Friday, April 15, 2011

Interview Marathon Day 3 - Patrick Jones

Hi Readers!

The Carly Reads Interview Marathon continues with my first second interview!  Confused?  Well, Patrick Jones is the first author to ever have two interviews published on the blog, so congrats, Patrick! Readers, check out my first interview with Patrick here, and then enjoy this second interview.  

Carly Reads: Your third Fun Fact says that there was a 16 year gap between writing and publishing your first novel.  What did you do during those 16 years? Did you continue to edit that first book? Did you work on other books? And how did you keep up hope that that first book would eventually get published?
Patrick Jones: During those sixteen years, in addition to a nine to five job working in libraries, I focused on writing about books for teens, in particular how libraries could connect with young adults. I wrote the first edition of “Connecting Young Adults and Libraries” as well as several other books, plus hundreds of articles and book reviews. I was also very involved in the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) during this time.  Still, I pulled out “Things Change” every now and then to work on, but didn’t get serious about rewriting it until we moved from Houston to Minneapolis in late 2000. Instead of taking a day job, I spent most of 2001 rewriting “Things Change” (several times), but it still took until March 2003 before I landed a contract.  “Things Change” I thought was a good story; it just took me a while to develop the skills to tell it.

CR: You are a former teen librarian.  How has career as a teen librarian influenced your writing?
PJ: My career was a tremendous asset in every part of my writing, in particular in getting “Things Change” published.  Rather than using an agent, I had – because of my work with YALSA – made contacts so I could “hand” my manuscript directly to Emily Easton at Walker Books for Young Readers.  The job helped tremendously since I was immersed in teen literature, and thought I knew what worked and what didn’t.  Finally, doing all of the professional writing not only helped me develop skills and confidence, but lead me to think about the lives, drives, and developmental assets of teens.

CR: Is writing your only focus right now, or do you also have a “day job”? If so, what is that day job? And if not, how do you spend a typical day? Do you write all day or only for a few hours? Do you write every day or only a few days a week?
PJ: I still have a day job as I don’t make enough money writing. I’m with a smaller publisher, and my content (sex, drugs, violence, profanity) keeps them out of many libraries.  Because of the content, I also don’t get a great deal of school visits.  The day job is to provide library service to people who face a barrier to using libraries in person, such as homebound customers, and people in county correctional facilities.  I do the direct work with juvenile offenders. 
My work pattern for writing seems to be a come up with an idea, think about for a while, and then start taking notes. At some point, I’ll do an outline or summary. And then I wait until it is time to write. Once the “clock strikes” I will write in huge junks of time – pulling all day marathons on the weekends, and writing from 6:00 to 10:00 (when Jon Stewart) is on.   Then, once I get to rewriting, I normally only do that two hours a day since it is hard work.

CR: What was your favorite book when you were a teenager?
PJ: Actually I wasn’t much of a book reader, so my favorite reading materials were probably pro wrestling magazines, the newspaper, and Rolling Stone.  That said, the “life changing” books for me were “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton and “Carrie” by Stephen King.  In my book “Connecting with Reluctant Teen Readers,” there’s an essay about why these books made a difference to me as a teen.

CR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Sixth Annual TBF?
PJ: All of them really because I think the YA writing community is pretty amazing. In particular, I hope I get to chat with Charles Benoit (who says he’s a fan), and Torrey Maldonado so I can crush him in Scrabble since he threw-down about that in his interview. I’d also better meet up with Eric Luper before we present together!

Thanks so much for your answers (again!), Patrick.  By the way, your day job sounds totally awesome.  I plan on asking you more about it once we meet in person. :) 

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