Patrice Kindl On How To Grow As A Writer

PatriceKindlName: Patrice Kindl
Author Websites
Hometown: Ballston Spa, NY
Current Residence: Middleburgh, NY
Education: Webster College, St. Louis, MO (drama – didn’t finish)
Briefly: Author of Owl in Love, The Woman in the Wall, Lost in the Labyrinth, Keeping the Castle, A School for Brides
Favorite Read: Jane Austen, Diana Wynne Jones, Margaret Mahey, mysteries, and on, and on.
Pet Peeves: Well, I am sitting here watching my Panama Amazon parrot digging inside her ear canal (birds have them, even though you can’t see them) with one long claw. Gross! Stop that, Bree! She is a pet, so I assume that qualifies.
If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be…Deeply unhappy and doing something else very badly. No, really, I have long mental lists of careers I would stink at: CEO—hate meetings—garbage man—not strong enough—CPA—can’t add—truck driver—poor spatial skills. I can cook, so maybe someone would take me on as a sous chef. I make good soup.
What You Have Lined Up Next: I am working on a book. I’m sorry, but it is quite different from anything I’ve done before and I don’t want to talk about it yet.

So, you went to a theater school! Is it safe to say that the first thing you ever wrote was a theater play or a monologue?

No, very dangerous. I have in fact never written either. I realize now that I went into theater as a young woman because I didn’t think that “they” would let me be a writer, and theater was a poor second choice. I appeared in a few commercials and some off-off-broadway, and just missed a major role in a pretty bad movie that sank from sight within a week of opening.

I find it interesting that your last name is Kindl.

Roughly translated from the German, ‘kindl’ means “little child”. I am actually more Irish than anything else, but some of my father’s ancestors were from Austria. I am no relation to the Kindle, of eBook fame, sadly. I could use some royalties.

What inspired you to write Keeping the Castle?

I was reading yet another historical fiction in which the heroine had a mind above marriage and instead devoted her energies to tracking murderers through the slums of London or something equally gender-busting. Yes, I understand and approve of the motives for reimagining the traditional heroine in period literature, but the reality was that marriage was by far the best option for a woman up until the twentieth century—and past it into today, for most of the world’s females. I got impatient with this rewriting of history and imagined a character whose goal was quite frankly matrimony, and the richer the bridegroom was, the better she would be pleased.

What do you enjoy most about writing for young adults?

On some levels I think I am about 14 years old. While I certainly do read fiction and non-fiction for adults, I love the literature of this age, especially toward the younger end of YA. I find it very satisfying.

Is writer’s block the worst thing about being an author?

Yes.

Once you get an idea, how do you make sure that it stays viable?

The rule is, once I have three full chapters and have started the fourth, the book is going to happen. It’s a matter of momentum. On the other hand, I cannot tell you how many one- and two-chapter scraps I have drifting around the hard drive of my computer like orphaned ghosts, weeping bitterly and rending their tattered garments.

patrice kindl

What factors do you think have contributed to your growth as a writer?

Oh, reading, of course. All writers are the offspring of the books they read in their youth. This is another reason why I consider children’s and YA literature at least as important as writing for adults. If people do not learn to love reading in their formative years, most will never learn. And writers for adults unconsciously steal from their childhood favorites all the time. They just throw in some sex and cursing to make it seem worthy of our grown-up attention.

You have an almost anti-sequel stance. But if you were to write a sequel to a book you’ve written, which book would be most likely?

[Blushing] Ummm…the one I just finished writing? Yes, I have written a sequel to Keeping the Castle. It’s called A School For Brides and it concerns a small finishing school for young ladies in Lesser Hoo, run by Miss Winthrop and Miss Hopkins and another lady. It was actually quite fun.

At one point, you were involved with a program called Helping Hands, in which you were responsible for raising two monkeys to assist quadriplegics. How nice.

Yes, it was wonderful, but very time consuming and restrictive (hard to go away on vacation – qualified monkey-sitters are difficult to find in rural upstate New York. It was a great experience and I miss the Gorilla Girls—no, actually, they were Capuchin monkeys – I just called them that—very much. So many memories, sniff, sniff.

In hindsight, what do you wish you had known about book marketing when you started?

That I was going to have to do it. It’s so ha-a-r-r-rd to do. Whine.

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