Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Family Magic Blog Tour: Interview with author Patti Larsen, plus Giveaway!!

Welcome to this stop in the
Family Magic Blog Tour,
sponsored by
Innovative Online Book Tours!!

Please join me in welcoming
author Patti Larsen to
A Night's Dream of Books!

Patti Larsen

Maria:  How would you describe yourself, both as a writer and a person?

Patti:  As a person: nerdy geekgirl who's finally come to terms with her status and is fine with it, thanks.  I'm passionate about things I love and "meh" about those I don't.  I've learned to put me first in most things, a struggle that's led me to the happiest life I've ever imagined.  I adore sports though they hate me and will throw my heart and soul into a cause if it speaks to me.  I see most things in black and white until the gray is explained to me, and have a temper I've come to embrace. 

As a writer: So. Lucky. I get to write fulltime, make a living at it.  Happy.  Focused.  Professional.  In tune with the teenagers clamoring for attention in my head.  I'm addicted to telling stories, especially paranormal stories -- don't ask me to write something without witches, demons, angels, oracles, super powers.  I. Just.  Can't.

I'm an artist and a businesswoman.  This is all I've ever wanted to do and I'm doing it.

Maria:  What do you consider most important in building a good, page-turning plot?

Patti:  Outlining. Knowing where I'm going before I write a word of prose.  I typically outline a full series before I begin the first book.  I hate not having all the threads tied up, the thought I might drop one and disappoint my readers.  Understanding outlining involves understanding how stories flow -- from the normal of the first act to the abnormal of the second, the growing of conflict from the small to the ginormously horrid until the character is thrust into their new normal in the third.  I love writing action, keeping a story moving with the constant peck-peck-pecking, the death from a thousand cuts.  My poor characters don't stand a chance.

Maria:  You've dedicated Family Magic to the main character, Syd, which is a very unusual thing for an author to do.  What do you like most about her?

Patti:  Everything.  It's funny.  I had an interviewer ask me once what I would do if Syd was real, just for a minute, and I could do anything, say anything, to her.  I literally burst into tears when I read that question.  I'd hug her.  And never let her go.  She's such a huge part of me, and has been for four years.   As I draw near the end of the Hayle Coven novels (I'm writing the last book, #20, The Last Call, even now), Syd's voice is as crisp and clear to me as ever -- if not more so.  I worried that, writing such a long series, I might at some point jump the shark or have the story wander off into triviality.  It's something I never wanted for Syd or her books.  But right to the end, she's kept readers asking for more.

Syd is the girl I wish I'd been, I think.  That's why she's so close to my heart.  A little socially awkward because of her need to fit in, but, in the end, standing up for herself and her family, accepting who she is and letting go of her need to be like everyone else.

It's going to be very hard to finish The Last Call.

Maria:  You're obviously very knowledgeable about Wicca.  Did you come by this knowledge through research, or personal experience?

Patti:  I have several friends who are Wiccan, but I don't practice myself.  I belong to a lovely group who are more based in spirituality -- embracing all the positives from every belief system.  I like to think I'm in tune with the Universe, doing everything I can to encourage my own success through listening to my intuition and setting my goals in line with what feels good and right.  With some group ceremony and fun thrown in for the added touch of multiple energies feeding our aims.  It's amazing and beautiful and I love attracting the things that I want -- so far, so good.

Maria:  Has Family Magic received any negative reviews because the main character's father is a demon?  If so, how did you deal with that?

Patti:  Actually, no.  And I've been waiting for that to show up, to be honest.  I think Harry is so ordinary, despite his race.  And the fact that demons in Syd's universe are just residents of another plane, mistaken by "normals" as scary, dangerous entities, makes a difference.  Syd is surrounded by witches, vampires, and demons -- but to her, they are just family.

If it happens, it happens.  I can't change someone's opinion, and wouldn't want to.  Not everyone will love Syd and her world as much as I do.  And that's okay.  But the hope is readers will understand that the real story is about family -- and how one crazy, messed-up, special bunch love each other no matter who -- or what -- they are. 

Maria:  Who are your favorite fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal writers?  Briefly explain why these are your favorites.

Patti:  I grew up with a father who adored hard-core sci-fi and fantasy, so some of my favorites come from childhood.  David Eddings tops the list.  If you're a fan of fantasy, but haven't read The Belgariad, you're missing out.  Eddings has a way of portraying reality in fantasy, making you feel like, despite the fact that this was a make-believe world, the people in it could have lived and breathed in yours.  

Another favorite is Anne McCaffrey and The Dragonriders of Pern.  I was often lost in the skies over Pern on the back of my own dragon, and to this day, if they ever genetically engineer one, I'm all over that.  McCaffrey, like Eddings, could make you feel like you were there.

Sensing a theme?  I adore realistic writing, stories where I can think, breathe, taste, absorb the universe they are created in.  So much that I'm disappointed to be back in this one when I'm done reading.

Stephen King is another pick.  His understanding of the human psyche is uncanny and terrifying.  It's his most powerful weapon, and he wields it with expert mastery.  I love reading his book, but have to take him in small doses.  My overactive imagination drags me into nightmares.

In the paranormal category, I have to say J.K. Rowling.  Not just for Harry Potter, though I adore him and the story she told.  But because of her business sense and brilliance in handling her brand.  I idolize her and actually credit her for finally finding the YA genre. It wasn't until I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone that I realized I had found the voices I was meant to listen to.  Only shortly after I finished reading the last of the series did I start hearing Syd for the first time.

Maria:  Name the characteristics that a successful writer possesses, and how they can be acquired, if possible.

Patti:  Having a firm grasp of the craft is absolutely essential, but can be taught.  Practice, practice, practice.  I've been writing for (cough, decades, cough), not only fiction, but non-fiction during my time studying to be a journalist -- songwriting and screenwriting rounding out my education.  I encourage new writers to explore a multitude of disciplines -- including short and flash fiction writing, non-fiction and screenwriting -- to help them hone their talent.

The spark, on the other hand, can't be taught.  And is, I think, absolutely necessary.  Hearing voices, writing scenes in your head, knowing there is a story inside you to be told....vital.  But this  needs just as much nurturing as the craft itself.  Trusting instinct, the ideas that rise, allowing the story to unfold from the right brain, the creative brain, not from ego, comes from further practice.

I'm fascinated with the human mind, and how our creativity functions.  I never, ever, write from logic, or the left brain.  Even when I'm editing.  I think it's one of the big problems with writers -- trusting what they created to their judging ego, rather than continuing to polish their skills while allowing their creativity full rein.  Yes, it's a fine balance, and you really need to have a firm grasp on your skills.  But once you do, it's not necessary to think.  Just to trust.  Writing becomes second nature, the left brain shuts off and pure creative awesome comes out.  All this rewriting and rehashing and second guessing kills the heart of the story.

Next is professionalism.  When I'm writing, I'm a writer, an artist.  A creator.  But when I'm not, I'm a businesswoman.  Nothing is taken personally -- it's just business.  I treat my readers with as much respect as possible, don't comment on reviews -- what the reviewer thinks, good or bad, is none of my beeswax -- and am grateful every single day for what I do.

Last, writing is a marathon, not a sprint.  I know you've probably heard that before, as have many writers, but it's absolutely the truth.  It makes me sad hearing from writers who put a single book out and grow frustrated when they don't sell as quickly or as well as they'd hoped.  Our job is to write.  Yes, marketing and networking are very important. But unless we have products -- books -- to sell to readers, unless we follow the first book with another, and another, and another....writers write.  That's our job.

Maria:  How did you first break into publishing?

Patti:  I decided to sell my small business and set out to write fulltime in January of 2010.  Without prospects, no agent, publisher, nothing.  It took guts, but honestly, I didn't have a single doubt.  Not.  One.  Family Magic was written and receiving nibbles from agents.  I had two more books complete and making the rounds.  But it wasn't until that November I signed my first contract with a small local publisher that I realized it was real and I was doing it. 

It took me until August of the following year to publish independently.  And though I've signed with a few other publishers for individual projects, I'm very happy to be running my own business.

Maria:  What new project(s) are you currently working on?

Patti:  As I stated in a previous answer, I am currently writing The Last Call, book #20 of the Hayle Coven novels.  When I'm done, I'll be finishing Guardians of the Edge series, a middle-grade action/adventure about a young thief who discovers he can travel between worlds.  And in July, I begin writing a spin-off series from the Hayle Coven Universe -- the Helios Oracles.  Book #1, Foresight, pits Zoe Helios against everything she ever believed when she meets a young sorcerer who convinces her that her family is on the wrong side of Fate.

Maria:  I'd like to thank Patti for a fascinating, extremely insightful interview!   We've all learned some very interesting things from her detailed answers, and I really appreciate her taking the time to share her thoughts with us!          


Author Bio 

Patti Larsen is an award-winning middle-grade and young adult author with a passion for the paranormal.  But that sounds so freaking formal, doesn't it?  I'm a storyteller who hears teenagers' voices so loud I have to write them down.  I love sports even though they don't love me.  I've dabbled in everything from improve theater to film-making and writing TV shows, singing in an all-girl band to running my own hair salon.

But always, always, writing books calls me home.

I've had my sights set on world literary domination for a while now.  Which means getting my books out there, to you, my darling readers.  It's the coolest thing ever, this job of mine, being able to tell stories that I love, only to see them all shiny and happy in your hands....thank you for reading.

As for the rest of it, I'm short (permanent), slightly round (changeable), and blonde (for ever and ever).  I love to talk one-on-one about the deepest topics and can't seem to stop seeing the big picture.  I happily live on Prince Edward Island, Canada, home to Anne of Green Gables and the most beautiful red beaches in the world, with my very patient husband and four massive cats.

Patti Larsen Online

(Hayle Coven #1)
Patti Larsen
Trade Paperback, 466 pages
October 27,2011
Paranormal Fiction,
Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Sydlynn Hayle is the daughter of a powerful witch and a demon lord of the seventh plane. The trouble is, she just wants to be ordinary. Syd struggles to survive the minefield of her new high school while being torn between her attraction to football hero Brad Peters and the darkly mysterious Quaid Moromond. When her coven comes under attack, Syd is forced to face the fact only her power can save her family's magic.

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  1. Good Morning Maria! I just love your blog :)

    1. Good morning, Vickie!! Thanks for the compliment!! :)

  2. Fantastic interview!

    Ms. Larsen and I seem to have both grown up reading similar things. Nice to see how many people were reading Anne McCaffrey.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      I'm very glad you enjoyed reading the interview! I'm very pleased; Ms. Larsen gave us great answers throughout!

      Looks like I really need to get with it and read McCaffrey myself, right? Lol.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting on the interview! I don't usually get that many comments whenever I do interviews, so I'm very happy that I now have at least two!! :)


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