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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book Review: The Tear Collector + Author Interview: Patrick Jones

Summary: Fans of urban fantasy should prepare for a new kind of vampire–one that feeds off of tears instead of blood. Descended from an ancient line of creatures that gain their energy from human tears, Cassandra Gray depends on human sorrow to live. Only Cass has grown tired of living this life and wants to live like a human, especially now that she's met someone worth fighting for.
My Review: I really enjoyed reading this book. The vampire novels that are written now a days express the stereotypical blood sucking vampires. However, Patrick Jones totally took another approach to the definition of a vampire. At first I was a little skeptical since I have a fascination with the whole smooth, sexy approach of a vampire. But, once I got into the story with the main character Cassandra, I fell in love with the new type of urban fantasy. I loved the concept of vampires needing tears instead of blood. It is definitely not gruesome and does not fulfill a sexy, satisfying feel like the stereotypical vampire would experience. It is a more deep, emotional connection that these vampires have to induce with the human in order to receive their energy. So, I thought the idea of vampires having to work their way into getting what they want was awesome. I also feel Cassandra was relateable because most human beings fight turmoil within themselves and seek a way to rebel against the nature that every parent enforces on us. I recommend this book to readers if they are looking for something fresh and new that hasn't been done before.
My Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Pre-order it here:

Patrick Jones is the author of The Tear Collector which will be released on September 1, 2009. He's written other books such as Cheated, Nailed and Stolen Car. Thank you for taking the time out to do this interview and I enjoyed reading The Tear Collector and look forward to reading your other books.

For more info on Patrick, check out his official website:

1) Patrick, when did you start writing?

I published my first article at age eight in a pro wrestling newsletter called "In this Corner" published out of Long Island. Growing up, I was (and still remain) a huge fan of pro wrestling. In high school, I wrote -- although had no place to publish -- pretty typical teen poetry slash song lyrics slash spleen venting, as well as writing one-act plays for theater and copy for the yearbook.
After college / grad school, I entered the li
brary profession and pretty soon started publishing professionally. My first journal article came out in 1986 and my first book in 1992. I did three editions of that first book (Connecting Young Adults and Libraries) and also wrote or co-wrote six other titles, as well as another seventy or so articles. While my first novel Things Change came out in 2004, I actually wrote in back in 1988. The title is ironic for lots of reasons, one of them being that almost everything in the book changed from that 1988 draft.

2) What inspired you to write The Tear Collector?

Spite and greed. I was visiting a library in Fort Wayne IN chatting with a friend on 15 March 2008. A girl came into the teen area looking for something to read. The teen librarian suggested one of my books. She read the back of it, then said “No. I only read vampire books." So, I decided to write one out of spite. The foundation of the book including key scenes, major characters, the central conflicts, and the "mythology" all came to me in the three hours it took to drive between Fort Wayne IN and Flint MI. The weird thing about it being March 15 is 3-15 is the number between science (3.14 for pie or 3-14 for Einstein's birthday) and 3-16 (Johns 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Christian Bible, and the cornerstone of that faith). So, it was really strange that this book about the place between faith and fact was conceived on 3-15. The greed part is simple. It’s hard to be writing in the YA world, see the vampire pie and not want a slice.

But if I knew if I was to do that, I needed to be different than the Twilight template. I don't recall the 'aha ' moment when I came up with tears, but I recall a few things A couple days before I came up with the idea I was at a class visit and watched this teen girl throw a huge crying fit, and it got me thinking how much tear-producing drama happens in a high school. In my first novel Things Change, I had a gimmick where the main character Johanna believes -- based on something her grandmother told her -- that every tear has a different taste. Also I’d noticed people sitting in cars in parking lots crying, which made the opening scene But it was mostly wanting to do a vampire-like book that wasn't about blood sucking (or other fluids because I do work in the YA world afterall), and realizing the limited possibilities.

3) Are the characters in the book based on someone you know?

You could argue that the book is based on every YA writer: most of us are like Cassandra, we are tear collectors. We write about tough times and if we do it well, it causes our readers to react emotionally, which makes us feel good. The Goth girl in the book Samantha is loosely based on two teenage girls I met doing school visits, one of them who even contributed the poem that Samantha writes in the book. Some of the scenes, like the one where Samantha slams the door when she sees Cassandra talking to her ex-Scott, are based on things I saw during a school visit. You see, what I mean about YA authors as tear collectors: we thrive on teen angst.

4) What was the hardest part of writing The Tear Collector?

Creating the mythology and figuring out a way to slowly reveal it that fit into the narrative flow. I always joke the reason I don’t read fantasy let alone write it, is I have enough trouble understanding the rules of this universe without imagining another one. Also, even though it is not a pure vampire book, there are certain conventions and clichés of that genre you have to respect. So I had an original idea spun off of a very well known plot. But still I wanted to write about things in the teen experience, such as rumors and gossip, which makes a lot of this book a “realistic teen novel” with supernatural elements. The writing of the book itself went very quickly. I got it out of my head on paper / in the computer in six weeks. There was lots of polishing and rewriting after that, but the core story was there by May 2008. My process is very different from other YA writers in that I invite teens to read my stuff after a good first draft so I can get immediate feedback. I had about ten teens – all of them named in the acknowledgments - who provided ideas, asked questions, and made suggestions. My editor at Walker Books, Emily Easton, as always, had plenty of notes/cuts/suggestions/changes, but the biggest one was pushing to the front the romance between Cassandra and Scott. The other big change was the title. I wanted to call it Cannibal Tears because Cassandra is somewhat of a cannibal. While she’s not human, she does consume human parts, albeit tears not flesh. But the folks at Walker thought, for some odd reason, that Cannibal wasn’t a marketable word. I suggested TWILIGHT Tears, but I guess legal had a problem with that, so Emily came up with The Tear Collector.

5) Out of all the books you've written, which one is your favorite?

That’s tough, so I’ll say three for three very different reasons. Things Change, but not because it was my first novel but because it has had such a positive influences on readers. It is rare a week goes by that I don’t get an email or myspace/facebook message from someone who read the book and says, more or less, “I am Johanna. I am in / was in a violent dating relationship, and your book helped me get out.” That’s powerful stuff. I like Tear Collector a lot just because it is very different than my other novels, although I normally have a Holy &(I@ ending / last line in every book. Then like most authors, my favorite book - or at least the one I’m most excited about it the one I’ve just finished writing which is called Clicked which I’ll be turning in at the end of June 2009. It’s a very realistic novel mainly about teen sexuality, including pornography.

6) If you had to sum up The Tear Collector in one word what would it be?


7) Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest?

Okay, true confession: before I wrote for teens, I worked as a teen librarian and read hundreds of YA books every year. One year, I topped 300. I’m down to a handful, and mainly by authors that I’ll be speaking with on a panel. I liked books by two “stable mates” – Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles and Jeannine Garsee's novel Before, After, and Somebody In Between. Like most people, I was just blown away by WinterGirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. I do have a good reads page, although I’m not that good about keeping it up-to-date. I mainly read nonfiction: any pro wrestling book, some baseball biography, and US politics/history (and in that order).

8) What book are you currently reading?

I’m rereading The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam about the Korean War in my nonfiction pile, and from the teen pile, I just finished Unraveling by Michelle Baldini and Lynn Biederman, this great novel about a 15 year old girl's rocky road toward her first sexual experience. It was funny, touching, and a perfect voice. Two books I also just read and even blurbed were The Mitochonrial Curiousities of Marcels 1 - 19, which is a lot better than it's title. Again, great voice. Also Hate List by Jennifer Brown (I guess I'm reading only B books) which takes on the always difficult topic of school shootings with an interesting angle with the book told from the POV of the shooter's girlfriend. All three of these books are first person accounts with strong females voices of young women learning to deal with loss.

9) Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

There are several things in Tear Collector unexplained. Some because it was hard to work them in the narrative without it seeming like an info dump, and others because like most writers of speculative fiction, I’m thinking of other books with the same characters or same “world” and don’t want to give it all away in one setting. The main thing I’d want to say to readers of Tear Collector is I want to hear from you about what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what you wish you knew more about. I’m easy to find via email, facebook, or myspace.

10) Tell us something about yourself that no one knows about.

Other than wrestling, my favorite TV show growing up – and this only people in Ohio and Michigan will get – was The Ghoul. Scratch glass, turn blue. Do it while you can, but don’t get caught (cue up the song Surfin’ Bird by the Trashmen – Papa-ooma-mow-mow).


Anonymous said...

Great review and interview. I Can't wait to read The Tear Collector. It sounds so good. :)

Jessica (BookLover) said...

Wow, that sounds like a great read! Thanks for the review, I'll definitely be on the look out for this one.

Pizza said...

Well at least it's not a stereotype. Just wondering, is it a romance? I don't like romance although this book looks okay. Because it is by a man it might not be girlish, I just want to know your opinion.

Is it a girls book?


Well, Pizza...the main character is a girl...however, their is a good amount of guys in the book. I wouldn't consider the book to be girlie though, the romance is subtle and not cheesy so maybe you'll like it. If you're looking for a book that had guy characters I recommend I am the messenger by Markus Zusak, it's super good, and I think you'll enjoy the narration because it is from a guy's perspective..


I just re-read your question Pizza, and yeah it is by a man, so it's different...but really good...

Lee Beth said...

I just now found your site. It looks really interesting, so I decided I'd follow. If you were interested maybe you could come check out my blog.

PopinFresh said...

Great review and interview! I want to read this even more so now.

~ Popin

Pizza said...

Cool, I do find it hard to comment on some of your posts as they are a bit girly for me. I might read this one, I gotta go to the city for now, later Eleni. :)

Kate said...

I love your review and interview. The Tear Collector looks so good.

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