December 13th, 2019
I asked Patricia where she would like to chat:
The onsen is nestled in the depths of the Japanese mountains. Snow frosts the pine trees all around, but the water we’re sitting in is blessedly hot, and you can feel your muscles slowly relaxing beneath it. The water smells faintly sweet, like green tea. The onsen is old, very old, but well cared-for; the boards of the floors and walkways are worn smooth by years of sandaled feet. The only sounds are water trickling into the baths and the forest breathing all around us.
Laura Mae: What inspired you to enter the world of writing?
Patricia Correll: I can’t recall any particular moment where I said, “I want to be a writer.” I’ve always been a storyteller, since I was little and pretending with my stuffed animals. I began to write stories as soon as I knew how, and have kept it up ever since. It wasn’t until college, however, that I looked at this hobby and realized I could make a career (more or less!) out of it.
L: How long have you been writing for?
P: My mom has stories I wrote when I was 6 years old (and I’m 40 now so…a long time!). I remember ‘writing’ a story before then, but I couldn’t spell or write real words yet so it was a string of letters on a sheet of paper that made no sense. I had a plot and characters and everything in my head, though!
L: What are you currently working on?
P: I have a novel in the works (probably the first in a trilogy). It’s a fantasy based in Iron Age Britain. I am also laboring away on a new novella, a retelling of the Grimm fairy tale ‘The Juniper Tree’ from a different perspective. Before now much of my published work has been based in Japanese mythology, so I’m not sure how my readers will react to this change of inspiration. We’ll see!
L: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
P: So many! I think the most obvious influences are Robin McKinley and Ursula K. Leguin. More than one person has actually compared my style to Leguin’s, which left me equal parts flattered and horrified. She’s a goddess of the genre and I’m just…me.
L: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
P: Learning the other aspects of being a published author. I am not an extrovert, so self-promotion has been a struggle. I feel like I’m constantly trying to get a handle on the changing face of marketing.
L: What is your favorite writing trope? Least favorite?
P: I love the angry, bitter man who is secretly tormented and has a soft spot, usually for a woman, child, or pet. Usually a cop or detective, but not always. Examples are Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, the Hound from A Song of Ice and Fire, and John Wick and Leon from The Professional.
L: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
P: I’ve always been a maker. I do loads of crafts and experiments with my kids, I love building with Lego, I doodle -mostly cartoon dinosaurs- and in the past few years I’ve become enamored of Perler beads. I try to make useful things with them like bookmarks, key chains, coasters and pins. Also the Porg Adventures. When ‘The Last Jedi’ came out I bought a little stuffed Porg (a birdlike creature from the movie). As a joke I took her places and did photoshoots. Before long it took off and now I make her little outfits and we go everywhere together. I post pictures of her adventures for my friends and family. It’s a totally normal hobby, of course.
L: What would you say is your favorite book or series of all time? Why?
P: Ow. Um, The Persian Boy by Mary Renault is a perpetual favorite. But the book of my heart is Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. Much of my life’s wisdom was absorbed from that book.
L: Are there any regrets you have or anything you wish you knew sooner?
P: How much of writing, especially indie writing, isn’t actually writing. If I’d known that I would have taken classes in marketing and graphic design in college. Instead I learned It myself, on the fly, and there were tears involved. I think I’m getting better at it all, though.
L: In a brief statement, have you self-published or traditionally published? What was your experience?
P: I have done it both ways. There are pros and cons to each. With a traditional publisher you have a professional editor and a cover artist, people who write your blurb, etc. With indie publishing, that’s all on you (though, to be frank, with a small press most of the marketing at least will still be your responsibility). But with indie publishing there are no submissions, no months-long wait for a response, you get a bigger cut of the profits and have complete creative control. It’s a lot of work. But I enjoy doing it. I’m certainly not averse to pursuing traditional publishing in the future but right now I’m having fun with my indie work.
L: What are you currently reading?
P: I have a Kindle Paperwhite but an also in love with physical books (to a fault, according to my husband). I am usually reading one physical book and one e-book. Right now the e-book is N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, which has a lot of elements I like in my fantasy. The physical book is actually a library book (because I don’t have enough unread books of my own, apparently) of Ellis Peters’ A Morbid Taste for Bones. I really love the Cadfael TV series with Derek Jacobi and it was high time I tried the original novels.
L: What genre do you read?
P: I will read any genre, but not equally. I’ve read Westerns, self-help and romances but I don’t usually seek them out unless they are recommended to me. I love mysteries, SF and fantasy, horror, nonfiction. Short stories, novellas, novels, series…I don’t have any particular preference for length.
L: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Any rituals or ‘must-haves’?
P: I am lucky at the moment to be a stay-at-home mother with two kids in school. One is half-day, so between 9-11 a.m. I get more or less uninterrupted writing time. I usually go to the local library, since there are fewer distractions: no chores to be done, no cat nagging me for attention. Next year when they’re both in school full-time I’ll be seeking gainful employment again, so that will cut my writing time considerably.
L: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
P: This is bizarre; I love true crime and paranormal podcasts. But most of it isn’t appropriate for my kids to hear, so I have to listen to it when they’re at school, which is also my writing time. So when I am writing I am usually hearing some gruesome story in the background, murders or cults or cryptid.
L: What’s a word or phrase that people say that always irritates you?
P: ‘Irregardless’ and the ‘misuse’ of ‘literally’. I read an article that made me feel better about the evolution of ‘literally’, but in the moment it makes my blood boil. Also, ‘I could care less’ means you DO care. It’s ‘couldn’t care less’. COULDN’T. And now I sound like a pedant so I’ll stop there.
L: Who is your favorite literary character and why?
P: Ouch again. I love Mary Renault’s version of Alexander the Great, and Molly Grue from The Last Unicorn, and Tenar from the Earthsea Cycle, and Lady Dedlock from Bleak House, and… they’re all well-drawn characters who share some aspect of my personality, I think. Something draws me to them.
L: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
P: I tap into world mythology and folklore a lot. The old stories speak to us in a deep, primal way and can be adapted to any time period I like twisting them a bit, or giving a voice to characters who don’t have one in the original tales.
L: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
P: Sit down and do it. You’re going to suck at first. The only way to stop sucking is to keep doing it.
Patricia Correll lives in Alabama with her family and one elderly cat. She writes fantasy and horror; her work is available on Amazon. She likes Hello Kitty and world mythology, and she loves Matcha Kit-Kats.
Peony Lanterns – Mitsu has been Shiro’s personal servant and best friend since they were both six years old, and he’s been in love with him for nearly that long. While Shiro takes lovers of both sexes, the gulf between their social classes is so vast that Mitsu has never spoken his feelings aloud.
When Shiro meets the beautiful Lady Keiko, he’s instantly infatuated. His affection soon turns to obsession, and Mitsu resigns himself to a life of unrequited love.
But as Mitsu looks deeper into Keiko and her motives, he realizes that Shiro is in grave danger. He will need all his courage– and some help from a master of the occult– to save the life of the man he loves.
Buy it here!