Hello, Katy Lee here. Today I am hosting Matt Patterson, author of My Emily. I found out about Matt and his book through the International Online Book Club of Clean Reads. The club helps to bring authors, readers and bloggers together. Each month they feature a different author, discuss or review their book, and feature them on different blogs and our group website.
Matt, I am happy to have you be the first guest from the book club. Welcome! You are not only my first book club guest, but you are my first non-fiction writer guest. (Not to put any pressure on you to set the bar.)
Can you tell us what is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?
I have to actually say the most surprising thing is that people are not only buying my book – MY little book – but they also like it! The groundswell of support and emotion of those who have read My Emily has been so very, very humbling. To this day, when someone drops me a note and tells me they’re about to read my book, I get worried. I just want them to draw something from it.
I’m sure! After all, in My Emily you are sharing yourself with the world, in all the levels of joy and pain that that entails. You’re sharing YOUR story. That can be a scary thing to do.
Can you please tell us if you have ever thought about writing something that is completely different for you? Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.
This is a question that has really bounced around inside of me. I often ask myself, “Can I write a piece of fiction?” For me, that’s very intimidating. My background is in journalism, which is pretty much nuts and bolts storytelling of an occurrence or outcome. For now, my passion is to tell Emily’s story and to hopefully touch those who have been down our road of losing a child. A fiction novel is not ruled out by any means, but just not right now.
What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?
I would have to say waiting so long to sit down and write My Emily. I now look back and ask, “How many families could I have helped if I just sat down and wrote this 20 years ago?” I have to remember that our timelines are not the same as God’s. I also have to remember not to be so hard on myself and that’s a toughie.
What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?
I’d probably go through the roof!
This is a great question considering what I have on the horizon. If at some point I couldn’t write – then I would hit the road and speak full time. I would go out and share what I’ve written with others in hope of helping those families with special needs children, little ones battling cancer and those parents who are grieving the loss of a child.
Back to the horizon, in the very near future I will start a speaking platform centered on sharing Emily’s story to groups – large and small, as well as near and far. I absolutely love meeting people. It’s my hope I can pull the emotion off the pages and share it in an intimate setting.
And I am sure that will be met with many who need this kind of support. Thank you for stepping up to reach other families in similar situations.
So now, tell us, how do you come up with your shtick? By shtick I mean your voice. That thing that identifies the story as belonging to only you – something that says these are the type of stories that are your brand.
Very cool question! I love that you use the word “voice.” I have actually had people say that they like my “voice.” When someone sits down and cracks open My Emily, it’s like you’re sitting right across from me and I’m telling you our story. Once done, you’ll walk away having a better idea of what it would be like to have a coffee or Diet Coke with me. I have no problem trying to share what I perceive is my unique sense of humor by poking fun at myself, but I also want to make sure the reader realizes I’m someone who is sensitive and truly wants to help others.
What is your junk food of choice?
I have two! I love a thick slice or two (maybe three) of pizza – extra cheese and jalapenos! The second food of choice would be a 12-inch cheeseburger sub (lettuce, tomato, mayo, hot pepper relish and lots of grilled onions) from my hometown (Baltimore) pizza/sub shop.
What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?
I’m not much of a risk taker by any means. Those who know me will say I’m the biggest 6-foot-3 wimp they know.
I do have to say that for a first book, to step out of our pain and share it with others was a big risk – at least to me. The response thus far has been so very gratifying. When a reader can open their heart in an email or review that literally brings me to tears is validation that I made the right choice.
Tell us about your book! And yourself, your publisher, and your process of working with them if you want. How can readers find you after today?
My publisher is the biggest control freak! Oh that would be me! He’s a good guy – thinks he’s funny, but he also makes people cry.
Emily wasn’t born perfect – so one might think.
She was born with Down Syndrome and many would jump to the conclusion that she would have very little hope for a life with any significance. Two years later came the diagnosis of leukemia. What little hope remaining turned to no hope whatsoever – or so one might think.
The life of this little girl, with all its perceived imperfections, had great meaning. Her loving nature and courage touched the hearts of everyone she met. She also taught them how to value their own lives – even with their many “imperfections.”
I love connecting to readers and making new friends! People can find me at these links and locations:
Facebook: Matt Patterson, Author
Thank you, Matt, for hanging out with the Scribes’ Fans today!
Note: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help families with special needs children, those who are battling pediatric cancers, as well as parents grieving the loss of a little one.