As part of The Originals blog tour, I’m really pleased to welcome Cat Patrick onto the blog to talk about her writing.
Tell us a little about your new book, The Originals.
The Originals is the story of the first human clones: A family that only science could have created. They are three identical sixteen-year-old girls, and because human cloning is illegal, they hide their existence by living as one person named Elizabeth Best. The way they do that is to split their days in thirds, with one clone attending school in the morning; the second handling classes in the afternoon; and the third being in charge of afterschool commitments like their part time job, college course, and cheerleading. The system works well until two of the clones fall for two different boys, which is an issue if you’re supposed to be just one person. Like my previous two books, in addition to the teen romance aspects, The Originals offers a bit of a mystery to round out the story.
How did you get the inspiration for the story?
I was having one of those moments when my to-do list felt like the job of not one but seven people, wishing I could be cloned and therefore better equipped to handle everything. I began to think about how high school students these days are so oversubscribed—so much more is expected of teens than it was when I was that age—and the idea sort of just sprinted ahead from there.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
It’s funny that I write about science so often when it was my worst subject in high school. For this project, I read a lot about cloning—human and otherwise—and consulted my friend and Science Advisor who, in my opinion, knows All the Things. So much of the book is about familial relationships—specifically sisterly ones—so I could consider my experiences with my own sister a lifetime of research on that topic. (The book is dedicated to her.)
What is your writing process when you begin a new book?
I’m not a fan of outlines. Normally, after getting an idea that sticks with me for a few days, I just begin mentally vomiting on the page. I like to see where the story takes me. To do that, I write without giving much brain space to concerns like whether my words are the worst words ever, or whether I’ve completely forgotten how to use a hyphen. I’m a brutal editor, so there’s always time for that later. But a first draft is my chance to get completely lost in an idea and see where I end up.
When is your ideal time to write?
I am most “on” in the morning, so that’s when I choose to write. I get up early and go directly to my home office. My husband gets our twins ready for school and I have a nice long stretch of writing time until I pick them up around noon.
Do you write in silence or do you need music to help you?
I love music, but as a word person, I’m always listening to the lyrics. If I write with music playing, I’ll start typing, “You can’t always get what you want…” into the story. So, silence.
What authors inspired you growing up?
Many, but the one that stands out is Ray Bradbury. I remember having this realization when reading Fahrenheit 451 that I liked a little sci fi strange with my fiction. In English, we had to write what felt like a tome back then on the author of our choosing, and Bradbury was my man. This was my senior year in high school, when I was spending a lot of time pondering where I wanted to go in life: I feel like, in a way, he helped me get here.
I have a book I co-wrote with Suzanne Young (A Need So Beautiful, The Program) called Just Like Fate coming out in August of this year, which explores how our lives might be different based on one choice. Think the movie Sliding Doors for teens.
I’m not really ready to talk about the book I’m writing yet, other than to say that it’s very different for me in that it’s more descriptive and told from many perspectives. Oh, and it has the most likely chance of being my first trilogy…assuming I get it written and sold.
Is there any non-fiction book you’d recommend?
I tend to be a bit death obsessed in my writing, so it doesn’t shock me that the non-fiction book that most stands out is Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen. It’s about the different ways in which we honour loved ones after death. I’m also a tiny bit nerdy, so I loved business books like Freakonomics and The Tipping Point.
Do you have a daily word count goal?
Any words at all is my daily goal. Some days I write 4,000 words; others, I write 50. Consistency is preferred, but it’s not always doable when I’m running around with twin pre-schoolers.
Advice for aspiring authors?
Well, it sounds too simple but my advice is: Have fun. It’s very easy to get caught up in worrying about audiences and hyphens and getting an agent and the ticking clock and, and, and...
I write because I’m not me if I don’t. I think most writers probably feel the same way. I find that when I’m writing for the fun of it—even if against a deadline—my very best words and stories come to the surface.
Thank you Cat for coming on the blog today.
The Originals, Cat’s third book is out now to buy, published by Egmont.
To find out more about Cat Patrick: