Monday, 27 June 2016

Blogger Interview: Patricia Abbott

'Blogging has given me insight
into what people like to read'


© Polis Books
I remember my first acquaintance with Patti. It was towards the end of 2011. I had started visiting her blog Pattinase and reacting to her probing questions about books, films, and music. In those days I used to address her as "Ms. Abbott" out of respect, as we usually do in India. On November 5 that year, in response to my comment to her query—"What piece of music can bring you to tears?"—Patti wrote, "Just got The Mission from my library today. Please call me Patti, btw. Unless you prefer not to." Afterwards I wondered if I had offended her!

Nearly five years on, I continue to visit her eclectic blog and meet lots of interesting writers and bloggers, and read about some terrific books and films, often new to me.


Patricia Abbott needs no introduction. But it's customary to introduce a guest. She is the author of two riveting thrillers—her debut novel Concrete Angel, published in June 2015, and Shot in Detroit, released very recently. She has also written more than 100 stories in print, online, and in various anthologies, including Needle Mag, The Thrilling Detective, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, and ThugLit. In 2009, she won a Derringer Award for her story 'My Hero.' She is also the author of two ebooks of stories—Monkey Justice and Home Invasion.

Patti, who lives in Detroit, Michigan, talks about blogging over the past ten years and her latest novel Shot in Detroit.
 

© Polis Books
Patti, when and why did you start blogging? What is the one thing that you like about it?
I have been blogging for ten years. I like maintaining a community with readers and writers. Facebook serves that purpose now but ten years ago it did not. And blogs, perhaps, allow a closer relationship.

Your blog is like a major railway junction where other bloggers converge to discuss books and movies before exiting or taking the next blog train. How do you feel about the popularity of your blog?
My blog was much more that ten or even five years ago. I used to get several hundred visits a day. Now more like thirty or so. But I enjoy touching base with the people who still stop by. I feel like I have more in common with them than with many of my real life friends, who often don't read fiction and especially crime fiction.

Talking about popularity, can you take us through Friday's Forgotten Books, one of your most widely read and awaited columns?
This is now a many-years project. Most of the contributors have been with me for at least half a dozen years. I originally expected it to last a month or two. But most of the writers had been doing a similar project in written form before online communication began, so they were used to writing new reviews every week.
 


Do you see FFB as a melting pot of book cultures and reading habits? What motivates you to host the meme almost every Friday? 
I don't know how to define it. Most of the contributors come from a love of crime fiction or westerns. I think if I bowed out, someone else would take the reins. And that might happen 

Is noted author and fellow-blogger Bill Crider the oldest contributor to Forgotten Books?
Yes, Bill contributed a review the first week and every week since. Pretty amazing, right? I was shocked the second week when he did a second one. I never expected repeats!

You often pose interesting questions about books, films and music. For instance, on June 15 you asked, "Why didn't you finish the last book you didn't finish?" Where do these ideas come from?
My kids have always said I should host a talk show because I love asking questions. I love hearing about what people are reading in particular and seldom spend an evening without asking people I know who read that question. I am always surprised how rarely people ask me.


You have written dozens of short stories and authored two crime novels, Concrete Angel and Shot in Detroit. How has blogging influenced your writing of serious fiction?
I think it has given me insight into what people like best in books. More from reading of their blogs than what they say on mine. And their kind reactions to my stories and flash fiction challenges gave me the courage to try to write a novel.

Can you tell us what Shot in Detroit, your latest novel, is about?
It's about a female photographer, turning forty, who is fearful of never producing important work. It's also about the city she lives in, which is going through rough times. Detroit and the photographer come together in SID when she finds a project through her mortician boyfriend -filming the young black men who are dying in the city. This turns out to be a dangerous project.

If a third book is in the works—and I'm sure it is—what can your readers expect?
I have about 40 pages. Right now I am not sure if Violet Hart (the protagonist of Shot in Detroit) has a place in this story or not. I like the idea of writing about the rebirth of Detroit, so perhaps her rebirth and theirs will come together. 


“When I started my blog in many ways I was busier—with elderly parents, a day job, a grandson to sit a few days a week. But I was not busy with so much writing. And I do think the day of the blog
is ending. People can interact more easily on Facebook.”

How do you devote your time between blogging every day, working on your writing projects, and spending time with your family?
Right now, I am half-frantic about it. I came to this at a late age and the energy fades quickly. But when I compare my life to my daughter's (author Megan Abbott), I have it easy. She is finishing her ninth book, publicising her 8th, writing a TV show with David Simon et al (The Deuce), revising two scripts of her own for HBO (Dare Me) and TNT (The Fever), and writing newspaper and magazine articles. How would you like that schedule?

Do you have a fixed time for blogging? How many hours a week do you blog?
No. And I just can't give it the time I used to. When I started my blog in many ways I was busier—with elderly parents, a day job, a grandson to sit a few days a week. But I was not busy with so much writing. And I do think the day of the blog is ending. People can interact more easily on Facebook. If I pose a question there, I get dozens of responses. On my blog, just a few.


Have you ever felt like giving up blogging and reviewing, and devoting all your time to reading books?
No. I love to read but an hour or two a day is enough. I'd be more likely to see more movies. Travel more, spend more time with friends.

Finally, Patti, how has blogging benefited you, particularly your reading and writing?
Blogging has brought me many terrific friends. Friends I have enjoyed meeting in many cases. It has given me insight into what people like to read, what characters interest them, what kind of stories work best. But most of all, I'm in for the comradeship. Friends mean an awfully lot to me.


Thank you very much, Patti.

28 comments:

  1. Patti's blog has certainly been a nexus for bloggers. She does great stuff there.

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    1. A delightful nexus, Charles. She is always experiment with her blog posts.

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  2. Such a pleasure to see Patti here, Prashant! A wonderful meeting of two of my top blogging friends :-). I couldn't agree with you more, Patti, that blogging helps one tap into a community of like-minded friends. I, too, often feel I've got more in common with my friends in the blogosphere than I do with people I know in real life. And your blog is one of my top stops. I so much like the eclectic posts you share, as well as those questions you pose.

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    1. Thank you, Margot. Patti's blog has broadened my horizons vis-a-vis books and films, and there is just so much now to read and watch.

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  3. I'm a big fan of Patti's blog and writing. Cool to get to know her a little better here!

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    1. Thank you, Fleur. I'm looking forward to reading Patti's novels. I'm really glad to have met her through our blogs.

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  4. Thanks Prashant. So kind of you to invite me over.

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    1. Patti, you are most welcome. My pleasure!

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  5. I understand why Patti says she thinks blogs are on the way out, and the "advantages" of Facebook for visits, but for those of us who eschew social media such as Facebook and Twitter for various reasons, her blog is a mainstay.

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    1. Richard, my blog will always be the "mainstay" for me even though I post fewer reviews and that's only because I don't have the time. I like Facebook for spot entertainment and connecting with family and friends I rarely meet. Twitter gives me a broader horizon of news and views. I will get off social media the day it becomes a chore, a drag on my time.

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  6. This was fascinating - great questions and great answers. I visit occasionally at Patti's blog, and this makes me want to go more often.

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    1. Thank you, Moira. Patti's blog is definitely worth visiting. She poses interesting questions that makes me delightfully compelled to answer.

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  7. Nice interview Prashant. And Patti.

    I agree that blogging is probably on the way out but I value it much more than FB. It feels like the people who still bother to follow and comment at blogs are people who really care about whatever the blog subject is - responding to a FB post or question is easy, responding to a blog post less so. I really enjoy all of Patti's questions and the array of answers that get posted.

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    1. Thank you, Bernadette. I agree with you about the joy and satisfaction of blogging, and visiting other blogs, compared to writing on Facebook. Blogging, including commenting on other blogs, requires some thought. On the other hand, flippancy is usually the norm on Fb.

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  8. The talented Patti is an inspiration to us all! Thanks Prashant - well, have to get this one now!

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    1. You are welcome, Sergio. Patti is an inspiration and very supportive of bloggers and the blogging movement.

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  9. Prashant – An excellent interview. Patti is one of the main reasons I wanted to join this blogging community. BTW – I hope she is wrong about the end of blogging. Heck, I just got here.

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    1. Thank you, Elgin. I am sure Patti will be blogging for a long time. I have "met" some very interesting writers and bloggers on her blog. She does hold us all together.

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  10. Great questions, Prashant! And Pattie poses great questions on her blog. Glad to know more about Patti and her writing. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you, Oscar. I'm fascinated by people's reading and writing habits, which is the reason I enjoy reading "Writer at Work" in The Paris Review.

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  11. Great interview, Patti and Prashant. I agree with Elgin, I will be sad if blogging goes away. I have not experienced facebook so can't comment on the difference of the experience, but blogging is fun for me and a connection to other readers of crime fiction.

    Patti's Forgotten Friday Books posts is a wonderful avenue to discover books and other book lovers.

    I haven't read Patti's 2nd book...it is toward the top of my TBR pile. But I did read Concrete Angel and it was not just a great debut novel but a wonderful and moving story.

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    1. Thank you, Tracy. Interviews are only as good as the voice of the interviewees and Patti, and Margot and Moira before her, have been forthright and insightful. I enjoy doing interviews with writers and authors. While I have been active on Facebook for a little over a year now, I feel more committed to blogging, mainly because of the serious intent of my posts. I am on Facebook for the sheer fun of it. I write about books and films there, too, but not in the way I write about them on my blog.

      I need to get back to reviewing books for FFB. I do miss it.

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  12. Much enjoyed this interview, Prashant. I relatively new to Patti's blog, and my fascination for her--to know more about her--has grown steadily since I started (before that all I knew of her was her name as I'd seen it mentioned now and again on Ed Gorman's blog). You've just moved me ahead in my quest to know more about Patti exponentially. Thank you, sir!

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    1. Thank you, Mathew. I appreciate your kind words. Patti keeps the rest of us engaged through her diverse posts and posers. You never know what interesting things she comes up with next.

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  13. Prashant, you have to explore a new career as an interviewer! This was a masterful and insightful conversation with Patti! Well done!

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    1. Thank you, George. Very kind of you. Thirty years of being a journalist has paid off! Of course, I interviewed a lot of people, mostly politicians and businessmen, during all those years. I'm now a content writer for a PR consultancy.

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  14. Cheers to both. I used to visit Patti's blog years ago and think I posted the odd time on FFB, but kind of got waylaid and sidetracked over the years.
    Time to re-immerse myself!

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    1. Thank you, Col. I haven't been reviewing books for FFB for a while now. While I read books I don't have much time to review them as I used to earlier.

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