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Patricia McCormick

As a child

I was born in Washington, DC and grew up in a bland suburban development, not unlike the settings in my books. It was a place that, perhaps because of the sameness of all the houses, often made me feel different, out of place and lonely. I’ve been writing since I was a kid - starting with truly terrible plays I put on starring my little sisters in costumes pulled from the dress-up bin. Later, as a skinny fourth grader, I carried my father’s old briefcase back and forth to school full of plays and stories I’d inflict on my friends and teachers. Back then, I was inspired by the desire to create a world that was much more exciting than the one in which I found myself.

As an adult

I went to Rosemont College in Pennsylvania, then Columbia University and The New School in New York city. When I left college, I worked as a journalist. Occasionally I wrote magazine stories and served as a bi-weekly entertainment columnist for the New York Times, was a contributing editor to Parents magazine and was a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, Ladies Home Journal, Town & Country, More, Reader’s Digest, Mademoiselle and other publications. Being a free-lance journalist allows you the freedom of writing about any number of topics and to address a variety of readers, but the focus has always been to write fiction.

As an artist

It’s important for me to have a routine when I write. I like to take the time to write every day in a place where I can’t be disturbed - no television, no phone. If you’re in a space that’s quiet without distraction you may find that the words in your head will find their way more easily to the page. Some writers like to plan their books to some degree, but I never make an outline. I find that it cramps my thinking. I discover what the book is about as I go along. Someone once said that writing is like driving at night. You only need to see the stretch of highway right in front of you. That's how I like to write. With a sense of what's just ahead, but not what's around the bend. That way, the act of writing is a discovery for me, too, the way it is for a reader. I try to be fearless as I write, and I try to catch myself when I’m avoiding something or writing stylishly because, at least for me, that’s also a way of avoiding getting personal in my writing. I’ve always been pretty hard on myself as a critic and an editor - which I’m trying to stop since that attitude only hurts my confidence, which in turn shuts down creativity. My Brother’s Keeper, Cut and Sold could not have been written had I been unwilling to plumb some parts of myself that are otherwise difficult to express outside of the voices of my characters.

Things you didn't know about Patricia McCormick

  1. I'd like to meet David Beckham, Barack Obama and Tobias Wolff.
  2. I love watching professional soccer with my son.
  3. I enjoy listening to KT Turnstall, Corinne Baily Rae and Michael Buble.
  4. Bono, Ruchira Gupta and Ghandi are my heroes.
  5. I watched and enjoyed Knocked up. Really. Other favorite movies - 'The Lives of Others', 'Born into Brothels', and 'Water'.
  6. I’m a fan of modern dance and love to move!
  7. I am hooked - completely and totally - on 'LOST' and 'The Closer'.
  8. My favorite books are: 'Member of the Wedding' by Carson McCullers, 'This Boy's Life' by Tobias Wolff, 'Gingerbread' by Rachel Cohn, 'Many Stones' by Carolyn Coman, 'Tuck Everlasting' by Natalie Babbitt, 'Everything Ever Written' by Raymond Carver, 'Ellen Foster' by Kay Gibbons and everything by A.M. Homes.
  9. When I was in the sixth grade, I used to climb out my bedroom window onto the garage and smoke cigars.
  10. I STILL love the smell of a cigar!

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