OHIO CONNECTION: Birth and Resident
Cleveland and Shaker Heights
Since childhood, Cleveland native and freelance writer Patricia Averbach (“a born teller of stories”) was driven to introspection, to observing, and to sharing her thoughts with others. Before learning to write, she verbalized her narratives to her grandmother who lovingly wrote them down for Averbach to illustrate.
While studying for her master’s degree in Speech Pathology at Case Western Reserve University, Averbach served for a few months as a student speech pathologist in the university’s nursery for deaf children. Although not specializing in the education of the deaf, she was nonetheless engaged in the teaching of auditory-oral communication skills to them. Subsequent to graduation, Averbach found employment in Ohio, later California, and ultimately in Ontario, Canada. In her early thirties, she relocated back to Cleveland where she married Mark Averbach, a prestigious lawyer based in Shaker Heights. Although the need to write burned as consumingly as ever, she nonetheless decided to defer it out of an encompassing devotion to her family and her husband’s career.
When her two daughters, Ann and Illana, had grown up, Averbach decided to pick up writing once again. A breakthrough occurred in her blossoming artistic development when she became involved with the Chautauqua Writers Center at Chautauqua, New York. A community of fledgling, journeymen, and seasoned writers and poets, the Writers Center is a literary think-tank proctored by esteemed writers-in-residence. Averbach began to regularly attend a week’s worth of classes at the Center each year. In time, she would become one of the Center’s most venerated directors.
Uncertain if she had cultivated the discipline, methodology, and resilience requisite for the writing of novels, Averbach circumscribed her writing endeavors with poetry and the infrequent short story. To keep involved and engaged during the intervals between Chautauqua sessions, she signed up with another writers’ group that conducted itself online. During a particular session, Averbach had a life-changing exchange between herself and the moderator, London-based editor and publisher Adelle Ward, about her latest short story. Recognizing the story’s luster, the moderator counseled Averbach that a lack of confidence and courage was holding her back from achieving the success to which she was destined. Sensing that the short story was but the beginning of an exciting novel, the moderator encouraged her to develop it further, promising the group’s full support however long it might take. Averbach need never feel creatively alone.
When in need of seclusion to work, she would drive to John Carroll University’s Grasselli Library where she would work on her laptop in a quiet corner.
Written over the course of two and a half years in which she cared for her dying mother, that short story grew into Painting Bridges. The novel is about a young widow named Samantha, who, while grieving the combined loss of her husband and her only child, encounters and takes responsibility for a young deaf girl unable to communicate with the world around her. Upon the completion of Painting Bridges, Averbach submitted cold-queries to nearly fifty mainstream agents and to six small, independent publishers. One press expressed interest — the independent publishing house Bottom Dog Press, located in Huron, Ohio, which accepts “non-represented works.” Within two weeks of her submission, Averbach received a contract from Bottom Dog’s director, Larry Smith. Within half a year, Painting Bridges was published and in bookstores. Although not widely known or reviewed nationally, Painting Bridges was lauded locally by such publications as the Cleveland Plain Dealer as being “introspective, intelligent and moving.”
Around the same time of Bottom Dog’s acceptance of Painting Bridges, Averbach received notification that the poems she had submitted to an English poetry contest, the Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition, had won first place. She felt drawn to participate because all the competition’s proceeds are donated by Camden/Lumen to shelters situated within the London borough of Camden and its ward of King’s Cross. Averbach’s entry was published as a chapbook by Ward Wood Publishing (an independent publishing firm based in London and Shrewsbury partnering with Camden/Lumen) as Missing Persons. A few months later, in 2014, Missing Persons was reviewed by the Times of London in its November 2014 Literary Supplement and deemed one of the best small collections of the year.
When it came time to publish her second book, Resurrecting Rain, Averbach contacted Kathy Bennett of Magic Time Literary Agency, the literary publicist that was recommended to her by a friend who owned a bookstore in Sarasota, Florida. The staff member assigned to Averbach secured numerous speaking engagements throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York for her as well as publicity in a variety of newspapers and magazines.
Averbach’s second novel, Resurrecting Rain, won a Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association and was a semi-finalist for a Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award under the title New Moon Rising. It was celebrated by Midwest Book Review as a “deftly crafted novel by an author with an engaging narrative storytelling style—extraordinary and unique—highly recommended, especially for contemporary literary fiction collections.”
When not pressed by deadlines, Averbach’s inclination is to binge write, to work in spurts rather than in daily sessions, on a computer. Predominately, she is creatively at her best in the mornings, generally winding everything up by lunchtime.
Sources and Additional Resources
Christie, Nancy. 2016, Oct 12. “One on One with Patricia Averbach—Part One.” One on One: Insights into the Writer’s Life.
Christie, Nancy. 2016, Oct 17. “One on One with Patricia Averbach—Part Two.” One on One: Insights into the Writer’s Life.
Christie, Nancy. 2016, Oct 24. “One on One with Patricia Averbach—Part Three.” One on One: Insights into the Writer’s Life.
Christie, Nancy. 2016, Oct 31. “One on One with Patricia Averbach—Part Four.” One on One: Insights into the Writer’s Life.
Gnaegy, Mallory. 2014, Jan 21. “Sarasota Writer Patricia Averbach Debuts Her Debut Novel.” Observer.
Rife, Susan. 2017, Jan 14. “A Window into the Life of a Deaf Child.” Herald Tribune.
Wolff, Carlo. 2013, May 22. “Shaker Heights Writer Launches Debut Novel.” Cleveland Jewish News.
Review of Painted Bridges by Michelle Ross, Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 1, 2013
Review of Resurrecting Rain: Kirkus, December 16, 2019.