Violet Patterson is the author of the best-selling adult contemporary/urban fantasy Emerald Seer series and the young adult epic fantasy novel ESTELAN. Her latest release, Immortal Machinations: Arc of Transformation, is a new adult, steampunk thrill ride that you don’t want to miss.
Ms. Patterson was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions I had about her work, the importance of reading books, and why no one recognizes her without a hat.
Chris: What was the inspiration for your newest book, Immortal Machinations: Arc of Transformation?
Violet Patterson: Well, I have wanted to write a Steampunk piece for a while now and I was looking for the right story to tell. Shortly after I introduced the vampire twin brothers in the Emerald Seer Series an idea started to form that felt right. It took a lot longer to come full circle than I anticipated but now that it’s here, I can’t seem to focus on much else. I really love some of these characters and some of the mythology I have explored for this one. Admittedly, the first installment of this trilogy is not heavy Steampunk but the timing was tricky since I opted to use vampires. Still, I am pleased with the final result and I can promise more Steampunk in the next two books!
Chris: Can you give me a brief synopsis for the book and talk a little about your writing process? Do you outline, dive off the fiction cliff and hope for the best, or a mixture of both?
Violet Patterson: Hm, I struggle with providing a synopsis of any of my books because I pride myself on creating some “didn’t see that coming” moments. But, here goes: basically, a guy with a brilliant mind is thrown into a war between the Immortals and the Illluminati. Throw in a slew of supernaturals, a little romance, and one angry twin brother who lost everything and you have Immortal Machinations: Arc of Transformation. You will find out what the Arc of Transformation is, why it is so important, and why everybody wants control of it but I won’t give that away now and I warn you that while there is resolution at the end of the book, the journey is just beginning.
My writing process is odd. I don’t outline or plan much but I generally know how things will end. I work on two or three books at a time so that I’ve got a project for every mood. Right now I am working on the Immortal Machinations trilogy, a dark film noir novel and a young adult epic fantasy series. I just write what’s in my head, as if I am narrating the movies I see in my head if that makes sense. I get writer’s block when I try to force my characters in directions they don’t agree with.
Chris: Everyone talks about the literary influences that got them started, and I’m sure you have yours, but I’m more interested in your non-literary influences today. Who, and what, keeps you writing now?
Violet Patterson: Tricky, tricky. Non-literary influences is a tougher question to be certain. Aside from the very true but very cliche response (my family) I have to give props to music. Oh, how I love music. Every book in the Emerald Seer Series is named for a song by one of my favorite rock bands, The Doors. Each song fits the book named for it and someday I hope to get the rights to add some lyrics to each book but that has not yet happened. Music keeps me grounded and helps me focus.
I guess the other thing that keeps me going is the chance to be a part of something bigger. I’ve been writing my entire life and I know that most authors say that, but I appreciate it so much more since I left writing by the wayside for a while. Something was missing in my life and it made me miserable and quite honestly, depressed. In the end it cost me more than I care to admit. Now I am back on track and fulfilling my need to tell stories, but more than that to be a part of a revolution.
There is something fantastic happening in the publishing world and I can honestly say I am a part of it. As a reader, I grew weary of the cookie cutter stories wrapped up in pretty little genre-specific packages. So I set out to do something different and I found a lot of other authors doing the same thing. In the three years since I first published a book, the industry has changed several times and I’ve witnessed the incredible growth of indie and small press authors. It is phenomenal if you think about it. Most of my books are indie or small press published and while there is some muck out there, I have found some brilliant works that I would choose over Fifty Shades, Hunger Games and Twilight every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Okay, I will step off my soapbox now. Next question?
Chris: Any books you’d recommend that people should be reading right now?
Violet Patterson: That’s a loaded question. I’ve been reading a lot of mainstream YA and teen lately with my daughter – much to my chagrin. But, as much as I like to write more than one story at a time, I also read more than one book at a time. I have to give a shout out to Tolkien and George RR Martin for obvious reasons but less obvious, I would suggest people find every local author wherever they live, read them and fan out from there. Read and review all of the indie and small press work you can find because it means something. It is impossible for me to list all of the authors I love because I would inevitably leave somebody out and I read so many genres – I don’t even know where to begin. I guess, my best advice is to take a chance on a few $2.99 reads instead of blowing $12.99 on the last Sookie Stackhouse (that frankly sucked).
Chris: Keeping in the vein of books, let’s get serious for a minute. Let’s face it, there are game and comic franchises with top notch writing, but they’re certainly more visual than not. How important do you think it is to keep people, kids specifically, engaged in reading novels? Why is it important?
Violet Patterson: It is crucial to keep kids reading. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about the comics but there is something about getting lost in a novel, going on the adventure. What happened to building an imagination? There is still room for that in the world. Some of the best and brightest inventions have come from people with extraordinary imaginations, people who weren’t afraid to push boundaries and create possibilities out of the impossible. Why annihilate the potential in our kids? Why are teachers still reading to kids in 4th grade? We wonder why our kids can’t read but we don’t work with them, we don’t teach them the beauty of a good book or how it feels to relate to a character so intensely that you experience their joy and loss. It is a shame that we do not cherish all forms of written word and that we don’t teach our children to ask questions and seek out the answers. You better believe I teach my kids to question things, and if that means I hear “why” a hundred times a day then I answer every one with a smile on my face. And they read. They read whatever books they like as long as they read. And we read books together – The Hobbit, Shel Silverstein, Harry Potter – and there is nothing like curling up in bed to read and discuss the story, just we three on an adventure. Dang, you got me on my soap box again. *sigh*
Chris: I have to ask about your convention wardrobe. I love a good bit of cosplay and it’s been made clear (at least to me) that people know Violet Patterson for her costumes. Your outfits are elaborate (read: awesome) and always seemed themed. How does that fit into your writing life and how much beyond your writing does it go?
Violet Patterson: I am so glad you can finally concede that point. It is part of the branding I have done since building this pen name. I have always loved dressing up, transforming myself into somebody else if you will, but now I can do so in a professionally acceptable manner. Honestly, I would have little trouble dressing in costume on a regular basis because I enjoy it very much, but it is not always practical. As everybody witnessed at Imaginarium’s masquerade, getting my groove on in a corset, bustle, train, and heels is not the easiest thing to do. I cannot imaging coaching my son’s soccer team or my daughter’s softball team in a corset, let alone skirt and bustle. However, I feel at home in every costume I create. It is an outlet for some of my other creative interests. From mini top hats to formal wear, I have made many a gown over the years, and now I get to put them to use more than just at Halloween.
Of course, my kids are spoiled because of it (I was crazy enough to make a Thorin Oakenshield costume for my daughter last year that involved using fabric markers to draw the chain mail pattern on a repurposed bridesmaid dress!).
Seriously though, the costumes are a part of my brand. I stand out from the crowd, which gets people talking to me and gives me an opportunity to explain my books. Isn’t that the bottom line when you are trying to sell something?
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