Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Author Interview: Jamie Patterson

Jamie Patterson wrote an extremely personal book about heartache. Read my review here. We are pleased she took some time sit down and answer our questions.

Girls Just Reading (GJR): I absolutely loved reading Lost Edens. It took a lot of courage for you to write. Why was it so important to share your experience?

Jamie Patterson (JP): Thanks so much, Alice! As a writer I came back to the manuscript after leaving it in a drawer for five or six years and wasn’t able to recognize myself in the pages. The story was so raw and emotional I thought there was real value there because it wasn’t a story I would tell now, even about the same events. The writing really came from a place I’ll never be in again so I thought the honesty of the moment that is presented in Lost Edens might benefit other people who have, are, or know someone going through something similar. There are so many books on what to do after a marriage falls apart and not as many on what the falling apart looks like. I think there’s a benefit to that.

GJR: How is life now?

JP: Life is really fantastic. I have a lot of freedom and have two jobs I really love. One thing that was so difficult as I was emerging from the time chronicled in Lost Edens was imagining a new life, because I had spent so much time building the life I’d lost. At a certain point I just had to have faith that I’d be okay and life really is better than I could have imagined.

GJR: How is Huey?

JP: Huey is doing so well! He’s enjoyed the last five years as man of the house and is just beginning to slow down a bit, which is nice for me—we’re closer to the same pace now. I read Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz about the importance of “smell walks” for dogs, so Huey and I head out for nice, leisurely walks. I bring a book and he smells every inch of ground we cover.

GJR: Are you still writing?

JP: I am still writing! I’m working on a follow-up to Lost Edens, which has been more difficult to write than expected. I’m trying to be kind to myself and allow rough drafts but it’s sometimes frustrating not to have a polished text at the end of the writing day.

GJR: Will you write another memoir or are you venturing into writing novels?

JP: I’d like to write just one more memoir to follow Lost Edens because I have had such an incredible life the last few years. I think some of the adventures I’ve had would be worth sharing just to really show the resiliency of the human spirit and the ability to create new versions of you and your life. I’m trained as a fiction writer, though, and am really looking forward to getting all my personal stories out and refocusing on fiction.

GJR: What are you working on next?

JP: The follow-up to Lost Edens is mainly focused on time I spent in London the last few years. So far, the majority of the book takes place in North London, where I lived on and off in a flatshare with a rotating cast of characters. I learned a lot about myself and the ability to view life from new angles. The difficulty in writing right now is bringing together all these amazing stories in a clean, clear way. It’s tempting to consider a memoir of essays but I think there’s a story in these events somehow.

GJR: Who are your favorite authors?

JP: Joan Didion is my favorite author by far only because I will gladly buy absolutely anything she writes, regardless of the topic. I just bought her latest book, Blue Nights, and am really looking forward to curling up with it. My favorite poet is Philip Larkin and I love coming across poems of his I haven’t seen before, too.

GJR: What are you currently reading?

JP: I’m currently reading a lot of journal articles on adult education; I should complete my doctorate in higher education and adult learning within the year (fingers crossed!). I’m also a dissertation editor for my daily work so I spend eight or nine hours a day reading academic writing. That’s one reason I’m so looking forward to Didion’s latest: so I can read something completely unrelated to research in the social sciences!

GJR: What is your “desert island” book?

JP: This is a tough one—I’d definitely bring The Great Gatsby because I learn something new every time I read it. I’d probably also bring Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth or Infinite Jest because those are two hefty books I could probably read again and again and pick up a new piece of the story.

GJR: Something different: If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

JP: I was a big fan of the show Ally McBeal and loved that the characters would have theme songs of their own. Just like the characters, my theme song changes and lately I’d say my theme song is Good Life by One Republic.

GJR: If you had to do it all again (the marriage, the heartbreak, the divorce), would you?

JP: I’ve actually thought about this and my answer is no, I wouldn’t do it all again. I learned some really valuable lessons and grew a lot as a person but I think that the situation presented in Lost Edens would not be the only way to learn these lessons or to grow as an individual.


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