Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Edward C. Patterson, age 71.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Born in Brooklyn, NY, lived 30 years in New Jersey and currently live in Allentown. PA, although I still hold onto my NJ residency.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m a single Gay Army Veteran with a Master’s Degree in Sinology (Chinese History and Culture) from Brooklyn College and doctoral work in the same from Columbia University. I’ve worked for 53 years for the same organization in various capacities, mostly in credit and collections.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I woke up on this side of the grave this morning. Good thing, that.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was 13 and began publishing when I was 60. Somewhere between then and now I graduated from being a writer to becoming an author. I send my authored works out into the world to be read and as a legacy — a bid for immortality. It also pays the electric bill.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
No matter what profession I was pursuing — the ministry, an opera singer, a Chinese History professor or a Director in the corporate world, I have always considered myself a writer (author). This dawned on me when my grandmother gave me my first upright typewriter at age 8.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A Boy Scout camping trip inspired me to write my first novel (juvenilia) at age 13, a silly scribbling which broke the ice, but is lost to memory and time. As for my published books (38 in number), it’s hard to say which one is the first. I started the 5 books of the Southern Swallow series in the 70’s and published the last one of those 2 months ago, 44 years later. Now I can’t say I took 44 years to write my latest book (Vagrants Hollow), but it has been in the works for that long and through several iterations — a long gestation period. However, most of my books started in the mind in the 70’s and 80’s — and a batch were born after I came out of the closet in the 90’s.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
In my case it would be titles. Titles need to be as unique as possible and reflect the tone and spirit of the book, so in the creation process the title might change. Sometimes the title is a quote: i.e. Turning Idolater is a quote from Melville’s Moby Dick, an underlying element in that novel. Look Away Silence is a reference to the song Dixie and the motto for the AIDS activist group Act Up. At other times it’s an irony i.e. Master Wu’s Bride where Master Wu is dead before the novel begins. Sometimes I just like a word, i.e. The Third Peregrination or The Adumbration of Zinn. In all cases, the title needs to sing.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I was brought up on Dickens, Austen, W.S. Gilbert, King and Tolkien — so my style is a mix of anachronistic references blunted with street parlance. I have been accused of using a thesaurus, to which I deny categorically. Them thar words are my vocabulary; and if you can’t remember what a dial phone looks like, it’s not my fault. I believe a novelist MUST master poetry, because underlying good prose is strong sound and sense. However, I do not condone purple prose. I also like to smash genres together — romance, mystery and fantasy — but seamlessly. I call this ironic genre — a book about an Internet stripper who is enamored on 19th Century sea novels or a one-eyed landscape artist or a tour group of Chinese Swedes. Most important, every authoring project I undertake must have a challenge for me — something new to keep me and my characters on our toes.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Everything I have experienced in life winds up in my books. You cannot create the believable lie for fiction without basing it on first hand experience. Every character is subject to a little bit of me and a little bit of you. A few novels, like Look Away Silence has a strong tie to me and friends, while others like Surviving an American Gulag and The Road to Grafenwöhr are downright autobiographical, what we call Roman a clè.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I guess you don’t need to travel. However, I’ve been all over creation, living in Europe in the 60’s, traveling to nearly every state in the Union during the 80’s and 90’, plus a life shaping trip to the People’s Republic in 1986. When I describe a place, I’ve been there; and it it’s 12th Century China, I’ve used original sources to get it right having a strong base in Classical Chinese.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I do all my covers. And just recently, I redesigned all 38 and branded them. The cover is an index to the work as well as an above the fold marketing tool.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
All my novels have messages, but perhaps the universal one is: Listen to my characters, because they have something to say by act and deed, by word of mouth and by the journey they take.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favorite authors are mostly dead (Dickens, Melville, Hardy, Tolkien etc) — but I admire Stephen King greatly, J K Rowling especially, Naomi Narvik particularly and Alan Chin, a wonderful author who is leaving us a perfect legacy in the literary world.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
There’s a wonderful lady in Kansas named Betsy Gallup who first published my flagship book The Jade Owl serially and who taught me the ropes of the publishing trade and helped hone my skills as an author. There’s a brilliant lady in Pennsylvania named Margaret Stevens (Peg of the Red Pencil) who proof reads my drafts and provides wind beneath my wings. As for supportive entities, eighty thousand readers’ll do it every time.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
My careers have been many — professional student, the Army, fifty-three years with the same business organization, opera and choral singings and gay activism, but authoring has been my lifelong struggle and joy. It is my parallel soul, and anything that shadows you so closely can never be a career. Fortunately, the result of that pursuit (the shadow, so to speak) lives beyond the bones and flesh of career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Since I’m a pantser and do not author works with any particular plan, what I get in the end is what my characters give me. Who am I to question their judgment?
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learn something new with every book, even if it’s based in material I know cold. In Little Vin at Dreamland I learned how to shovel dung in a stable (it’s an art, you know). In Master Wu’s Bride I learned how to spin silk from worms. In my last published book, Vagrants Hollow I leaned the ceremony for exhuming a corpse in 12th Century China. Authoring sends you back to school or to Google, at least.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For my flagship book The Jade Owl and its 4 sequels, there’s no other choice but Elijah Wood. I won’t bore you with the dream casts for the other works.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Yes. Detailed outlines kill your work and bore readers. Writing is a craft, but only one skill in your tool quiver as an author. Your finished chapter or work is a great draft to actually complete the book with at least two revisions; nothing is complete in the first go.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I author for readers. To be read one reader at a time is the goal. And if you should donate some pocket change in the course of things, I grin and am thankful.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Cambridge History of China: Volume 5: The Five Dynasty Period and the Sung Dynasty – Part I.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes. Treasure Island, followed by Tom Sawyer.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
A well crafted minor cadence at the end of an operatic aria.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would love to meet Stephen King, who is two month my junior, and thank him for being true to his craft and for writing one of the best works on writing ever penned. (On Writing, of course).
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Opera, gay activism, veteran’s causes, my day job, drawing, taking The Great Courses, streaming videos and I keep up my Chinese language skills because I believe it will ward off the phantom of Alzheimer’s far from my door.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
NCIS, G.O.T., Outlander, Killjoys, The Secrets of the Three Kingdoms, 8Sense (cancelled, boohoo), all the DC and marvel shows . . .
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Liverwurst, blue and Giuseppe Verdi.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Can’t imagine that. If it happens, I pray at least someone will make a Wikipedia entry for me.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Living. We all only have 24 hours to live.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
This little voice from between the lines became a lion’s roar, one listener at a time.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My website is my Publishing Imprint: Dancaster Creative
I generally have a book on free promotion almost every day. Best to see those on my Facebook page
I post in over 30 Facebook reader’s groups.
My Author’s page on Amazon is
Author’s Page https://www.amazon.com/Edward-C.-Patterson/e/B002BMI6X8
I maintain a presence on Author’s Den also
My latest book is Vagrants Hollow: Southern Swallow Series Book V
Vagrants Hollow http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D1G2SQX
My flagship book is The Jade Owl
The Jade Owl http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001J54AWO
My best selling work is Master Wu’s Bride
Master Wu’s Bride http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BXG1MMY
And my favorite child is Little Vin at Dreamland http://www.amazon.com/dp/B071H5LC2H