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Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Author Spotlight: Patti Larsen

This month's author is Patti Larsen.


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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve been writing since my preteens, an avid Dungeons and Dragons geek from the age of nine thanks to my Dungeon Master father. Raised on hard-core sci-fi and heroic fantasy, it wasn’t until I found young adult fiction I understood what I was missing.

I’m short (permanent), roundish (changeable), and blonde (forever and ever). I love filmmaking, improv theater, and chocolate.

I live on beautiful Prince Edward Island, home of Anne of Green Gables and the most amazing red beaches in the world with my very patient husband and five massive cats.

Do you write under a pen name?
I don’t. I chose from day one to use my own name and have never reconsidered that decision. The world of publishing has changed so much, I really don’t think I need to adopt one.

What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I started writing thanks to my days as a human cleric wandering the countryside with my band of adventuring friends every weekend. My father was a brilliant Dungeon Master, but he always encouraged me to take the reins.

I know the books I read weren’t the best choices for a kid, but Asimov, McCaffery, Zimmer-Bradley, Norton and Eddings shaped my childhood to the point I saw any other kinds of writing as inferior. So, when my friend handed me a copy of a Nancy Drew mystery, I almost turned up my nose.

Instead of hating it as I thought I might, I devoured it. Even before I finished reading, I knew I could do it—I could write a book, too. The story captivated me despite its simplicity. I immediately informed my parents of my plan. My mother laughed, but my father dug our old typewriter out of the closet.

Do you have another job or are you a full-time writer?
I’m very happy to say I don’t. I’ve been writing full time for a little over three years now. The first year and a half or so was rough, but when I finally decided to dive into the indie revolution, things turned around for me and I’m now making a very nice living.

What books have you written so far?
So many! I have five series out and a few more started, as well as two with traditional publishers. I think my count is now at thirty-seven published.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?
Yeah, I don’t have much of that. I’ve thrown myself into this full force, committing to making my business work. Which means seven days a week, twelve or more hours a day. But you’ll never hear me complain. I love what I do so much it’s not work, not really.

When I do find time, I love to read—I make time to read every night—and am always looking at creative ways to promote my business, like making jewelry.

If I take a major break, I’m on a film set either directing (if I wrote the piece) or helping out any way I can.

What genre or age groups do you write? Why?
For some reason, teenaged voices are strongest with me right now. Yes, I hear voices, but don’t call for the rubber room and three injections a day just yet. I’m one of those writers who literally hears the characters inside me and I’ve learned to listen. I have several adult series waiting in the wings, but, for now, I’m a young adult author.

Are your books or characters based on real life?
Not at all, though sometimes they feel that way. My characters become so real to me—and to my readers—it’s like they are family.

Who is your favorite character from your books? Why?
Her name is Sydlynn Hayle and she and I have been on a roller coaster ride for about five years now. She’s the reason I sold my successful business to write full time. When I found young adult literature again after falling into the Harry Potter series, she was the first one to show up. She woke me in the middle of the night, badgered me to get up and go write down what she had to say.

I’m now writing book seventeen of her saga, with three more to go before her series is done. I’m going to miss her very much.

What is your favorite scene in your story?
This is really hard to choose. I have so many amazing characters, so much incredible interaction. But if I have to choose: there is a point in The Wild (Hayle Coven Novels, book four) where Syd finally understands a request she’s been hearing from her grandmother for years—ever since she was a little girl. Ethpeal’s insanity has been a constant for Syd, as has her request Syd return some mysterious something to her. But Syd has no idea what her grandmother is asking for.

When she gives back what Ethpeal lost, it’s the most amazing thing ever. Sorry, don’t want to spoil it with details. But the family commitment and love between the characters always makes me teary.

Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.
Up about 8am, long after my golf-course managing husband is gone. The cats drive me out of bed to feed them or I’d hang out longer, plotting and scheming.

I usually market and social network in the mornings before settling in to either write or outline in the afternoons. Evenings are filled with more marketing and social networking before an hour or so of stolen time to read while hub watches television and then bed about midnight.

I have the best life.

Where and when do you write?  
I can write anywhere, and have. But my office space is in our old living room, converted for my use. I sit with my back to the big picture window, lots of light pouring over me. I love it.

As for when, I do my best to write every day and, as I said, usually in the afternoons and evenings, but I’ve been known to jump in first thing, though I’m not a morning person.

How long does it take you to write your book/s?
I’m one of those speedy writers who can tackle a book pretty quickly. Usually, once the outline is ready, I can put a first draft out in about a week.

Do have any writing rituals? Treats you have to have, places you have to be, etc.? 
I don’t really. As long as the voices are with me, I’m good to go.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you listen to?
I can, and have. But I honestly prefer silence. I’ve tried white noise, productivity music, etc. But they actually slow me down.

Do you have to be alone to write?
No, not at all. Once I’m in the zone, I’m in it. But I’m Princess Cranky Pants if someone interrupts me…

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?
I’m totally linear, partially because I’m an avid outliner. I love the outlining process, learned to adore it during my days screenwriting, and have applied that and my journalism training to the mix. By the time I sit down to write, the whole book is ready (and usually the whole series so I don’t drop threads). That way, I can open my brain, let the voices fill in the blanks and just stay out of the way.

Works great for me.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t know… I guess I probably do. But my character’s voices are all so different, it’s hard to say. I know I love short, choppy sentences with some characters and, long, rambling ones with others. So… I didn’t really answer this question, did I? 

What makes your writing unique?
The voices. I don’t fight them, not ever. This is their show—I’m just here to pound the keys. 

Are there any messages or common themes in your stories?
I tend to write powerful female characters, but again, I don’t have much control over that. The Hayle Coven Novels, my most popular series, is about family and the importance of protecting and supporting the ones you love. But I don’t target themes—I just tell stories and if themes pop up—which I know they do—that’s the character’s decision.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
None of it. Not. One. Bit. I love it so much, have dreamed of doing this my entire life. And I’m finally doing it.

Okay, if I had to pick one thing, it’s proofing. I suck at it. Which is why I have a copy editor.

What have you learned about writing from reading the books that you love?
The books that impacted me the most are the ones with the most powerful characters—voices that get under your skin and linger with you for years and years. I think I learned to trust those characters, to step aside and let their stories out, to write and edit with my creative brain and not allow my logical mind to screw it up.

And I definitely learned how to tell stories—partly from the books I’ve read and partly from writing and examining screenplays. Understanding conflict creation and escalation, how a story fits together… all of it came from the great fiction I go back to again and again.

If you could do everything over (writing your book, or publishing, etc.) would you change anything?
I wouldn’t have “wasted” that year and a half pursuing agents and publishers and dove head-first into independent publishing. Though I use quotes because no experience is ever wasted. I did get two traditional deals out of it, one of which taught me the lesson I needed—that I was so much better off doing it myself.

As for the rest, no, not at all. This was a case of perfect timing.

Is there anything particularly helpful you have found as you have written/edited/published?
Getting to know others in the indie community, learning from their experience, has been absolutely invaluable. I can’t tell you how intimidating it was to dive into the industry with no real clue what I was doing. I was embraced by the amazing writers, editors, designers and bloggers who make up this revolution and if I can recommend one thing to new authors, it’s jumping into social media with both feet, if only to connect with those who can point you in the right direction. 

Do you have to travel/do much research for your books?
I research extensively for my books, though most of what I do is creative license, especially when it comes to the paranormal. But I have a circle of good friends who are invaluable when it comes to translating languages and who have experiences I don’t I can draw from. I try as much as possible to keep to accuracy, but there are times when making stuff up is way more fun.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members in your writing journey?
My amazing and talented editor, Annetta Ribken (www.wordwebbing.com). She’s been a constant inspiration over thirty plus publications, speaker of truths and cheerleader for me while keeping me on track. Her wicked sense of humor cracks me up while her freakishly scary insight into story pushes me to be a better writer with every book.

Do you design your own covers, or have someone else help?
I suck at design and am the first one to admit when I need help. I use Valerie Bellamy at Dog-Ear Book Design (www.dog-earbookdesign) for most of my covers. I also have Christina Gaudet (www.christinaggaudet.com) do original art for some of my middle grade work. Both are fabulous to work with.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I don’t—that’s what my editors are for. I write the first draft, do a single edit pass and then off my baby goes. I refuse to over analyze when I know I have two crack experts on the case: Annetta Riken, my content editor as mentioned above, and Jennifer Wingard (www.theindependentpen.com) as my copy editor and proofer extraordinaire. I know without a doubt they will call me on anything that’s not working. I love the editing process and they are both a perfect fit for me.

Any advice for the editing process?
Get out of your own way. We write with our creative brain (or should!) so why do we try to edit with our logical brain? Our ego has no place in the process. Write the thing, trust your talent and the voices and get it out to an editor. If your skills are lacking, work on them. But never, ever write the heart and soul out of your story because you’re worried it’s not good enough.

What do you do to keep yourself going when you aren’t motivated? 
There are times I don’t feel like writing, for sure. Everyone has those. So, if I can’t seem to get motivated, I try a few things:

  1. The ten minute rule: I set a timer for ten minutes and tell myself that’s all I’m doing today. This shuts off my ego’s need to procrastinate. Usually I’m turning off the timer and continuing to work. But if the ten minutes goes by and I still don’t feel like it, I stop writing and go do something else.
  2. Do something else: but always creative, like making jewelry, or doing some outlining for another series, read, take a walk. We beat ourselves up over the creative process so much sometimes it’s like work to actually sit down and write. This is supposed to be fun!

What types of hero or heroine do you like best?
Strong, but with flaws, ones they are aware of, but just can’t seem to get past. One of my main characters is super powerful, has a ton of magic behind her. But she’s so impulsive and has a terrible temper, often jumping in before she knows the whole story. She’s well aware of the fact she’s a trouble magnet, but she can’t seem to help herself. That fact keeps her real since our flaws are what make us human.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?
Characters that feel real, escalating conflict through three stages of normal, enemies the reader can empathize with despite the situation, and a solid ending leaving the reader satisfied with the story, but longing for more.

How do you go about naming characters?
With main characters, they tend to name themselves. With others, I comb baby lists, both foreign and domestic. For some reason, when I happen on the right one, I just know it.

Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?
I can see them in my head, so using pictures can be detrimental. It’s tough when I go looking for photos for covers, or if I’m choosing models. Sometimes I just have to use the closest match, though I’m relentless in finding the right fit.

How do you pick locations for your stories?
This is going to sound like repetition, but I don’t choose—for example, the main location of the Hayle Coven Novels is Wilding Springs, Pennsylvania. No idea where that came from, but it’s as real a place to me as my own hometown.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?
I’m traditionally, small digital press and independently published. While I love my traditional house (Acorn Press) and the two small houses I work with, (Fierce Ink and Gryffynperch Books), I much prefer the control and business orientation of independent publishing.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just have some freaking fun, would you? Write, learn, grow always. No matter how many books you have out, no matter what you think you know, find more to learn. Understand it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Follow your creative brain and ignore ego—it lies. More fun. More writing. Just do it and don’t let anyone stop you.

When you read, what is your favorite genre?
Young adult, at this point. Though I adore Stephen King, am still a fantasy and sci-fi fan. I’ll read pretty much anything as long as it has heart.

What books have most influenced your life?
The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings. The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffery. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Anything by Stephen King, even the “bad” books. And that Nancy Drew mystery I don’t even remember the title of.

Who is your favorite character from any book and why?
If I can’t choose Syd from my own books, it would be Polgara the Sorceress from The Belgariad. I was such a geek girl, I would drown myself in the world of Aloria and, in some ways, the character of Aunt Pol raised me as much as she did the boy Garion. I still go back every other year and read the entire series and, without fail, I cry when it’s over.

For reading, do you prefer ebooks or physical books?
I’m happy reading either. While I love the feel and smell of paper books, I adore the ease of my ereader. Actually, I own very few hard copies these days—only the ones I absolutely can’t live without. 

What is your most favorite book and why? 
The Stand by Stephen King. It’s all kinds of awesome. The one thing I love most about his writing is the way he understands human interaction and reaction. Despite the fantasy and post-apocalyptic elements to the book, its characters ring so true to me.

What is the worst book you have ever read and why? 
All books have merit. And all opinions are subjective. So I really can’t say.

What tips would you give readers when choosing a book?
Judge a book by its cover. And then don’t. Make sure you read the sample before buying. If you’re immediately drawn in, buy it.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
JK Rowling, but not for writing—for business. It was Harry Potter that brought me back to the world of young adult fiction after all those years between reading Nancy Drew and the present. And while I’ll always be grateful to JK and Harry for that, she, to me, is the epitome of brilliance when it comes to publishing business savvy. I just adore her.

Are there particular writers that you admire?
JK for sure. Neil Gaiman for crossing so many kinds of creation and still being brilliant. 

If there was one author you could meet with and learn from one on one, who would you choose?
JK Rowling, hands down. YES PLEASE. Is that an offer? Sigh… someday.

If you could write a book with any current author, who would it be and why? 
I haven’t tried the co-write thing yet, though I have a couple of projects planned with my dear friend and fellow author, Kimberly Karpov-Kinrade (www.kimberlykinrade.com). Until I try it, I’m not even sure I’ll like it… my voices are so strong, it will be a challenge, so for now, I’ll say none.

Which three authors would you like to hang out with socially for a day?
JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman and Seth Godin. I’d be pumping all three of them for as much information as I could.

Oh. You said socially. Right. Same three. Work is fun, after all.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m half-way through Wanted: Dead or Undead by Angela Scott. I’ve also just finished reading Ashes and Ice by Rochelle Maya Callen and really enjoyed it. And Forever Road by Catie Rhodes. Anything Jordan L. Hawk writes. Annetta Ribken, Eden Baylee, Kimberly Kinrade, TG Ayer, Kris Radcliffe… I’m loving the indie scene—so many great books and so many amazing emerging writers.

What are your current projects?
I’m presently writing the seventeenth book in the Hayle Coven Novels, Shifting Loyalties. This month is all about Syd, including a prequel novella to the first book, Family Magic while working on a new marketing campaign for June. Exciting times.

Is there a genre you haven’t done before that you would like to try?
Not really. While I mostly write young adult, I tend to cross from horror to thrillers, post-apocalyptic and dystopian to urban fantasy, soft steampunk, action adventure and some light romance mixed in… if my characters want to tell it, I write it.

Do you have any ideas that you plan to work on in the future?
My two editors have publication schedules up to the end of the year. Being my own boss, I have to be organized. Which means I know what I’m writing and when I’m putting it out for the next nine months and beyond.

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?
Dreams are always in progress. I love it that way.

Five book recommendations from you…
This is really hard! I have so many favorites and I know I’m going to miss some and tsk at myself later. For now, I’ll break these down by category:

Comedy: The Trailer Park Tiara and Goat Incident, by Annetta Ribken. Her main character in the series is Sally Mae Riddley, and she will crack you UP.

Paranormal Adult: Forever Road, by Catie Rhodes. This is a recent pick. I just LOVED this book. Peri Jean Mace, her main character, is just fantastic.

Erotica: Fall into Winter, by Eden Baylee. Hot. Stuff.

MM Romance: Widdershins, by Jordan L. Hawk. I’d never read any MM fiction before. Adored the lead character, the story, all of it. To the point I buy everything she writes now.

YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia: Marooned by Joseph Paul Haines writing as PJ Druce. I’m anxiously waiting for the sequel. If you loved The Hunger Games, you’ll love this book.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?
I do! I love blogging. I have different themes for week days and add extra content as I go. I do my best to target content that my readers will enjoy and connect with. For example, Fridays are Sass from the Cat, a weekly chat with one of the most beloved characters in the Hayle Coven Novels, Sassafras the demon cat.

I used to blog about writing, but I want my readers to have the very best experience possible when they come to visit my website.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
My goal is, and always has been, world literary domination. At this point, I’m planning to write and release twenty four more books by the end of 2013, putting my total available at around 55+ publications. I’ve been pushing hard in the last year and a half with the remainder of the year more of the same, but when 2014 rolls around, I want to have a solid stable of books out there. 

June will see me doing a major push for the first book of the Hayle Coven Novels, Family Magic. The goal is to reach the top twenty on both the major retailer’s bestseller lists and the New York Times list for digital releases.

My five year plan sees me slowing somewhat, but still putting out a book a month or so after 2014 wraps up.

What is the best review of your work you've received to date? 
It wasn’t a review, but a message from a reader that hit me the hardest: she contacted me to tell me she lived in Boston and lives only a few houses from where the marathon bomber was captured. She wanted to thank me for Syd and my books, for giving her a place to escape when the real world was in such a mess. 

There is no higher honor than knowing you’ve made a difference.

What format(s) are your books available in? 
You name it! Kindle, Kobo, the iBookstore, Nook. Paperback for some, but most of my work is digital, though I’m constantly expanding my hard copy list.

Is there anything else you would like to share or tell us?
Just thank you so much for having me!


Author bio provided by Patti Larsen:
Patti Larsen is an award-winning middle grade, young adult and new adult author with a passion for the paranormal. Now with multiple series in happy publication, she lives on Prince Edward Island, Canada, home to Anne of Green Gables and the most beautiful red beaches in the world, with her very patient husband and five massive cats.
You can find her:
And her books:
And her method for writing so fast:


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I'd like to thank Patti for the interview. Be sure to check out her books, and as always, thanks for reading.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting me, Cody!

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  2. Love your answers Patti! Love your books and keep writing. You will always have readers!

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  3. Awesome interview with one of my favorite authors! If she's written it, I've read it. :-)

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  4. thank you so much, Julie and Dee! XOX :)

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