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Coupeville woman dedicates life to writing

Coupeville author Patricia Brooks recently began publishing a three-novel mystery series that takes place on a fictionalized Whidbey Island.   - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Coupeville author Patricia Brooks recently began publishing a three-novel mystery series that takes place on a fictionalized Whidbey Island.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Talking with Coupeville resident Patricia Brooks will likely make you reconsider the choices you’ve made throughout your life. To say she is a woman of principle may be selling her short.

A self-proclaimed feminist and activist, she made headlines in 2006 for going on a three-week hunger strike to protest the Iraq War. She worked in the Deep South during the hostile aftermath of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and was thrown over the hood of a car that was traveling about 50 miles per hour. But perhaps one of her most incredible feats is that she’s never given up her lifetime pursuit of writing, even though it’s stuck her in an apartment living off a monthly $657 Social Security check.

At 72, Brooks recently published the final part of a three-novel series called the Grace Mysteries which take place on a slightly fictionalized version of Whidbey Island.

Brooks began writing the series more than 10 years ago. Her first novel centered on a rape victim which Brooks wrote using the knowledge she gained answering phones at a crisis hotline. She said she wanted people to understand the devastating impact that that kind of abuse can have on a person’s life. She recalls one woman claiming she was going to commit suicide though it had been 10 years since her sister’s fiance raped her.

Brooks said her books, which tell the story of a 4-foot, 9-inch private investigator named Molly Piper, are aimed at teaching lessons in morality and cultural awareness. The final book, “Grace Under Fire,” is set on the Makah Indian Reservation and describes the challenges six young men (the Braves) face when trying to live up to their elders’ standards and capture a whale.

Brooks hopes that after reading her stories people will better understand Native cultures and will see that a life led without cell phones and television can be so much richer. Additionally, she hopes her characters will serve as mentors to the younger generation.

“I want girls to know that you don’t have to be like boys to accomplish things,” Brooks said when mentioning her petite, yet powerful leading lady. “I consider her a role model to girls, and the Braves as role models to boys.”

Brooks also has written a poetry book which focuses on the art of sound and rhythm. She’s upset that modern poets have written off the traditional format and wants people to know that it’s still a strong medium of expression.

“Poetry has always depended on sound and rhythm,” she said, “and I wrote poems pushing those ideas. There’s something so satisfying about things ending the way they sound they should.”

Brooks took first place in both the fiction and poetry categories at this year’s Spirit of Writing competition on Whidbey. Her books can be found at Island libraries, Kingfisher in Coupeville or online at Amazon.com.

Brooks said she considers all her life to be an assignment and said her next mission may be to complete a six part historical series about a young indentured servant who breaks societal norms.

“If I live long enough, I might do the series,” Brooks said. “It seems things are finally falling into place after only 72 years of trying.”

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