Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
My intended audience was me, and I had to read it because I wrote it. My novel is steeped in nature and natural history, some might call it environmental fiction, so it should attract people interested in nature, as well as humorous fiction. People like me.
Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and discovered a whole new genre? How did it turn out?
When I write short stories they turn out to be almost dreamlike and foggy, experimental with a stream-of-conscious quality that reminds me of Falkner’s “The Sound and the Fury,” – quite different than my novel, which is more grounded, quick-reading and humorous. Looking over my poems, I also realized I’ve experimented with many different poetic styles over the years.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m a wildlife biologist. I have a passion for salamanders and frogs. I kiss them. I’ve held copperheads and alligators and snapping turtles. I’ve touched a Florida panther. I’ve cradled spotted owls like they were my babies and watched them as they have slowly slid towards extinction. But, because I have only a BS in wildlife biology, it’s impossible for me to get full-time work (you need a PhD for that), so I have lived as a seasonal biologist, meaning I’m unemployed in the winter, and in those dark months I turn to writing and art and music. So, to answer your question, I’m part-time scientist, part-time writer. It kind of balances things out.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There’s a thin barrier between reality and fiction, and at times, they almost touch, causing sparks, giving me goosebumps. I gave the character Peter Vernon many of my obsessions – amphibians, gourds, home-brewing and tofu-making – and then set him in a fictional plot and let him go crazy. I grew fond of Peter. I kind of like him more than I do myself.
Was ‘Somewhere Upriver’ always going to be your title? Or did you have to play around with ideas first?
Originally it was “Ockham’s Razor” because all of the zany things that happen in the book have a rational explanation (Ockham’s razor is a scientific philosophy that maintains the simplest answer to a question is the correct one). But the term “razor” could imply the story is full blood and gore to someone who doesn’t know the term, plus there are lots of books with that title already. Somewhere Upriver actually came from “Words for a Sunset,” a poem in my chapbook, “Song of the Winter Wren” –
A screech owl tests its trilling voice
on the night, as bats unfold
from dark corners, chase moths
in an endless game of evolution.
And somewhere upriver the elk bed down,
waiting out the darkness…
Tell us a little about your main character Douglas, what’s he like?
My novel’s scaffolding is similar to Jack Kerorauc’s “On the Road” in that both books are a first person narrative of a short-lived, intense friendship that alters the narrator’s life forever. The “I” in “On the Road” is less interesting than Dean Moriatory, and similarly the I in my book, Douglas Mortimer, is less interesting than Peter Vernon, the larger than life character who becomes a mentor to Douglas. Douglas is a young aspiring biologist seeking a master’s degree with insanely high views of what it means to be a scientist, a view that comes from his mother, but Peter Vernon shows Douglas that scientists can live their lives as earthy, fun-loving, dirt-under-their-fingernails field biologists.
If your book were made into a movie, who do you picture playing Douglas’ part?
My publisher maintains that Peter should be played by Johnny Depp. Who am I to argue? As for Douglas’ part, we’re still open for auditions. I am actually writing a movie screenplay this winter for the novel because I think it would translate well.
This book has a Goodreads giveaway ending January 24, 2014.
Patrick Loafman is a wildlife biologist, artist and musician living on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. His fiction and poetry have been published in two chapbooks and over twenty literary journals. He edits “The Dandelion Farm Review” and his short story collection, “A Freckle Shaped like California,” is forthcoming. “Somewhere Upriver” is his first novel ans it is published by Event Horizon Press.
How to get in touch with Patrick: