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The Curious Creator: An Interview with Pattie Palmer-Baker, author of MALL

Palmer Baker

I write poetry and personal essays. I also create visual artwork—collages of paste paper with calligraphy of my poetry. I never planned on writing a novel until one day I wondered what life would be like if the world were a huge mall. I began to imagine a place somewhat similar to our reality but also radically different—a place where everyone is beautiful, and everyone is employed with enough income to consume and to experience pleasure, including drugs, gambling, theater, and holographic adventures. No poverty and little or no crime. A lot of sex. But what’s the catch…and what happens when a woman from our reality finds her way into this alien yet familiar world? Does she try to leave or does she stay? Who changes the most—the woman who befriends her or the outsider? Only by writing a novel did I discover the answers in enough detail to satisfy my curiosity. Mall is my first novel.

You can buy MALL here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The title came from the concept. A world inside a mall, although I sometimes wish I had titled it Freedomfrum, the name of an expensive and effective drug some Mallites might take when other pharmaceuticals no longer give the expected results.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I was so excited! I, and a friend who is a professional photographer, created it together. I wanted to get across the idea that the Mall seemed escape proof; that people were more or less imprisoned there.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I am a calligrapher who wanted to create more than beautifully written words. I learned the art of paste paper and started to write poetry and create paste paper collages to illustrate the poems. In addition, I also attended many poetry workshops.

I love sci-fi and I guess I have an active imagination. Once, a city planner friend and I were talking about ways to organize urban areas. I had a brainstorm! What would it be like to live in a mall? After a lot of thinking and imagining, I realized I needed to write my ideas down if I were ever to create a cohesive world with a storyline. It took years of on-again and off-again writing before I began submitting it.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I worked as an elementary and middle school counselor which I believe helped me create the characters in Mall.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I won first prize in a first-book contest! Then I had it republished through Atmosphere Press for fine-tune editing.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

This is a book about choices, about value systems. MALL life is easy and pleasure-filled, but what about freedom to make your own choices? Are hard choices worth it? What would you, as the reader, do if you were in the main characters’ places? What is most important to you? Are you willing to sacrifice—to take risks to achieve that choice?

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I have a poetry collection published by MoonPath Press coming out in June 2023 entitled Five Fundamental Forces.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

They were responsive and did a beautiful editing job. Very available!

You can buy MALL here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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