Patricia Marcantonio — An eclectic kind of writer

This interview is another of Idaho Writers Update’s monthly series profiling Idaho authors.

Patricia Marcantonio truly is an eclectic kind of writer.

She’s written Victorian mysteries, a courtroom drama, a graphic novel, a children’s book, and been featured in a horror anthology, among other subjects.

She’s just finishing up a romance novel and a horror mystery. She also writes plays and screenplays.

I just love storytelling no matter what form it may take.

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I usually write in the afternoon after exercising. But I’ve been watching my granddaughter during her online school sessions, so I’ve been writing in the morning as well. If my husband watches football, I’ll also write then. I have an office, which is quiet. Unlike some writers, I can’t write with music playing.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

Having a big glass of iced tea — that’s my ritual.

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

Take a walk, or call my friend in Oregon and we brainstorm.

The eternal question: Are you a “pantser”, a “plotter”, or something else entirely?

First, I really think through the story in my head before setting anything down. What are the beginning, middle and end? I do character sketches. And then I plot. Sometimes I’ll use sticky notes and write down what happens in a chapter so I can move the chapters around on a big poster board. Mysteries take a lot of plotting.

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories

What book or author do you often find yourself recommending and why?

Dennis Lehane. I love his straightforward storytelling that is deceptively touching and humane.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

Alice Hoffman’s Magic Lessons

What advice do you have for readers?

Don’t just stick with one genre. Expand your range. You might be surprised.

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with?

William Goldman who wrote the books and screenplays, The Princess Bride and The Marathon Man, not to mention tons of other great projects. I heard him speak at a conference and he came off as down to earth guy despite his enormous success.

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

This would be a long list, but I’ll cut it down.

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller — I loved the humor and craziness while telling an anti-war story. I always wanted to write like that.
  • Thomas Harris — When I wrote my first thriller I reread Red Dragon about ten times.
  • Anne Tyler — I love her books about everyday people. Her stories pack an emotional whollop.
  • Comics — I fell in love with them and wanted to tell my own stories.
  • Neil Gaiman — Just because he has so much damn imagination. I want to be him when I grow up.

What do you most enjoy about being a writer?

Coming up with stories and it doesn’t matter what the genre. So I consider myself a storyteller rather than a genre writer. I’d love to tackle a sci-fi, fantasy, or magical realism novel. Maybe that’s a weakness not to stay in one genre. I don’t know. It’s just fun. I love asking, “What if?”

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

It’s a hell of a lot of work and I don’t think people appreciate how much of your heart, soul, liver, and spleen you put into those pages.

What would you tell a new writer?

Read good writers. Find your own style. Don’t expect to get rich. And ask yourself? Why do you want to write in the first place? Writing is in my DNA, I’m convinced of that. If you don’t feel that strongly, maybe find something else to do. That’s because it’s hard and takes a lot of time and energy and love.

What might people be surprised to know about you?

I’m a bad speller. Thank God for spell check on computers.

Thanks to author Patricia Marcantonio for participating in our Idaho Author Interview series. If you’re interested, please contact the IWU website editor.

Find Patricia Marcantonio online: