A little quicky interview with author Den Patrick!
In addition to being a Pocket Scribe you have a number of other projects going on. Can you give us a run down of what’s happening in the world of Den?
I’m definitely not suffering from a loss of things to do. I have three books out from Gollancz in August, September and October. The War-Fighting Manuals are primers on how to conduct warfare in a High Fantasy setting. There’s one for orcs, elves, and dwarves, as you’d expect. They’re written in character, and have snarky footnotes. Each book is humorous without ever descending into parody.
I’ve submitted a handful of tales to your good self, and I’m really pleased with each of them. I’ve also completed another short story for Jurassic Publishing, edited by Jared Shurin from Pornokitsch. I think that’s top secret at the moment so…
Next year (2014) sees the launch of my first full length novel, the first book in The Erebus Sequence. I was describing it to Richard Morgan who said, ‘Excellent, Gormenghast on speed!’. It tracks the fortunes of Lucien, who is a disfigured orphan growing up in a huge castle where intrigue and secrecy are rife.
Everyone’s road to publication is a little different, how did you go from quietly scribing away to yourself to a Gollancz contract and how has that experience been?
I’d been a book reviewer and blogger for a while. I met Simon Spanton and Gillian Redfearn at conventions and signings. I did a spot of work experience for Gollancz whilst I was unemployed. Later that year I was lucky enough to be invited to the Gollancz 50th Birthday party. Simon and I were propping up the bar, talking Tolkien, as good geeks are won’t to do. We thought it would be pretty funny if someone wrote the orc guide to warfare. And then Simon said ‘Do you think you could do it?’. We met a few more times (in pubs, naturally) and the inner Games Master in me had mapped a world and sketched out a timeline before I knew it. They were a pleasure to write.
Your agent is the marvellous Ms Mushens. A lot of new writers question the value of an agent, can you tell us in your personal experience what you have found valuable about that relationship?
I am a massive advocate of agents. For me, it’s been really useful to have someone with her experience. I certainly couldn’t have brokered the deal she did for The Erebus Sequence. Juliet’s talent isn’t just confined to contracts. She worked on the manuscript, giving me feedback on both structural and line edits. This care and attention to the story and encouragement to refine the novel really helped my confidence as a writer.
How did the Fizzy Pop Vampire come about and will there be more? Would you work in a partially visual media again, like comics and if so what appeals to you about these forms?
The Fizzy Pop Vampire was a bunch of rhyming couplets that appeared on a page one boring Saturday afternoon years ago. I’d mentioned it in passing to Sarah Anne Langton, and she asked to illustrate it. We put the story out on the iPad, and sold over a hundred copies. We’ve a second story lined up. Hopefully a publisher will make us an offer. Who knows?
I also have a five issue science fiction comic I’d love to see in print, but making comics is like pulling teeth. It’s called Deconstructed and is homage to films like Moon, Alien and Solaris in my own quirky way,
Captain Fox and his crew are due to be recurring characters in the Fox Pockets. What made you want to go back to them after the first story or to put it another way, why should readers seek out all the pockets they appear in?
I have tendency to want to revisit many of my short story characters. I grow quite attached to them and Captain Fox especially. The main thing that characterizes the Jago Fox stories is yearning and redemption. I think anyone who’s really wanted for someone, or felt they could do better despite a troublesome past, might relate to these stories. And they have some pretty cool monsters too. I call them Supernatural Maritime stories. I hope people enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.