Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I’m Patty Blount, author of award-winning contemporary and young adult novels. Most of my young adult novels deal with internet issues like bullying, the dangers of trusting strangers, and victim-blaming.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
My debut novel, SEND, was inspired by my son’s ordeal with bullying. He was the victim of bullying in sixth grade and in seventh grade, was accused of being the bully. At the same time that was happening, my day job (I work full time as a curriculum developer for a tech company) asked me to research social networks like Twitter and Facebook. I hadn’t heard of them by that time and was horrified when I learned some of the ways people abuse those networks. The main character in SEND was conceived when I put both of those circumstances together.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Well, if you were to ask my editor this question, she’d tell you it’s my temper. She feels I write my best work when I’m mad. And while I was furious over the Stuebenville rape case, which inspired Some Boys, I was downright apoplectic over the Brock Turner sentencing, which insipired Someone I Used To Know.
How do you deal with creative block?
There are two things that help me unblock. First, I take reading breaks. Getting lost in a great story helps me remember why I wanted to write in the first place. Second, I go back and study my characters. I find the best stories I’ve written are the ones that began with a person rather than a situation as the idea seed. As I said earlier, the main character in SEND was conceived during two unrelated but parallel circumstances merged in my life. If I’d said, “I want to write a book about bullying, it would not have resulted in the same story. When I’m blocked and go back to study how I’ve developed my characters, I typically discover issues in how I’ve imagined their conflict, their problem, their goal. When I nail those things, it’s like breathing life into the characters. They not only read as realistic, they feel real even to me.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The best thing I’ve encountered is how my stories have resonated with readers. I receive lots of mail explaining how my characters have inspired readers to report their own assaults and refuse to feel guilty for being assaulted because they know it was not their fault. The worst thing is that it still hasn’t become easy to write a novel. Each novel is hard — just as hard as the first and sometimes, harder because I’m trying out new things. The most surprising thing is that people judging my work consider it the best they’ve read . That never fails to both delight and humble me.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
I like to tap into my emotions when I write. I will often listen to sad songs when I need to write a sad scene, happy songs when I need to write happy, and so on. When I’m in a terrible mood, I may write scenes out of sequence so I can deliberately write an angst-filled scene to match how I’m feeling.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.
I’m a chocolate fiend. It’s like a religion for me! I adore really bad movies like Sharknado. I took my first trip outside the U.S. six months ago. I went to Italy and it was the most amazing trip I’ve ever taken.