Amazing Stories: So tell us a little bit about yourself?
Patrick Dearen: I’m the author of 20 books, including 11 novels and 9 nonfiction books. A native West Texan and graduate of The University of Texas, I spent several years working as a newspaper reporter. My writing interests range from science fiction (three novels) to western novels to folklore to documented history. When I’m not writing, you can find me backpacking remote wilderness areas of the American Southwest.
AS: What is your favorite genre?
PD: Having worked in so many different genres, it’s difficult to choose a favorite. My first love, however, in science fiction. I discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs at age 10, and I admired his works so greatly that, four years later, I decided to become a writer myself. So in that sense, I would say that science fiction remains my favorite. Almost all of my personal reading is sci-fi or swashbuckling adventure in the Burroughs or Leigh Brackett mold.
AS: Are any of your characters you?
PD: I think every writer puts himself into his novels. However, a writer’s life is sometimes so exceedingly dull (except when backpacking) that it becomes a matter of creating a character I would LIKE to be. The main characters in my three science fiction novels are flawed individuals–as we all are–but that gives me a chance to create a potentially powerful character arc.
AS: What is your next book?
PD: The fact that I move freely between genres allows me to maintain (hopefully) a freshness in my writing. After completing an involved journalistic study of the Pecos River of Texas and New Mexico, I turned my attention to my new Starflight series, which consists of “Starflight to Destiny” and “Starflight to Eternity.” Just released as ebooks, the two novels concern the search for a legendary power in the reaches of the galaxy. My characters get more than they set out for, however, as they learn that a particular planet, Faroul, holds the fate of the cosmos. For my next novel, “The Big Drift,” I turn to the American Southwest as a setting. Texas Christian University Press will release it in spring 2014.
AS: Can we get a sneak peek?
PD: Here’s a sneak peak at the opening of my Starflight series:
I could’ve had it. It was there in the dark, spinning, waiting. Something powerful, intelligent, waiting for me to let it out. I could’ve had it all, but I don’t even know what it is!” Skaggs had muttered incoherently ever since Blake Sharrel had looked back through the boulder field to see him slump to the base of an outcrop. Now Blake stood over him, listening to the desert wind howl like a Rhythian hellhound and watching the chalky swirls powder the craggy face with what seemed certain to be a death mask. Ohilo’s twin suns were a fire against Blake’s skull as he knelt beside the old man. Blake’s breaths came in spurts as if he tried to breathe inside a starship fuel chamber, but Skaggs’s gasps were pitiful and broken by frightful coughs that specked his white beard with blood. From his torso oozed life, dark and thick. For an hour now, the two had tried to shake their pursuers in this maze of boulders, but there was no escaping the fierce suns that swelled Blake’s tongue. Three hours before, in a choking gulp, he had downed their last water, and now he faced a vagabond’s death at the hands of nature, or a criminal’s death at the electromagnetic crack of a Banning semi-automatic. Either way, he thought, it wouldn’t have mattered much if it had been anybody but the United Star Systems chasing them.
AS: Do you need any special conditions to write?
PD: My first sci-fi novel came out in 1979, and over the decades I’ve tried all methods of writing—longhand, typewriter, word processor. After I converted to a word processor in 1981, it became easier to edit, but that very fact made me a slower writer. Whereas I had cranked out a minimum of 1,000 words a day on a typewriter, I found myself crafting only 300-400 words a day on a word processor. Four years ago I undertook an experiment. I carried paper and pen on my 4.5-mile daily walks, and began to write. I soon discovered that I think better while exercising, and I began to average 35 WPM—words per mile. Over the next 1,450 miles, I completed a novel, and then started another that required 1,850 miles. You might call it a hike to the stars.
AS: Who are your favorite authors?
PD: As I’ve mentioned, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett are my favorite authors. Burroughs was a nonpareil storyteller—the best of the 20th century, in my opinion—and Brackett was the master stylist. I continue to re-read their works, and wonder what they would think as I explore their worlds via a Nook or Kindle. I also admire the mature Edmond Hamilton—that is, after his marriage to Brackett. I can just imagine the clack-clack of their typewriters as they cranked out such wonderful stories in their old Ohio farmhouse.
Favorite color? Blue
Favorite food? Pinto beans and cornbread.
Favorite writing snack? What else but trail mix?
Favorite Song? Amazing Grace and Maple Leaf Rag. Now there’s a combination for you!
Favorite vacation spot? Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico.
Favorite beverage? Chocolate milkshake.
Favorite books? Burroughs’ “Tarzan of the Apes” and “A Princess of Mars”
Favorite Movies? “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”
Favorite TV Show? 24