MALL: AUTHOR Q&A with Pattie Palmer-Baker #interview

Today's guest is dystopian author, Pattie Palmer-Baker, author of Mall. We're happy to have him her today to talk about her book, writing and what surprised her about getting her book published. 


 
Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Years ago, when a city planner friend and I were discussing radical arrangements for a city, he mentioned residences could be grouped around malls. I wondered out loud, what if they lived inside malls? The idea for some reason stirred my imagination. I kept thinking about it. What would life be like in a mall? I soon discovered I could only go so far with thinking. I had to write to develop to expand my vision into a fully developed alternate world.

Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Del Sol Press published Mall. I entered their contest for the most promising book of the year and won first prize (2017). I can’t remember where I found the site.

Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Winning the contest shocked me! For a long time, I didn’t even consider publication. I was writing to find out what happened next. 

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

 The cover for Mall is very important to me because I am a visual artist. Robert Sanders, Professional Photographer and Designer and I designed the cover to fit the mood of the book.

How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Writing is hard for me…very hard. I had to write and rewrite over and over; in fact, I am in the midst of rewriting this interview. I kept at Mall because I wanted to know how the story ended. After I won the prize, I confess I balked when the editor wanted some major changes, but I soon realized how valuable her edits were. My advice? A writer needs to be committed to what he/she is writing. And, above all, listen to the editor!
Also, to create an alternate world, a writer needs to make sure everything is consistent and makes sense. For example, the residents of Mall do not know how to read. I had to make sure all references to reading and writing were omitted.

What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

Not a novel. I continue creating artwork and writing poems. I recently finished a poetry chapbook and hope to get it published. I do publish in poetry journals and recently won first, second and the Bivona prize for my poetry entries in the 2019 Ageless Author’s Contest.

What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

It took twenty years to complete, not that I worked on it continually. I would stop and concentrate on art or poetry – sometimes for years – and then the story would call me back.


Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

Not a message but rather questions to consider. As a former counselor, I am deeply interested in close relationships – how difficult they can be, how much suffering they can cause. Are close friends and lovers worth the suffering? Or are appearance, pleasure and success more satisfying goals? More straightforward? Are the rules easier to follow? What if you lived in a society where these goals were not only easily attainable, but all the messiness of intimate friendships was eliminated? What if nonaddictive drugs could eliminate unpleasant, in fact any deep emotion, and violence was almost unheard of? What if employment was guaranteed, although your occupation was decided for you? What if the birth rate could be kept stable, although through controlled parental selection?
Would this be a paradise or a dystopia?


About the Author


Pattie Palmer-Baker

Pattie Palmer-Baker is a recognized award-winning artist and poet. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout the Pacific Northwest. Locally and nationally she has won numerous awards for her art and poetry.

An accomplished poet, Pattie had been nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in many journals including Calyx, Voicecatcher, Military Experience the Arts, Minerva Rising and Phantom Drift. In 2017 she earned first prize in the Write to Publish contest, and in 2019 she won first, second, and the Bivona prize in the Ageless Poetry contest.  She has served as the poetry co-editor for VoiceCatcher: a journal of women's voices and visions.

Del Sol Press awarded MALL first prize for the most promising first novel in 2017.

Pattie lives in Portland, Oregon with her beloved husband and rescued dachshund.

Her website is www.pattiepalmerbaker.com/.

You can follow her at Facebook at https://tinyurl.com/yykrz36e.


About the Book:


Title: MALL
Author: Pattie Palmer-Baker
Publisher: Del Sol Press
Pages: 272
Genre: Dystopian

BOOK BLURB:
A Novel by Pattie Palmer-Baker Winner of the Del Sol Most Promising Novel, 2017

MALL is a sparkling alternate world where everyone is beautiful, employed with enough income to consume and to experience a myriad of pleasures including drugs, gambling, theater, holographic adventures. No poverty and little or no crime. A lot of sex.

But what about the Mall Code? And what happens when Sara, a 21st century woman, accidentally finds her way into this alien yet familiar world? Nona, a MALL mental health practitioner treats Sara upon her arrival and goes against the Code to help her acclimate. Sara seems to be just what she needs, an antidote to Nona’s secret and growing boredom.

At first Sara desperately wants to get home, and, as she seeks a way out as well as answers about her new reality, Nona begins to see MALL in a new light. Is abundant gratification enough?

Things aren’t all beauty and pleasure. Sara experiences dancing in a dangerous orgiastic dance club on a lower level. She attends a gambling session where people bet on living more years when their “number’s up” and a “passing ceremony,” where Mallites are supposedly resurrected into a new life. 

Junkers, outsiders lurking on the fringes of MALL, have been fighting Mall Management’s control by creating increasingly dangerous disturbances. For years they have struggled to discover an exit, based on rumors of those who made it Outside and were never heard from again. Through them Sara and Nona meet someone who might help them escape. They both must make the choice that will change their lives forever.

Who will risk leaving and who will decide to stay?

MALL by Pattie Palmer-Baker was recently published by Del Sol Press and winner of the Del Sol Press Most Promising Book, 2017.
          ISBN: 978-0-9998425-5-3.


PRAISE:

What a suspenseful journey Mall was—a real "page-turner"-  imaginative with firm command of psychological expression and dialogue! Pattie Palmer-Baker captures some of the sexual contradictions, insecurities, and darker motivations of her female characters, and the complex relationships between women. The "surface" allusions to sex and violence throughout the story line work well with the superficial world she describes. Sex all the time—and yet, really, not much explicit writing about actual sexual encounters—the same for violence. This tension of content and form works well for me. What gives pleasure? What gives pain? The many hallways and mirrored rooms give the setting a creepy fun-house effect and increase the sense of a closed world and claustrophobic doom. Her descriptions of the Mallites' physical appearances and their individual choice of costume in this strange place is creative—a breath of lightness in this frank examination of our quandary about the meaning of freedom in an existential existence. What is real? I was "on the run" with Sara for the entire read! And what a turn at the end!
-- Cathy Cain, Portland poet and artist

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