This week’s interview is with K. Patrick Malone. His latest work, THE DIGGER’S REST, chronicles “the journey of a motley team of art archaeologists sent to excavate a newly discovered castle ruin in the South West of England in search of proof of King Arthur. What they uncover, however, is a legend much older; more mind rending and soul shredding than anything they could ever have conceived with an ending that is nothing less than "biblically operatic" in proportion.”
Which 3 authors would you recommend all writers read?
Well this is a very broad question, so I guess I'll answer it the best way I know how. Firstly, I'm a secret classicist, so my initial response would be:
#1: Emile Zola, all novels from beginning to end, "Nana, The Human Best, Therese Raquin, Truth et at) Laymen would probably recognize the name from history because he was the champion of the wrongly convicted Alfred Dreyfuss of the infamous "Dreyfuss Affain" of 19 th Century France (See the film, "The Life of Emila Zola" from the 1930's featuring the Academy Award Winning performances by Paul Muni as Zola and Joseph Schildkraut as Dreyfuss. No writer, past or present, has captured the real "truth" of human nature like Zola.
#2: Charles Dickens, all novels from beginning to end ( particular favorites are Nicholas Nickelby (featured quote in the opening of my own "The Digger's Rest," Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities et al). Not quite a contemporary of Zola ( earlier by fifty or so years) Where Zola saw the real truth in the negative side of human nature but without redemption, Dickens saw the real truth in the negative side of human nature but always found the bright shining ( and rare) ligh of human nature as we could be and should be.
#3: Charlotte Bronte, her seminal work of "Jane Eyre" more than making up for the lack of quantity of her library (and featured in my own work in "An Unfinished House." Giving forth what I call the absolutely most romantic passage in all of English literature, "The Proposal". . . " I have a queer notion when I am close to you like this etc etc etc)
Now for the good stuff, my genre.
#1: Shirley Jackson, her, in my mind, perfect ghost story, "The Haunting of Hill House," is without a doubt the "smoke and mirrors" scare of the last century. Who can ever forget Little Nell asking, "Who was holding my hand?" Doesn't get any better than this.
#2: Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw perfectly combines the elements of malevolence with mystery for a stunningly realistic look at the supernatural for its time.
#3: Stephen King's "The Shining," one of the only times the prolific Mr. King created what could be considered timeless masterpieces of what scares us most.
Which authors impacted most on your writing style?
As mentioned above, I cannot seem to get away from my classic literature roots, Zola, Dickens and Bronte, but here I would add the odd addition of the hard boiled detective novels of the early 20th Century, Dashiell Hammett ( most notably "The Maltese Falcon," although the rest of his library is equally impressive), Raymond Chandler ( most notably "Farewell, My Lovely" but whose library is as equally large and impressive as Hammett's, and James M. Cain ( most notably "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Double Indemnity," and "Mildred Pierce." These authors had a punch rat- at- tat -tat cadence to them that reflected a new voice in men's voice novels. I don't know what I would have ever doe without their influence allowing me to believe than men's voice novels didn't all have to be . . . Ernest Hemingway. Thanks, guys!
What is your favorite element in your book (character, theme, setting, etc.)?
My all time favorite element is, of course, the characters. Without compelling characters, one doesn't really have a book, do they? And the best way to write a character is to love them, good characters and not so good characters alike, you've got to love them all to bring them to life and make them come alive for the reader.
What was your favorite part of the writing process?
Oddly enough, my favorite part of my writing process is when I put the words "The End" on the last page. My books are such an investment of intense emotional upheaval that when I've completed a book, I feel like I need to take more vitamins and retire to my bed for a week with a box of Kleenex to recover.
What about the publishing process most shocked you?
The abject rudeness of so called literate and literary professionals.
What advice do you wish you’d received before you started searching for a publisher?
Don't be naive and expect that any of us will be in any way be appreciated as artists instead of commodities.
What advice would you give to writers trying to publish their first book?
Keep trying, its like dating, sometimes one has to kiss a lot of frogs before one finds their prince or princess. Become thick skinned. Rejection is everywhere. If your art has any real merit, someone somewhere at some time will see it and give you a chance. Take a chance on small press publishers. We could all be long in the grave before the muckety mucks at Random House or Simon and Schuster decide that Margaret Mitchell really won't drop out of heaven and toss the true sequel to "Gone with the Wind" in theirs laps out of the goodness of her heart like manna from heaven.
Thanks to Kevin for answering my questions.
Happy Holidays to all!!!!!!