Jan 13, 2012

Friday's Highlight: The Hunter Chronicles, E. J. Patten, & GIVEAWAY!

     Today, we've got an awesome author interview (both the interview and the author are awesome) and a giveaway, The Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Martha's bookshelf (the giveaway details are at the end of this post).
     Return to Exile is author Eric (E. J.) Patten's clever, suspenseful, and thrill-filled debut novel, first in the middle-grade series, The Hunter Chronicles. The second installation, The Legend Thief, is due out Sept. 18, 2012!
(From Goodreads)
Eleven years ago, a shattered band of ancient hunters captured an unimaginable evil and Phineas T. Pimiscule rescued his nephew, Sky, from the wreckage of that great battle. For eleven years, Sky Weathers has studied traps, puzzles, science, and the secret lore of the Hunters of Legend, believing it all a game. For eleven years, Sky and his family have hidden from dark enemies while, unbeknownst to Sky, his uncle Phineas sacrificed everything to protect them. For eleven years, Sky Weathers has known nothing of that day. But on the eve of Sky’s twelfth birthday and his family’s long-awaited return to Exile, everything changes. Phineas has disappeared, and Sky finds himself forced to confront the mysterious secrets he’s denied for so long: why did his family leave Exile on that day so long ago? What, exactly, has Phineas been preparing him for? And, the biggest mystery of all, who is Sky really and why does everyone want to kill him?!
     As you can see, John Rocco, of Percy Jackson fame did the cover, and also the inside, spot illustrations. Local Provo fantasy artist Jeff Brimely has also done a few concept illustrations that can be found on Eric's blog (here & here, so far) and on merchandise in the Hunter Chronicles store!

from The Hunter Chronicles book 2, The Legend Thief
(Can you tell I'm excited?)
 Interview with author Eric (E. J.) Patten

Have you been listening to music while writing The Hunter Chronicles?
If so, what songs and artists? (What is The Hunter Chronicles playlist or what would it be?)
I always listen to music when I write. In fact, I’m listening to Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes right now! My playlist is eclectic—a word that means “eccentric” and “electric”. Okay, it doesn’t mean that, but my playlist is still that word, regardless. I wrote Return to Exile and The Legend Thief (Book 2) while listening to Coldplay, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Beck, Carl Orff, The White Stripes, Tom Waits, Yael Naim, Saint-Saens, Rush, and a number of others. But the song that I associate most with Return to Exile is Uprising by Muse. For The Legend Thief, I drew a lot from Learning to Fly, On the Turning Away, and Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.

What has it been like, working with John Rocco for the illustrations of The Hunter Chronicles?
What kind of input are you able to have as an author and how do you feel about Rocco's representations of your story?
It’s funny; I’ve only had one email exchange with John. Outside of that, we’ve never talked. John worked primarily with Simon & Schuster’s exceptional art director, Laurent Linn, to create the covers and the internal illustrations. I just got the cover art for The Legend Thief yesterday and it is AMAZING! I’ve never seen anything like it before!
Choosing an illustrator was a joint decision and I was ecstatic that we were able to get John involved. He’s produced some of my favorite covers of all time and attracting his interest was a big coup. But my input into the actual illustrations is fairly limited (read this as virtually non-existent). Despite that, John has taken what I envisioned and given it life. He’s gone beyond what I imagined. I’m very happy with the way things have worked out.

Which of The Hunter Chronicles beasties is your favorite (in a creator-of-the-beastie sort of way) and why?
I love that you use the word “beasties.” I’m guessing that’s a reference to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series? I’m finishing Goliath right now. Very cool, and he uses that word all over the place.
My favorite creation in Return to Exile is probably the Jack. Gourds the size of houses, a leafy canopy that stretches out for miles, and a giant jack-o-lantern head that shoots boron-burning flames—that’s just cool. I also love the idea of the symbiotic relationship between the Jack and the Dovetail. The Jack produces boron. The Dovetail eats boron to grow bigger. The bigger the Dovetail grows, the less likely it is that the Jack will ever escape the Dovetail. The Jack has built its own prison.

In your first blog post, you mentioned that you pitched The Hunter Chronicles to Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B. Any more news on that?
They passed.
Fortunately, Shawn Levy, who directed/produced the Night at the Museum movies, showed some real interest in Return to Exile and took it to Fox. Unfortunately, Fox said that they “don’t do middle-grade movies.” I don’t think Fox even read the book.
Right now, Twilight has focused the attention of the big studios on teen books. Box office disappointments like The Golden Compass, Spiderwick, and A Series of Unfortunate Events have soured the market for middle-grade movies. The only real breakout hit was Harry Potter. So far, I think Percy Jackson and Chronicles of Narnia are only breaking even. There are plans (I believe) to circulate Return to Exile in film circles again once the second book comes out. I have my fingers crossed. I think Return to Exile would make an awesome movie, and The Legend Thief is even more action-packed. Perfect for film.

How many stories did you write before Return to Exile? (You can include childhood stories if you want, but in particular, the more serious writer-type manuscripts)
The first book I ever started was called Kingdom of Shadows. The story was about the rise of the first portable film camera and a cameraman who gets mixed up in the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1896. It was historical fiction. Someday, I hope to finish it. Scratch that; someday, I hope to scrap everything I have and develop a new story from the core concept. Right now, it’s not very good. I usually recommend that writers ditch their first book because it’s rarely good enough for publication, even after revisions. It’s a learning experience—take it, and then go write something good—but I’ve seen a lot of writers get bogged down with their first book. They waste time trying to salvage it—to improve prose and refine scenes—but the problems are often meta-problems—problems of concept, structure, and story development. These are problems that can cause a book to fail before a single word is written. Until you’ve written a book, you’re generally not aware that these types of issues exist. And, even if you’re aware of them, you can’t always identify what they look like while trying to build a story from scratch. Seeing problems in your own writing is never as easy as seeing problems in the writing of others. In other words, literary criticism seldom makes you a better writer. Writing is the thing that makes you a better writer. A first book helps you begin to see the meta issues. My first book (albeit unfinished) is a case in point.
I’ve written a few other stories/books that are currently in various stages of abandonment. I’ve also written/co-written a few screenplays, none of which have ever been produced.
Return to Exile is my first book (i.e., the first I’ve finished, and the only one that’s published).

Are Pop Tarts your writing snack of choice or do you prefer any other treats while writing?
Ha! Despite the fact that I frequently mention Pop Tarts and the unrestrained power of Pop Tart Industries on my blog, I actually don’t like Pop Tarts that much (I prefer Toaster Strudels). Sorry Pop Tart Industries. While I recognize your dominance, I really just think “Pop Tart” sounds funny.

Aside from The Hunter Chronicles, what other books do you currently have in the works (specifically, any we should be looking forward to in the near future)?
The Legend Thief, the second book in The Hunter Chronicles series, comes out September 18, 2012. This book took me a long time to write, mainly because of a neck surgery I had last February. I fear that I may have injected some of the pain I was experiencing into the book. It may be a tad darker than Return to Exile. At the same time, I think it’s much better—and I think Return to Exile is pretty great, if that tells you anything. I finished the second draft of The Legend Thief at 3:30 AM yesterday (and then went to jury duty at 6:00 AM. Ugh. Don’t ever do that.).
I have another project I’m working on, but can’t talk about quite yet. Hopefully I’ll have something to post on my blog soon.

Would you give us a teaser of The Legend Thief, pretty please?
I don’t know if I’m even supposed to do this—especially since we’re still revising the book, and this may not even appear, but here’s a little snippet to give you a taste of what’s to come. The setup for this sequence is that the Hunters of Legend have come to Exile to kill Sky. They’re hunting him through a swampy, disturbing area north of Pimiscule Manor called “the Sleeping Lands.” A warning: this is one of the darkest parts of the book. I promise its not all this heavy, and some of it is very, very funny. So with that warning in mind…
Sky ditched his cloak and gear as he ran—everything but his waterproof, fire-retardant backpack—and then dove into the stagnant water and swam deep beneath the surface past corpse after corpse in this, the most disturbing part of the Sleeping Lands. Arrows zipped by, trailing bubbles.
Sky dove deeper, skirting tombstones, mausoleums, broken statues, and the strangely preserved bodies of hunters long dead who drifted with the waves and watched him with milky, indifferent eyes.
An arrow landed in the chest of the corpse next to him—a man with only half a face, the other half whittled to the moldy-green bone. The corpse rolled with the impact and drifted backward in the water, its arms rising up as if to grab Sky. A sightless white eye stared out of the man’s broken face and on his forehead, Sky thought he saw another Eye, black and scarred, spilling inky darkness into the water.
Freezing pain, answering darkness, and tar-like blood erupted from Sky’s trix.
The corpse smiled at him.
Sky screamed and bubbles exploded from his mouth.
Water froze around him—above him, swirling with the terrible darkness. He swam frantically to stay ahead of it and grew disoriented in a blackness so deep that even his eyes couldn’t penetrate it. Laughing corpses lurched into his path. He swatted them away and left them frozen in his wake. His lungs burned, his skin froze. Finally, his feet touched bottom and he sprang upward, crashing through the ice. With scrambling hands, he dragged himself onto the small island and collapsed in the mud, shaking uncontrollably.
Dead faces stared up at him, locked within the dark ring of frozen swamp water that spread out from the island and reached halfway to the far shore. He saw the half-faced man far away near the ice’s edge, just beneath the surface, yet seemingly close enough to touch—the half-face a rictus of frozen laughter, and Sky could hear it—the corpse—in his head, laughing still. And laughing. And laughing still.
Living, grim-faced hunters clambered out of the swamp waters and burst out of the ice, creeping ever closer.
Sky looked down at the gaping, bleeding trix on his palm—darkness drifting out like smoky tentacles. He clenched his fist tight and cried out as the tendrils turned inward. His bones suddenly felt like ice, hard and brittle, but at the same time strong and deep as a glacier. The cold moved through him—his body, his blood—reaching for his heart, clasping at his mind. He pushed at it, wrestling it like a living thing, fighting to keep the darkness away.
The world around him went pale and gray. He flopped onto his back and jerked spastically, unable to stop. The moon above began to tremble and crumble to pieces, crashing in the swamp all around and shaking the earth. Burning trees bowed to him, water boiled with the pale dead, and haunted creatures for miles around let up a long and terrible wail.
Sky’s laughter joined the wailing. He laughed and laughed and laughed some more, though nothing was funny, and he’d never felt more frightened in all his life. But as dark trix blood spilled across the white Hunter’s Mark, soft, weak light slipped out, so faint he almost missed it. He focused on that light—that speck of brightness and warmth—and clung to it through terror and madness until the moon settled, the fires died, his laughter turned to quiet sobs, and the waking nightmare ended and returned everything as it was. No fires. No shaking earth and crumbling moon. No bowing trees.
But the creatures of the night still wailed and the dead still stared out of frozen waters with sightless eyes, and Sky’s trix still bled black. He saw the half-faced man again, with the arrow sticking out of his chest, and no sign of the Eye of Legend. The man looked smaller, his face different than Sky remembered, less moldy green about it…no, not moldy green; more metallic green—the kind of green you find on rusted copper.
Sky shook himself; when had he fallen from sanity’s edge? That waking nightmare, that madness…
What was happening to him?
ACK! I'm so excited! What an awesome interview --am I right??

*Eric's Blog: Patten Pending
*The awesome Hunter Chronicles website
*The Hunter Chronicles CafePress Store
*A write-up in the Deseret News
*A Song for Phineas A. Pimiscule (a character from the story), "Bully That" by Dave Butler: Music video & Lyrics
*Illustrator John Rocco: Blog & Website
*Artist Jeff Brimley's website

Here's Eric's unofficial Return to Exile book trailer.
And I quote, "To be clear, this trailer doesn't represent the book in any way.
I just did this so I could claim I had a trailer for my book."
Now onto the giveaway!

1 hardcover, personalized & autographed copy of Return to Exile from author E. J. Patten himself!
Open to US residents only
Giveaway ends January 18, 2012 @ 11:59 PM MST
To enter:
Leave a comment describing the creepiest monster (BEASTIE!) you can imagine. Include your email please.


  1. Mine's fairly generic. Anything with big pointy teeth and a taste for human. Biggest fear....being eaten.


  2. A werewolf who has been bitten by a zombie so now its flesh is rotting
    teressaoliver at gmail dot com

  3. lisapeters@yahoo.com a thing that could read your mind and then suck out thoughts it wanted and go and live those parts of your life it sucked out. Friends with some of your friends and it would know everything you know. Also people would feel like they knew this thing when they met it and it would look like anything the thing wanted to.

  4. Fun interview and gorgeous cover!

    My scariest monster would be something that's nearly human, but not quite. *shudder*

  5. Sounds bizarre, but I think clowns are creepy!!! They have frightened my since childhood!

  6. a monster with half a face and large fangs!

    catherine0807 t hotmail dot com

  7. The scariest beaties only come out at night, are as strong as an ox, quite as a mouse, covered in matted smelly fur, have enormous lopsided teeth, two small beady eyes and have only one thing on your mind, to get you when you are not looking. rustyjgregory@gmail.com

  8. The Scariest beastie I can think of is something you can never quite see, but its there...Always in the dark places, waiting....with very sharp teeth :D

    missie25524 at netzero dot com

  9. I think the scariest beast, is one that looks like an ordinary person, but if you look really hard at them, the mask comes off. What is under the mask is the stuff of nightmares.

  10. Giant rabbits - I hate rabbits. They bite, smell really bad, and transmit evil diseases. Gross.
    cheatingpiggies at hotmail dot com

  11. The scariest beasties walk among us...but they wear human masks. Their motivations are unknown to all except the members of their secret societies. Oh, wait...those are politicians!

    elizabeth @ bookattict . com

  12. I think the scariest beast for me would be a big zombie who is fast, and who could think like a human. I am terrified of zombies, something about being eaten alive and being doomed with the smallest bite.

    unabridgedbookshelf at gmail dot com

  13. Anything with slimy / gory flesh - or lack of. Yuck!!!

    Sara kovach

  14. i think the scariest is count drucla in the elary 50 and 60 way before you were born
    deis the blonde2msn.com

  15. Clearly my in-laws won't count, so I would have to go with the Chuckie doll. I still have nightmares from that first scary movie I saw.

    bchild5 at aol dot com

  16. The Alf doll has always terrified me! kayla.s.graham at gmail dot com
    Thanks for the giveaway!!

  17. My creepiest would be a hairy spider. Really wouldn't matter how big or small.
    Jennifer Rote
    wildnmild4u (at) yahoo (dot) com

  18. Probably Ron's boggart - the huge spider. I just HATE spiders. Seriously. My email is refearnv at gmail dot com. Thank you!

  19. The vampire in Salems Lot or the clown in IT. Scary!!!!


    Thanks for the giveaway!

  20. I am terrified of seeing a ghost in a mirror, not even a scary tattered-ragged, dark-eyed figure - any ghosts.
    GFC - rickimc

  21. I have an aversion to skulls, so a creature with a skull face that was reptilian-like and tortured you before they devoured you would be my worst nightmare! astroqueen67 on GFC Holly Swint astroqueen67@hotmail.com

  22. I was always afraid of the living dead zombies so anything looking like them
    helldog3 at aol.com

  23. Giant armored spiders wielding swords...that spit acid, while horn trolls that smell of yesterday's gym socks ride on back casting sticky purple slime balls that turn you to goo.
    Ok maybe I need sleep....LOL
    The book looks Amazing :0)
    beejee77 at gmail dot com

  24. ok I know this may sound corny and whatnot but the creepiest monster i can think is centipids, slugs, and any other many legged long creature! Idk y, i find bats adorable, and snakes awesome to touch but those creepy crawlys will get me every time! :( I serious these things haunt me in my nightmares! Plus the smaller the creepier!

  25. something that goes bump in the night. monsters aren't scary at all in the daylight. :)

  26. Slimy with sharp teeth. If it's coming to eat me that's even worse. I used to have nightmares about Sharks. They are pretty creepy to me to.

    lisaisabookworm at gmail dot com

  27. I have to agree with those that said a giant spider lol. I don't like spiders (any insects really, but spiders are the worst). The bigger it is, the worse. The more hair they have...and with all those legs and eyes, and the larger the fangs...ACK! The fact that they're quiet, watchful, and calculating scares me even more than some loud, snarling thing.

    couponcookie at gmail dot com

  28. Creepiest would be anything slimy that crawls on you. Terrifying.

    wingedpersephone at gmail dot com

  29. Mine would be a huge hairy spider like on Harry Potter. Spider scare me to death!
    lexie.bookbug at gmail dot com

  30. My biggest fear? Being trapped...anywhere. edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  31. My creepiest beastie would be one that deals with the senses rather then being seen. The sensation of being watched, of not being alone in the house, of having someone standing over you while sleeping, etc. Pretty creepy.
    LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com

  32. I think the Creepiest monster would be one with decaying flesh, horns, and drooling...ack!!

    jmluker at winco dot net

  33. The creepiest monster would have to be a giant spider, especially if it was one of the really hairy ones.

  34. I've always thought that the creepiest monster would be a woman with really long dark hair and no face (just skin where the eyes, nose, and mouth would be).


  35. the only thing that i think could ever scare me has 8 legs!!!! mass hysteria! lol


  36. I would have to say vampires.

  37. Hmmm... creepiest monster?? I think it would have to be something psychological. Or maybe just people like Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. Lol

    Thanks for the chance - sounds like a great new series!


  38. The creepiest monster has to have some type of serpent incorporated into it!

  39. Manticores are the creepiest beastie I can think of.


  40. Dead zombies are the creepiest because their human!
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway and interview.

  41. Yeah, slimy zombies or neck mauling vamps top my creepy list.
    GFC- Lisa Richards

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com


  42. hmm the creepiest beastie for me would be like Dinosaurs coming back because of DNA cloning and it turns out like the Jurassica movies with all the freaky/aggressive dinos hunting you down *shudders*

    swtlilangel4jc at yahoo dot com

    Super cool giveaway by the way!


So, what do you think, oh Lovely Reader?

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