I don’t know where you are, but here in the southern US, we are sweltering. I only venture outside to hunt for some Pokémon now and then, so it gives me plenty of time to hang out on top of an air conditioner vent and work on my TBR. Today’s Writer Wednesday features indie author Patrick Hodges, who has three contemporary books out on Amazon (the first one is free right now!) and is working on an intriguing fantasy series. Read more about this busy author and follow him on Twitter and Facebook for updates on his future releases.
Let’s start with a little bit about you. Where are you from? When and how did you first get into writing?
I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and am currently living in Glendale, which is part of the Phoenix metro area. I first got into writing about six years ago, when a friend asked me to take over his weekly column for a movie blog. I hadn’t written anything since high school, but I love movies, so I gave it a try. Five years later, I was still doing it. Then, in early 2014, I started to get nostalgic about my middle-school days. Like it is for most kids, there were good parts and bad parts, and for me, the bad parts involved being picked on by bullies. I started to fantasize about how I would have changed things if I could go back in time, a fantasy where I would triumph over the bullies. Less than a year later, that story, which I entitled Joshua’s Island, was on Amazon.
Tell me about your writing and editing processes.
I’m definitely a plotter. Without an outline, at least a rudimentary one, I’m totally lost. Yes, a lot of the story does flow organically, and it often deviates into directions that I didn’t plan for, but without at least a compass pointing me in the right direction, I’d be unable to function. Writing time is whenever I can. I have a full-time job and wife that like me to pay attention to her on occasion, but I try to find at least a little time to write every day, even if it’s just on my lunch break! For my three-book James Madison series, it took three to five months to go from start to finish. I actually wrote the story for Joshua’s Island in my head for nine months before I put a single word to paper, and I cranked out the rough draft in five days. I’m currently working on a new fantasy series, and I expect that to take considerably longer, as it is a genre I am quite new to.
You have a day job, a family, and three published novels. How do you balance work, family and writing? How do the other aspects of your life inspire your writing?
It’s not easy, let me tell you. Finding the balance is the key to happiness. I always just have to tell myself that while writing is important to me, and a big part of my life, that’s all it is, just a part. I’m blessed to have an amazing wife who supports everything I do. As for what inspires me, I take inspiration from all the books I’ve been exposed to since becoming an author. In the past year, I’ve read nearly 200 books, all by independent authors. Some of them are so amazing, I can’t believe they’re not bestsellers (yet), and they are so beautifully written that it inspires me to become a better writer myself.
Why did you decide to self-publish your first novel, Joshua’s Island? What has your experience been like as an indie author?
I was so unfamiliar with the world of publishing. All I really know about traditional publishers is that, 99.999% of the time, they will not accept unsolicited manuscripts, particularly from writers with no previous experience. I am a lot more knowledgeable about publishing now, and I can tell you, that number is actually more like 99.998%. (Wink.) Truth is, I figured if I sent my novel to a bunch of publishers and they all turned it down, I would likely lose confidence and never write again. That’s why I self-published, and I’m so glad I did. Being an indie author does have its drawbacks – most notably, having to do ALL the promoting myself – but I love the freedom it allows me. And, of course, it’s allowed me to become acquainted with dozens and dozens of wonderful people who are just like me: people with stories to tell.
Your third novel, Sophie’s Different, came out this year. Can you summarize the story in one sentence?
It is a story about Sophie and Ayden, two kids who don’t really fit in, who, along with their misfit friends, come together when they try out for the school play, and in the process show the bullies of the school what they’re made of. (Yeah, that’s a long sentence, I know.)
So you’re currently working on a fantasy series. What can you tell me about it?
I’m calling the series The Wielders of Arantha. Seven hundred years in the future, Earth has been invaded. A space pilot named Maeve, along with her young son Davin, travels to a distant planet in search of an energy source that will help them repel the invaders. This planet, Elystra, is inhabited by a race that is nearly identical to Earth-humans, but are at a medieval level of technology. Several mystical Stones allow a select few people on Elystra to have supernatural abilities such as controlling the elements, healing, or divination that they believe is a gift from their god, Arantha. Such people are known as Wielders. Kelia, the leader of a hidden, all-female tribe called the Ixtrayu, is facing a crisis because her mother stopped the tribe from seeking mates in distant lands in order to produce children thirteen years before. Kelia foresees Maeve’s arrival on Elystra and wonders what it means for their world. Meanwhile, far away, fraternal twins Elzor and Elzaria, who happened upon a Stone of their own, seek to fulfill a prophecy that says that finding three stones will make its Wielder all-powerful, and they will kill anyone who stands in their way.
What inspired you to switch from contemporary to fantasy? Has your writing process changed between genres?
I read mostly sci-fi and fantasy when I was younger, and have always loved the genre. I got this idea in my head for a story many, many years before I thought I would ever be in a position to write it, and now that I have three books under my belt, I want to spread my wings a little bit. Of course, the story I’m writing bears almost zero resemblance to the one that was in my head all those years ago, but that’s what happens! I wouldn’t say the process has changed much. What has changed is that I have so many brilliant, wonderful people that I can show my work to and bounce ideas off of. This cadre of people have advised me on what pitfalls to avoid and how best to tell my story, and I’m confident I can turn this story into gold because of them.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
First and foremost, write what you know, and be yourself. I believe everyone has at least one good story in them, but most people don’t have the patience or the know-how to sit down and right it. Writing is much like any skill – there are a million ways to do it wrong, and one can only get better by doing whatever you can to improve. Read, read, read, and draw inspiration from what you are reading. Always seek help, especially when it comes to editing your own work. Seek the advice and opinions who won’t hold back the truth, and make sure you have a skin thick enough to accept constructive criticism. And finally, do NOT expect to get rich from your work. If you are great at it, then success will follow, but don’t write your stories for that reason. Do it because you love it.
What book are you reading now?
I always read several books at once. I am reading a couple of ARC’s from authors I know, that will probably be on Amazon within the next few months. I am also reading Not Every Girl by Jane McGarry, and am about to start Moonburner by Claira Luana. Next up on my list is Resist by Tracy Lawson.
Where can we find you online or on social media?
I am almost always on Facebook, and almost always accept friend requests. Feel free to leave a message on my “Patrick Hodges, Author” page or find me on Twitter at @Shrykespeare. I also belong to a wonderful group of YA, MG and kids’ book authors known as Young Adult Author Rendezvous (YAAR), and our website/blog is yaarendezvous.com. Please feel free to check out our library. There are so many amazing books in it, enough to keep you in YA hog-heaven for a year.
Joshua’s Island (James Madison Series Book 1)
GOLD MEDAL WINNER – 2015 READER’S FAVORITE BOOK AWARDS
WINNER – 2015 STARGAZER LITERARY PRIZE
FINALIST – 2016 RONE AWARDS
FINALIST – 2015 WISHING SHELF BOOK AWARDS
FINALIST – 2015 DANTE ROSETTI AWARD
Joshua is small for his age. He has been bullied relentlessly for years, and all of his friends have drifted away from him. Eve is a pretty girl who has just been recruited into the popular clique. The two couldn’t be more different.
As they begin their final year of middle school, the unlikely pair find themselves partners in Science class. At first reluctant to work with him, Eve soon discovers hidden truths about not only Joshua but their school that turn her world upside-down.
The two form a relationship that will teach them both the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, and love… a relationship that will end up changing not only their lives, but the entire complexion of their school.
Patrick currently lives in Arizona with his wife, Vaneza. After years of writing for several different entertainment-related blogs, he has found new life and vitality by writing fictional stories about young teens and preteens that are entertaining for ALL ages.
Patrick states: “I was bullied badly in middle school and high school, and I am of the opinion that not enough books are written on the subject, and those that are come off as preachy or heavy-handed. It was my goal to tell a story that a young person could read and enjoy, a story that would not only entertain them but given them a perspective on a touchy and relevant subject that they may not have had otherwise.
“I make it a point to bring an empathic view to all my books, to give readers a view into what it’s like for kids at that age when they just start to mature into young adults. For me, it’s all about the characters. I love creating characters that jump off the page, that feel like real people no matter how old the reader is. Because without great characters, you really don’t have a great story, do you?”
If you’re interested in being featured on a Writer Wednesday, send me an email at email@example.com.
Until next time, stay cool! <3 Cassidy