Thursday, February 27, 2014

Interview with Patrick Freivald.

Full Name:
Patrick Freivald

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
We’re going to have to come up with one then.  I’m sure your students have a nickname for you.  Like maybe something like “Mister Free-Balls”.  I mean, I know they’re not your “friends” per se, but I’m trying to pad out your second answer being “Nope.”.

I do not share this information, as it is often used as a security question for credit agencies, and having had my identity stolen once already, I'm gun-shy about it.
No love lost.  I’m too busy being me.  I don’t have the time to be you too.  We’ll just pretend you were born someplace fictional.  So, keeping that in mind, where would you like to say that you were born?
Everywhere, fourteen-ish billion years ago.
That counts.  I’m totally stealing your identity now.

Current hometown:
Canadice, NY (surrounded by 6000+ acres of state forest)

Favorite city and why?
New York City; it's the only large city I've ever really enjoyed, and the diversity of food is delightful!

Birthday / Age:
You’re a year younger than me and you’ve already got a book contract.  Apparently I fucked up somewhere along the way.
I started writing with an eye toward publication about five years ago. In the past two years, I've had three books published—with a fourth coming in May—and several short stories. Get crackin'!
Nine books in the past four months.  Two more scheduled for this month and one for each month lined up for 2014.  If I don’t get signed this year it certainly won’t be for lack of trying.
You should let me chew on a 500-word sample of one for Word Soup!
I’d love to do that!  I was just too shy to ask.  I know you’re a pretty busy man.  I mean, I’m busy too, but being busy, I can relate to being busy.  I actually refer to edits where I redline every other word a “boil” based on one of your blog posts.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Not quite fat.

How would someone else describe you physically?

The first thing people notice about you is…
I like to talk.  A lot.  About anything, but especially bees, science, robotics, and politics—though I tend to avoid the latter online most of the time.
Yeah, religion and politics are two great ways to spoil new acquaintances but also sometimes make for interesting interviews.  What was that about bees?
Yeah, you put your whole leg in your mouth recently, didn't y--Bees are awesome. Everyone should keep at least a few colonies!
I more had everyone else’s arm jammed up my ass and worked like a sexist misogynist rape-culture proliferating ventriloquist dummy for a week.  It wasn’t the reaction to what I actually said that I found offensive as I would never say anything that was opposed to my personal opinions in a public forum.  What I found offensive was all of the vile, sexist, misogynistic, rape culture stuff that was attributed to me by way of paraphrasing and attributional projection.  I think what was said “on my behalf” says a lot more about the people saying those things than it says about me.  I’m glad you stuck around as my imaginary friend despite the blowback.  It was a wild week, but I think that some people over-estimate the effect that their opinion has on the internet via social-media.  A lot of people thought that they were ruining me both personally and professionally, but the net loss has been about 30 imaginary friends from 1,800 and oddly, I received a lot of new imaginary friend requests out of solidarity from people that respect the fact that I stood my ground and defended my stated opinion so it balanced out.  The people that I lost were, for the most part, small-minded, bitter, spiteful, concrete-thinking people unable to discuss a semiotic conjecture without disparaging the person espousing that opinion.  I still get the occasional “vagina dentata” comment and it will probably be a while before I live that down, but by putting out a new book each month and an anthology of the work of other authors I think that I’ll be able to move past it.  You’re only as good or as bad as the last thing you’ve done and people tend to have a short memory.  Worst case scenario, being infamous has almost been as stimulating for my public profile as being famous.  If I can’t be famous, I’ll settle for being infamous.
I think you made a faux pas, and then handled the aftermath poorly.  But hey, different strokes!

Religion, if any?
I’m an anti-theist, but “Catholish” sounds like something I could get behind.  It sounds nice and warm and chocolaty.  I bet no one tries to molest the altar boys in Catholishism.

Are you superstitious at all?  Any phobias?
I'm rather anti-superstitious.  I think that by and large you make your own luck, but that your mind doesn't reach out and influence the universe except insofar as what you do.
Spiders sometimes freak me out more than they should, but other than that I don't have any phobias—I like the dark, am not generally lonely when alone, and rarely get creeped out.
I actually like being alone a lot of the time.  I mean, it’s not that great when you’re having sex, but otherwise I rather like it.  I don’t understand people that get lonely.  I used to, but now I don’t.  I’m not sure if that means I’m becoming a better sociopath but humans in general are pretty disappointing as a species and most days I think that the planet might be better off without us and seeing what the cats and dogs would do with the world without us spaying and neutering them.  As for creepy places, the creepier the better.  Abandoned mental hospital?  Yes please!  “You won’t get on that morgue tray and let us close the door on you.”  Oh really?  Wanna bet?  I’ve worked third shift security in graveyards and gotten fired for sleeping on the job, that’s how little creepy places creep me out.  I’d love to live in a “haunted” house someday.  How about you?
If there were such thing, that might be neat.
As for not understanding people who get lonely: that's okay. They'll get lonely anyway, and understanding isn't necessary for compassion.

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I've never smoked, and aside from underage drinking have never done an illegal drug.
I drink mostly beer, some hard liquor, wine as long as it tastes for the most part like Kool Aid—and not a lot either way.  I like but rarely drink single-malt scotch, or a very wet Manhattan with too many cherries.
How many cherries is too many cherries?
Experiments have not yet determined that number.

Current occupation / Dream job:
I teach physics, robotics, and American Sign Language at the high school and college level, and I love it.  I could see myself leaving teaching to become a full-time author, or perhaps and only perhaps to work for FIRST (the nonprofit that runs the competition robotics program that I coach), but not much else.  In that sense, my dream job is my current job with more autonomy and the ability to buy whatever I want for my classroom and team whenever I want.
There’s an “at the same time” joke in there somewhere but physics and robotics are pretty close and American Sign Language isn’t mutually exclusive to either.  Why did you study sign language?
For the same reason I've studied anything else: it interests me.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I'm the president of the Ontario-Finger Lakes Beekeeping Association, and going into winter had 38 colonies in two bee yards.
I've played tabletop war games (especially Warhammer 40K) much of my life, and am kind of glad that The Redhead(tm) doesn't realize just how much money is tied up in little plastic and metal figures in the game room.
My robotics team meets once a week all year, and five days a week January-March, which keeps me awfully busy.  But damn, it's awesome.  If I won the lotto, I might quit my job, but I'd still coach my team!
I'm also on the Board of Education for the town I live in—next door to (that is, only twenty miles from) the town in which I teach—and am the chair of my teacher's union's Grievance Committee and a consulting member on the Negotiating Committee.
I also occasionally shore fish on the lake next to my house, take walks in the woods, play with my dogs/cats/birds, and read a lot.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
People with actual zombie outbreak survival plans don't reveal their plans!
In all seriousness, I've always been a bit of a paranoid when it comes to doomsday scenarios, though I see complete economic collapse more likely than a multiple-EMP attack compromising the electrical grid, and the EMPs more likely than zombies.  I have contingencies in place in case of partial or total societal collapse—those who need to know what they are, know what they are!

Weapon of choice:
AR-15. If I have to get into a fight, I'd prefer it to not be the slightest bit fair, in my favor.

Do you have any special skills?
I'd like to think so. I'm good enough an editor that I had to turn down enough people who wanted to pay me to edit their work that I started a blog, Word Soup, to teach people to do what I do.
I write fiction that I would enjoy reading and has garnered some excellent reviews (as well as a few delightfully vicious ones), I'm reasonably adept at keeping bees alive despite everything conspiring to wipe them out these days, I sing okay, am fluent in American Sign Language, design and build robots, tig weld aluminum....
As a co-worker once said, "Is there anything you won't half-ass?"
What’s the link to Word Soup?  I’ve found your editorial suggestions quite helpful and would like to read more.—it's robotics season, so I've neglected it of late, but will get back into it sometime this month, and am always looking for more volunteers!

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I have a BS in Physics with minors in English Literature, Linguistics, and American Sign Language from the University of Rochester, and a Masters in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Concentration: Science Education) from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
How's that for an earful?
It’s quite an admirable earful.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
Indoor cats: Rusty, Harry, and Gunther (a girl).
Outdoor cats: Rags (a rescue) and Charlie (a feral stray; mother of Harry and Gunther).
Dogs: Brutus and Harper, brothers from the same litter, half lab, half red bone coon hound, 11 years old. Arya Underfoot, a spaniel mix we rescued last spring.
Birds: Radagast, a male Solomons Islands Eclectus Parrot, 16 years old. Linus, a cockatiel, five years old.

What is your favorite animal?
I love parrots of all varieties, but don't make me choose between parrots and dogs. I do like Raddy more than people, though.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Not really. Things either roll off of me or enrage me; not much gets under my skin. There are two major exceptions:
I'm commonly irked by whiners who'd rather whine than pull up their big-boy panties and just get the job done.  It's too common to enrage, and too annoying to roll off.
I hate when my students call me "Freivald", with no "Mr." in front of it.  This is common at my school; indeed, teachers are often given nicknames against their will.  For me, it's not so much a matter of disrespect in the traditional sense, as a very specific childhood trigger.  I'm a twin, and the second youngest of eleven kids.  Growing up, people would call me "Freivald" because they couldn't be bothered to learn who I was.  While this is not why my students (sometimes) do it, it doesn't stop the visceral reaction of wanting to throat-punch them for it.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
I don't understand why people think broccoli is food, and don't care for cauliflower. Other than that, I love food.  Asparagus and Brussels sprouts and bacon and shrimp and steak and moose and ostrich and butter and cheese and milk and chocolate and sausage and...
Yeah, I like to cook, I like to eat. I love spicy food, and do not have a subtle palate. Big, bold flavors appeal to me, and I like almost everything I try.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
Here are a few that stick with me:
"Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic." – Arthur C. Clark
"It's a wonderful idea, but it doesn't work." – Mr. Danielewski, father of the musician Poe and her brother, novelist Mark Z. Danielewski
Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence. I am not remotely interested in just being good." –Vince Lombardi
"I'm the bad guy? How did that happen?" –Michael Douglas, Falling Down

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
I was born a lower-middle-class white male in the United States of America. That's the winning of life's lottery, right there!

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
My brother's suicide.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Yes, multiple times. Yes. Divorced at 25 is not something I every predicted; I got over it and am quite happy now!

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Yes. Yes, but I'm not going to tell it.
But I do have a good one about a breakup. I was dating this girl Josie in high school—she went on to become a professional volleyball player, and is very tall.  (This has nothing to do with the story, I just like to brag.)  I was her first boyfriend, she was not my first girlfriend. I figured out a few weeks in that it just wasn't going to work, but didn't want to break her heart, so I figured I'd wait it out and let her dump me when the time came.  A couple of months later, I get "the call".  It was the most amiable breakup ever—she anticipated breaking my heart and really didn't want that to happen, and I was totally cool with it and gave her a hard time for being dense enough not to see it earlier, in a nice sort of way.  We laughed and chatted for a bit and went back to being friends.
Geez.  I wish more of my break-ups were that congenial.  These restraining orders are really beginning to pile up.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
For me, the best thing I ever did was flip a mental switch in my head the moment I walked into college, that toggled from "Nobody likes me," to "Why would I give a shit what these people think?"  I found friends who liked me for who I was, and stopped pretending to be anything for anyone.
Has it been difficult being an iconoclast?
I wouldn't know.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
As a schoolteacher and upstanding member of my community, that's not a question I'm going to answer!
That’s more than fair.

If you could kill one person, who would it be, and why?
Nobody. I have no issue with lethal force in defense of self and/or loved ones, but there's nobody I'd go out of my way to kill just because I think the world would be better off without them.

What do you do?
I think I answered this pretty well so far, but will play along in the next question in regards to writing.
I appreciate you playing along and apologize for the pre-fab format of the interview.  I’ve sent out something like a thousand interviews and finished almost a hundred and fifty, so it’s tough to come up with a “one size fits all” initial questionnaire.  Any suggestions for edits to the survey would be most appreciated.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I've always done some level of creative writing, but it was my twin brother Phil who decided that we should write a book.  The rest is history—with three novels and three short stories out this past year, and a five-book deal for my Matt Rowley books (the first of which, Jade Sky, breaks in mid-May.)
Tell us a bit more about that.  I know that a lot of the aspiring authors would like to know about the process involved in landing a book deal.
Work really hard, cultivate an inhuman level of patience, have no ego whatsoever when it comes to critique of your writing, and goddamn it, find a good editor and pay him/her to make you more better-er than you were before.
I have no secrets on acquiring an agent or pitching a publisher, except to make sure that it's not only your best work, it's a damned sight better than most other work.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Teaching: Don't. Go do something else; you'll be happier that way.
Beekeeping: Find a local group and get a mentor to show you the ropes.
Writing: Write.  Then write some more.  Then find people who will give you honest opinions about what just utterly sucks about your writing, and seriously consider what they say.
Developing reliable beta readers that provide more constructive criticism than complimentary complements is vital to the process.  I’m not trying to glamorize the role of the writer as a solitary one constantly fighting against the blank space at the end of the page, but it is true that most writing is done independently and it’s impossible to be truly objective about one’s work.  I’m always too close to my work to see the obvious flaws.
I've never understood the writer-as-fighter analogy.  If it's not fun, why the hell would you do it? (If the answer is money or fame, reevaluate your mental condition.)

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
I've got a slew of stories spanning several genres out now.  Blood List is a thriller about a serial killer trying to save his father's life.  Twice Shy and Special Dead are horror YA about a closeted zombie trying to survive high school—I never intended them to be straight YA, I intended them to be satire for adults, but they've turned into both, which is pretty cool.  Jade Sky (aforementioned) is a thriller about a commando with superhuman augmentations that hunts others of his kind on behalf of the world government—it just went up for preorder on Amazon and!
In addition to those novels, I've published short stories in Blood and Roses by Scarlett River Press, Christmas Lites III (a charity anthology) edited by Amy Eye, and both Demonic Visions I and II edited by Chris Robertson.

What projects are you working on now?
Until robotics build season ends, I'm not writing anything.
I have an upcoming comic in Dark Discoveries magazine, where I'm collaborating with the awesome Joe McKinney to bring a bit more of the Jade Sky world to life.  Comics are a first for me, and it's been a great learning experience.
I have four more books in the Matt Rowley series to write, but they're due each Halloween for the next four years, so I have a little time. (Right? Guys? Right?!?)
A book a year should be well within your wheelhouse.
I'm going to shoot for two. We'll see how that goes.
“Watch out guys, we're dealing with a badass over here”

What are you watching?
I don't watch much TV, but when I get hooked on something I tend to watch all of it at once.  American Horror Story and Sons of Anarchy are the two big ones so far.  I started Hemlock Grove the other day, and I'm not sure if I'm going to stick with it.

What are you listening to?
On the way home from work today?  The Pitch Perfect soundtrack.  In general, some bands/musicians I like in no particular order include but are not limited to: Coheed and Cambria, Poe, Imogen Heap, Halestorm, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rush, Iron Maiden, Celia Bartoli, The Wallflowers, Alice in Chains, Evanescence, Peter Gabriel, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Bonamassa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo....

What are you reading?
I've recently read a boatload of horror both excellent and not to recommend (or not) for the Bram Stoker Awards.  At the moment I'm working my way through Futility Closet, Paddle Your Own Canoe, and Crucial Conversations.  I'll pick up another novel once build season is over.

Favorite author / book?
I like lots of authors, most in the fantasy, science fiction, and horror realms: C.S. Friedman, F. Paul Wilson, Kate Elliott, Dan Simmons, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Larry Niven, Stephen Barnes, Jerry Pournelle. I've read some fantastic books by up-and-comers lately, including Rena Mason's The Evolutionist, Mercedes Murdock Yardley's Apocalyptic Montessa And Nuclear Lulu—which is one of the best horror novels I've ever read, hands-down—and Cynthia Tottleben's The Eye Unseen.
My favorite novels of all time are Lucifer's Hammer and The Mote In God's Eye, both by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Favorite band / song?
I can't pick. It's so mood dependent.

Least favorite band / song?
Most pop music, though sometimes something sticks with me and I like it in spite of myself.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
What I do now.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Alive: Natalie Portman, though I'd make a drooling idiot out of myself.
Dead: Richard Feynman, because, well, Richard Feynman.
Fictional: I don't see the point in "meeting" a fictional character.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Best: Teaching science and math at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, CA.
Worst: Tossing hay bales on Clarence Becker's farm, when they outweighed me.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Maybe. I'm not sure who I know that you don't know!
I have been pretty thorough as of late.  Just keep it in mind in case anyone you know is willing to subject themselves to an interview in exchange for a bit of free promotion.

Got any questions for me?
All of the above.
I can always tell the truly selfless interviewee when they ask me to do the survey myself.  I kind of saw it coming when I started the blog, so I got it out of the way in the first twenty-five.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here:
But if you wanted to flip the interview for your blog, I’d be pleased to revisit it.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
You're most welcome! Thank you for the opportunity!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
Facebook: and
Twitter: @patrickfreivald
Website: Hmm, ought to do that some time.

About the Interviewee:
Patrick Freivald is a 37-year-old identical twin, married to an identical twin, who writes if, when, and whatever he feels like writing.  This has him on track for two novels a year into the foreseeable future.  He lives in rural Canadice, NY with his lovely The Redhead(tm), two birds, five cats, three dogs, and several million stinging insects.

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