"Patricia Gaffney was born in Tampa, Florida, the younger of the two children of Joem and Jim Gaffney. With her brother Mike, she grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., and graduated from Walter Johnson High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in English and philosophy from Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, and also studied literature at Royal Holloway College of the University of London, at George Washington University, and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
After college, Gaffney taught 12th grade English at East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, ""for one excruciating year. The kids were great, but they were bigger than me and I was scared of them."" Returning to Chapel Hill, instead of finishing her master's degree in education, she took a job as a freelance court reporter, and pursued that career in North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., for the next fifteen years.
In January of 1984, Gaffney discovered a malignant lump in her breast. ""I was positive I was dying; I gave myself five years. Time to decide, and fast, what to do with the rest of my too-short life."" In the end, the decision was easy because it was what she'd always wanted to do: write books and live in the country. In 1986, she and her husband left Washington and moved to rural southern Pennsylvania, where they live today.
There Gaffney began the first of what would be twelve published historical romance novels. The first, Sweet Treason, appeared in 1989 and won the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart as well as other first-book awards. Six of her novels have been nominated for RWA Rita awards, and Wild at Heart (1997) was among ten finalists for the reader-nominated Favorite Book of the Year Award.
After a dozen books, Gaffney says she began to feel restless. ""I'd run out of stories I wanted to tell in the context of historical romance. And I had an urge to put more of myself in my novels. I'll always tell stories, but now I wanted to change the truth/fantasy ratio, weight it more toward my real life.""
In June of 1999, HarperCollins published The Saving Graces, Gaffney's hardcover fiction debut. ""Real life"" definitely played a part in this story of four women friends, one of whom battles a cancer recurrence. ""I've belonged to the same women's group for almost 20 years. Eight years ago, we lost one of our members to breast cancer. The Saving Graces tells her story, not mine."" More than that, it explores issues of love, friendship, trust, and commitment among women. Gaffney says she hopes it speaks to the universal experience of women blessed with the gift of close friendships.
The Saving Graces enjoyed bestseller status on the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, and other national lists.
Circle of Three was Gaffney's second hardcover novel, published by HarperCollins in June of 2000. The protagonist is a member of the ""sandwich generation,"" a woman who both has a mother and a daughter and is a mother and a daughter. Gaffney explores the reality of women's lives in the context of three generations, grandmother, mother, and daughter. Told in alternating viewpoints, the women wrestle with issues of grief and guilt, aging and growing up, reconciling with old loves and finding new ones.
In July of 2002, HarperCollins will publish Flight Lessons. Set in a small town on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Flight Lessons is the story of 30-something Anna Catalano who comes home, after a long self-exile, to help run the Bella Sorella, the family Italian restaurant. Once again the focus is family, both Anna's real one as well as the Bella Sorella's steamy, chaotic, metaphorical family. Sins are committed and forgiven, hearts broken and healed. Gaffney explores favorite themes in this book about food, family, and forgiveness.
Patricia Gaffney is currently at work on her fourth novel for HarperCollins."