Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Author Interview: Patrick Jones

Patrick Jones is the author of The Tear Collector which is scheduled to be released today. Some of his other works include Cheated, Chasing Tail Lights, Nailed and Things Change.

What was the inspired you to write The Tear Collector?
Spite and greed. I was visiting a library in Fort Wayne IN chatting with a friend on 15 March 2008. A girl came into the teen area looking for something to read. The teen librarian suggested one of my books. She read the back of it, then said “No. I only read vampire books." So, I decided to write one out of spite. The foundation of the book including key scenes, major characters, the central conflicts, and the "mythology" all came to me in the three hours it took to drive between Fort Wayne IN and Flint MI. The weird thing about it being March 15 is 3-15 is the number between science (3.14 for pie or 3-14 for Einstein's birthday) and 3-16 (Johns 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Christian Bible, and the cornerstone of that faith). So, it was really strange that this book about the place between faith and fact was conceived on 3-15. The greed part is simple. It’s hard to be writing in the YA world, see the vampire pie and not want a slice.

How did you come up with the idea of vampires collecting tears to survive instead of blood?
I don't recall the 'aha ' moment, but I know some things that certainly influenced it. A couple days before I came up with the idea I was at a class visit and watched this teen girl throw a huge crying fit, and it got me thinking how much tear-producing drama happens in a high school. In my first novel Things Change, I had a gimmick where the main character Johanna believes -- based on something her grandmother told her -- that every tear has a different taste. Also I’d noticed people sitting in cars in parking lots crying, which made the opening scene. But it was mostly wanting to do a vampire-like book that wasn't about blood sucking (or other fluids), and realizing the limited possibilities. From a metaphorical perspective, writers are tear collectors in some ways. We write books that cause readers to cry and that makes us feel good!

How much research do you do before starting a novel?
Very little. I write first and research later. While not research, a vital step in my writing process is developing a play list. Almost immediately, the music of Van Morrison came to mind with songs like "Into the Mystic” and “Cypress Avenue.” It wasn't so much research, but for this book, the challenge was developing the mythology which explained how these tear collector creatures function. I was really helped in this by teens. When I was doing school visits in April and May 2008, I’d mention this book and teens would ask questions – how long do they live, how do they collect the tears, etc. The rules of the world came out answering those questions.

What impressed you most during your research?
How hard it is to create another world. I always joke the reason I don’t read fantasy let alone write it, is I have enough trouble understanding the rules of this universe without imagining another one. Also, even though it is not a pure vampire book, there are certain conventions and clich├ęs of that genre you have to respect. So I had an original idea spun off of a very well known plot. But still I wanted to write about things in the teen experience, such as rumors and gossip, which makes a lot of this book a “realistic teen novel” with supernatural elements.

How do you develop your characters? Do you change them as the story grows?
This book went very quickly. I got it out of my head on paper / in the computer in six weeks. There was lots of polishing and rewriting after that, but the core story was there by May 2008. My process is very different from other YA writers in that I invite teens to read my stuff after a good first draft so I can get immediate feedback. I had about ten teens – all of them named in the acknowledgements - who provided ideas, asked questions, and one even supplied me with a poem that I needed one character to write.

My editor at Walker, Emily Easton, as always, had plenty of notes/cuts/suggestions/changes, but the biggest one was pushing to the front the romance between Cassandra and Scott. Emily believed that the real pull of the Twilight books (sorry, kids, I never made it past page 60) was the romance as much as the supernatural. I changed the ending, so I needed to built up another character to work her into the new conclusion.

The other big change was the title. I wanted to call it Cannibal Tears because Cassandra is somewhat of a cannibal. While she’s not human, she does consume human parts, albeit tears not flesh. But the folks at Walker thought, for some odd reason, that Cannibal wasn’t a marketable word. So, then I thought of TWILIGHT Tears, but I guess legal had a problem with that, so Emily came up with Tear Collector. Just when the galleys came out, I discovered a new CD called Tear Collector by Swedish pop musician Marit Bergman. I wonder about crossover international marketing!

Which author(s) have influenced your writing?
In the YA world, Chris Crutcher, Terry Davis, and Laurie Halse Anderson are some of my biggest influences. As mentioned for this book, the music of Van Morrison really helped set the mood for my writing. One of my biggest influences – don’t laugh – is R.L. Stine. Back in my former life, I wrote books about YA literature, including one called What’s So Scary About R.L. Stine. I read a lot of his work and have admiration for his storytelling skills.

Can you share a teaser with us?
This is a scene near the beginning of the book between Cassandra and “cute but clueless” Cody, her current – but not for much longer – boyfriend.

“Cody, don’t worry about that,” I whisper into his ear. “Don’t worry about anything.”

“It’s just that–” he starts, then stops.

I wipe my hands near his not yet crying eyes, then say, “I love you, Cody.” As desired, Cody eyes start to well with tears of joy. Joyful tears are not as powerful, but just as welcome.

“I know it, Shawty,” he says, then smiles.

“I won’t hurt you,” I reassure him, then put my head back on his chest. I know both the things I just told him are lies, but they’re the words that he wants to hear. I might as well let Cody be happy for the rest of the time we’re together. I might not be human, but that doesn’t mean I’m a monster.

That’s kind of the crux of the book: Cassandra lives among humans, but isn’t one. In order to survive, other people have to suffer. But as she starts to become more human, in part because she falls in love which is forbidden, she questions her way of life. Also, while Cassandra gets her tears mainly through manipulation, her male cousin gets his through terror and his actions are told in news reports throughout the book. I’ll say two words: dental tools.

What’s next for you/What other projects are you working on?
I have a book that I’ve thought about for two years and then wrote in the past two weeks. Serious. I started writing it on May 22 and had a good first draft of 55,000 words done by June 1. It is called Clicked, and is back in the teen realistic genre, and I do mean realistic. As of this writing (6-15) my editor hasn’t seen it, so I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say if it published in its current form this book, it will be controversial. With a few for YA graphic scenes of oral sex (male on female), this book doesn’t push the envelope, it licks it. The book starts with a scene of a teenage boy named Carson in his bedroom on the computer on homecoming night. That word matters to him because his older sister Carrie ran away three years ago and has not been heard from since. After a while, well, he’s a teenage boy, in his bedroom, he’s alone, he’s on the computer, he clicks on one image, and sees his sister Carrie on a porn site.

The second book I’m outlining (while teens and teen librarian friends read Clicked) is a sequel to The Tear Collector called Cassandra’s Turn. The “turn” means it is her turn to mate, but also she “turns” from the hero of the book to the villain (in pro wrestling, when a wrestler goes from face to hell, it is called a turn) for most of the book. But the writing of that book totally depends on sales of Tear Collector. If it sells well, then we’ll do the sequel, although we might change the title from Cassandra Turns to something like NEW MOON mourning or ECLIPSE eye-rain.


Thanks Patrick!

For more informtion about Patrick Jones and his books, please visit his website here.

29 comments :

  1. Awesome interview! I can't wait to read The Tear Collector!

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  2. I love it - writing a book out of spite...geesh, wish I could be this productive!

    Great interview.

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  3. This sounds great, a totally fresh new idea in vamps. The book he is working on sounds good too. Sounds like a good author.

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  4. I've always thought researching for a book took tons of time so it was interesting to read that it actually took very little time.
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

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  5. Thank you for the interview -- I love hearing about the person behind the tale!

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  6. Great Interview! The Tear collection seems like a great book!

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  7. What an awesome review. Scott seems so funny, I love his potential Twilight ripoff titles and that he wrote his book out of spite, ha ha.

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  8. This is such an interesting concept of vampires collecting tears instead of blood. I love it! Its so interesting!

    -Arielle

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  9. Love the fact that he wrote this book out of 'spite,' and the little tidbits about inspiration and his influences (R.L. Stine? REALLY???).

    Great interview - I can't wait to read this book!

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  10. I was laughing hysterically about his inspiration for writing a book about vampires.. hahaha. But it's so true, I'm sure many teen girls are only looking for vamp books lately - after the TWilight craze.

    :-D

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  11. Haha, he was funny. his answers were really good! Great interview!

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  12. I like the reason why he came up with the idea in the first place. The Tear Collecter sounds really good! That teaser was wonderful, it makes me exicted to get to reading this book!

    Thanks for the great review!

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  13. Love the teaser! Thanks for the interview.

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  14. Thanks for the interview! It's a wonderful opportunity to see what goes thru the author's mind while writing a book. Makes me want to read The Tear Collector that much more!

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  15. It's great to see a really unique spin on an old myth.

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  16. I enjoyed the interview. I was really surprised about how little research Patrick did but very impressed with the kind he did do. Who else but teen readers could ask the important question? :D
    Great job!

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  17. Haha nice sense of humor ;)
    Great interview!

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  18. The fact that the book grew out of revenge and greed gives the book an interesting twist, Not that it doesnt have one already! But truly when I heard about the book and that it was a vampire but fed instead on tears it drew me. I just love the concept... and well the sequel if there is one it has me amazed. Just the idea that she goes from hero to villain, its just insane but in a good way =D

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  19. I can't wait to read this book after that teaser.

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  20. The cover of the book is what caught my attention, but the discription really held it! I can't wait to read it!

    Awesome interview!:)

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  21. WOW! This is all coming from the guy who made up tear collecting vamps! Amazing! And so original!

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  22. it sounds good, cant wait to read it!

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  23. Shawna Lewis
    weloveourdogs@juno.com

    Been wanting to read this book for awhile now thanks for conforming it!!!! Great interview!!!

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  24. He sounds like such an interesting person!

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  25. I hadn't heard of this author before, but Tear Collector has me really interested.

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