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Author Showcase

WINTER 2008 FEATURED AUTHOR PATRICK MADER

RT: Congratulations on the success of your children's picture books, Opa and Oma Together and Oma Finds a Miracle. Opa and Oma Together, your first book, is going to a third printing later this year. What do you think has been the biggest contributor to the growing interest in your books?

Patrick: I believe that they are timeless stories. Since I try to present at as many libraries and schools as possible to share the book, it no longer surprises me how many people claim to have a background similar to what is depicted in our books. With small, diverse farms disappearing from our landscape, I also think that people enjoy the nostalgic feel to Opa & Oma Together and enjoy the strength of both the human and animal spirit in Oma Finds a Miracle.

RT: The story about how Opa and Oma Together came to be is wonderful, and reflects how much our kids listen to what we say. Can you tell us a little bit about how your daughter Ellen inspired you to create the book?

Patrick: Ellen was selected to attend a Young Writer’s Conference in Rochester, Minnesota, when she was ten yearsold. When she got home, she excitedly told our family about the experience and announced that she would like to be an illustrator and author when she grew up. Two years later she still had that ambition; and when I expressed my desire to someday write a book, she asked what the story plot would be. I said that my parents' -- her grandparents’ -- lives on the farm would be a story worth telling. The story would share how they taught lessons not only to us, but now also to the grandchildren. A month later we celebrated Christmas. She gave me two drawings of her grandparents doing what they love: her grandmother was making a quilt and her grandfather was hauling a load of hay. It was a simple, heartfelt gift that touched me. I was determined to make her gift propel me to write the book. I wrote it the next month, in January.

RT: Now that you have achieved your initial goal — keep a promise to your daughter and write a book — do you have new goals?

Patrick: Absolutely, yes! One of my goals will be realized in March—I will be a presenter at a Young Writer’s Conference like the one Ellen attended! I also have ideas for several more books I would like to see to fulfillment. All of them have a rural setting and positive messages. I would like to continue to present programs at schools, libraries, conferences, and to service organizations.

RT: Is Ellen still interested in becoming an author? Does she share your passion for children's picture books or is there a different genre that inspires her passion?

Patrick: Ellen is a curious and talented girl. She is also now a teenager. Her preference is leaning toward some sort of design work. However, she is in an advanced English and writing class at high school and I am very impressed with her skill. Ellen puts a lot of feeling into her writing. She’s way ahead of where I was in the writing field at her age.

RT: In a recent interview on BlogTalk Radio (December 2007), you mentioned that you have ideas for eight books. Do you ever see yourself collaborating with Ellen?

Patrick: I doubt it. For one thing, Ellen needs to be her own person and carry her own writing style and illustrating. But I do intend to use an event of her childhood for the fourth book! I still wonder how it will be received by Ellen since it uses some of her silly toddler sayings.

RT: You have said that one of the things you liked about Oma Finds a Miracle is that it gave you the opportunity to honor and celebrate the hard work and dedication of farm wives. There are few books that recognize the farm heroines, who were as much part of the farm as the other family members. Why do you think that is? Are there other heroine stories you want to tell?

Patrick: Thank you for recognizing the great effort and nurturing life of farm women. Often, as a child raised on a farm, I watched and admired the work of neighboring women, my aunts, and my mother. They juggled a tremendous workload while still being wonderful caregivers. Perhaps they are not featured as much because they weren’t as visible with the “farm” work. Sadly, consistent love and work that is the “glue” of farm life is sometimes overlooked because it is not as glamorous as operating a big machine or delivering newborn animals. At this time I am satisfied with Oma Finds a Miracle achieving my goal of writing a tribute to farm women. None of the books in the planning stage will focus on that subject.

RT: Not only are your stories set in the northern Heartland, but your "book cast" is there, too. Your illustrator is from your hometown, and your editor and publisher are also nearby. Did you plan to "stay local" for the process?

Patrick: Yes, I did want to stay local in an effort to form personal relationships with the illustrator, designer, editor, publisher, and even the printer. The relationships continue to pay dividends — I appreciate considering some of them as friends, particularly the illustrator, Andrew Holmquist. He is a very talented young man with a good sense of humor and a wonderful spirit. Kellie Hultgren and Catherine Friend have been superb editors whose advice I value. Milt Adams of Beaver’s Pond Press has been very honest and supportive. At one time it was suggested that the books be printed overseas as a cost saving measure. I was thrilled when a printing company located in Mankato, Minnesota, made a competitive bid and I would not be contributing to outsourcing.

RT: Do you think staying local contributed to your success? In your BlogTalk Radio interview (December 2007), you commented that marketing is such a big part of becoming successful. Does working with local companies help with promoting your work [or is it neutral or negative]? Is it something you'd encourage other writers to do?

Patrick: There may be a slight advantage to staying local because I am able to meet the editor and publisher personally when the need may arise. If my books are successful it also raises their profile locally for business purposes. Every person will find what they are comfortable doing and many writers have distant editors and publishers but probably have frequent communication via e-mail or telephone which narrows my advantage. I simply like the personal touch and I am not disappointed in the route I chose.

RT: In addition to being a children's book author, you are a sixth grade teacher. We often read/hear that the "drop-out" rate for readers in this age group is fairly precipitous. Do you find that to be true with your students?

Patrick: Most teachers will agree that too many families are fragmented and dysfunctional. If children are not read to in their early years, they do often do not develop a love of reading. Even children who listened to many stories and like reading, now have many distractions and other activities competing for their time: sports, arts, video games, etc. Sometimes a simpler lifestyle would lessen stress and offer more time for a relaxing activity like reading. So, yes, there are fewer students that read independently than a decade or two ago. Yet students are very attentive when I read books aloud to them at school. The right books need to be chosen and the reader must put forth energy and spirit in his/her voice, but there is still interest. I have hope that most students will still enjoy reading.

RT: A number of years ago you stepped away from teaching to work in business. Looking back, do you think the experiences from your office job have helped you in managing the "business" side of being a published author.

Patrick: Yes, in a few ways. My jobs were often writing letters and business reports related to customer service. The business field required me to document in detail. Reporting and writing information forced me to improve my written and verbal communication skills with people in a variety of professions. The organizations that have hosted a program at which I have presented have been very complimentary about our communication throughout the process of arranging an event. Finally, the individual who has done our taxes since we added the writing business likes how I organize and present the necessary data!

Reading Tub: You are currently working on your third book, Big Brother Has Wheels. This book will expand your series beyond just your parents. Does this book draw on your childhood or the interests of your siblings? Do any of your eight ideas build on the lives of your six brothers and sisters? Patrick: I was very fortunate to have a big brother who was truly brotherly in every positive meaning of the word. Jim loved machines and wheels and took the six brothers and sisters many places that we had been unable to go due daily farmwork. Big Brother Has Wheels is a story about a boy who goes beyond the comfortable boundaries of a farm or neighborhood or town and then shares what he learns. The learning continues for a lifetime. As previously mentioned, the fourth book is born from our daughter Ellen’s childhood. Another book idea is about a runaway boy—a misadventure of my own! The only other current book idea involving my siblings also involves their children gathering for days of fun and excitement at a Cousin Camp. But more may spring up!!!

Reading Tub: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Patrick:
Thank you for the opportunity to share the history and experiences of my books. Best wishes to Reading Tub and thank you for helping develop future readers.

Website: http://www.patrickmader.com




                 

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