Friday, September 5, 2014

INTERVIEW: Helen Pattskyn plus #Giveaway!

Today we're talking to the absolutely lovely Helen Pattskyn, who dons the hat she wore for her bridal shower. (Dood, Victorian high tea, seriously! <3 SWOONS!) She's also got a giveaway for fans, so check out her interview for all the details!

Hello Helen and welcome to The Hat Party! <3 Thank you so much for subjecting yourself to the RANDOMNESS that is a Raine O'Tierney interview! Please don your best hat, and let's get started!

You’ve been given the opportunity to go back in time and give your 13-year-old self a message. What do you say?

You’re going to meet a really cute red headed guy at a party. After your date ditches you, ask him out for coffee. See, you’re gonna marry that guy someday; save yourself some heartache and do it sooner. Oh, and for the love of all that’s holy, forget about that guy—yes, he’s cute—who walks into Algebra 101 when you get to high school. He is SO not worth it! His brother’s kinda cool though. Probably not your type, but kinda cool.

And one last thing—Don is worth it. Go for it, but do NOT let him get away with that shit over the age difference. Seriously, he can be an idiot some times, but he’s an awesome, loyal idiot who will be a part of your life for as long as you let him.

Okay, two last things: that girl from flag corps, the one with the “red-red” lips. Yeah. Her. You’re actually going to meet her in a couple of years in middle school, but she doesn’t become trouble until later. I’m sure it’s just some weird baggage issue, but she can be a little psycho. Be polite, it’s who we are, but do NOT get too close—and do NOT date her. Trust me. While you’re at it, stay away from most of the girls you’re attracted to because for some reason you only dig crazy chicks. And yeah, that cute red haired boy you’re going to meet is a little crazy too, but in a good way. Besides, he likes crazy chicks too, so it’s a good match for both of you. Us. Whatever.

One last thing, I promise: your grandmother isn’t going to be around forever. I know it’s hard right now, but try to cut her a little slack and when you get old enough to really be able to be friends with her and talk to her? Do it more often. She’s your best friend and your staunchest ally. It’s okay to move out when you’re nineteen—in fact it’s probably a good idea. Just make more time for phone calls and visits.

So, you were editing along and zombies attack. And they are on fire! What do you do?

Roast marshmallows? I mean, zombies move pretty slow, so chances are the flames’ll kill ’em—or, well, they’re already dead, so incapacitate them, I guess—before they’re much of a concern, right?

Describe yourself using song lyrics.

That’s an easy one! I’ve had a couple of theme songs throughout the years, but right now, it’s Extraordinary by Liz Phair. The chorus goes like this:
“I am extraordinary, if you ever get to know me; I am extraordinary, I am just your ordinary; average everyday sane psycho, super goddess, average ever day sane psycho”

You have 200 words—Make. Me. Swoon. (PLEASE!)

This is from The Wrong Bird a very short story I wrote for an upcoming anthology for Rule 34 Books.

When Seth meets the girl of his dreams at a Mardi Gras Masquerade, things don’t go down quite the way he expects…

Jean’s smile warmed. “I think you might have the wrong bird.”
Seth blinked. “What do you mean?”
“I’m a peacock, not a peahen.
“Dance with me.” Jean downed the last of her drink and wrapped both arms around Seth’s neck. Too dumbfounded to do anything else, he let the tall, red-headed beauty guide him to a darkened corner of the room.
This couldn’t be happening. Girls—women—like Jean didn’t come to him. But there she was, pressing close, grinding against him in time to the thumping music. It was all Seth could do to keep up. But…what was…holy fuck. He stared up at her—him—gobsmacked, because that was a dick pushing against his crotch.
And it was hard.
And Seth couldn’t pull away.
Jean smiled. “You’ve picked on the wrong bird, honey,” she—he—said into Seth’s ear.
He. Him. His. Shit. “Pea…cock,” was the most intelligent thing Seth could think to say. He looked around, unable to help the nervous flutter in his stomach, but ashamed of it nonetheless. “Does anyone know?”

Rule 34 Books is a tiny brand new press currently slated to do quarterly themed anthologies (ebook format) a year; each anthology will feature three stories, two from general submissions, one solicited by the publisher. Yours truly is flattered and thrilled to be the solicited author for the first ebook.

And of course I don’t write “short” so in two years when the rights revert back to me, I’ll write the rest of the novel because after writing the first 5000 words, I can’t wait to finish Jean and Seth’s story!

What makes you inexplicably happy?

My dog

What is your biggest, most-wild writing dream? (Nothing is too outlandish!)

I would *love* for my third novel Hanging by the Moment to be turned into a movie. A TV movie would be fine, as long as it was on like Lifetime or something, and well produced. With me consulting so they don’t mangle the script.

What is your favorite literary quote?

From Steven Brust’s Iorich
“But we’re assassins. When we make mistakes, people live.”
(Brust is one of my all-time favorite authors and one of the very few I will show up to the bookstore to buy, in hardcover, on the day the book is released and woe to the clerks if that book isn’t on the shelf!)

What one food item do you consider to be your arch nemesis?

Brussel Sprouts

Biggest mistake you’ve made in your writing career and what you’ve learned from it.

I’m really lucky in that I haven’t made any giant mistakes (yet, there’s still time, right? *G*) The only thing I’d like to change is that I’d like to write more prolifically because I really do believe that the best marketing for your last book is your next book, and I definitely wish I’d started writing professionally sooner (although if I’d skipped out on a couple of those husbands before marrying the cute red head, I might have. #1 continues to be awesomely supportive of me and is a great friend, but #2? Yeah, not so much. The red head is #3, if anyone’s counting).

And finally, for THE most important question of all: what kinds of dachshunds are the BEST kinds of dachshunds?

The fluffy ones, of course!

~ ~ ~

Pasha Batalov has lived his whole life doing what a good son is expected to do. He dropped out of school to help run the failing family restaurant, and ever since he’s put up with his difficult business partner, who also happens to be his father. And, of course, he keeps his sexual orientation a secret from his conservative, Russian family. After being closeted costs him his first serious relationship, Pasha resigns himself to one-night stands and loneliness.

But a chance encounter with lost delivery-truck driver, Daniel Englewood, has Pasha questioning all of his assumptions about life. Daniel is sweet, funny, smart, drop-dead gorgeous—and for the last six years, he’s been living with HIV. Pasha worries that he won’t be strong enough to help Daniel if HIV turns to AIDS, but he can’t walk away from their deepening attraction. He also doesn’t know if he can be strong enough to face the hardest task that a relationship with Daniel demands: coming out to his family and friends, and risking losing everything else he holds dear.

Audio excerpt (Read by the author!)

Written excerpt, video trailer, and a bunch of other goodies:

Available from Dreamspinner Press


*What inspired you to write the story you’re promoting?

Since I don’t write terribly prolifically, I don’t have any new titles out, but… my last book is very special to my heart. It’s called Hanging by the Moment and it was inspired originally by this gods awful little restaurant I worked at for a couple of months. My heart really does go out to the owner who was just in a tough spot with kids who came in to eat for free (with their friends and brats… I mean adorable children) but couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger to help their mother or father, who has either Alzheimer’s or Dementia (I never knew which, but it was getting pretty bad when I was there.)

So that gave me the setting, although I created a fictional family to work there. All I borrowed from the real family I worked for was the idea of awful children and a parent working themselves into an early grave. I modeled the father in my novel (swapped out for the mother in the place where I worked) largely off of my own grandmother. Many of the conversations Pasha has with his father about Pasha’s homosexuality in Hanging by the Moment, are echoes of conversations my grandmother and I had when I came out as bisexual to her at 19. Some of the things Pasha’s aunt say to him are things that my own great aunts said to me at one time or another. I wouldn’t call Pasha a “Mary Sue,” but there’s a lot of my life mirrored in his.

I was about ten thousand words into the story when the other MC, Daniel, let me know (because really, characters talk to authors, that doesn’t mean we’re psycho or anything *G*) that he was HIV positive.

That was not the story I wanted to write. But it was the story that Daniel demanded I write.
I know the HIV factor has put some readers off Hanging by the Moment, but it’s not a book about dying of HIV/AIDS, it’s a book about living with HIV, falling in love, and finding acceptance.

*Is there anything special you’d like us to know about your book?

Twenty percent of all royalties earned go toward HIV and AIDS awareness and education. Because of the research into attitudes about HIV and AIDS while I was writing Hanging by the Moment, I started volunteering with AIDS Partnership Michigan. Donating money is easy, it’s writing a check; giving my time is more challenging, but infinitely more rewarding.

*What are your hopes for this title?

Honestly? That more people will give it a try. Don’t be scared of the subject matter. No, it’s not fluffy. I don’t seem to be capable of writing fluffy. (My current Work In Progress is about an 18 year old street-level sex worker who engages in self-injury. When I finish that one, my next project is about domestic abuse in a BDSM relationship and tackles the difference between healthy BDSM and real abuse. And Seth and Jean? It might have started out as 5000 words of fun smut, but their story has some darker twists and turns along the way.)

About the Author: Helen Barbara Pattskyn lives with her husband and children (both human and four footed) in Detroit, MI. She is working on becoming a full-time writer as well as doing volunteer work and still trying to find time to putter in her garden, watch the stars, and paint.

Helen describes herself as a storyteller, a science fiction geek, and a bookworm; as introverted but not shy. Her favorite jobs (besides being a writer) have been hawking left-handed mugs at the Georgia and Michigan Renaissance Festivals, and painting polyurethane corpses for Gag Studio. She has also waited tables, cut fabric and worked as a library assistant. If anyone asks, she describes her life as “quiet”—but even she’ll admit that when you condense it into two paragraphs, it suddenly looks a little more interesting.

Connect with Helen Pattskyn:

*~*~*GIVEAWAY TIME!*~*~*

Comment between now and September 9th @ 11:59 PM CDT for your chance to win a signed copy of Hanging by the Moment! Make sure you leave your email address to qualify for entry.


  1. please count me in

  2. H.B. is a new author for me. This book looks fantastic. I'm adding to to my TBR. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    Jczlapin at gmail dot com

  3. Fantastic interview. Love the advice to your younger self, the most.

    Somehow I have forgotten to buy this book, though it's on my TBR shelf, and has been for a while. So I'd love to have a chance to win it! I know I've won a book from you in the past, but if I can enter, well, you can reach me at If I don't win I'll buy it eventually!

  4. I just wanted to pop my head in and say a HUGE thank you to Raine for hosting me today! This was one of the most fun interviews I've ever had the pleasure of doing, especially the part where I got to dust off my bridal shower hat :) Maybe once I unearth the box, I'll post some pics from my wedding and shower on my blog/facebook, seeing as I have a wedding anniversary coming up in a month (October 31. I *think* this will make it year 10, but I've known him forever, even if, alas, the red hair has faded and gone gray...although I may be responsible for one or two of those grays!)

    Thanks again. Have a great weekend, everybody!

  5. I always love the interviews here!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

  6. Great post!!! thank you for letting us to know stuff about you, and the giveaway :)

  7. I'd LOVE to know more about Seth and Jean. Sounds like Jean is a sweet character. Pasha and Daniel sound good as well. I especially fell warm toward Pasha with all the emotional family problems he has. Congratulations and I wish you much success!!