My name is Patricia Hopper Patteson and I’m a native of Dublin, Ireland. I have an M.A. from WVU in Education Leadership. I received honors from WVU such as the Waitman Barbe Creative Writing Award and the Virginia Butts Sturm Award while working on my B.A. I also received literary awards from the West Virginia Writers’ competitions ranging from second place to honorable mention. I’ve been published (fiction and non-fiction) in the U.S. and Ireland in magazines, reviews, and anthologies.
Patricia is the author of “Broken Chain” in Fed From the Blade.
1. When did you first begin writing?
I always enjoyed writing, but never took it very seriously until I started working on my undergraduate degree, which for me, happened later than most. I was already married and the mother of two children. I started out as an accounting major when I took a creative writing class as part of my core studies. I became hooked and changed my major from Accounting to English.
2. What writer’s style has influenced you the most?
Some writers that I admire include: Deirdre Purcell, Margaret Atwood, Morgan Llywelyn and Michael Connelly.
3. How many different genres do you write?
I write short story, novel, and nonfiction.
4. Were (are) there other writers in your family? Who and what did (do) they write?
If you asked me how many accountants are in my family, I could probably say there’s enough to audit Fort Knox. However, they can all claim the gift of the gab, and will embellish even the worst story to make it sound good. More seriously, I have a cousin who’s a journalist, and a great-aunt who published poetry. Both my sisters are good writers and my older brother dabbles in poetry. But they’ve never pursued writing to become published.
5. How did you come to West Virginia?
I came to West Virginia by way of Italy. My ex-husband was in the US Air Force. We met by accident when he was on TDY in Italy and stopped in Venice where I worked with tourists as a salesclerk/interpreter. We later married in Germany and I came to the States. He’s from West Virginia.
6. Who or what in West Virginia inspires you in your writing?
I really enjoy Denise Giardina’s novels about West Virginia. She has a way of capturing the dialect, the essence, struggles and the history of Southern West Virginia. She takes you into that world, the same way that Roddy Doyle defines certain parts of Dublin where the old dialect is potent. He can speak eloquently, but when he’s around old pals he reverts to the old Dublin dialect. He portrays it perfectly in his novels and stories.
7. Why did you send your piece that is included in Fed From the Blade?
I wrote “Broken Chain” for my family and I’m delighted to see it published. For most of her life, my mother was ashamed of her fosterage—intellectually she understood that her mother was young and naïve when she became pregnant and was disowned by her family. But my mother had trouble coming to terms with abandonment, although she didn’t find out she was a foster child until she was 14 years old. My sister wanted to give my mother a sense of belonging, which is why she set out to find the identity of our grandmother. I think most people can relate to that need for belonging in their lives.
8. Write to this scenario: You are peacefully floating along in a canoe on a serene lake in Ireland with yourself when you were 15. Give that 15-year-old you what you want her to know about her ancestry in Ireland and about being a writer.
To be Irish is to come from a country and know her long struggle for independence and identity. To know from history if you set a goal and believe in it strongly enough you will succeed—but expect to fail at times along the way. There are living stories of mythology, Christianity, poverty, struggle and independence carved into the Irish landscape that can also be felt in the laughter and warmth of the people. As my sister said when she returned from Australia to live back in Ireland—life is softer there.