Monday, September 5, 2011

Partner on the Path: Ripley Patton

For all my new followers and campaigners: If you've browsed this blog, you've probably noticed this series of interviews called "Partners on the Path". Now that I'm finished hosting WIPMADNESS on Mondays, I'm back to this regular feature that highlights the journey and wisdom of fellow writers on their path to publication. Today I feature Ripley Patton, who is in the middle of a huge move. We hope it's going well for her. 

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?

Probably the biggest, best resource has been other writers, and that has been somewhat difficult to find in a small island nation like New Zealand. There is no local or national association for YA writers here, so that means the internet has been about the only way for me to hook up with that community (That and starting my own writer's association, SpecFicNZ, in 2010). And finally, I can't forget the amazing resource my kids are. Having two teens makes having current content that much easier.

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?

Winning a Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story 2009 was pretty awesome. Technically, I tied for the award with my friend Grant Stone, but we don't have to mention that. That win also ties with sitting on an author's panel with Juliet Marillier on myths and fairy tales in fiction, and having her actually be interested in what I was saying. She also told me one of my short stories was great.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?

Anything by Dr. Suess. As a kid I read lots of fairy tales, myths and legends, my favorite probably being The Seven Chinese Brothers. Anything by Madeleine L'Engle, Ursula K. LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Octavia Butler, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jane Yolen, Juliet Marillier (who is from New Zealand, by the way). Dr. Suess is the only guy I allow on my list. What keeps you going when you feel like giving up? My husband, and kids and friends who believe in my writing on the rare occasions I don't. Oh, and a passionate love of story.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?

This question always cracks me up. In this global day and age, we actually can choose to live any place on the planet (except perhaps at the bottom of the ocean- only Sponge Bob scores that). Having packed my family up and moved to New Zealand, this really isn't a hypothetical question for me anymore. So, my answer is- for now, right where I am. New Zealand is very inspirational. Later, probably somewhere along the Mediterranean. Perhaps Greece. I find I very much like island living.

Describe your fantasy writing space?

If I had my druthers (whatever those are) I'd love to have my own private library with full floor to ceiling bookshelves, big comfy chairs and couches in various reading nooks, and a day bed near a sunny window because I love to write in bed.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?

First, immigrating to a completely new country with two young children was challenging, but then I put that on myself. Living just on my husband's income for the last six years while I carve out this writing career thing has been hard. And in the last year my city, Christchurch, has been devastated by a series of large earthquakes. Writing between aftershocks (there have been over 7,000 of them) and constantly worrying about the safety of my family made writing my first YA novel. Ghosthand, extra challenging, especially when our first house lost a wall and we had to move in under 24 hours.

What one word describes your writing process?

Organic. I try not to force anything. I try to respect the natural ebb and flow of my creativity and not piss the muses off too much.

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?

Freedom. There is so much less worry about genre and pigeon-holing in the YA and children's communities. Look at a YA library shelf- fantasy mixed with literary, mixed with adventure, mixed with mystery, mixed with pretty much anything you can imagine. We can color outside the lines. And fresh voice. Young people always have a fresh voice, which means we have to as well.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?

How can I not approach such other worlds with joy? - Jane Yolen. My much less poetic translation- Have fun! Dont' be such a poopy pants about writing. What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story? The story. For me it's all about story. When I see people chopping the beauty that is story into little, bloody, analytical bits, it makes me want to vomit. To me, that's horror writing.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?

I believe I shall have a rather large party. And shorty thereafter, celebrate by writing another book. 



  1. I loved this interview. Ripley has faced some real challenges,congratulations on getting the story finished under such conditions.

    And can I share your library? :-)

  2. "Don't be such a poopy pants about writing." Heh. Love this. Think I'll put it on a sticky note next to my computer. Very nice interview, Ripley and Angelina. Thank you.

  3. Sarah and MG--Glad you enjoyed the interview. Let me know if you'd like to join in on the fun.

  4. Ripley have you hunted down your SCBWI chapter for some writing community love? New Zealand is one of my dream locations - how cool you are living it.

  5. Great interview! I agree with Ripley's statement about other writers being the best resources. Lord knows I've learned from writers more than I could ever have learned from books on the craft of writing.

  6. Happy to hear you enjoyed the interview. There will be more ^_^

  7. Congrats on the publication of your first book! Love these posts.

  8. Oh my gosh, the chance to sit on a panel with Juliet Marillier? I love her books! Thanks for sharing this interview!

    I am a fellow campaigner in the historical group and now a new follower.

  9. What a great interview! Inspiring! :)

  10. This interview made me want to walk in a garden barefoot and write by a stream. What a perfect way to want your writing. Organic. Nicely said Ripley! And you just up and moved to New Zealand because it is where you wanted to live? Oh if only...
    Thanks for the inspiration Riley and Angelina!

  11. We've loved having you here with us in NZ, Ripley, and hope the move back to the US for family/work reasons works out 'all for the best' as well. I enjoyed the draft of Ghost Hand that I read and look forward to seeing the finished work as a published YA novel soon! May life, the universe (& everything) bring you all good things ...

  12. Ourloss is the USA's gain. You made a huge contribution to writing here in NZ, Ripley, and we will miss you. The very best with the new life, the book, and all the exciting things ahead.

  13. I look forward to reading the published Ghosthand.
    We'll miss you here in NZ. You became an important member of the SF/F/H community very quickly.
    All the best for your new life chapter.


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