By the age of twelve, Patricia Crisafulli knew she wanted to a writer. Despite the winks, chortles, and outright laughter from the adults around her, she pursued her dream of being a writer, and she has built a career doing just that.
With scores of books and articles to her name, Crisafulli’s girlhood dreams have come true. Today, she is a best-selling author, based right here in Chicago’s suburbs.
Crisafulli grew up in northern New York State near the Canadian border and worked as a journalist in New York City before settling in Chicago, where she was a reporter and correspondent for Reuters. Her work has appeared in a variety of media, including The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor, and she is currently a featured blogger for Huffington Post.
Crisafulli published her first book, Remembering Mother, Finding Myself: A Journey of Love and Self-Acceptance (under the name Patricia Commins), when she was thirty-nine. Since then, she has worked on project after project, reaching the best-seller list with The House of Dimon, a behind-the-scenes account of the CEO of JP Morgan. She is also the coauthor, with her friend Andrea Redmond, of Comebacks and their latest, Rwanda, Inc.
Crisafulli also is the creative force behind what she calls her labor of love, Faith, Hope, and Fiction, a free, bimonthly literary ezine that features fiction, poetry, and essays.
Crisafulli also does a lot of speaking and media appearances. And—oh, yeah—we should mention that she is at work on a volume of short stories and essays, Inspired Every Day, to be published by Hallmark next spring.
Her winning track record proves that successful authors need not live and work in New York, London, Frankfurt, Barcelona, or other global publishing hubs. Chicago does just fine. “I live in Chicago, my publisher is in New York, and my topic is Africa,” Crisafulli notes, referencing her latest book.
That said, she also says that she considers herself a writer and not necessarily a Chicago writer. “I would not consider myself part of Chicago’s publishing scene,” Crisafulli says. “I’m just part of the publishing scene—as is every author. This is a field, increasingly, without borders.”
With changing technology and growing online communities, Crisafulli believes that publishing is more about building relationships than it is about location. Finding an agent, an editor, and a publisher who love your work—as well as readers who love it and will talk about it—is key, regardless of where you write your manuscripts.
“I would publish with absolutely anyone anywhere,” Crisafulli says. “The editor who loves your work is what matters. It’s lovely if that happens locally, but that doesn’t happen all that often.”
That may be, but Crisafulli notes that Chicago is a solid part of the larger publishing world. “The Chicago publishing scene is a river flowing into a much bigger body of water, which is national and international,” she says. “There are publishers here and writers here and editors here, and that’s happening.”
Wherever it’s happening, Crisafulli is giving it her all, making those girlhood dreams of being a writer come true. And no one’s laughing now.
Watch a video of Patricia Crisafulli’s appearance on “Chicago Tonight” during which she discusses Rwanda, Inc. with Phil Ponce.
—by Kelli Christiansen