Chandlerman releases his first mystery thriller
By Srianthi Perera, Donor
Chandler resident Steven Patterson’s debut novel is set primarily in Gilbert, where a serial killer is on the loose.
The scene is not typical of the city. In fact, it is macabre and disturbingly similar to another law enforcement scene encountered a few months ago.
Patterson’s suspense thriller “Not Normal” also features Mesa, Tempe and Chandler.
“I always thought of Gilbert as a quiet suburb and wondered, what if she was being terrorized by a serial killer? In my mind, Gilbert seems so friendly and safe that I wanted to exploit that,” he said. he stated. “There’s also a ‘farming community’ feel to it, and that’s where our antagonist is most at home.”
Patterson has lived in Arizona since 1982, which is why landmarks such as the Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe appear in the book. His father worked there as a miller in the 1980s.
The setting also includes parts of the Midwest, where Patterson spent his early years: Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
“Not Normal,” the first in the Normal series, features teenager Anthony Jacobson, who has worked hard to develop a pleasant personality.
In the words of the author: “It was no easy task given his sordid family background and the gossip mill of his hometown in Nebraska. His theater was above all a success. Teachers bragged about his character, his younger brother idolized him, and his classmates wanted to be him. However, some have seen through his mask, including his mother. They knew Anthony Jacobson wasn’t normal.
“Years later, Patricia Hopkins watched from the security of her home as two detectives stepped over police yellow tape and entered the adjacent bungalow in suburban Gilbert, Arizona. What greeted them was macabre and disturbing.
Detectives track down the killer and explore the mindset of a psychopath. Patterson uses the genre’s tools of horror, mystery, and suspense to shape its story.
It looks like the author started honing his horror skills quite young. “I’m a movie buff in general; however, I have always loved horror,” he said.
John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and horror movies are among his favorites. “As a kid, I wanted to see all the horror movies that came out; but he was too young to do it,” Patterson recalled. “My mom took me to them, even though she hated the genre.”
He read thrillers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Robert McCammon. King’s “The Stand” is his all-time favorite, while Koontz’s “Whispers” and McCammon’s “Swan Song” follow close behind.
To write his own novel, Patterson had a general outline in mind before launching.
“I like stories that jump back in time,” he said, citing Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” as inspiration.
“As a result, I knew bits and pieces of the antagonist’s life. I would think of each as an independent story; therefore, I could randomly place them throughout the novel. In the end, I wanted everything to loop and intertwine,” he said.
Asked about the best part of his story, Patterson said, “It has a fun reveal that I can’t talk too much about. From my reviews, readers seem to appreciate the detail I use in each scene. They also enjoy the time jumps and how it ultimately comes down to a story. It contains many Easter eggs for fans of the genre; finding them is always fun.
Patterson took a long time to finish her novel. He started writing it in 1997, but stopped after a few chapters.
Life occupied him. During his youth, he lived in Ahwatukee and attended Corona del Sol High School, where he met his future wife, Christi. He studied electrical engineering at Arizona State University, but earned a Bachelor of Science degree in economics. He has worked in help desk management throughout his working life.
The couple, who have lived in Chandler since 1999, have raised two sons, Joshua and Nathan, who are both in college.
When the sons were younger, sports, especially baseball, took over family life.
“I was a very active father. I coached my kids in soccer and baseball. Once they got serious about baseball, I helped coach their club teams,” Patterson said. “My wife Christi was the mother of the team and extremely active with them too.”
Every weekend was dedicated to tournaments, he said.
“Our team, ‘The East Valley Devils’ was a really tight bunch. Our vacations were spent together, often around tournaments in places like Temecula, Vegas and San Diego. The first person who asked me to sign their copy from Not Normal was Mike Fritz, who runs the East Valley baseball league in Chandler.
After the sons received baseball scholarships and left home, family life became quiet. “Much of my life was over,” he said.
In 2019, her mother died unexpectedly.
“She was an amazing woman and the glue that held our family together. As an example of the type of woman she was, on her 80th birthday she went skydiving,” he said. “As a kid, I loved horror movies and novels. She hated them. However, since I was too young to attend or buy them myself, she took me to the movies and bought the novels.
He dedicated his first novel to her. It felt natural, he said.
Two months after her death, Patterson was fired two days after celebrating her 20th anniversary in her job. “My 20th birthday celebration was the Friday before, with cake, cards and a plaque,” he said.
Depressed, Patterson began delivering food to make ends meet.
“Plus, I picked up my two chapters from 1997 and a year later I self-published my first novel on Amazon,” he said.
The author credits the pandemic in part for allowing him to write and complete the story. Writing helped him deal with his depression.
“I was unemployed and in a pandemic; therefore, it was my release,” he said. “Only two chapters were completed before the Coronavirus. I also had to change the dates to pre-Corona, to make the story realistic. It ends with a reference to the pandemic.
Patterson is writing a sequel, set in the paranormal, titled “Para-Normal”. Many smaller characters return for bigger parts here.
“I loved these characters so much, even though they didn’t occupy much time in the novel,” he said. “I bring them back to enjoy more terror.”
“Not Normal” by Steven Patterson is available on amazon.com for $15.