Molly: Pat Welch I've just read/reviewed your book ‘Brendell Rogue Thief.’
Please will you tell us why you chose this particular setting/genre for this work?
Pat Welch: I've always been a lover of fantasy, specifically the "classic" writers like deCamp, Anderson and so forth. At the same time, I also enjoy mysteries by Francis and specifically Jonathan Gash's "Lovejoy" series. Brendell was an attempt to bring that particular character into a fantasy setting. The particular character/family issues that evolved in the book were in some part me dealing with some personal issues of my own.
Molly: This is not the first book of yours that I have reviewed. Please, if you will Pat, tell us which of your books you are most happy with. And why.
Pat Welch: I try to write in science fiction, fantasy and horror. In many ways, your book is you child and for that you love them all. But each book I've written has offered different challenges and rewards.
"The Body Shop," for example, started out as perhaps a 5,000 word story and grew into a novelette because the characters demanded more than I had planned. Cynnador developed from a 300 word writing workshop exercise into a dark fantasy somewhat experimental in structure. Westchester Station is in some ways an homage to Bradbury's Illustrated Man.
Both the Brendell and Doakes/Haig series have offered the most opportunity for exploration as they are almost totally character driven. Of all of them, Westchester Station is probably what I'm proudest of because so many of my peers have been strongly supportive of it.
Molly: I read and enjoyed Cynnador, and one of your Doakes/Haig series before reviewing Brendell. Your books are filled with rich details, how much time do you usually spend doing background research before you begin a new book and what does your research involve?
Pat Welch: I try to keep my details relevant to the story. I'm somewhat of a believer in Chekhov's statement that if you mention a shotgun over the mantle, it better go off by the end of the story. Which is probably why I really don't write what I consider "epic fantasy."
The Doakes/Haig series has required the most research in terms of Irish history and such. Otherwise, to be honest, I haven't really written anything that required extensive background research beyond my own knowledge gained from a liberal college education and my various work experiences.
I suspect that will change in the future however, especially if I write more science fiction in contrast to fantasy.
I am not disparaging the need for solid research by the way. The Doakes/Haig collection would not exist without it. I've been in chat rooms where new writers claimed they wouldn't/didn't want to do research. That can be a fatal flaw and, more importantly, research can lead to all sorts of exciting story/plot possibilities.
Molly: beginning writers may not realize how difficult it is to get a book together. How long would you say it takes on average for you to write a book from start to finish?
Pat Welch: I'm a slow writer and I'm constantly revising, so six months would seem the quickest. However, I just finished the second draft on my first vampire novel and that took about three. I don't ever expect, however, to be able to pump out a novel in a month like some can. Maybe someday ...
Molly: Pat, I find that I particularly enjoy writing series because when one book is finished I don't have to say goodbye to the characters I know as friends, rather I follow them as they enter their next adventure. Is this book part of a series? And, if so, why do you like to write series?
Pat Welch: Brendell/Rogue Thief is the sequel to the collection Brendell; Apprentice Thief. Both Brendell and Doakes/Haig feature on-going characters in a series of stories/adventures/mysteries. In both cases, the characters allowed me to explore and develop their particular worlds, which I have found challenging and enjoyable.
I believe creating characters whom you want to visit again is one of the most rewarding aspects of writing (and hopefully the reader will feel the same way).
Molly: What did you attend to first? Write your book or seek out an agent or a publisher? And, if you will please tell us of trials or successes you may have had in trying to find agent or publisher.
Pat Welch: I've been fortunate to have a few writers/friends who have turned me on to publishers who published my work. Unfortunately I've also had bad experiences with two publishers, but the two I have now have been very supportive and, more importantly, very honest.
I did have an agent represent one of my books, but breaking into the major print markets just became impossible and more than frustrating. I currently do not have or need an agent as my books are electronically published.
While I would like to have an agent, I'm not actively looking at this time. I believe my time would be better served trying to break into print magazines with some stories before pounding the pavement to find an agent.
Molly: How long did it take for you to get published and Did you suffer through the dreaded rejection blues?
Pat Welch: My background may be a bit unusual. I was briefly in the MFA program at Bowling Green State University and actually sold to Analog while in college. Then came the slew of rejection slips and I turned to writing articles and, later, advertising for local markets because I got paid to do so.
It was chiefly the Internet which brought me back to fiction after nearly 20 years. I got laid off and decided to take a crack at writing my first novel. At about the same time I entered a writing contest on AOL and won. I then started writing some short stories and submitted them to e-zines. I had my share of rejections of course, but I also managed to publish quite a few, including the original Brendell stories, excerpts from Westchester Station and Doakes/Haig stories.
I firmly believe the Internet has replaced the fanzine in nurturing new writers, and I'm always encouraging my students (I teach at a community college) and writing friends to submit even if the payment is low or non-existent. I'm not a fan of giving away my work, but I view it as a necessary marketing expense. And it certainly helps to get your name out there.
Incidentally, I recommend you don't save those inevitable rejection notices. They'll only discourage you and who needs that?
Molly: Ah, I can see you have certainly ‘paid your dues’ so to say. Now Pat, please tell me which of your works did you find the most difficult to do.
Pat Welch: Probably my first book, The Thirteenth Magician, because it was my first. I knew where I had to end up, just not how to get there. I decided early on I couldn't write it the normal fashion; i.e. strictly chronological. Plus I had to use a hero(?) who was both a cold-blooded assassin and one who had no control or even knowledge of his actions for most of the book. Even worse, I came up with the original idea while in college but never wrote more than one section for about 20 years. Almost needless to say, there will be no sequel!
Molly: I’m sorry to hear this will not be a series. I read and enjoyed The Thirteenth Magician. Now, please tell us something about yourself, about your life.
Pat Welch: I live alone in Port Clinton, Ohio, which is a tourist center in the summer and a morgue in the winter. Besides writing I am also a musician and perform both as a solo act and work in a classic rock band and jazz/standards group. I also teach guitar on the side.
Currently I'm not teaching English composition, which is a good thing because it's giving me more time to write. In some ways I'm semi-retired, but I don't know any writer or musician who fully retires. At some point I'll probably quite performing on stage as a musician, but I'll never stop writing.
I use what I've learned through various jobs and such as background for some of my fiction, but Brendell/Rogue Thief is probably the closest I've ever come to revealing some of my personal life. But then I'm not that interesting anyway :)
Molly: Chuckle, so you are a writer, an educator and a musician. I find that interesting to say the least. Now, what is in your future? May we expect another book soon?
Pat Welch: I just finished my first vampire novel called Thorne. It features a character first introduced in a story that was published in the e-zine "Death Grip." As I am writing this I don't know if it will be accepted by the publisher I submitted to.
I am also finishing a collection of dark fantasy stories called Avenging Dreams and Other Curious Occupations. When that's done, I have a few incomplete Doakes/Haig stories I need to finish, then I'll probably start on a new novel.
Molly what rewards do you find from being a writer?
Pat Welch: I've always wanted to be a writer so I guess I'm living a life-long dream. It's taken longer than I would have liked and the financial rewards aren't there as yet, but writing is a habit like smoking: hard to break. Seeing your name in print is always a rush, but getting support and encouragement from friends and people I've never met (like you) is perhaps the best reward of all.
Molly Do you plan to do book signings within the next few weeks? Do you enjoy signings?
Pat Welch: I'm somewhat isolated and my work schedule - I work nearly every week-end, makes those tough. I've done one, hardly a rousing success. I may try to get involved with one of the art shows they have in my area in the spring. Otherwise I really need to find the time to go to a few sf conventions ...if I can.
Molly : What one bit of advice do you have for beginning writers?
Pat Welch: Keep at it. Writing is writing, even if it's articles or (gasp) advertising. Take advantage of the Internet and every contact you make. It's not always ability that leads to publication. Just like the "real" world, so much of your success can depend upon who you know and the contacts you make.
If you love it, live it, have to do it, then, someday, you will succeed.
Molly: Thank you Pat Welch for a most informative, interesting interview. I wish you all success in the future. To learn more of Pat Welch, his writing and his music please visit his website: