James Royce Patterson from Penleak writers collective

1 April 2015 / Leave a Comment

James Royce Patterson is an author of dark fantasy; he's into myths, monsters, and hidden worlds where everything is strange. He's also a member of the writing collective Penleak, along with Benjamin Lancaster and Christopher Tunstall. The three members contribute writing advice and articles to Penleak. James tells us about his new book and collaborating with other writers, artists and musicians ...

Please tell us a little about Penleak and how the idea for the site was born?
Penleak started about four years ago in Toronto, though none of us were aware of it at the time. My friend Benjamin Lancaster was working as an editor for a small publishing house and agreed to be the editor for my first, awful attempt at a novel. A couple of years later we started a writer’s workshop that over time whittled down to just three members, the two of us and the fine English gentleman Christopher Tunstall. We spent the next year critiquing each other’s work, learning from each other, and growing as writers.

In late 2013, over a few pints, the three of us decided it was time to establish ourselves online, and become seen. We didn’t want to be just another bunch of writer’s plugging themselves shamelessly. We wanted to offer the community something. We began working on an advice site. Considering there were already so many writing advice blogs out there we wanted to offer something a little different. So we built a site that’s all about ease. We wanted it to be a comfortable and engaging read. We wanted it to be a quick read. In essence, we wanted it to be appealing to the goldfish attention span of the internet generation. We still have a lot to learn and change, but hopefully we’ve given some writers a little lift on their arduous journeys.

How does collaborating with other writers, artists and musicians help your work?
The writing life can be a lonely life. As much as I love drifting away into fantasy worlds and living there for a while, I sometimes want to share that joy. That’s what collaboration does for me. It’s a sort of communion, allowing two or more people to feel and experience the same thing at the same time. And it creates this fascinating world where you witness a creation grow, on its own in a way, a product of multiple view-points converging yet belonging to no one. Somehow the whole process feels more alive than solitary work.

There’s also a valuable practical element. I’ve worked not only with other writers, but with artists and musicians. I learned so much from each of them. You pick up tricks and techniques and allow another perspective to seep into yours and change it forever. I believe there is no greater learning opportunity for an artist than to mesh minds with the mind of another.

Please tell us a little about your novel Who is the bringer? due out this year.
Who is the Bringer? or the Bringer (I haven’t quite decided on the title yet) is a dark and weird crossover fantasy, initially set in the make-believe town of Fliffton. The protagonist, Billy Cunningham, is the only Fliff in town who isn’t a cake-obsessed, puppy-patting, ever-happy idiot.

For years he tries to escape to the ominous castle overlooking town (the Bringer’s Abode) and finally succeeds after many failures. He meets this mysterious Bringer, a powerful figure with intentions that remain unclear despite their meeting. Deciding the Bringer will send him back, Billy flees through a secret door and ends up in an Earth metropolis. It feels like freedom for the first time in his life, but there is a strange and violent price to pay, not so much for him but for the rest of the people inhabiting his new world. He must return to the Bringer and stop the collapse of reality before there is nothing left to save.

What do you like most about being a writer and musician in this digital age?
Direct access to the market for a start. I can share my work now without having to kowtow to the traditional industry gatekeepers. There’s greater opportunity for me to represent my own work but obviously that comes with greater responsibility. If I do my due diligence, and create a quality product, the market is there for the taking.

It also just makes the whole working process so much easier. As a writer I can do my research, I can keep up to date with the community, I can network, a can organize, and I can write all on the same device. The same goes for music. Zonto was comprised of six different artists with six very separate schedules. For all of us it was a second project at best. Without dropbox, we never would have made these tracks. Our brilliant producer Stephen Cooper of Mune would post a looped beat on our dropbox and we’d write a response in our own time. It allowed six different guys with very busy creative lives to come together and produce work of a high quality whilst rarely being in the same place at the same time.


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