Love letters reaching through time

By SHEA STANFIELD

ARTS COLUMNIST

Anna, an 86-year-old victim of a home invasion in Phoenix, was left brutally beaten, unconscious and hospitalized. Unable to live on her own she was relocated to Utah near her son and his family.

Anna’s story began many years before, in the Midwest, preceding and during the Great Depression.   This story, which is revealed in a page-turning historical fiction novel titled “The Starve Hollow Affair,” may have never been told if local author Patricia (Patty) Schoenfeld had not discovered thousands of love letters dating from the years 1927-1937.

 

The letters were tightly packed in a box at the bottom of a closet in her mother’s home, during a final cleanout. The contents revealed the love Anna had for two men in her life and the shocking secrets she had kept for over 70 years.

 

Patty was born in Alexandria, Indiana, but grew-up in Phoenix. Her parents moved to the area in 1945 seeking a dryer climate for her father’s health.

 

Both parents were English teachers, her father taught at Phoenix Union High School until he passed away in 1961.

 

Patty’s mother, equally talented in the art of writing, created short stories about her family history based on a collection of Civil War letters written by Patty’s great-grandfather to her great-grandmother.

 

Although Patty loved to write and tell her own stories she went on to graduate from Phoenix College School of Nursing in 1962.

 

She began her 47-year career as a registered nurse. Then later became a case manager where her writing consisted of various case management development programs and articles for health magazines.

 

Once she retired Patty could devote her attention to honing her creative writing skills.

 

“My initial developmental instructors for my novel were author Susan Pohlman and writing coach Cynthia Keifer, Ph.D,” Patty stated.

 

Upon completion of the instruction phase, Patty joined five author groups that provided an opportunity to connect with other authors both highly skilled and those new to the craft.

 

Today, Patty’s office is set-up in her Arizona room of her home, but she freely admits her favorite place to work is her dining room table where she can spread out research, paperwork, and in the case of “The Starve Hollow Affair” her mother’s letters.

 

“The Starve Hollow Affair” largely takes place in a farming community in Southern at Indiana University where her mother, Anna, attended college.

 

Since publication, in March 2018, Patty has participated in numerous book signings both in Arizona and in Indiana.

 

She was the guest of honor for a book signing at the Fort Vallonia’s 50th Anniversary in Indiana in October of 2018. This annual event draws between 20,000 to 30,000 people and is in the town where “The Starve Hollow Affair” begins.

 

The North Valley community has an opportunity to meet author Patty Schoenfeld and hear the intriguing details of her journey as an author writing “The Starve Hollow Affair,” and get a sneak-peek into her upcoming sequel to be published this year, “The Final Air Castle.”

 

Patty’s presentation will be at the Desert Foothills Library on February 13, from 2-3:30 p.m. Please contact the library, 480-488-2286, to reserve your space. For more information visit the library’s website desertfoothillslibrary.org.

 

You won’t want to miss this inspiring opportunity.

 

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield on flowingquill@yahoo.com.