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Interview: M.E. Patterson, Author of Devil’s Hand

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M. E. Patterson grew up in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains and attended Virginia Tech, where he studied under acclaimed writers and poets, eventually obtaining a degree in English. He writes everything from horror to sci-fi/fantasy to speculative fiction. His first book, Devil’s Hand, is on the shelves now, with two sequels and an unrelated new series on the way. He lives in Texas with his wife and a dog. 

If you have not had the opportunity to read Devil’s Hand by M.E. Patterson, I highly recommend that you do so.  It is an excellent read and will keep your attention in a suspenseful grip from beginning to end!

Readers can learn more about Mr. Patterson and his work by visiting his website, blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Please tell us a bit about your book, Devil’s Hand, and what you hope readers take away from reading it.

Devil’s Hand is a supernatural thriller that follows the return of a washed-up pro poker player to the city of Las Vegas, where he inadvertently ends up saving a strange teenage girl and is caught in a war between angels and demons that threatens to destroy the city and the world. My main goal was to write a story that was both dark and haunting while still remaining fun and exciting. I hope readers will turn the last page dying to know more about the world and the characters and maybe a bit more interested in Las Vegas and poker, both of which have fascinating histories beyond what most people think of them.

Who are your favorite characters in the story?  

Of course, I have to say that my favorite is Trent, the protagonist and Luckiest Man Alive. The entire novel stemmed from a character idea I came up with years ago that would eventually become Trent. But I also have a special place in my heart for a lesser character in the first book named Snake. As I prepare to launch the second book, I’m realizing that it introduces one of my favorite characters of all time, a woman named Fiamma who is mentioned briefly in the first book but never makes an appearance. I can’t wait for readers to tell me what they think of her.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

I’ve always been partial to the comment that Ramón, a fallen angel, makes to Trent on the very last line of Chapter 20: “You know, Trent, there’s a big difference between falling and flying. When you’re flying, you’re the one in control, even if you’re going straight fucking down.”

Ramón is not the cleanest-mouthed of characters, but I’ve always liked that sentiment, and I don’t really know where the line came from. It just sort of came out of his mouth as I was winging my way through that conversation. And coming from a fallen angel gives it an interesting double meaning that I love.

If your current release were to be turned into a movie, who would you love to see play what characters and why?

Oh, man. This is a game I’ve played for years, ever since I started writing the first book. At this point, half the actors and actresses I had slated to play the various characters are too old or don’t look the same anymore. But here goes, anyway: I’ve always thought of Trent as a bit like Clive Owen, especially the character he played in Children of Men. From day one, Snake has been Steve Buscemi, no question. I’ve long pictured Ramón as Danny Trejo, though I’m not sure Trejo’s acting style would work right for the character. Lately, I’m favoring a blonde Anne Hathaway as Susan, but my image of Susan changes daily. Chloe Moretz is my current favorite for Celia, hands-down.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?

I love the autonomy – you only have yourself to impress at first – and the chance to create strange new worlds that open up as the reader dives deeper. I think there’s something truly magical about that process and the way the writer connects to the reader through the telling.

Your least favorite aspects of writing?

Bad-chair backaches and realizing that you have just completely written yourself down a rat hole and you need to cross all that out and start again. It’s a terrible feeling every time, but it’s the only way to the really good stuff.

Who are some of your favorite authors/books?

Neil Gaiman always ranks at the top of my list. I’ll read anything he writes, draws, or tweets. His Sandman series, in a lot of ways, defined how I think about storytelling. Beyond Gaiman, I really loved China Mieville’s The Scar and his more recent Embassytown. Like most everyone, I’m partial to the Harry Potter series if for no other reason than it’s a great example of telling a good story with immensely-relatable characters.

What are you reading right now?

I always have several books started at once. At the moment, my nightstand holds Mike Carey’s Dead Men’s Boots, a shorts collection called Las Vegas Noir, Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas, and The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?

Having Neil Gaiman come over and espouse his thoughts on storytelling and myth would be a huge blast. To amp that up, I’d also include Joseph Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Warren Ellis (because you need someone with a sharp tongue), and Douglas Adams. That’s a lot of folks from the UK, so I suppose we’d have to do a traditional English feast and then top it all off with absinthe.

What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

Without a doubt, Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Not only is he a great writer, but also he did something amazing with Hyperion. He manages to take Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and re-imagine it as science fiction, in a wholly original sci-fi universe. It never loses sight of the best things about sci-fi novels, but manages to achieve a literary quality that is unmatched by most in that field. Some of the pilgrims’ stories made me laugh out loud, some made me grin at the badass action, and at least one chapter made me cry on an airplane. It’s not just a good book. It’s an achievement.

What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

I’ve heard it repeated all sorts of ways, by different folks, but it’s become something of a personal mantra to me: You make luck by putting yourself in a position to be lucky. Too many people sit around hoping something good will happen to them. Others work and work and work but aren’t really doing things that put them in the right place. Do it right, and people will think you’re just incredibly lucky, even though secretly you’ve worked hard to make it that way.

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