Saturday, March 14, 2009

Author Q&A with Joe Nick Patoski, author of "Willie Nelson: An Epic Life"

Joe Nick Patoski is the author of "Willie Nelson: An Epic Life," Little Brown (497 pages) published April 2008, trade paperback out this April. Joe Nick Patoski has authored and co-authored biographies on Selena and Stevie Ray Vaughan and the coffeetable books Texas Mountains, Texas Coast, and Big Bend National Park, all published by the University of Texas Press. A former staff writer for Texas Monthly, he has written for the National Geographic, People magazine, Field & Stream, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and others. In 2003-4, he recorded the oral histories of B.B. King, Clarence Fountain of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Memphis musician and producer Jim Dickinson, Tejano superstar Little Joe Hernandez, and 15 other subjects for the Voice of Civil Rights oral history project, some of which appeared in the book My Soul Looks Back in Wonder by Juan Williams, published by Sterling, and rode on the The Voices of Civil Rights bus tour, a 70 day journey across the nation where personal oral histories on civil rights were collected for the Library of Congress.
How did you get your start in writing? Getting good grades in junior high English composition inspired me.
What does your writing routine look like? Ugly. My desk and office are perpetual messes. I try to write in the morning, but my main inspiration is the deadline.
Tell us some writers whose work you admire and why. Nick Tosches, Lester Bangs, Paul Theroux, mainly because they think outside the box and are interesting to read regardless of whether or not I care about the subjects they write about.
What are you working on next?A history of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, which is my museum, having attended pre school classes there as a four year old.
Why do you like writing non-fiction? Why mess with fiction when real life is this bizarre?
What challenges did you face with this book? With the Willie book, the main challenge was figuring out the story because Willie moved around a lot, and separating fact from fiction, since so much of his story is steeped in legend.
What advice would you have for other writers/would-be writers? Write. The best way to figure out how to do it is to keep doing it. I also keep close the advice my editor at Texas Monthly, Greg Curtis, used to impart: Write it like you talk it.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: J. Louise Larson, blogmistress for The Writing Porch, interviews published authors. To be considered, email her at jackielarsonwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. Larson's work has been published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Dallas Morning News and Entrepreneur Magazine. She is the managing editor of the Ennis Journal and a contributor at the Waxahachie Daily Light, and she has received the top award for series writing in Texas, the Texas APME, as well as a silver from the Parenting Publications of America. She co-authored a nonfiction career guide for FabJob Publishing in 2006, and is seeking representation for her new novel, 'At High Tide.'

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