About the Author
Patrick started writing when he was in 2nd grade. His first classic was Mr Mooney Goes to the Moon. It was followed by Mr Mooney Goes to Mars and Mr Mooney Goes to North Dakota. True story. The manuscripts were lost when his family moved from one side of the state of Montana to the other. He has lived in Kalispell, Montana until graduating from high school.
Patrick attended Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, and received his BA in Education. Some may know that originally he was a music teacher, and more specifically, a high school band director. Patrick was also teaching English and Language Arts classes to fill up my day, and eventually he made the switch to full-time English. He has only taught in Washington State: Three years at Lake Quinault School on the Olympic Peninsula, thirteen years at Evergreen High School in White Center, and, after receiving his Masters in Education in 2000, thirteen years at Auburn Riverside High School in Auburn, where he still works, teaching AP Literature, Creative Writing, Science Fiction, Honors 10 Lit, and Journalism. Patrick is the adviser for the school’s newspaper, InFlight, and also for the literary magazine, Smudges.
In 1986 he attended the Clarion West writers workshop, and sold stories a few years after. In 1995 he began Talebones magazine, and in 2000 started Fairwood Press, a small SF book press. Talebones ended in 2009 so he could devote more time to writing, and later that year he finished his first novel, The Ultra Thin Man. It sold to Tor in June 2012. He is currently working on the sequel.
Patrick has sold stories to the anthology Like Water for Quarks, and magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Northwest Writers, Figment, and others. In 2007 he started the Rainforest Writers Village retreat, which is held every spring at the Rain Forest Resort Village at Lake Quinault, WA.
Patrick’s son Orion was born in 2002. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was in 1st grade. He loves reading and video games, his favorites being Little Big Planet 2, theMyst series and Minecraft. He’s in 7th grade, attending middle school in Auburn.
I’ve lived in Bonney Lake, WA since 2007.
You can learn more about him by visiting his website.
The Positives and Negatives of Negative Reviews
Negative reviews happen to every writer. Sometimes reviewers target the book, sometimes they target the writer. An infographic recently showed famous literary authors linked to negative reviews or statements they made about other famous literary authors. For example, Truman Capote writing about Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing, it’s typing.”
I’m a debut author. The Ultra Thin Man has been out just over two weeks. Reviews—positive or negative—have the ability to truly influence readers who are thinking about buying it. And yet, negative reviews for my book are going to be far less numerous than reviews for books by well-known writers. Take George R.R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones. He’ll receive more negative reviews in bulk than I’ll ever see for my debut novel. The thing is, though, that none of those bad reviews are going to adversely affect sales of his books. His fans are legion, and those fans will pick up the next book automatically with a Pavlovian furor, and pay very little attention to negative reviews. Or positive reviews, for that matter, because the same holds true there.
The first review I saw for The Ultra Thin Man was a starred Publishers Weekly review. I was stunned. Thrilled. Over the moon! Booklist did another positive review. I spotted excellent early Amazon and Goodreads reviews. As of today, however, I’ve come across a number of negative reviews. Those negative reviews stick more deeply. (Well, duh.) I can take the gloss off a particularly negative rant by posting or mentioning positive reviews that say almost the opposite. Unless a book is a total dog, a positive review stands in wait to counteract a negative one. I’ve already seen this polarizing phenomenon in the few short weeks my book’s been on the shelves.
Just a few nights ago, I had a discussion with a reader who absolutely loved what I’d done with my world, and she clicked off many specific examples. The next day, I had a reviewer screaming at me to take more time with my worldbuilding. I had another reviewer explain the positives of the noir tropes, and the femme fatale, and I read another comment on the strength of several of the female characters; on the other end of the spectrum, however, I read reviewers harp on the fact that it’s definitely not a feminist novel, and some reviewers dinged specific lines or scenes as too boyish, or even sexist.
Not that I’m ignoring all that.
See, one positive aspect of the negative review is that I’m a writer looking to improve and do better on the next book. I can always improve. A few lines and scenes mentioned negatively made me stand back and say, “Yeah, I see that there. That’s true. I definitely need to think more about this. Or that.” On the other hand, a reviewer can get that point across without snark.
Part of my job description at the school where I teach is advising the newspaper and running the beginning journalism class. I totally understand (and uphold) the idea of “fair comment,” a privilege under the First Amendment of the Constitution. If you write a book—if you produce an album, if you create a movie, or put on a concert—you’ve put yourself out there for fair comment. It is a form of qualified privilege on facts about matters that concern the community as a whole, and obviously this all has to happen without malicious harm. So a politician, a movie star, or an author can’t sue for defamation based on a published negative opinion. This isn’t true for a private person. The moment I said “yes” and signed the contract at Tor to have my book published, I became a public figure in the book publishing world.
Years ago, negative reviews were quite prevalent. There’s a rich history of the literary crowd taking on the “new book” and thrashing it, or accusing it (or the author) of mediocrity. There was a certain amount of respect given to a reviewer who had the critical clout to give a negative review. Audiences listened.
Today, in a world where the internet makes a critic of anyone with a computer or a smart phone, and the entire structure of book publishing is under scrutiny due to new technological marvels, it’s easy enough to applaud those things you absolutely love and flame those things you hate. It’s never been easier to make a fair, honest comment.
Perhaps, in the end, mediocre fiction slides by unnoticed. Word of mouth is the best publicity, and if it convinces readers to pick up and read books, that’s golden. Meanwhile, I can still take criticism—within reason—and improve my writing when it is not what it could be.
Now excuse me while I get back to typing—I mean, writing—my next book.