationship, etc. I knew I wanted to compile them in some way, either for a stage show or a book, but I didn't know how to organize or expand the concepts. One day, I was having lunch with a friend who is a therapist, and she told me about a technique that is used where the patient struggling with some specific issues, writes a letter addressing it. So, they could write letters to anxiety, depression, addiction, fear, etc. This idea captured my imagination, and I started to restructure my writing around it.
From there, I decided that I wanted to broaden the experiences covered in the collection. So, I started interviewing women and trying to get an idea of the issues they were experiencing. In many ways, those women became the inspiration for finishing the book.
How did you do research for your book?
For “My Letter to Fear,” the research came in the form of interviews. They started off casually with just a few questions posed to friends. Then the questions were refined, and I did follow-ups. Then those friends sent out questions to their friends, and it grew from there. The responses came from women from 20 to 82 of various ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. There were no restrictions – I just wanted to hear what they were thinking, what they were celebrating and what their struggles were.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
I am a full-time writer, but not a full-time creative writer. I'm an author, screenwriter and travel writer (which, I suppose, you could call my day job). It can be tricky to find time to work on personally-motivated projects, and even harder to find time to promote projects when I'm juggling the day job writing. But after nearly 17 years of working as an analyst for a law firm, I'm enjoying the relatively new freedom of choosing the projects I pursue.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Do I have the ability to go back as a wealthy person? If so, I think the 1920s would be a fascinating era to visit – so much change going on, and a particularly interesting time for women. The world that they have created in the “Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries” is particularly appealing – but only if I would have the means and freedom to explore those rarified circles.
What is your next project?
“My Letter to Fear” has actually inspired a few projects. I have a film script that I'm about to start sending out called “Destruction” that finds its roots in the essay Legacy. It's a drama, and I think very timely. I have high hopes for it!
I also wrote a 10-episode web series called “Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths” that came out of the early blog that was also the foundation for “My Letter to Fear.” We shot a sizzle reel for it which you can see here: https://vimeo.com/77469627 It stars Lesley Fera (“Pretty Little Liars”), Jen Lilley (“Days of Our Lives”), Tamara Taylor (“Bones”) and Kris Polaha (“Life Unexpected”). It was thrilling to see my words come to life like this, and I'm hoping that the series can move forward.
Finally, another book is in the works. Based on the essay Lost Folk Hero, it follows a woman who makes a big leap of faith in life, only to face more obstacles than she imagined she would. Unlike “My Letter to Fear,” this one is fiction and more often comedic than not. I'm just in the early stages, but I'm hoping to finish it in 2017.
Thank you for introducing me to your readers!
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Patricia Steffy will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.