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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Author Interview: Patricia Bates

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Patricia Bates, whose novella Christmas for the Cowboy is being released this month.

Patricia told me she started reading her older sister’s Red, Green, Blue Readers when she was about four and, by the time she was in grade two she had advanced to reading Louis L’Amour and Nora Roberts. “Not only was I reading their work,” she confided, “I was beginning to copy it. I wrote my first full-length poem in Grade 3 and never looked back.”

Patricia’s debut novel is being released from Champagne books in March, and I asked her if she was working on anything at the present. “I’m working on three projects,” she told me. “Two historical westerns set during the late 19th century. As well I’m working on a submission to an Invitation only series through Blade called the Handyman series. It’s set during the mid 19th century in Spain and has given me a few challenges, but it’s a great deal of fun to write. I have another project in the planning stages, a prequel, if you will, to my debut novel Master’s Mistress.”

I asked Patricia how she developed her plots and characters. “Inspirations for my novels come from a lot of different sources,” she said. “Once I have it, I do a detailed outline—more like a point form synopsis of the first draft. The outline is done once and, more often than not, changes by the fourth or fifth chapter because I let the story flow—I don’t harness it in any fashion.”

For her characters, she knows them well through the use of detailed character profiles, because, as she said, “a flat character does no one any good.” So, her character sketches go from the basics to very detailed, in-depth topics. “I explore every aspect including their likes, stereotypes, sexual values to help me get in touch with the characters,” she told me. These profiles can include information such as religion, politics, favorite foods, colors, etc.

She shared with me that she’s been amazed time and again how her characters take over the book. “The old saying ‘the first hundred pages are the hardest’ is true,” she said. “I’ve found that with each book, each bit of learning I’ve done, the characters are starting to make their voices heard more and more clearly and sooner. I’ve got one project that’s been back benched because the characters won’t talk to me, and while this may seem a bit strange – I found that if I force myself to write when I hit a wall with something it comes out forced and flat – and not worth the read.”

When she reaches a point like that, or suffers from writers block, she tends to do a few simple things. “I try working on another project I have,” she told me. “Another story, research, or another creative project of some sort. If that doesn’t work I treat myself to an ‘author’s date’. I find somewhere that I can get in touch with my creative self again and take the time to wallow in that connection. It helps me to get back in touch with my creativity, and recharges my batteries for the rest of my life.”

Patricia laughed when I asked her if she were a multi-tasker. “Even when doing nothing I’m still doing something,” she said. “I’m usually writing, doing housework, and taking care of my son—all at the same time.”

On a more personal note:

Patricia’s favorite animal is the horse. “I’ve always loved their majesty and beauty,” she told me. “I miss owning my own a great deal.”

She admits to often crying during movies. “Whether tears of joy of sadness,” she shared with me, “I appreciate a movie that can bring me to tears. It shows the emotional connection that is so rarely made these days.”

When it comes to thunderstorms—she loves them. She told me, “The rumble and bang of the thunder, the streaks of light from the lightning—truly amazing and a beautiful reminder of what Mother Nature is capable of.”

And, finally, the strangest thing she’s ever eaten is chicken’s feet. “I must admit it’s an acquired taste,” she said. “I didn’t care for them at all, but in some cultures they’re considered a delicacy.”

You can keep up with Patricia on her website, http://www.patriciabates.com

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