What five books are most important
or influential to you?
Here are his answers:
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: Years ago, I was trying to decide what I wanted to write. I read Harry Potter and declared, “I want to write something like that.” Harry Potter is the reason I write middle-reader adventure books.
Neuromancer by William Gibson: With Neuromancer, Gibson captured the essence of coolness. It’s one of the defining novels of the cyberpunk genre (a subset of dystopian, which is a subset of sci-fi). The prose are just beautiful. Bleak, but beautiful. They’re recursive, perfectly mirroring the world Gibson’s creating, like the opening line: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” Seriously cool. I read this book in high school and I’ve read it many times since. The reason I like it so much is because Neuromancer combines complex prose with an engaging story— a feat most “literary” works (i.e., prose-focused and boring) and popular fiction (i.e., story-focused with utilitarian prose) never achieve. A warning, though, for my fans: Neuromancer isn’t a middle-grade or YA book. The overall message is pretty nihilistic, and there’s a touch of language and adult themes.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein: This is the first book I can remember reading by choice. I read it over and over again when I was a kid, until I’d memorized every poem. I don’t remember any of them now, but I remember loving them.
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: I used to read this series every year. I love the depth and complexity of Middle Earth and the history Tolkien created to make the world feel real. When I wrote Return to Exile, I wanted to make my world feel like Middle Earth, even though it’s based in the modern-day United States. I studied the devices Tolkien used to add richness and detail to his world. Because Return to Exile isn’t really a milieu-driven book, I had to figure out how to adapt the devices to a character/plot driven story. In other words, I had to figure out how to balance the richness of the milieu with the demands of a modern middle-grade pacing. But Tolkien put my feet on the path.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: What Tolkien is to milieu, Card is to character. Card has an amazing gift for taking you into a character’s mind and plumbing the depths of their psychological underpinnings. Card not only folds you into Ender’s mind, he drives you through a great plot that arises naturally from Ender’s needs and personality. That’s incredibly hard to do and Card executes it masterfully. In Return to Exile, I took a note from Card and tried to create a plot and world that arose from Sky’s inner needs and conflict. Sky, like most people, struggles to survive in a world that’s full of traps, and constantly changing around him. He wants to fit in like his sister, Hannah, and be normal for once, but he knows he’s not normal. In Sky’s world, nothing is ever as it seems—not even him.
As always, thanks for such fun answers! I love how this question lets us get to know authors quite well!
E.J. Patten lives here in Utah with his wife and three kids. This book, Return to Exile, is his first book... but many more are planned (six in this particular series I think.) I don't know a whole lot more about him because his author bio is quite vague, but I DO know that he's a really nice guy, (even with that goatee!) and he's also, like most in this little crowd of Utah authors, quite funny too! :)
You can read his blog here.
Follow him on Twitter here.
Learn more about the book Return to Exile here.
Follow the blog tour here.
(P.S. I think goatees are awesome!)