Happy flippin' Monday, good people of the blogosphere! What a great weekend, huh? Besides being cold as all get out, it was actually rather nice outside. As you all know, today I'll be doing another author interview. These fun spots of Monday fun will continue through June when I attend UtopYA Con 2014 at the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville, TN (get your tickets by clicking on the name). Let's just say it's my way of getting to know some of these authors before the big event takes place and I'm inviting you to join me in the fun. I do hope you've been having a good time reading about authors you may never have heard of. With us today is Ms. Ripley Patton, author of Ghost Hand, Ghost Hold, and a number of shorts we'll talk about in a moment. Now sit back, grab a cup of Joe, and join me as we get to know this lovely lady!
Jo: Howdy, Ripley, great to have you on the blog!
Ripley: Jo, thanks for having me. I'm thrilled to be here.
Jo: I’m not really one to dally around and ask cut and paste questions. I like the gritty, awesome stuff and my readers crave it. So let’s get our hands dirty. I saw you used a crowdfunding program (Kickstarter) to back Ghost Hand. What led you to that decision and what did you learn over the course of the project?
Ripley: What led me to that decision was a need for money. I knew I had written a good book, but I didn't have the finances to produce it to the standard I wanted. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so when I decided to go the self-publish route, I knew I had to produce a book that would stand up against traditionally published books. And that was going to take some cash. Since I already had a fan base from my short story writing, I thought I might be able to pull off a Kickstarter campaign. Besides, I had nothing to lose.
What I learned from the campaign is that promotion is hard, constant work. I often refer to that first Kickstarter project as my Indie Boot Camp. I also learned that a lot of people believe in my writing. Not only did I reach my funding goal and go over by 10%, I also had professional editing and formatting donated by several of my backers.
Less than a year later, I did another Kickstarter for book two of my series, Ghost Hold, and again exceeded my funding goal. I'm kind of proud of the fact that I crowd sourced my own author advances.
Jo: That’s really awesome. Promotion is hard work and never goes away. You’re cracking me up with the Indie Boot Camp reference. Love it! Tell me about SpecFicNZ. What started it, what did you get out of it, and where did it go?
Ripley: Well, I had moved to New Zealand in 2006 after my husband convinced me it would be a grand adventure (which it was). My short story writing was just beginning to take off when we moved, and I was disappointed to discover that New Zealand didn't have any writer's group or association for writers of genre fiction. I made a few friends in the writing community, and I kept asking them and myself, "Wouldn't it be great to have a writer's collective or association for mutual support?" The answer was almost always "Yes. It would be great if someone else would do that."
So after two years, I decided if no one else was going to do it, I would. I didn't do it alone though. I spent eighteen months building a team and planning. I'd never started anything, let alone a national association for writers, so I did a lot of research. And in 2010 we launched the org at New Zealand's 31st Sci-fi/Fantasy Con, Au Contraire, in Wellington. SpecFicNZ has been growing strong for three years now, and I stepped down as President last year when my family and I moved back to the States. SpecFicNZ now runs the writing track of the annual NatCon, has local meet-ups in all major cities of New Zealand, and holds regular writerly events. I'm very proud to have left that legacy in a country I came to love as my own.
Jo: That’s quite an accomplishment! There aren’t many people who would step up and create something they wanted when no one else would. I saw you have two teens. Are they girls or boys and what are their ages?
Ripley: My daughter (shown left) just turned sixteen, and she is one of the most strong-willed, kick-ass females I have ever met. I am very proud of her, but it makes for challenging parenting sometimes. My son will be eighteen in March. Both of my kids are extremely supportive of my writing. They both beta read for me and help me keep my teen characters current and real. My son also does production work for me (like my Kickstarter videos) and I've just recently hired him to be my promotion assistant. They are awesome teens and are going to make even better adults.
Jo: Aren’t kids awesome? I dunno what I’d do without my daughter and sons. What’s been your biggest challenge with raising them?
Ripley: Not taking their adolescence personally. I can sometimes be oversensitive to their comments and actions, and I have to step back and remind myself that they are just exploring they're independence. Plus, I'm a big rule follower and they aren't- especially my daughter. She is a risk-taker and I never have been. That scares me sometimes, but she is also smart and strong and usually comes out the other side of her adventures relatively unscathed.
Jo: It’s hard, huh? I have the same problem sometimes. It’s a thing to balance and I feel for you. Happy late anniversary! I read that you and your hubby have been married 23 years. WOW. Congratulations to you. How does your husband support your writing endeavors?
Ripley: Thanks. Marriage is awesome hard work, much like writing. I am happy to say that my husband supports my writing in every way humanly possible. He has covered us finically for years, often working very difficult jobs as a social worker/therapist to keep me home writing. He believes in me and my work whole-heartedly. He always introduces me as a writer first and his wife second, talking up my books any chance he gets. And when I doubt myself or start to feel afraid, he is the first one to say, "Just keep writing. The money will come. This is what you were made to do." He is both my best friend and my biggest fan.
Jo: Sounds like a great guy. You’re very lucky, lady! You’re kind of known for your PSS Chronicles series. Would you be so kind as to talk about Traveling by Petroglyph and Over the Rim? Tell us a little about them, what spawned the ideas, and what your long-term hopes for them are.
Ripley: Well, before I wrote The PSS Chronicles, I was actually fairly well known for my short stories. I've had over twenty-five short stories published in various print and on-line magazines and anthologies. Traveling by Petroglyph was the first flash fiction piece I wrote and also the first pro sale I made. It was inspired by a family vacation we took in 2005 up along the Inside Passage of Alaska on the public ferry system.
Over the Rim is a YA fantasy novella that was first published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and was later nominated for a Sir Julius Vogel Award in 2010. That story was actually inspired years ago by a sign I saw at Crater Lake National Park here in Oregon when my husband and I were there celebrating our anniversary. Later, we went back to take a picture of that sign and we couldn't find it. Maybe it was never even there. But I know I saw it and the story was born.
Six or seven of my published short stories can still be read for FREE and links to them can be found on my website.
As for my plans for all of them, I hope to publish a collection of my short stories toward the end of 2014.
Jo: That would rock! You must let me know when it goes out. In your best writerly voice, tell me how you felt when you won the Sir Julius Vogel Award.
Ripley: In New Zealand there is a small creek that leads to a large pool at the bottom of a secluded waterfall. In that pool mother seals leave their babies while they go out to fish in the deep dark sea. I have been to that pool and sat at its edge, the water teaming with doe-eyed newborn seals, frolicking until the water broils with their boundless unfettered joy. I have had one swim up, and hop on the rock next to me, and put his wet flipper right on my hand. Winning a writing award was something very much like that.
Jo: How sweet! It sounds thrilling and unreal. I read you’ve lived in Georgia (that’s where I’m from). What was your favorite part about living there or your favorite part about the state in general?
Ripley: I lived in Georgia when I was twelve and we lived on a very large farm (an ex-plantation). The farm mainly produced nuts and had a candy factory on the premises for making chocolate/nut confections and peanut brittle. My fondest memory is going out every Sunday afternoon with my parents and little brother to collect windfall pecans to take back home and crack and eat. Plus, the smell of the candy factory was divine.
Jo: I love pecans and old Georgia plantations. LOL! Speed question! What’s your favorite M&M color?
Ripley: Green. When I was a teen that was the color that was supposed to make you horny.
Jo: *snort* I totally remember that! Oh, man, I can’t stop laughing right now. Favorite reality show (I know you love them)?
Ripley: Survivor by far. I have watched and own every season on DVD. I once worked up an application video for the show, but that was the year we decided to move to New Zelaand and you have to be residing in the US to apply so I didn't send it in. My son is a huge fan too. He has been watching with me since he was six. Right now we are re-watching all the seasons together from the beginning to study strategy because he plans to apply for the show as soon as he turns eighteen. If he makes it and doesn't invite me for the family challenge, I will disown him. Yes, I am a hard core Survivor fan.
Jo: I have a feeling you guys will kick arse! Time for the alien question of the interview. These are kinda fun. Haha! I see there’s a whole alien museum in Portland, your hometown. Have you been there and what’s it like? If not, do you have plans to go there?
Ripley: Unfortunately, I think the alien museum here has closed. I never got a chance to go because it opened and closed while I lived overseas. However, I'm very proud to be connected with aliens in several other ways. First, I share a name with Ellen Ripley, the most kick-ass alien fighter ever to grace the big screen. Second, I've written about aliens, most directly in my award-nominated short story The Derby which can be read or listened to in audio HERE.
Jo: Alien was such a freaking cool movie (took this pic at the EMP museum in Seattle)! What’s the title of the anthology you were in with Juliet Marillier (give us a link, too!) and what was it like to meet an author you admired so much?
Ripley: The anthology is called A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction and it can be found HERE. It is a really amazing book full of talented people and stories. Meeting Juliet as a fellow author was one of the highlights of my career. I do have a funny story about that. The first time I met her at the Con, I fan-girled a little and told her how much I had loved her Seven Waters Series, the first series she ever wrote and one I had read as a teen. She looked at me a little grumpily and said, "Well, you do know I've written books since then, don't you?"
Later that weekend, we were on a panel together on Fairy Tales and Myth in Fiction and something I said about everyone having their own personal mythos resonated with her. I know this because when I attended her reading later that day, she mentioned me and what I'd said and told the audience she had changed her reading material because of it to a story that was more her personal mythos.
If that wasn’t enough, the next morning she sought me out and told me she had read my story from the anthology, which was being launched at the Con, and that she had really liked it.
Since that Con, we've kept in touch and Juliet is very supportive of my work, which means more than I can say. I just recently read her new YA fantasy series, Shadowfell and Raven Flight, and I'm eagerly awaiting the third book. She is such an amazing writer.
Jo: Wow. That’s kind of like me being put in an anthology with Fern Michaels. *grin* I’d be going bananas! Congrats on being chosen and getting to meet Ms. Marillier! I read that you began writing because you lost your mother to cancer when you were thirteen (SO sorry to hear that). I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that was to deal with. Though it began your writing career, can you tell us how you believed that incident may have shaped you as a writer?
Ripley: A writer friend of mine, Ken Scholes, once described loss as a giant irreparable hole in the middle of your living room floor. You learn to move the furniture out of its way and avoid falling into it, but it's always there forcing you to step around it. All of my writing is a desperate attempt to make sense of the world. Grief, loss, and death inform every story I write. All three are things all human beings grapple with eventually. As far as shaping me as a writer, I learned at a very tender age that writing and story could provide me great comfort. I know some people find it hard to write when life gets difficult, but I find it all the more necessary during tough times.
Jo: Ken sounds like a wise man. That’s a perfect analogy. Sounds like you did a lot of growing from the situation. I’m happy to hear writing provides for you. Isn’t it odd how that works? Time to talk about your featured book of the week. Why did you write it?
Ripley: I wrote Ghost Hand and Ghost Hold for the same reason I write almost anything. I write the stories I need to read. The ones no can write but me. I also write to find out what happens. I'm not a planner or outliner so when I get the beginning of a story in my head, I have to write it to find out the end.
Jo: Ha! I don’t plan either. When I do, I end up throwing the whole plan in the trash after the first chapter or two. Freedom is refreshing, huh? Anything I didn’t ask that you wish I would’ve?
Ripley: What? No, these were the awesomest interview question EVER. But just a reminder that Book one of The PSS Chronicles, Ghost Hand, is currently FREE for Kindle and Kobo.
Jo: I’m glad you enjoyed that. I’ve learned a lot about you! *grin* Thanks for joining me here on the blog, Ripley! It was lovely digging through your world. I can’t wait to meet you at UtopYA Con in just a few months!
Ripley: Me too. I'm so excited about UtopYA. This is my first one.
Jo: Mine too! Eep! Okay, people! Here’s where you get the skinny on Ripley’s featured book of the week.
Title: Ghost Hold, Book Two of The PSS Chronicles.
Author: Ripley Patton
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Thriller
Length (print): 376 pages
Buy Links: Amazon ~ B&N ~ Kobo Price: $3.99 for e-book.
Olivia Black is back.
And so is her ghost hand.
Only this time she's not the one in need of rescue.
Samantha James, rich, popular, and an award-winning composer at age seventeen, is the next target on the CAMFers' list. In order to convince Samantha to come with them, Olivia and Passion must pose as cousins, blend into the most affluent high school in Indianapolis, and infiltrate a mysterious cult known as The Hold.
Olivia doesn't expect it to be easy. But what she discovers over the course of the mission will call into question everything she ever believed about herself, her family, and especially about Marcus, the guy she is undoubtedly falling in love with.
While you’re clicking, why not give Ms. Patton a follow on social media?
Goodreads: Ripley Patton
Got a question for Ripley? Leave it in the comments!
Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!