Interview with Patrick Naville

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the relatively small, mid-western town of New Albany, Indiana. I enjoyed watching t.v. westerns like The Lone Ranger; Have Gun Will Travel; Wanted Dead or Alive; The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, etc. I also spent many days during the summer at the public library. My favorite books were about larger than life characters, be they fictional or real life people. I loved reading about the Mountain Men in the west, but I also enjoyed reading about the different gods and other characters in Greek and Norse Mythology. The shows and the books were my form of escape. They made me feel that somehow, I could do great deeds like my heroes on the screen or on the written page. I turned to writing as my way of telling a story that I would have like to been in. I got the chance to move west when I was 25. I lived in Colorado for a year and have lived in Arizona the last 36 years. Everywhere I turn, I see the places I've read about and I can almost see the ghosts of those old cowboys and gunslingers forever riding across the plains.
When did you first start writing?
In grade school. For the first few years, I always looked forward to the assignment of writing about "What you did during summer vacation." I tried to craft interesting stories about the very mundane things I did. I mean, how exciting is it to cut grass; go to the swimming pool or deliver newspapers? So I would add certain "fictionalized" elements to my stories. I believe it was in the third or fourth grade when my teacher told me that I had a very interesting way of telling a story.
What prompted you to write your first book, "Echo Whispers?"
The year was 1969. I was a junior in high school and one of the biggest movies to hit the theaters that year was "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid." I loved that movie, as did everyone else who saw it. It not only had a good story line, but the two outlaws, brilliantly portrayed by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, were fun-loving and brought some realism to the movie. These characters were the kind of guys you could sit around a campfire with, share a few beers and listen to the stories they could tell. I, like everyone else, hated it when they were killed at the end. For many years, I kept wondering, what would have happened had they lived? I started writing the story from that perspective. It was a labor of love and it was something I was doing for me. I never gave much thought to getting it published. Once I finished it, I started getting requests to read the manuscript. At first, the requests came from friends, then they started giving it to their friends and it grew from there. I actually sent a copy of the manuscript to both Newman and Redford. Paul Newman's agent called me from New York one day and we talked for about a half an hour. He said he thoroughly enjoyed the story. He also said that Newman and Redford had made a pact to never do a sequel to the first movie, as they felt it wouldn't hold up compared to the original. But, he also said that they hadn't seen the right script yet. He felt I had a good story and encouraged me to publish is as a screenplay and then get an agent to represent me. This became a rather long process and when Paul Newman passed away, so did my dreams of seeing my story on the Silver Screen.
What prompted you to write your second book, "Cripple Creek?"
I first visited Cripple Creek in 1976 and fell in love with the old mining town. I felt it was the perfect setting for my next book. The story is set in the 1870's. I developed a character, Mason Proffit, who I hoped the readers could identify with, and like. I conducted a tremendous amount of research on the history of Cripple Creek as well as what famous western characters were alive during the year my story took place. The most prominent man I found was none other than Wild Bill Hickok. I crafted my story around him and the fact that he and Proffit had known each other, from a distance, during the Civil War when they both served with the Union Army.
Proffit is not your typical western gun-slinger. He'd rather avoid trouble than to chase it. He's damn good with a gun, but rarely uses it. Proffit has inherited a gold mine in Cripple Creek from a deceased uncle. It's on his way to the town to secure the deed to the mine that he hooks up with Hickok and the adventure starts.
I have woven many real-life characters into the story in order to make it more realistic. A month after I published the book, it made the Amazon Top 100 Best Seller's List for Westerns. In less than a month, it made the list two more times.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It wasn't the first story I ever read, but the one that really influenced me at an early age was Mark Twain's, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." As a young boy and living on the Ohio River, this story had all the elements needed to keep me turning pages long after my parents told me it was time for bed. I wanted to BE Huckleberry Finn! I wanted to build a raft and take off on an adventure down the Ohio River. While I wasn't aware of it at the time, Twain's writing had an powerful influence on me in that, I too, wanted to write stories that others would love. The beauty of youth is, you don't think about all the "What if's" that could happen; you just dream of the adventures you could possibly have!
How do you approach cover design?
The cover should tell a story in itself. It sends a subliminal message to the person who picks the book up. I want the cover to make the person feel they need to read the flap to see what the book is about The covers of my first two books have their own stories to tell. After one reads the book, they can go back and look at the cover and see why the different elements are there.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
This is liking asking what is my favorite kind of music, and the answer is essentially the same. If it's good, I enjoy it. I enjoy fiction, but also like a good non-fiction story as well. I like historic books that blend the elements of truth and fiction into a story. I like stories that take me on adventures. As a young man, Kon Tiki was a favorite. I also enjoyed great stories like Robin Hood; Tom Sawyer; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Jim Bridger - Mountain Man. Stories like these allowed me to escape my day to day life and live someplace else and do magnificent things!
What's the story behind your latest book?
The book I am currently working on is titled, "Creedence." The story brings back Mason Proffit, the hero from my second book, "Cripple Creek." He is heading to the small Arizona town of Creedence to help a friend who has started a small cattle ranch. There was a massacre of an entire Indian village at Camp Grant, which is not far from Creedence. The slaughter was so vile and depraved that President Ulysses Grant himself, along with a small entourage is coming out to personally investigate it. He is kidnapped by a sinister figure, Ezikiah Synn, who goes by the name of "The Preacher." Proffit is also taken captive by Synn and his band of outlaws and together, Proffit is Grant's only hope of getting out alive.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Telling a story that someone I don't even know, enjoys reading. The greatest compliments I've gotten are when strangers contact me to say they read my books and how much they enjoyed them! I also enjoy it when a stranger contacts me to say that they laughed, cried, loved or hated certain parts of my books. To elicit an emotional response means I'm doing my job as a writer. To get comments from a stranger means I have REALLY done my job.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! Without people who enjoy reading what you write, your words would only be for you. I don't write with the idea of "How will my readers like this?" Rather, I write from the perspective of, "Have I told the story in the best way possible and is this something I would want to read if I just picked it up?"
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy camping and hiking with my wife and we enjoy spending time with our children and grandchildren. I also enjoy physical fitness and hit the gym at least 4 days a week. When I'm not doing any of these things, I always have a good book I'm reading!
Published 2013-09-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Cripple Creek
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 99,720. Language: English. Published: February 29, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Western
GOLD FEVER Mason Proffit has a knack for getting into trouble. Being fast with a gun may have something to do with it. Proffit and his friend, Wild Bill Hickok are heading to Cripple Creek to file a claim on a gold mine. When they cross trails with the viscious and deadly Bonner Brothers, blood will flow on the streets of Cripple Creek!