Jacob Paul Patchen falls into the category (like many other authors) of people I’ve “met” on social media but have never seen in person. But it’s pretty safe to say that he and I would have a lot to chat about if our paths actually crossed. One case in point: he writes across multiple genres. And the second one? “His books often reflect on real-life experiences, examine what makes us who we are, and inspire good intentions.” Real-life experiences are what make for rich, diverse writing, and I think his readers would agree that he’s met his goal of writing “books with a purpose.” Also like so many other authors I speak with, Jacob is insanely busy, so I’m so thankful that he had time to answer a few questions.
Jacob: Thank you! Well, one is the first book of a children’s picture series, and the other is a MG fiction novel about a war in America and a boy who fights back. Each book is the first I’ve written for those age groups, so it was a fresh experience for both. There’s actually about a three-year difference between the two books (picture book series, then MG fiction). So, for me, anyway, I can see a huge difference in growth as a writer. But they still have a humorous flavor, which is a common style for my writing. But above all else—they each have a purpose, as I intend all of my books to have.
Christina: You write YA, middle grade, and adult fiction, along with creative nonfiction and poetry—so pretty much everything. Does one genre call to you over the other? How do you decide which genre will suit a particular story?
Jacob: Great question! I’ve been writing poetry ever since I was a dirty-faced, muddy-boots, twelve-year-old tree-climber. So, I think it calls to me the most. Fiction is actually rather new for me, but I’m quickly becoming one helluva fan. I think the story picks its own genre as the idea unfolds and the characters become alive. The genre is something I usually think about after I’ve already let the story start to develop.
Christina: Your biography at Amazon describes you as a “strong advocate for love, family, and laughter.” Do those themes run throughout your body of work? What makes them so attractive to you?
Jacob: Oh, man. I hope they do. Those themes have been such a big part of my life and what makes me who I am as a person and as a writer, and I hope to never leave them out of a story. Truth is, none of my success would have been possible without the love, support, and humor of my family.
Christina: Spending six years in the military can certainly teach you a few things, at the very least. What would you consider the most important thing you learned from your time in Iraq?
Jacob: I think a couple big concepts bubbled to the surface while serving in the marines and in Iraq. #1. Everything happens for a reason. I swear by it. There’s a substantially long list of events I can readily recall that I’m certain shepherded me to where I am today. Some were horribly painful, but necessary for growth. Others were blissfully enlightening, and gave me the strength and wisdom to keep going. The truth is, we’re always right where we need to be at the moment in order to get to where we’re going. #2. It’s the little things in life—like the sparkle of the sun off your hometown lake, the crackle of a campfire and cackling laughter of your friends and family, or simply, the freedom to make your own choices—that make life worth living. I came out of Iraq with a great appreciation for the “little things” and a huge desire to live my best life—even if that meant facing my fears and insecurities head on.
Christina: On your website you write that “he still holds onto his youthful spirit, stubborn ways, and desire to make people feel.” What benefit does “feeling” have? Why do you hold onto that desire so much?
Jacob: Feeling is knowing that you are alive. What better way to experience life than to feel it? We are emotional creatures—we understand sadness, happiness, love, and fear—we evaluate these feelings down to their very fiber and atom. I think that being able to inspire others to feel an emotion you want them to feel as a writer is such a rewarding and powerful thing. I hope that I can continue to stir enough emotion in my readers to propel them to make a difference or to do something better.
Christina: If you couldn’t write, what other creative endeavor might you take up?
Jacob: It sure as hell wouldn’t be singing or painting (I was not blessed with either skill). But I think I would find a way to help others through creative problem solving, adventure, and laughter.
Christina: Do you know if any of the babysitters you used to torment have read your work? What do you think they’d say about it?
Jacob: Considering the numerous amounts of brave, willing souls who embarked on that endeavor—babysitting me and my brothers—I believe the odds are in favor of some of them reading my work. Actually, now that I really think about it, I’ve had quite a few babysitters comment about my first book, Life Lessons from Grandpa and His Chicken Coop: A Playful Journey Through Some Serious Sh*t, because they explicitly remember that wild child who is heartily represented in that book. Honestly, I think they would be proud that all their hard work and gray hairs have amounted to something more than just a rotten, ornery, stubborn heathen of a boy who would wildly jump up and down on the couch repeatedly yelling, “I don’t care if I get another pankin’!”
Thanks to Jacob for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.