this week I am reading The Headless Oxman by Patty Azeltine. here is her author interview:
When did you decide to be an author? I did not start writing until I was 30 years old, when my husband and I had moved to Olympia, Washington on a five acre farm with our two daughters, a three year old and three month old. I became a stay-at-home mom, after running my own computer consulting business in Seattle. I literally went from wheeling and dealing contracts to wheeling and dealing diapers, gardens, and farm animals. The transition was very difficult for me and I needed an outlet. All my life I had created stories in my mind, but never put them on paper, so I used my computer to write my stories down. I loved it. Then I found a local group of romance writers and joined it. I’ve never stopped writing since and I never will.
What was your first piece published? I’ve had several articles published, but my first book published was a contemporary romance book called, The Marriage Scheme, and it was about two old ladies, who were best friends, who were matchmakers to bring together one lady’s son and the other lady’s niece.
What character is most like you? Jesse from Jesse Skylock Holmes Mysteries is probably the most like me in a lot of ways, but I have to say, he is a lot braver than I am. He is shy when it comes to girls and not very sure of himself, which was how I was at his age. But when it comes to what he loves, he is very focused and he is good at sports and athletic, and I’ve always been a very good athlete and I still try to stay physically fit, and I still love sports. Jesse is very detailed and I’m very detailed. Jesse likes science and I like science. And Jesse is a good and loyal friend, and I’d like to think I’ve always been like that to my family and friends.
What was the first story you wrote as a child? I might not remember the story itself, but I do remember staring out the window at school and daydreaming or thinking up stories in my mind while the teacher taught her lesson. I went to a private school and in my day it was frowned upon to daydream or be creative, so I got in trouble a lot.
Do you have any advice for anyone writing a book? Don’t put limits on your imagination. Don’t listen to people who say, “That’s a crazy idea,” or “That’s too far out there.” When the television show Star Trek was first shopped around to producers no one wanted to pick the show up because they thought the writer’s show’s ideas were unrealistic and no one would believe them. Now, many of the ideas off the television show have become realities. And the show became one of the most popular shows on television.
Who is your favorite author? To read for fun, Jim Butcher. I love his imagination and humor. He rocks! But my favorite author because I think he is technically the greatest writer ever is John Steinbeck. His stories are dark and depressing, but they are real and his characters are true to life. I think he is such an outstanding writer. I also think my mentor, who has passed away, Frank Lambirth, who wrote under many different names was an outstanding writer for setting mood and description. He wrote horror and often would read his writing during class, which took place in the evening. I’d go to my car, parked on the street in the dark and be scared to death, thinking one of his crazy characters was lurking behind a bush or in the back seat of my car!
What technique do you use to write (make it up as you go, plan it)? I plan my entire story and create an outline for every story I write. I have to because I need to know who I will have to interview and what I will have to research and that research includes going to the location where the book will take place. I find if you outline the story first, you will find places where the story doesn’t work or parts of the plot that are weak and need to be strengthened.
What piece are you working on now? I always have several projects I work on at the same time. I have the second book in the Jesse Skylock Holmes Mystery Series, A Racecar Named Dangerous in to my editor and I am two-thirds of the way through in writing the third book in the Monster Series, Monster Luck.
What is your favorite book? I have several favorite books. My all-time favorite children’s book is Freak The Mighty by W. R. Philbrick. I also like Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief series by Rich Riordan. And adult books, my favorite book is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher.
Did you receive any awards for a book of yours? In a recent blog tour I received a 4.5 star average out of 5 star rating of reviews for Monster Night. That is probably the closest to any award I’ve received. However, I am rewarded every time anyone likes one of my books. And as corny as it sounds that truly is the only the award I need or want!
All my life I have created stories in my head. I had a friend, Joni, who now is a talented artist in Seattle, and we created imaginary worlds that we played in from the time we were little. Sometimes we were spies, or reporters, or pretending our stingray bikes were high speed motorcycles and we were being chased by Russians (hey, it was the 1960’s)! We wrote secret messages, creating our own secret code, invented our neighborhood newspaper, which I think only a few of us ever read, and hid our messages in places no one else knew about. We rode our bikes, jumping dirt hills, and climbed trees. We explored pastures, frog ponds, old abandoned houses, the woods, Puget Sound, Miller’s Creek, walked to the store, walked everywhere we didn’t ride our bikes to, skated on frozen ponds in the winter, swung on rope and tire swings, and stayed outside until or even after it got dark. Those days set the foundation for our imagination. They are what helped me write my stories (and continue to do so), and maybe they are what help Joni with her art.