Today, we have miles of hoorays for Patrick Downes and Ten Miles One Way, out now from Philomel/Penguin!
Nest and Q walk through the city. Nest speaks and Q listens. Mile by mile, Nest tells Q about her life, her family, her past . . . and her Chimaera, the beast that preys on her mind and causes her to lose herself. Q knows only that his love for Nest runs deeper than the demon that plagues her thoughts, that he loves her in spite of—or perhaps because of—the personal battle she fights every day.
Welcome, Patrick! So, tell us . . .
What was the spark that ignited this book?
I’m not sure there was any one idea. I’m a walker, a city kid originally, and I’ve known more than one person who walks when their mind is all fire. The city in this book is imaginary, the characters, too, but the feelings are true.
What’s your writing superpower?
Wow. I wish I had a superpower. Is there a mutant with an uncanny ability to understand the marketplace?
Ha! Wouldn't that be nice? :) Tell us about your writing community.
Some people write and think entirely or mostly alone, without much camaraderie. Some writers don’t talk much about their work or what they fear, loathe, love, avoid, or take on. What’s wonderful about VCFA is the promise of community and mutual support, if and when a writer needs it. I’m one who doesn’t think to go to others with my work, my rough ideas and drafts, my untested ideas, or even for an encouraging chat. Maybe it’s shyness. Maybe it’s process. Maybe it’s extreme introversion. Maybe it’s something even more mundane. One thing is certain, though, which is that even the most solitary writer may just need, one day, someone to talk to, to sit down with, if only to say, “This is hard, right?”
Agreed. What unusual swag do you wish you could make for this book?
A pair of sensible walking shoes, with good arch support, plenty of room for the toes, and a sturdy sole, or a model of the Millennium Falcon in a bottle.
Who were your advisors at VCFA?
My advisors for my mere two semesters in the WCYA program—I split my degree with the Other Program—were Alan Cumyn and Julie Larios. Lucky, lucky, lucky me.
What advice would you give to an incoming student?
Try to write everything, long and short fiction, poetry, picture books, YA, MG, early readers, everything. And leave all your notions of what you imagine you are as a writer at the door. Let yourself grow without worrying over what exactly you’re supposed to grow into.
How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?
Somehow, I became a writer for younger readers. I had a quiet hope inside me to find a way someday to write picture books and YA novels—I find the middle grade work elusive—but I never imagined I would publish there first. Go figure. VCFA-WCYA gave me a career I never imagined.
Thanks so much for chatting, Patrick. Welcome home, Ten Miles One Way!
Patrick was born and raised in NYC, but splits his now time between the U.S. and Canada. Ten Miles One Way is his second YA novel. He’s also the author of the picture book, Come Home, Angus (Scholastic).
To learn more about VCFA's other programs, visit vcfa.edu.