Parents, Teachers, Librarians, and Adventurers,
Please look for the upcoming teaching materials and discussion guides with the October 9th debut!
In the meantime, the author answers some of your frequently asked questions:
What inspired you to write PPATAK?
I guess I was just tired of sparkly vampires. I've always loved Bram Stoker and the Artemis Fowl books, so I wanted something fresh—something with fairies and lasers. Dark and funny, madcap and quirky.
Why have a hero like Patel?
Patel Patterson is the son of an American father and an Indian mother, born and raised in India before immigrating to America after his parents are killed. I spent a few brief months living in Mumbai, and I was enchanted by the city's vibrant color, vivacious capacity, and boundless culture. When dreaming up a twelve-year-old vampire slayer, I immediately knew that I wanted my hero to hail from such a city.
Of course, there are implicit limitations in telling the story of a young Indian boy as an adult American woman—as are there limitations when writing in any perspective other than your own. That being said, I took every pain to represent Patel's background as accurately as I could and tried not to overreach my limited perspective.
Regardless of who narrates, we need stories like Patel's. Stories are how we live and learn-how we develop our world view and define what it means to be a hero. There is a fervent cry for diverse voices, especially in the realm of fantasy. Patel is a hero, not because of or in spite of his ethnicity, but because he is good, brave, and kind.
I wanted a representational protagonist, so I wrote the story from the eyes of a young, bold immigrant defying preconceptions, just like thousands of immigrants do each and every day in America.
Is Heyworth, Illinois, really a place?
Heyworth is a small town in rural Illinois, smack dab in the middle nowhere between Saint Louis and Chicago. I spent most of my life there, so it seemed only natural to begin Patel's journey in the middle of a cornfield. When I was growing up, the population was 2,000 people, but I think they're up to 2,900 now—and that's not counting the cows. Interestingly enough, the creepy house on Main Street does exist, and it's right across from the Methodist Church. It did belong to a doctor, and it was said to be haunted. As a kid, I used to stare up at the third story window and wonder what was up there. It's owned by a sweet, hometown family, so I doubt there are any swords or magic mirrors.
In the book, Patel travels across the world to seven different countries. Have you been to these places?
I have either lived in or visited every country in Patel's adventures (See my author page for pictures!)—except for Romania. It was all-too easy to envision Morocco, Paris, Montenegro, and Magical Tokyo. Transylvania took some research and imagination.
Is it true that you don't have a heartbeat?
Sort of. I suffer from a condition called bradycardia. My heart beats slowly-much slower than the average human being. Sometimes, it beats so slowly, it's as if it wasn't beating at all.
How long did it take you to write the book?
The initial draft? Six weeks. I'm an incredibly fast writer. What people don't understand is how long querying, editing, publishing, and reviewing takes. Writing the book was the easy part. The rest of it took about two years. By market standards, that's pretty quick!
What made you want to become a writer?
I never wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a naval strategist. When my military career ended, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, so I went back to what I've always loved. At the time, writing was kind of a security blanket—something that swept me out of a cold reality and into a magical world. I had no intention of publishing when I began. It just goes to show that when one dream doesn't work out, there's no reason to stop dreaming.
I want to be a writer! What should I do?
At the risk of sounding snarky, WRITE. Just write. Worry about the other stuff later. Don't even peruse a publisher's site before you have something to offer. When you do have something written, go out and do some research. Talk to other authors and keep in mind that there is more than one way to skin a cat. (If you don't know what that means, ask your parents.) If you're looking for good places to start, I highly suggest Janet Reid's blog, Mark Dawson's resources, or my own blog specifically written for new writers.
Will there be more Patel books in the future?
As long as I can keep feeding my rats and paying for electricity, that's the plan. The next book involves undead mannequins and some ninja nuns. There is also a certain guitar-playing, zombie-summoning adventurer with a story in the making.