Ty Patterson is the USA Today best selling author of the Warrior action-thriller series, featuring special forces operative Zeb Carter, along with a fantastic cast of quirky and fascinating supporting characters. Many of these characters have gone on to star in spin-off projects of their own. Ty is known for having an amazing connection with his readers, and he seems to have a knack for writing exactly what they want to read next! I’ve been a fan of Ty’s writing, and his exemplary work ethic, for a long time. So, I’m thrilled and honored to present an interview with Ty himself. I hope you all enjoy it!
Tell us about yourself… how did you become a writer? What other writers influenced you?
I have always been writing, short pieces of fiction or humor, that got published in various magazines. What pushed me into writing longer stories, thrillers, was a combination of events. I found myself spending a lot of time on social media, which got my better half to challenge me to put my time to better use 😊. The other was that, I had started writing bits and pieces of a particular story, which started coming together, and became The Warrior.
I am heavily influenced by thriller writers, which I guess is understandable, since I love and write in that genre. Joseph Finder, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Dashiel Hammett, Robert Crais. Greg Rucka, are some of my go-to authors. Your books, Andrew, are great reads as well, and I never fail to watch out for your latest releases.
Another author, Louis L’Amour, not strictly a thriller author, has been a great influence as well.
What led you to create Zeb Carter? As a character, What do you think makes Zeb so popular with your readers?
That’s a very good question. I was very keen to not create just another loner hero, when I started writing. Therefore, I made Zeb to be the lead operative of a team. I think what appeals to my readers is that interesting dynamic: Zeb is a loner, but heads a team. He is not much of a conversationalist, but his crew are witty, and love pulling his leg.
His intense loyalty to his team, and to his country, without being jingoistic, is also what makes him popular.
How long did it take you to become a best selling author? Did achieving that success change anything for you in terms of your writing process, or that kind of books you write?
A long time, Andrew 😊. I, like many new authors, was certain that The Warrior, my first book, would be a mega bestseller. I was confident that Hollywood would come calling in the first week.
Reality hit me a few months later. It made me realize that the power dynamic was firmly in the readers’ hands, not in mine. All I could do was write the kind of stories that they needed to hear.
I hit the USA Today Bestselling List, last June, with Zero. That was my eight book, a good three years after The Warrior.
I think a lot of authors think that indie publishing is a race. It isn’t. It is a journey.
What I write hasn’t fundamentally changed since I first started out. I still write action thrillers, but I have started releasing more often. I have a year long release schedule, which means there’s a new book by me, out there, every quarter.
It is the non-writing parts of indie publishing that I have had to learn. Professional book covers, a good editor, meeting deadlines, managing a reader list…. those are as important, if not more so, than the stories themselves.
In 2015, I also started a new series, the Gemini Series, featuring twins, Beth and Meghan Petersen. They are part of Zeb’s crew, but I wanted them to have their own stories.
Those books are more in the detective/private investigator genre. I wanted to attract a different audience with those books, and also not have all my eggs in the action thriller basket, which was why I started that series. Those books are coming along well.
Based your body of work, you must be an incredibly prolific writer! Tell us about your writing process… do you write every day? Do you set a word count target? What tools do you find indispensable for your work?
I write every day except on weekends and when on vacation. My word count target is 2k a day. That is an achievable target for me. I could write more, but that would have an impact on other parts of my work day. I self-edit as I write, so that when I complete a book, it is good to go to my external editor.
In terms of tools, I am pretty backward. I use MS Word for my writing, and that’s pretty much it!
When writing, I turn off all devices, except for the radio. Soft music in the background is my companion.
What do you think are the key ingredients of a page-turning spy thriller? What do you look for when you read for your own pleasure?
I think in terms of three Ps. Person, Plot, and Pace.
Person – a protagonist readers can identify with. For me, that’s someone strong, but at the same time, sensitive. A protagonist who has a strong moral code but accepts that life isn’t black or white.
Plot – something believable. I like books which are set in contemporary times, and write on the same lines. For example, terrorism, financial fraud, cyber terrorism, those are all current hot themes anywhere in the world. The books I read have a lot of those themes.
Pace – this is what makes me continue reading a book or give up. I love books in which something happens in each chapter. In action or spy thrillers, the ‘something’ is usually a confrontation, a set back, a pivot.
Describing how paint dries, wouldn’t hold my attention 😊.
Which reminds me, I don’t like books that are crammed with technical details – such as descriptions of weapons, or rate of fire. I find such details interfere with the flow of story.
I go back to Louis L’Amour whenever I have to describe an ideal book. His Westerns had the three Ps in ample!
How did you get involved with self-publishing? What do you think the future of publishing will be for independent writers like yourself?
I never even considered going to trad publishers or agents. I disliked the idea of sending hundreds of emails and waiting for someone to bite.
Indie publishing suits me. I am a person who likes to be in control of my own destiny. Self publishing allows me that freedom. I can choose which editors or cover designers to work with. I set my own writing schedule. I am beholden only to my readers.
I think indie publishing is here to stay. The line between trad and self-publishing are blurring. What I mean by that is, readers, now accept that there is a kind of author who publish their own work.
Frankly, readers are caring less and less whether a book is trad or indie publishing. It is the content that matters.
Now, what that means, is that indie authors will have to up their game. Market forces will demand that the books they put out look as good as what trad publishers release.
Covers, blurbs, proof-reading, editing – all those matter now.
The indie authors who neglect all those aspects will not succeed in the long run.
In terms of the long term, I think indie and trad publishing will co-exist. Trad publishers will not become extinct. They play an important role in the publishing eco-system. They can get books into physical stores – something indie publishers aren’t able to do as a group.
I also think indie authors will start getting more respect from our trad peers. After all, we don’t have a support system behind us. Our success is totally down to us, and not to a ‘brand name’ publisher.
You have an incredibly dedicated and engaged fanbase… what advise would you give new authors on building, nurturing, and engaging with their audience?
I don’t engage as much as I would like with my fan base. That said, my suggestion would be create a fan base in the first place. That starts with something as simple as a mailing list.
Then, cultivate that fanbase. Share exclusive content with those readers. Get them to engage in return. Conduct polls. Ask them to suggest character or place names. Acknowledge those readers in your book.
Believe me, if a reader can hold a book up and find herself or himself in the acknowledgements page – that’s gold dust. Those readers will go a long way towards supporting you.
No author should forget that, for all the Facebook ads we run, for all the sponsored mailing lists we can get on to, word-of-mouth is the greatest tool at our disposal.
If an author gets a dedicated fan base – that’s word-of-mouth multiplied several times over.
What’s upon next for you and your writing? Do you plan to stick with action thrillers, or are there other genres you would like to tackle? Any other projects or endeavors you’d like to highlight?
I am thinking of starting a new SciFi series. The interesting thing is I don’t like scifi that deals with aliens or interstellar warfare. I am sure it will sound sacrilegious to many, but Star Trek does nothing for me 😊.
So my SciFi series will be action thrillers, set in the future. A bit like J.D. Robb’s In Death series, but without the romance, and with more action.
Right now, all I have got is a working title. I am still working on a release schedule. I am thinking of publishing either late this year, or early next year.
The title will be, The Last Gunfighter of Space 😊.
If you could be any hero of the spy thriller genre for a day, who would you choose and why?
Andrew, I used to repair large diesel engines, when I started my career. I sold tea to street-side stalls. I exported luxury leather products. I sold software. Now, I write thrillers.
The point is, my characters have their own lives, and I have mine. I don’t have much interest in living their lives 😊.
And on that cop-out answer, thank you so much for interviewing me.
I’d like to thank Ty for making the time for this interview. He’s a great writer who has earned his success, and a fantastic guy as well! If you’d like to learn more about Ty Patterson and his books, please visit his website HERE.