The first child of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Patti Davis has lived anything but the conventional life of the child of a conservative political family. Throughout the 1970s, Patti rejected her parents' conservatism, living with a member of the rock band the Eagles and participating in the nuclear freeze movement. After years working as an actress, Patti tried her hand at writing. In 1986, she published A House of Secrets, an undeniably autobiographical novel about a liberal young writer whose conservative father is the governor of California and then the president of the United States, and whose mother is an exacting woman obsessed with appearances and propriety. A long estrangement between Patti and her parents followed. In recent years, Patti has voiced regret at some of her actions during this time period. But we wonder how many of us would have handled the burden of that legacy any differently? She and her parents reconciled in 1993, shortly before Reagan's diagnosis with Alzheimer's, while she was writing Angels Don't Die: My Father's Gift of Faith.
Patti is an amazing author, journalist and screenwriter who, after eight conventionally published books, chose to self-publish through Amazon’s CreateSpace and KDP. Her first self-published novel is Till Human Voices Wake Us, a story of unexpected love between two sisters-in-law. It was reviewed well in People magazine, in InieReader, and by Amazon readers. Her second novel is The Blue Hour, a YAF ghost story that also will appeal to adults.
Returning to conventional publishing, her latest book, The Earth Breaks in Colors, is a powerful and emotionally compelling story of race, redemption and transformation. The story centers around a racially fueled incident which exposes the fissures that sit beneath the surface of friendships and families. It is also a story about family secrets and how they can burn holes through us the size of an entire life. And how, if we stay true to ourselves, we can overcome these secrets and transform legacies of shame and indifference into those of love and profound connection. We were honored to have her on the show.
This week’s music was curated (unofficially) by Ani DiFranco. The songs speak directly to how we see the life and work of Patti Davis through the OTB lens. Special thanks to Celeste Gurevich for the music suggestions.
NOTE: This interview was recorded before the death and funeral of Nancy Reagan. So please give Patti Davis the privacy and respect she deserves during this difficult time.
Find Patti’s books here.