Into the WEST with Edith Pattou- OAAA 2018

April 13, 2018     erinthebooknut     Interview, OAAA


Edith Pattou is the author of Ghosting, a contemporary novel for young adults, told in free verse. She also wrote three award-winning fantasy novels for young adults – East, a retelling of the Norwegian folk tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” and the two Songs of Eirren, Hero’s Song and Fire Arrow. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling picture book, Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden.

She was born in Evanston, Illinois, grew up in Winnetka, and was a teenager in the city of Chicago where she attended Francis W. Parker School. She completed her B.A. at Scripps College in Claremont, California where she won the Crombie Allen Award for creative writing. She later completed a Masters degree in English Literature at Claremont Graduate School, followed by a Masters of Library and Information Science at UCLA.

She has worked for a medical association, a clothing boutique, a recording studio, the Playboy Foundation, a public television station, a school library, two public libraries, two advertising agencies, and two bookstores.

She has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, Durham, NC, Cambridge, England, Stockholm, Sweden, and currently resides with her husband, Charles, in Columbus, Ohio.


Hi Edith! It’s wonderful to have you back. What have you been up to since you were last on the blog?

Here are a few things I’ve been up to since last April, in semi-chronological order:

I visited a school in Virginia where I discovered that EAST has been on the 8th Grade curriculum for 15 years. Which blew my mind.

I lost my first editor on WEST (laid off), then lost my second (quit to become an agent) but finally wound up with the best editor EVER.

I traveled to NY, IL, D.C., CA, CO, MI, TN. KY, and FL. My OH friends complained that I was never home.

I helped pick out a wedding dress for my daughter!

I tried to meet a fainting goat but failed.

I went to the annual National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee and spent three days listening to amazing stories told by pros. I was in heaven.

I celebrated my remarkable mom’s 90th birthday.

I folded 35 white paper cranes. Only 965 to go. Before June 30! Did I mention that my daughter is getting married?!

I finished the first draft of a Work in Progress called Fainting Goats. Hoping to meet an actual fainting goat in 2018.

I found out that my new, best-ever editor loves all things Disney as much as I do!


2. Can you tell us a little bit about WEST?

WEST is the sequel to EAST, which was published 15 years ago (!!) but still, amazingly, attracts a loyal readership. WEST picks up three years after the end of EAST and chronicles a new quest for my indomitable heroine Rose, a quest which I like to think is both terrifying and romantic.


3. What was it like to revisit this world after so long away?

It was a blast! It felt like the best kind of reunion, hanging out with old, well-loved pals. I didn’t’ realize how much I’d missed Neddy and Rose and her white bear until I got to journey with them again. I also wouldn’t have predicted how many new things I would still learn about them all.


4. You’ve written in a couple of different genres, do you have a favorite?

I love things about each genre. I love the simple exactness of language in a picture book, like poetry. I love the sweeping scope of a layered quest tale with all the research and world-building that is involved. And I love the raw emotion and honesty of YA and Middle Grade contemporary fiction, driven by character and allowing for insight into the state of our current world.

But for me they all share the same thing–reaching in deep and finding the voice and heart of each character. For me voice is everything, no matter what genre you write in.


5. Is there a genre you would really like to try writing in that you haven’t yet?

Recently I’ve felt a desire to write a work of historical fiction set in Ireland. I spent a life-changing summer in Dublin when I was a teenager. The landscape and stories of that country left a huge imprint on me.


6. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

-I can do it absolutely anywhere. (favorite places: library, bed, coffee shop, top of a     mountain, shower)

-I can do it in my pjs.

-I get to do research into random, crazy things (like: spelunking, how goats react during a thunderstorm, medieval diapers, etc.).


7. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I am probably never not writing. Things are always swishing around in my brain. But I do like to read, travel, listen to music, take photos, play games, throw parties.


8. What are some books that have inspired you lately?

The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan – Funny, real, and set in one of my very favorite places (South Haven, MI)

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway – YA National Book Award winner, made me cry, but hopeful too.

Gentleman from Moscow by Amor Towles – An elegant, old-fashioned novel, well told.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo – Funny, touching tale of friendship, but also about loss and resilience.

Arcadia by Lauren Groff – Gorgeous language.

Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Scope Out and Craft Great Stories by Jack Gantos – Though geared to an Elementary/Middle School audience, this book has excellent writing tips for young and old, conveyed in Jack’s inimitable style.


9. What’s next for you this year?

  2. Fold paper cranes
  3. Go to three weddings, including my daughter’s!
  4. Launch WEST!


10. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

Just to say many thanks for including me in your blog for Ohio Author Month! Always a treat to visit. Happy reading!

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