Spark has been released! I’m absolutely over-the-moon. Honestly, I’ve never been more excited to share my work. This was a special project from the outset. I’d like to share the inspiration behind this novel and what it means to me.

Four years ago I had the experience of a lifetime. I was one of fifty people invited to participate in a seminar on the neuroscience of creativity hosted by the world-renowned Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria. Receiving that invitation was like getting the golden ticket for Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The several-day seminar occurred at the actual Sound of Music house in Salzburg, an incredible castle over-looking pristine water and snowcapped mountains. I met incredible people. The participants included world-famous neuroscientists, artists, and others from around the globe. To say I felt I felt privileged to be there is an understatement. It was an extraordinary, life-changing experience, personally and professionally. While I was there, the idea for a novel began to take shape. I had long wanted to combine my love of writing fiction with my passion for the research process, but I didn’t know how to do it, or if it was even possible. In Salzburg, I figured it out. After the seminar I spent some time in Vienna which is where I wrote the outline. I put it in a drawer to allow it to stew. When I had met other commitments and felt the time was right, I began writing.

See, what I figured out in Salzburg was that to really work, it would have to be a novel that worked on two levels: one for students and one for general readers. The result is a novel that explores the research process, interdisciplinarity, and critical thinking. Simultaneously, it’s very much a simple adventure story about learning to see differently—ourselves, others, and the world. Although I had the idea four years ago, I wrote most of it over the last two years, and there’s no doubt that changes in the US and abroad influenced me. Spark is a counter-narrative to the divisiveness we’ve experienced. Here’s the official synopsis:

Professor Peyton Wilde has an enviable life teaching sociology at an idyllic liberal arts college—yet she is troubled by a sense of fading inspiration. One day an invitation arrives. Peyton has been selected to attend a luxurious all-expense-paid seminar in Iceland, where participants, billed as some of the greatest thinkers in the world, will be charged with answering one perplexing question. Meeting her diverse teammates—two neuroscientists, a philosopher, a dance teacher, a collage artist, and a farmer—Peyton wonders what she could ever have to contribute. The ensuing journey of discovery will transform the characters’ work, their biases, and themselves. This suspenseful novel shows that the answers you seek can be found in the most unlikely places.

This book was a big leap for me, and for my publisher. This is the first novel Guilford Press has ever published. To say I’m honored they took a chance on this book is an understatement. They were the only spark-coverpublisher I wanted to work with on this book. They did not disappoint. When you hold the book in your hands, you’ll see the incredible love and care they put into it, from the stunning, timeless cover created by Paul Gordon to the beautiful interior design details created by the production team. Working on this book with Guilford was another one of the greatest privileges of my life.

I also want to give a huge shout-out to the incredibly generous reviewers. I’m blown away by the early response to Spark. Here are a few snippets:

“Thought-provoking! Intriguing! Clever! A read that absolutely left me wanting to live in the world that Leavy created–a world of beauty and possibilities.” Robin Patric Clair, PhD, Purdue University

“Who, today, is not wondering, “How will our social and political differences ever get resolved?” In a highly-original and compelling novel, Spark, Patricia Leavy, gently leads us to answers… If I ran the world, I would make this book required reading.” Laurel Richardson, PhD, The Ohio State University

“A thoroughly enjoyable and thoughtful read! Spark is not only a page turner, but also an intellectual treasure that will stick with me.” Christine Sleeter, PhD, California State University, Monterey Bay

“This intriguing novel illuminates the blinding force of presumptions–about one’s own capacities, about other people, and, not least, about the ‘requirements’ of legitimate intellectual inquiry. Perhaps more fundamentally, it is about the possibility of transcending oneself, seeing people for who they truly are, and thinking beyond disciplinary silos.” Mark Freeman, PhD, College of the Holy Cross

“This is a sensational book and should be everyone’s freshman read.” Eve Spangler, PhD, Boston College

You can read more reviews as well as a sample chapter here:

I truly love this book and I’d be so grateful if you’d pick up a copy. Guilford Press is happy to offer 20% off and free shipping in the US/Canada. To take advantage use promo code 7FSPARK at their website:

Spark is also available at amazon:

As for what’s next, I’m looking forward some spring/summer conference travel as well as a tour of Iceland in September, including a lecture at Iceland University of the Arts. I’m super excited. I’m also busy writing as usual. I’m nearly done with another novel which I hope to release in late fall. I have a few nonfiction projects in the works too. More soon. In the meantime, I hope you’ll give Spark a read and that perhaps it reignites your own spark. I’d like to leave you with the opening words:

a spark exists
within, between, among
and within that spark,
entire worlds of possibility

Love and light,

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