Michael is an author right up my alley. He is deeply interested in the human brain and how it works. Having studied psychology myself, I find this fascinating. This interview process was very easy and enjoyable. Michael was on the ball and provided me with everything I requested in a very prompt timeframe. Visit his website MindRamp.org to take a look at the great materials he has available.
The way in which he answered these questions indicates to me that he has a great sense of humor. This is absolutely essential for authors like us because, most of the time, our books don’t sell. It’s a sad truth. I really love his response when I asked him if he had any marketing advice for fellow authors. It’s a response that I have thought of time and time again when trying to market my books on body language. I won’t spoil it for you. Keep reading to get to know a little bit more about Michael Patterson.
What prompted you to become an author?
My partner, Roger Anunsen (MINDRAMP Consulting) and I have been working together since 2009 to collect all of the relevant research on how to keep our brains healthy and free from dementia. Our goal is to translate the science into practical advice that can be used by the general public. I wanted to collect all of the relevant information in one place. I was not aware of any other book that brought all of the information together in one place, or in the way we organized it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Well, gosh! That’s an impossible question to answer. Since my own books are non-fiction, I won’t mention fiction books like 100 Years of Solitude and American Gods. I’ll focus on non-fiction books.
How The Mind Works by Stephen Pinker is a monumental work by a monumental thinker. It was the book that got me hooked on the wonders of the human brain.
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is a scientist, a philosopher, a social critic and an outspoken atheist. All things I admire. His concept of the selfish gene is one of the most provocative and important ideas of modern science.
The Moral Animal: Why We Are, The Way We Are; The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology. Wright is a great science writer and he introduced me to evolutionary psychology.
Consilience by E.O. Wilson. Actually, any book by Wilson is a joy to read. He is such a beautiful spirit who brilliantly conveys his love for nature and life. The idea of consilience is that art, the humanities and science are very similar disciplines. They all explore the mysteries of life. When they all agree on an explanation there is a pretty good chance that the explanation is correct.
The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley. Again, I could pick any of Ridley’s books, but this was the first of his I read. The question of how human beings evolved to be virtuous and cooperative is a pretty significant area of investigation, Ridley did a masterful job of explaining the answers provided by evolutionary psychologists.
Who are your five favorite authors?
Well, this gives me the opportunity to mention other authors I really like. Oliver Sacks, Charles Darwin, William James, V.S. Ramachandran, Antonio Damasio, and Daniel Dennet. Oh, is that six?
What inspires you to write about brain health?
Well, first of all, the human brain is the most awesome organism in the universe, so there are endless wonders to explore. I learn through writing. I clarify my thinking through writing. Since I want to do my best to understand how the brain creates consciousness and behavior I need to write about it. Second, it’s tragic when brains get diseased and lose their power. Modern brain research has done a great job of identifying what puts our brains at risk and what protects them.
Too many people feel that cognitive decline is inevitable with age. This is not true. Our brains are incredibly plastic and are shaped by what we do, think, feel and experience. By being thoughtful about what we do, think, feel and experience, we can shape our brains. I would like everyone’s brains to be healthy. I would like everyone’s minds to veer towards virtue and to shun greed, selfishness, and hatred. Our brains are still evolving and it would be great if we pushed human evolution towards greater domestication and civilization. I hope my writing helps push things in that positive direction.
What’s the story behind your first book?
I think the revelation that I could self-publish was a big impetus to actually pull my writing together into a formal book. The ability to create an electronic book, — for free – that people could buy – around the world – was pretty liberating and exciting. Thanks, Smashwords.
Why did you become an indie author?
I didn’t want to go through the hassle of traditional publishing. I think of myself as a teacher. I want to share information and stimulate thinking. I want to fire people’s curiosity. Books enable us to transcend time and place. They allow us to participate in the extended mind. Books offer us the possibility of a kind of immortality.
Do you have any advice for other indie authors? If so, what is it?
Nah. I don’t know that I have any insights worth sharing about being a successful indie author. I feel that I am groping blindly across an incomprehensible wilderness.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans? Do I have fans? Fans plural?
What is your best, most effective, book marketing tactic?
It really helps if your book is required reading for a college course.
What do you do when you aren’t working on books?
When not writing books I am reading books. I am writing all the time. I am currently putting together a cognitive wellness toolbox, which includes a lot of written material that is divided into bite-sized chunks. My hope is that these short pieces are less intimidating and more digestible than is a full-length book. I am spending a lot of time caring for three grandchildren. I ride my bike. I do yoga. I cook, draw and play music. I sit on my porch and enjoy the sun.
I want to thank Michael for taking the time to answer these questions and for doing so with some great humor! I also want to thank you guys for reading them. Authors love connecting with their fans. Heck, we love fans in general! It’s a tough world out there for authors and finding people that want to read our work can be tough. We love hearing from people who’ve read what we write. Therefore, never be afraid to contact an author to express your gratitude or thoughts about something. In addition, write some nice reviews every once in a while. I can guarantee you’ll make the author’s month! Good reviews are like gold to authors.