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A Short Interview with the Author talks with North Carolina author Frederick K. Van Patten (pictured at right with his daughter Lily)


Q:Which do you consider more important in your writing, a sense of place, your experiences, or something else altogether? Why is this important to you?

I think that experiences are the most important aspects that influence my writing. Of course, it's the experiences of the characters that I'm talking about. Quite frequently these experiences are rooted in a particular place...or a particular landscape, whether it's physical or emotional. But of even more significance to me are the "ideas" under the storyline. I feel that these ideas inform the action, the way an  underground river feeds the land above it.

Q:What are your influences and inspirations? What makes you write?

The stories I encounter. People have stories. Being human means being part of a story. To put it simply, we all love stories. We are storytellers, by our very nature. When's the last time you saw two dogs sit down together to shoot the breeze, gossip, or catch up on what mischief that big mastiff next door was up to? It's a unique characteristic of our species...a quirk, if you will...that we need stories as much as we need water.

Q:Is there a particular aspect of your book (or books) that you are most proud of?

No, not really. The stories just kind of tell themselves. I'm just the medium, getting it all down.

Q:What is unique about your books, what differentiates them from other books in the same category? What about them will reach out and grab the reader?

They move fast. They cover a lot of emotional territory, as well as a lot of time. I deal with the lives of a lot of different people in these books. And I think that their trials, their suffering...and consequently, their growth...make them interesting.

Q:Are you working on something now? In what ways is it a departure from what you've done in the past?

I'm rewriting a huge family chronicle. It'll be quite a bit shorter than the original idea, but it preserves a lot of the original intent. Sometimes it feels like a reel that's running out line faster than I can control it...a story that just wants to be told. offers an Author Toolkit. Have you used any of the tips there? If so, tell us about some of your successes. If you haven't used it, would you share any tips or suggestions that other authors might find useful in promoting their books?

I have used tips in the toolkit. It's very candid and very honest in its assessment of print-on-demand, or self-published, author's public relations realities. I think building a web site is very beneficial to spreading the word. And, I'm sending out simple postcards with the cover graphics on one side and info about the book on the other side. The address lists for this relatively inexpensive mailing have come from church, work, professional associates, old classmates (via reunion mailings), book clubs, etc. I've had a couple author signings and readings. It's definitely a challenge.




A Quick Review

    "Please forgive my taking so long to thank you for Midsummer's Tale. Your 'romp through summer theatre' would delight Shakespeare, as it did me. His 'rolling over in his grave' would definitely come from being unable to restrain his laughter and overall enthusiasm for your tale, for it combines all the elements of his own writing.

    "Your situations and characters are clearly established and the action develops logically out of your exposition. You have a number of plots that are successfully interwoven, eventually coming together as the denouement approaches. Your well-rounded characters run the gamut from the inept and ridiculous to the commanding and heroic. You demonstrate penetrating insights into human behavior. And your use of language is extremely effective.

    "If I may also borrow words used by the bard: I loved the ticklebrained villiagos; the knotty-pated, deceptious, facinerious, leptus-leering, lust-breathed, warped, viperous, thrasonical rogues; ones that wouldst be heinous, concupiscible, incontinent, lecherous, and art nothing but the composition of coxcombs, cozeners, fleshmongers, giglets, and jack-a-napes.

    "It was a great read!"

Dr. Jim Epperson,
Professor of Drama, Catawba College, Salisbury, NC


Other Reviewer's Comments on Midsummer's Tale

These comments are from reviewers who participated in the High County Friends of the Tuoloumne County Library Review of Fiction for 2003.

"Well written, good characterization, good story line. I like it."

"Has romance, humor, interesting characters.

"Plot moved right along and held my interest."


Writer's Digest Magazine

11th Annual International Self-Published Book Award Evaluation

Midsummer's Tale and A Month In the Jungle

Midsummer's Tale

"Author, Van Patten, has a flare for natural dialogue and his superior writing skills effectively convey the storyline. The characters speak naturally and ring true to their age, position, and personality. The conversations between characters are quick-paced and speech tags are carefully chosen to provide just the right amount of movement and internal thought. The dialogue moves the plot ahead and reveals characters in ways that narrative and description cannot. The author shows an overall skill with dialogue that makes the conversations engaging."

A Month In the Jungle

"The author of this book does an excellent job with description. The author's attention to detail brings the reader right into the main character's world. The read can almost feel the incessant Carolina heat and humidity. The author successfully draws pictures of Henry's environment at home and on the Carolina movie set. The reader also gets a strong sense of the excitement, stress and frustration of working on a movie set. Overall, this writer's attention to detail is what makes this story come alive. Overall, the author has created an excellent and very readable novel that serves as a window into the life of a struggling, young screen writer."


Writer's Digest Magazine 

14th Annual International Self-Published Book Award Evaluation

Reluctant Seeker

"Congratulations, Mr. Van Patten, on the creation of this excellent novel. You've woven a story around a fascinating cast of characters and, specifically, of one man on a quest. I could call Max an anti-hero, except he is not. At every turn, when we think at last he has blown it all and fallen past forgiveness, his ultimate goodness surfaces, and he turns himself around toward redemption. Max is a thoroughly likeable protagonist.... The language is superb--structure of sentences, attention to details--all please the eye and the ear. I would not be surprised to learn that this novel wins a prize."  



 In The Clear

named as a Finalist in the ForeWord Magazine

Book of the Year Award