20 September 2012

Chatting with Patrick Stutzman

New Sci-Fi Author Series

Welcome to my interview/fireside-chat with Patrick Stutzman, author of Alone in Paradise (the exciting sequel to Alone On The Edge).

ME: First off, let me just say how excited I am to hear your new book is coming out. I loved your last one, Alone On The Edge, so I know I'm looking forward to this. Can you tell us a little about Alone In Paradise? What's next for Anna Foster?

PATRICK: Alone in Paradise picks up pretty much where Alone on the Edge left off. Anna is stranded on the moon that she discovered and now strives to repair the ship to return to civilization, all the while adapting to the wilds in which she lives. While doing so, she discovers secrets about the moon that lead her to a unique encounter. A chance run-in with space pirates takes a turn for the worse for Anna that really throws a wrench into her plans. This book is darker than the first, so there’s not as much humor as before.

ME: What was your favourite part of writing Alone In Paradise? What was the biggest challenge?

PATRICK: My favorite part was the unique encounter to which I alluded before. I really enjoyed setting the whole thing up and putting her through it. The biggest challenge also comes from the same encounter. I had to create an entirely new language! I have noticed a number of authors that introduce new languages seem to throw a bunch of consonants and vowels together, sprinkle in some apostrophes, and call it an alien language. I took the Tolkien approach and created a coherent and consistent language, which should be apparent when you read it.

ME: Thank god! One of my pet peeves is exactly what you just said: consonants and apostrophes do not make an alien language! If I see one more Gh'Drrraphrat ... Anyway, good for you for taking the time to actually create something coherent.

Next question: You and I are both independent writers. Were there things you learned from self-publishing AOTE that might change your approach to how you publish this one, or is it all 'stay the course!'

PATRICK: One thing I learned from self-publishing Edge is to not limit my marketing options. When I first released it, I only sold the e-book through Amazon. I had elected to enroll in KDP Select, thinking that I would earn more money from Amazon Prime members borrowing my book. At the same time, I could not release it anywhere else while I was enrolled. I had to wait 3 months before releasing the book for the Nook and other formats. I gained the equivalent of 1 sale through the KDP Select program and possibly lost a number of potential readers by not offering it in formats other than for Kindle. Definitely not worth it, in my opinion.

ME: Although, it's weird. I had the opposite experience. I started by publishing everywhere, but then switched to KDP select - which definitely gave me a big boost. It just goes to show that there are many different approaches.

What are the biggest challenges of going independent? Would you say there are advantages?

PATRICK: Everything has its pros and cons. Each individual has to determine if the pros outweigh the cons for them. As for me, the biggest challenge of being independent is spreading the word about my books and getting enough readers. Then again, my understanding is that I would have to do that if I was accepted by a publishing house anyway. I also have to do all the publishing work myself, for the most part. In addition to writing, I have to format my book and get a cover artist. I am fortunate to have a great editor, though.

The greatest advantages I have is that all of the profits from any sales I get all go to me instead of being split with another company and I have complete control over my works. I know what is being released to the public and don’t have to worry about somebody else making last-minute changes before it hits the presses. If I want the book to be a certain way, it goes out that way.

ME: Writing one novel is tough enough. Did it get any easier working on your second novel? I know I'm having a tough time climbing that mountain again.

PATRICK: I actually had the second novel fully written before the first one was even published. I just needed to get the editing done, which was not as daunting a task as actually writing it. My third book, on the other hand, is not yet finished, and I am having one heck of a time getting it done mainly due to time constraints. I know where I want it to go. I just need to find the time to put it into words. Having a full-time job and a family at home takes up a lot of my time (and I’m not complaining about having those things in my life!)

ME: Now that you've conquered the world of novels, are there any other things you'd like to tackle as a writer? Movies? Television? Comics?

PATRICK: A good friend of mine at work is an independent film maker, and I have acted for him in a couple of his movies. He has written his own scripts, and doing so is similar to writing a book but not exactly the same. I also attended a script-writing workshop for the Star Trek franchise back in the mid-90s and have a good idea on how to do it properly. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take that step. As for comics, another good friend of mine from college has drafted scripts for a series of Dragonlance comics. Taking that step is something that I haven’t considered, but who knows?

ME: I know (comics especially) is definitely a medium I'm eager to explore, but I'm a comic junky.

So, if you could make Alone On The Edge/Alone In Paradise into a movie, who would you like to Direct?

PATRICK: That is a good question, one that I was hoping to tackle in the near future on my own blog as part of my “Alone on the Edge Goes to Hollywood” series. The easy answer would be to grab a big-name blockbuster director like Spielberg or Scorsese. But, getting the right director is much like choosing the right wine to go with your dinner. The wrong director can drastically change how your story is interpreted on film.

My books so far have parts that could be well directed by certain directors. For example, Michael Bey could possibly direct the last part of my first book, because of the action sequences and the big explosion at the end. (He blows things up good.) However, I have sections in the first half of the book that deal with personal strife that Clint Eastwood could accurately bring to the screen. But, which one could do all of that? At this point, I am leaning toward Martin Scorsese. His films clearly demonstrate that he can direct both edge-of-your-seat action and amazing drama in the same story.

ME: For me, the answer is easy! It has to be Zack Snyder (Watchmen, Sucker Punch, etc.) I simply love his style and attention to character and detail.

But back to your writing and your book! One of my absolute favourite parts of writing is getting comments, feedback and mail from readers. I love being able to interact with people who've read my book. What's been your favourite moment/comment so far? And, just for fun, have there been any moments/comments you'd like to forget?

PATRICK: Many of the comments regarding my first book that I’ve read on Amazon are among my favorites, including yours. But, my favorite comment comes from Sara M., where she says “It's to Stutzman's credit that he can capture the mood and temperament of a twenty-something woman in such a believable way…she was real to me in every aspect.” One thing for which I have strived as a male author is to create a believable female character. To have a woman acknowledge this achievement is a personal victory for me and encourages me to continue writing.

My favorite moment as a writer came to me at ConQuest 2012. A panelist recognized me by name for my work on the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, Saga Edition and asked if I was that Patrick Stutzman. After confirming it, he came up to me, gave me a hug, and thanked me for my work. That one act made my whole weekend!

ME: That does sound really cool. 

If you could give just one piece of advice to other indy-writers out there, what would it be?

PATRICK: There is one piece of advice that I have given in the past, and I cannot emphasize it enough. When you start writing, don’t just write the first chapter, stop, and try to perfect it before continuing. If you do that, you will never finish the book. Write the whole thing first, and then go back and edit.

ME: I couldn't agree more. I'm always forging ahead (or at least trying to). It's one of the reasons I backed off of Science Fiction Saturdays. I was spending too much time editing segments instead of putting down the pages.

What's next for Patrick Stutzman!

PATRICK: At this moment, I am about halfway through writing the third book of the series titled Alone in the Crowd. I have a few more books in the wings after that one is done. One is a possible fourth book in the series, and another takes place in the same universe but involves a different set of characters. I am also looking into writing another supplement or two for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game through the game designer company, Super Genius Games.

Thanks for taking the time to chat!

Patrick Stutzman is the author of Alone On The Edge and the just released Alone In Paradise.


Patrick has always enjoyed writing and literature, even during those long, laborious essays required throughout his education. Evidence of his desire for writing began in the fifth grade, when he wrote and directed a play for his class.

While in college, he combined his writing skills with his gaming hobby to create an expansive roleplaying game universe that continues to inspire him today. In many ways, it was this exercise that led him to become a professional writer.

After Patrick finished his work on what would be the last book in the Star Wars RPG product line in 2009, he decided to turn his attention to his own projects, resulting in his first novel, Alone on the Edge, Alone in Paradise, another sequel, and several short stories.

Today, Patrick continues to devote a portion of his time as a freelance game designer for companies such as Super Genius Games. However, he focuses primarily on his own works. 

For more on Patrick and his work, check out these links!

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