iUniverse.com 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
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
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.
Q:iUniverse.com 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 events...book signings
and readings. It's definitely a challenge.
"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!" Professor of Drama, Catawba College,
Dr. Jim Epperson,
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
"Plot moved right along and held my
Annual International Self-Published Book Award
Tale and A
Month In the Jungle
"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
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's Digest Magazine
14th Annual International
Self-Published Book Award Evaluation
"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
Book of the Year Award