Interview with Patricia Farrell

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I do like the Kindle because it's small, but I made a foolish choice and didn't get all the memory I should have, so while I have diverse interests, I have limited numbers of books I can put on it.

I now have an iPad and it's great. I can load up lots of books and I like the fact that I can look at 2 pages at once and the display is really nice.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Believe me, I've been trying many marketing efforts. My first book (with a major publisher) had me on TV, radio and newspapers, but I found that I did most of the work finding where I could get booked. That taught me a lot about marketing. The agency that had been hired tried to take most of the credit for my work. It was eye-opening.

Now, I find that Twitter and Socialoomph is great. I load up tweets on the Premium service on Socialoomph and they spin effortlessly night and day until I stop them. But I think that magazines, newspapers and radio are the best unless you can get booked on a major TV show.
What's the story behind your latest book?
There's really no story other than my intense wish to be open and honest about the work I've done in my field, to express my opinion on just about anything and to share interviews with famous people. The one I think many writers will really warm to is my interview of Isaac Asimov where he describes his daily writing routine. He was someone very special and extremely productive. When I interviewed him he had already published 125 books. Years later, even though we hadn't been in touch after the interview, he was gracious when I called with a question. I didn't know how his health had declined and he never let on. Open, happy and gracious. What a guy.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Independence would have been my middle name if my mother had thought of it. It's something that's run through my life and led to my choice of a career as a psychologist. So, independent publishing in a form that allowed me to say what I felt needed to be said, in a fashion that made it easy, affordable and fast, was right up my alley.

I now have the freedom to write to an audience I know is there about things that brick-and-mortar publishers don't see profitable enough for them. The shame is that there's a lot of good work that doesn't get published and I was determined not to let that happen to my writing.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It's opened up markets that weren't there before. I just published a few days ago and already I'm getting sales.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The creativity it allows me to enjoy. I am someone who can script and "run" my own films in my mind and writing is just another form of that. There's no joy that compares to being able to be creative and I try to always be looking for new themes, new forms and I hope that never ends. It's a delight.
What are you working on next?
I have about three things that I'm currently beginning some research on. One is specifically aimed at people who have a type of anxiety disorder and want to work on some ways to conquer it. We've shot some video and I'm doing the research and I'm hoping that will be an iBook, but it's not such easy going because I'm doing all the work myself, including learning their iAuthor software.

The second is a longer project that involves a murder case in which I was when I was a pre-teen. Researching it is a bit daunting and I do want to get the details correct. Unfortunately, only one other member of my family is still alive and was also involved and it's a difficult subject to broach. This case may have, in some ways, contributed to my many appearances on Court TV with Nancy Grace and my work with forensic patients at a psychiatric hospital.

The third project is actually a collection of short stories that I have been working on over the years. They mainly center around people I've seen in interesting places. It's still a work in progress.
Who are your favorite authors?
No question it has to be Truman Capote, Dickens, O'Henry, de Maupassant and maybe a few others. I do like the classics and, in fact, I prefer non-fiction. Capote wrote a series of wonderful short stories or novellas and I loved "Tree of Night", "Other Voices, Other Rooms," "Thanksgiving Visitor" and "Answered Prayers." "Handcarved Coffins" was especially good.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to learn whatever I can. I love photography, video making and I'd like to learn some basic computer coding , so I try to watch tutorials when I can. They not only teach me, they inspire me to see the potential in everything that's involved and that works right back into my writing.
What is your writing process?
If it's a book, I make an outline of the chapters and since they are non-fiction that's not difficult. Then I might use either of two formats; writing each chapter in its turn or writing chapters that have special appeal to me or where I've gotten something that I feel just needs to be written right then.

It's something Isaac Asimov taught me; write until you want to stop, then write something else. He always had nine books in the works at any one time.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Sorry to say I don't, but I do know that "Gone With the Wind" was something that interfered with my mother's plan for mealtime and she had to keep trying to get me to put the book down. The stories that really had a great impact on me were those of O'Henry and when I got my first job after high school, I'd buy about five or more paperback books each payday and then read them. I read voraciously.
How do you approach cover design?
A very simple process; I shoot all my covers (except "Fired Up") myself. I have strong feelings about cover design and, even if I do buy a stock photo, I still set the type where I want it and decide the colors used. I feel it's a highly personal process and I prefer to do it myself. It's part of that independence.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I'd have to say "The Secret Life of Bees," "Gone With the Wind", "Franny & Zooey," "Tree of Night," and "The Collected Works of O'Henry." Each of them speaks to me about how people overcome adversity and each allowed me to "see" people as the author wished.
What do you read for pleasure?
Usually biography and non-fiction about people whom I admire or events in history about which I'm curious. There are still books I'd like to read such as one on the "hedge masters" of Ireland and the Rambam (Moses Maimonides). They haven't been written by anyone yet. So, here's a challenge to any writer who loves non-fiction; research and write a good book on the "hedge masters" and send me a copy of the manuscript.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
It was a very poor, mixed race area of New York City's outer boroughs where we lived in a cold-water flat; no heat, no hot water and my mother had to use wood or coal to cook. Sounds like we lived in the Ozarks, I know. We had the local slumlord as the landlord and it was a unique world. Thanks to my mom and older siblings, I learned the value of independence and sticking by those who love and support you. I learned to root for the underdog and to continue that into my personal life and writing. It is the center of all my writing.
Published 2013-10-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Fired Up: A shrink's musings
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 52,140. Language: American English. Published: October 8, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Mental health, Essay » Sociology
The shrink is always in and outspoken. Dr. Farrell has used her experience, as well as her time in book publishing, to create a book of articles and essays including interviews with John Lennon and Yoko, Isaac Asimov, Alison Steele, comments on the current state of medicine and psychology-related topics for the interested reader. Nothing is sacred.