Tomorrow, Patricia Raybon‘s action-packed mystery novel “All That Is Secret” finally releases! In celebration of her first Tyndale novel, BTSCelebs wanted to feature her in an exclusive interview.
Learn more about the talented lady who brought Annalee Spain to life, discover how her own life experiences shaped the character and Annalee Spain’s future beyond this book.
BTSCelebs: Who is Patricia Raybon professionally?
Patricia Raybon: Thanks for your questions. At this point, after working five decades—first as a journalist, then a teacher of journalists, then as a nonfiction author—I’m just one of countless working writers who gets up every morning, grateful for assignments that let me reflect on the two things I love most: my faith in Christ and the genre of fictional mysteries. So I’m a regular writer for two ministries—DaySpring’s (in)courage community and Our Daily Bread. Then, last year, I completed and sold a mystery novel, All That Is Secret, to Tyndale House. I’m not trying to achieve any lofty professional notoriety. I just love writing for people who love to read. That’s my job. Gratefully, it has never felt like work.
Which author (classic or current) do you believe is your biggest inspiration?
Howard Thurman takes the top spot. He was the philosopher-theologian who was Dr. Martin Luther King’s spiritual mentor. A brilliant scholar who grew up near the beach in Daytona, he was a naturalist—a Black version of Henry David Thoreau—and also a pacifist who, more than anyone, inspired Dr. King’s passion for nonviolence. Two of Thurman’s books are my absolute favorites: his autobiography, With Head and Heart, and his reflection on Jesus’ relationship to the poor and oppressed, Jesus and the Disinherited. In my humble view, it’s one of the best books ever written on faith and race. It’s stunning. As for the craft of writing, I’m inspired most by film doctor Robert McKee, whose treatise on cinematic writing is called Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, and John Truby, another film doctor, who’s the author of The Anatomy of Story. Third is fiction editor Sol Stein, author of Stein on Writing and How to Grow a Novel. Brilliant, all three.
Why did you decide to write the historical mystery All That Is Secret?
I’m a big fan of historical mystery fiction. I’ve always loved reading it. So I longed to try my hand at writing it. Mysteries also need good threats, and the Klan in 1920s Colorado filled that role. I wanted to put that threat in a plot and see how it worked. I found history exciting to research and write. I pray readers will, too.
What parts of the story mirror your own life?
Two areas. The racial prejudice my protagonist Annalee experiences mirrors, to some extent, what I’ve experienced. I grew up under Jim Crow segregation—before the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Movement. I remember segregated drinking fountains, “whites-only” restaurants, beaches, parks, pools, neighborhoods, schools, amusement parks. All the insults. That was daily life. At the same time, like my character Annalee, I grew up in the Black church—a harbor of safety and affirmation. Annalee isn’t a big ‘religious’ person, despite being a trained theologian, but she too grew up in the church and its small, but loving community. For Black people at that time, there was hardly anywhere else you could go, so we spent a lot of time in church. It turned out to be the best place. The same is true, in some ways, for my character Annalee.
What was your favorite scene to create on paper?
I’m a romantic. So I loved writing the scenes between Annalee and her love interest, the young pastor. I’ll leave it at that!
If the Annalee Spain Mysteries get serialized, where would her next adventure take her?
Tyndale asked to serialize Annalee’s story. As a result, I’ve already written book two. I pray Annalee has a good run. Her next story is a high-flying adventure involving a wealthy Jewish banker—a target of the Klan—and the brother of a young WWI pilot who has been murdered. Annalee lands in the middle of it all and finds herself trying to solve the crime.
Following the release of your debut novel, what should your readers expect from you in 2022?
More writing about faith and mystery. That’s my prayer. It’s an exciting path for me and I’m so grateful to be on it.
Congratulations to Patricia Raybon on her book release!
A Special Thanks to Patricia Raybon and Tyndale House Publishers for this exclusive interview.