A Variety of Voices
Profile by Jane Ledwell
Patti Larsen hears voices—and they tell her to write books. When she sold her successful salon business to become a full-time writer, Patti not only remade her life and career—she placed herself on the forefront of remaking the publishing industry, as an independent writer and publisher. From her PEI home, Patti has 23 books on the market and dozens more to come to satisfy readers across North America and around the world. “At the end of this year, I’ll have 30 books out and will be able to slow down,” she says seriously.
In her childhood, Patti and her family were avid but picky readers. “When I was twelve, I had been reading hard-core sci-fi and fantasy—heroic fantasy, giant epic stuff,” she smiles. “When I read my first YA [young adult] novel, a Nancy Drew book, I closed the last page and knew I could do that.” She lost that memory until adulthood when her niece shared a copy of Harry Potter. “Snobby me, I thought, that’s a kids’ book,” Patti laughs. But by the end of the book, she knew her childhood conviction that she could write YA fiction had returned. Bigtime.
Creative projects were always a part of Patti’s life. “There was a point I had improv and books and movies and songwriting. But books were really calling me,” she says. More than books in general, a character in particular was calling. Her name was Sydlynn Hayle, and Syd was—and is—“very demanding.”
Within days of finishing Harry Potter, Patty recalls, Syd “woke me up at 2:30 in the morning, saying, ‘Get up get up get up! Write this down: My mom’s a witch, my dad’s a demon, and I just want to be ordinary.’” Patti is now eight books into the Hayle Coven series; all 20 books of the series are outlined.
“It was awesome right from the beginning,” Patti says—though even now when she is trying to finish up other books, she says, “Syd badgers me constantly.”
So do readers—and Patti is “so grateful… They love Syd, and they love my writing,” she beams.
As an independent publisher, Patti is in charge of the production schedule, and she has promised readers Book 20 by next September… “but it will be finished sooner,” she says. “I have to force myself to take breaks from Syd… She’s the first YA character who came to me… She’s a fictional character, but even readers talk about her being real. I’m okay with that. She has stories to tell,” Patti says.
“I feel like my readers are this amazing family gathered around this incredible work,” Patti says. As a reader, “You feel like you’re in the know, you’re part of something special. There’s an emotional connection—something we don’t get enough in the real world.”
It’s personally gratifying, too. “I feel like I’m building a family of people who ‘get’ my brain… They are such fabulous people. They look to me for a sliver of joy.”
Patti says, “I’m all about entertainment. I want to connect people with characters,” but the secret to succeeding in this new world of publishing: “producing more content.”
Quality matters—but so does variety. Patti says, “You may have a bakery that makes the best cookies in the world, and people will come from all over to buy those cookies. But people will get sick of even the best cookies in the world.” They’ll go looking for donuts, Patti says—so the key for Patti is more content and more variety.
While YA paranormal series are her cookies, she writes other sub-genres—steampunk and thrillers and dystopian and more—to fill the bakery shelves. “You pick one thing and get really good at it,” Patti says. “And then pick another thing.”
Patti’s projects for the next while will remain focused on young adult themes. “I have adult book ideas, but they are silent at the moment,” she notes. “The teenagers [in her head] are like, me me me me me.” And some ideas are on hold until Syd is quiet—though Patti admits, “I already have whispers from her kids.”