Thursday, November 8, 2012

Patrick Freivald stops in and shares...

Today I am pleased to have a guest pick up the "be my guest" gauntlet. I hope you will all behave and play nice. Try to play nice with Patrick and put him back on the hook when you are finished...

You have been at this for a little while now, what are some of the best and worst things about being an author?

The best and worst things about being an author are the best and worst things about being anything else, I suppose. I'm a teacher and beekeeper as well as an author, and each experience brings its own highs and lows.

Writing is a passion. Publishing is a business. The publishing world is one of the most dysfunctional, strange, slow, aggravating, frustrating things I've ever experienced. I guess this is what you get when supply is ever-present, but varies dramatically in quality.

What are some of the lessons you have learned as a writer that caught you off guard?

I wrote my first novel--as yet unpublished--with my twin brother. We were so proud of our first draft, and felt that it was ready for the world to see. Then we sent it out to beta readers, and were so, so very fortunate to have people who cared more about being honest than our feelings.... The twenty-first draft is ready for the world to see, I think!

Let me just say that, were I forced to read that first draft aloud in public, I think I'd have to set both it and myself on fire.

Honest feedback is the most valuable commodity a writer can have.

What can you share about your writing process with new or up and coming writers?

Nothing whatsoever. Everyone writes differently, and there is no right or wrong way to produce a good or a downright awful manuscript.

On the publishing process, I'd give the standard cautions: there are a ton of scammers out there, and perhaps even more well-intentioned people that look legitimate and successful but who have no idea what they're doing. Successful agents are few and far between, and successful non-big-six publishers even more scarce. Don't sign anything you don't completely understand, and don't sign with anyone who doesn't have (a) a track record of success and (b) a completely, utterly open business model.

If you were to up and change genres, what would be your next choice?

My two completed novels are thus far a modern day thriller about a serial killer hunted by the FBI, and a YA satirical horror story just drowning in irony.... I don't set out to write in any particular genre, I just write stories I like. I do, however, have a fondness for the twisted, the weird, and the off-center.

The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?

The blind leading the blind is a big one, especially with the burgeoning writing coops that seem to drown in their own world without realizing that their vision stops at their door. Publicity is the biggest challenge facing any new writer, and I don't know that anyone sees an answer in the sea of social media, blogs, and advertising.

The social media is…

A great way to annoy people (intentionally or otherwise), and perhaps a reasonable way to advertise your book... If you wish to become an advertiser-in-person-guise and not a writer.

I'm still not sure how to best "use" Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet, and I don't think there's a single shred of evidence that says that social media antics sell books.

Share some information about your work with us: (feel free to be as in depth as you like)

Twice Shy is my second novel, but the first published. I wanted to treat some very serious issues facing your modern teen in a very flippant manner--think Mean Girls meets Heathers meets zombies. There are several juxtapositions in the book that are meant to harmonize, but it should be a dissonant harmony.

The premise is that Ani Romero died at fourteen, but unlike other carriers of the Zombie Virus, she didn't become a mindless, brain-eating monster. Her mother is a ZV researcher who helps her control her cravings through the injection of specialized appetite suppressants, and who has forced her to join the emo crowd because their fashion sense helps her hide her nature. The idea of a high school teen who has a secret that absolutely mustn't get out isn't a new one, but the consequences here are amped to a Spinal Tappian eleven: if anyone finds out, the government swoops in and burns everything to the ground.

Most zombie books fall into two categories: either the zombie apocalypse is starting and the protagonists are trying to survive, or the apocalypse has happened and the protagonists have banded together in some post-apocalyptic world and are, well, trying to survive. In Twice Shy, the zombie virus outbreak happened before Ani was born, and was contained before it destroyed all of civilization. I deliberately leave the details vague, because the story is told entirely from Ani's point of view, and being a teenager, she treats everything that happened that long ago as at best an anecdote, regardless of how it's influenced the world in which she's grown up. (Ask any modern teen about September 11th, Columbine, or Jonesboro, and most only vaguely know anything at all about the first two, and have never even heard about the latter, despite the fact that all of the above have had a profound effect on their day-to-day lives.)

What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?

I'm a schoolteacher, and a science teacher at that... I get asked the same questions year-in and year-out, and have long ago realized that the old adage that "there's no such thing as a stupid question" really is true (with the follow-up, "the first time"). What people don't know they don't know, and I'll never begrudge someone not knowing.

Even, "when are you going to quit your day job?", while trite and silly and rhetorical and not nearly as witty as the asker thinks, is a form of well-wishing. And wishing you well is almost as good as buying your book!

I think my thoughts on the subject are summed up well by

How do you deal with negative reviews?

The writing process taught me to have no ego whatsoever when it comes to my writing. My favorite review thus far is a one-star from Goodreads, where the reviewer illustrates quite clearly why she thinks Twice Shy sucks and I suck and both of us should be immolated for the good of humanity. What's obvious is that she just didn't get it, and that's okay. One can't write zombie high school satire and expect everyone who reads it to get it.

I figure if what I write doesn't offend or puzzle someone, I didn't write anything worth reading.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

Lots, and no. I try to read a book a week. Realistically, in the past two years I've read about a book a month. I also read every issue of Newsweek, Time, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, the daily newspaper, and almost every article on,, BBC, and Al-Jazeera -- usually excepting the trash about stars and starlets, though sometimes I read those, too.

Can a writer excel without reading? I very much doubt it. Is it possible? Sure, though exceptions would be hard to find. Is any given person who doesn't take time to read the exception? Almost definitely not.

When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?

Most of the time.

What projects are you currently working on?

The sequel to Twice Shy, tentatively titled Special Dead, though it's been brought to my attention that a cheesy, offensive zombie movie already has that name.

What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?

I spend almost every moment of human interaction amused. Then again, that might surprise those who know me personally, too!

Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?

How about the entire HWA? The Horror Writers' Association is an awesome group of people who do great things to promote the genre and its authors.

My publisher, JournalStone, gave me a chance and are working very hard to make my and their dreams come true.

The Redhead(tm) puts up with me on a daily basis and sometimes sees me naked without running away, so she deserves quite the shout-out for that. :)

What is in your “to be read” pile right now?

Paradox by Jim Al-Khalili, a ton of Bram Stoker Recommendations for First Novel (my competition this year, a few of which I've read and a lot I still need to before voting closes... while somehow doing NaNoWriMo...), and then the submissions for JournalStone's 2013 Horror Writing contest.

For Twice Shy:

My author page on the Book of Faces:

My previously published work:


  1. "I figure if what I write doesn't offend or puzzle someone, I didn't write anything worth reading."

    Could not have said it better. Great interview Patrick

  2. Patrick, you're a whirlwind with a ton on your plate - and to do NaNoWriMo too?? I can see how your being a school teacher and science teacher gave you an edge in writing Twice Shy, which is a totally cool spin on the regular zombie stuff. I'm reading 4 books at once now and also under the gun with getting those Stoker recs in! Good luck to you.

  3. If I behaved, Patrick wouldn't recognize me.

    Fun interview! Though I will through out a little disagreement about social media--I think it can and does help a lot... just not always the way we think it should. I get annoyed, too, by the constant promoters, but building the network so THEY can jump out there and be annoying on your behalf... now THAT stuff works!