FQ: Mr. Patchen, this book is pure poetry. Can you tell me how easy (and/or) difficult it is for an author to weave poetry with such gritty, dark fiction at times?
PATCHEN: Thank you. To be honest, poetry is my core and my foundation. I started writing poetry around 12 years old after my parents divorced, and it has been a therapeutic outlet ever since. After Iraq, it was there for me to use as a tool to unpack and confront the dark emotions/thoughts/moods that consumed me. So, for me to weave the poetry in with a topic and book like this, it just seemed fitting and natural. Though I’m fairly new to fiction (a few years), I’m still learning how to mold the two forms together. But I am quite proud of how this one turned out.
FQ: Along those same lines, is there one genre you prefer to write in; fiction or poetry? And, for those out there just beginning, can you explain the pros and cons of each genre?
PATCHEN: If you would’ve asked me this 3 years ago, poetry. Hands down. But as I keep exploring fiction and the stories I want to tell, it’s really growing on me. It would be ideal if I could keep blending the two together.
Poetry Pros: Quicker and less rules (both things I’m really fond of). Easier for me to confront and deal with emotions or thoughts of the moment.
Poetry Cons: Hard to sell lol
Fiction Pros: The story process is an art form all in itself. It’s a different beast, but one that is exciting to explore. People are more interested in it.
Fiction Cons: The time invested. The money invested. The rules, guidelines, and different opinions that contradict each other. What one person loves, someone else will hate for the exact same reasons.
FQ: PTSD is certainly a tough subject to take on, let alone portray so eloquently. Is there ever a point where you come across writer’s block when trying to put together such a tale? And what is the goal you have when it comes to taking on such hard subjects like war, mental health, etc.?
PATCHEN: Thank you! Yes, writer’s block is something that I think no genre, subject, or writer can escape. Although, I do think it comes in different forms. Sometimes mine comes in moods. When I’m in a mood that isn’t creative enough to put words into sentences, then I do one of the many other writing responsibilities, like marketing or researching. Also, a good workout, run, nap, or snack helps out too.
My goal since the beginning has always been to better understand life, to bring awareness, change, new thoughts or ideas to a subject that may not have had without that inspiration. I think, for me, my purpose is to make people come as close as they can to experiencing that subject or topic to better understand what it’s like for others.
FQ: Are you personally a fan of war stories or history in general? When did you first find these subjects (or others) to be inspiring enough for you to begin your writing career?
PATCHEN: I hate to say this, but I’m not a big reader myself. I know. I know. It’s awful. I’m ashamed. But movies serve as a big inspiration for me. I grew up in the country where we played outside in the mud, hunted, played army in the woods, and fantasized about being heroes and good guys. I’ve always found that sort of thing interesting, not to mention, it inspired me to join the Marines and fight for my country. And as with all of my writing, I base a lot of it off of my own experiences.
The first time I wrote about war was my 2nd year of college after I got back from Iraq. It was a productive experience to write about those things that gurgled inside of me. So, maybe in my writing, others could possibly find some hope or help or just see the bigger picture a little better.
FQ: If you could give one piece of advice to the independents out there just starting out, what would you most want new writers to know and understand?
PATCHEN: There’s so much lol. I think, first of all, the shock for me was the many layers to the business. The marketing, promoting, editing, social media, selling, brand building, time and energy, convincing people that you’re really doing it––those things were more than I was prepared for. My first book had the potential to be great, but my lack of experience, research, and patience had me put out a book that wasn’t ready. This kind of ruined the big start I had in mind back then. So, go through the process. It’s not a get rich quick sort of thing. It’s painful and hard. It’s insane and demanding. It’s a real pain in the ass. And maybe that’s why it’s so rewarding in the end.
FQ: If there was one historical character or even writer that you could sit down and speak with, who would that be and what would be the one question you would most want them to answer?
PATCHEN: I might have to have a beer and come back to this one...Okay. Jesus. Let’s go with Jesus. Is that acceptable? Does it count? Because I’ve got a lot of questions I could throw his way. I guess the most important one might be...Hey, when you coming back, Big Guy?
FQ: Since this is Book 1, can you give readers a sneak peek into what you’re currently working on? And, if possible, what future plans you have for this particular series?
PATCHEN: Sure, absolutely. So, I’m a couple chapters away from finishing the first draft of book 2. It’s called, No Blade Cuts the Same. Right now, I’m discovering that my characters really want to heal and put things back together. But it’s not that easy, is it? Some things happen. Some darker demons come to rise. Some characters prosper while others take a hit. But ultimately, we see some of the same themes playing out, though in a completely different world from where Book 1 started.
At the moment, I plan on a 3 book series for the PTSD Disaster series. But there might be more. I don’t want to leave the story unfinished. So, who knows? It’s all a surprise to me, too.