Interview: M. E. Patterson, Author of Devil's Hand
M. E. Patterson is an author of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and thrillers, as well as an information technologist. He received an English/Fiction Writing degree from Virginia Tech, where he studied under nationally-recognized writers and poets. He has published short stories on RevolutionSF and his first manuscript for his book, Devil’s Hand, placed in the top five in the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest. You can visit his website at http://devils-hand.com or his blog at http://blog.digimonkey.com.
I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in a fairly small rural town full of cows and pickup trucks. After high school, I went to Virginia Tech, where I received a degree in English, with a focus on poetry and fiction writing. Then, it was time to say goodbye to the mountains and head west, to Central Texas, where I live now with my wife and dog. Aside from writing horror, sci-fi, and fantasy novels, I’m also an accomplished web software engineer and designer, and frequently blog on the subjects.
When did you begin writing?
I think I began writing as early as 8 or 9 years old, when I wrote a five-page (badly) illustrated story about some friends exploring a cave. From there, it was off and on for years: a bunch of stories about a science fiction universe I dreamt up; some angsty teen poetry; you name it. It wasn’t until college that I really started to seriously consider writing as something beyond a sporadic hobby.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I write mostly late afternoon and evening. It always seems like I’ve got other, more administrative things to do earlier in the day, not to mention my day job.
What is this book about?
Devil’s Hand is a supernatural thriller that follows the return of a washed-up pro poker player to the city of Las Vegas, where he inadvertently ends up saving a strange teenage girl and is caught in a war between angels and demons that threatens to destroy the city and the world. My main goal was to write a story that was both dark and haunting while still remaining fun and exciting.
What inspired you to write it?
Devil’s Hand actually started with the protagonist. Dreaming up character ideas for a role-playing game with a friend one night, I came up with this notion of a guy who survived something impossible and then had luck sort of broken for him, where he never had bad luck happen to him ever again. Of course, that’s not exactly how it works out in the novel, but you’ll have to read it to find out what I mean.
Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?
At various times, I’ve been a member of two different critique groups: the Novels-In-Progress group and the SlugTribe SF/F/H Study Group, both here in Austin, Texas. I learned a lot from both about writing, reading, critiquing, and the most important lesson of all: understanding your readers. One of the most interesting aspects of writing groups for me has been the realization that everyone has an opinion, but you don’t have to try and act upon all of them. When you get two people giving completely opposite, extreme responses to the same aspect of your story, that’s usually a sign that you’ve hit your mark perfectly. Or, it can be a sign that there’s something subtle about your prose that isn’t working quite right that critiquers are having trouble explaining. Learning to figure out which is which is the real art of writing grops.
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
Like many indie authors I’ve talked with, my road to publication started with several years of going the ‘traditional’ route, through agent queries, form rejections, more queries, partial reads, more rejections, then finally numerous full reads and personalized rejections. After too many “this book is great and publishable, but not what my editors are looking for right now” letters, I realized that the market was shrinking too much to make it viable for many first-time authors. With a background in Internet technologies and viral marketing experience, I figured it was time to strike out on my own, and I haven’t looked back.
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
That’s an interesting question. I might have tried the indie publishing world a little sooner, but I’m not entirely sure that my hindsight is 20/20 here. The landscape has changed dramatically in even the last 12 months. It would have been nice to have been one of the earlier books on the crest of the wave that’s now breaking, but I don’t think I’m too far back, either, so I’m happy.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Devil’s Hand is available in both e-book and paperback. You can get the paperback and the Kindle version from Amazon. There’s also a Nook e-book available. Links to all the versions are on the official book website, http://devils-hand.com/.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
There are several ways you can engage with me and with Devil’s Hand:
The official book website is http://devils-hand.com/
From there, you can add your email address to the mailing list, head over to the Facebook Fan page, or start following @mepatterson on Twitter.
If you want to check out my personal blog, where I blog about both internet technologies and writing, head over to http://blog.digimonkey.com/
Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?
No book trailer yet.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
By now, it’s become pretty common advice, but I think it bears repeating: success is a result of reading a lot, writing a lot, and then putting yourself in the position to get lucky. You can have all the talent and all the drive in the world, but if you produce something and then just sit around waiting for your success, you’ll likely get nowhere. Get out there, make a name for yourself and your work, and put yourself in the position to be ready when luck knocks on your door.
What is up next for you?
The next thing out will be the sequel to Devil’s Hand (name forthcoming), which I’m hoping to have available early 2012. After that, some planning for the third book in the series, but I may take a temporary detour to finish up a sci-fi adventure novel I’ve been toying with, that will be marketed to both adults and teens.