Friday, April 22, 2011

Check it Out: Patricia Lichen

Hi everyone! Since today's Earth Day I have a very special author to showcase for you today! I'm very privileged to introduce to you Patricia Lichen, a woman who has done more in one life than others have done in several! Not only is she an author, but she’s also an animal rights activist who has willingly put herself in harm’s way in order to protect those who cannot protect themselves! All in all, a pretty awesome lady & a perfect interview for today!

You’ve got quite an exciting past! What drove you (other than a love for the world) to be willing to take on these adventures?

I have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer to this question! Of course, once I was in Greenpeace, I met plenty of people who were ready to take action on behalf of the environment. But I had to leave Ohio and drive 2, 500 miles to San Francisco, a city I’d never been to, to join that organization. It may have had something to do with what was going on in the world when I was growing up. People were taking to the streets to protest the Viet Nam war and to claim their civil rights. It was obvious that one person--or a group of people--could change the world. I’d watched it happen.

What was it like, being an eco-activist in those situations? Were there any moments where you second guessed yourself or got scared? (I know some of the things you’ve been through would have my knees knocking!)

There were some scary moments. Probably the worst was when our lawyer explained that we were facing a minimum 25-year sentence for piracy (rather than the much-less serious infraction of trespassing) for boarding a Peruvian whaling boat and chaining ourselves to the harpoon gun so they couldn’t kill whales. Ultimately our lawyer got the charges dropped, against our wishes--we wanted our day in court. I was initially angry (as well as relieved!) but I now feel immense gratitude toward that lawyer.

When did you decide to start writing? Did you always write or was there a moment where you saw everything & knew that you wanted to become an author?

I came to writing relatively late, after I’d returned to college. I see my writing as a way to extend my activist and naturalist roles.

Have you used any real life events or people in your novel? Obviously you haven’t kidnapped anyone (that we know of, lol) but are there any parts to your novel that mirror real life?

Yes, one of the characters in “Kidnapping the Lorax” physically resembles someone I’d known in Greenpeace. I’m working on other books that attempt to portray some of the fascinating characters I met in that organization. Specifically, I’d like to replicate at least a bit of the amazing Dexter Cate and infuriating David McTaggart, but am not sure I will ever be able to capture either of them.

Do you have any authors that have helped inspire you?

When I was a teenager, I’d happened across a book with the intriguing title of “The Monkey Wrench Gang” in my small-town Ohio library. After I joined Greenpeace, I was surprised that others in that organization had read what I thought was an obscure book by a guy named Ed Abbey. Then there’s Barbara Kingsolver, Rachel Carson, Diane Ackerman, John McPhee, Farley Mowat, Diana Kappel-Smith, Glendon Swarthout....

Do you have anything new or cool to tell us?

Blogging. Okay, that’s neither new or cool, but I’ve just recently been getting into reading nature and natural history blogs. Check out Murrmurs, The New Dharma Bums or The Morning Porch. While you’re at it, come visit me at

Since not everyone can do everything that you’ve done, what can average joes & janes like me do to help out?

The small, deliberate actions we take make an impact. So do whatever it is that you can do: use your own bags at the grocery store; recycle; turn off the light when you leave the room; fix that dripping faucet; unplug your charger when the cell’s juiced up; try to eat local. Please, please don’t justify doing nothing because you don’t think you can do enough. And for gawd’s sake, get out and enjoy the natural world--hike, garden, photograph, backpack, paddle, bike, ski, snowshoe, camp--pay attention and connect. Discover what’s out there before they build another mall or parking lot on top of it.

What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them. Was writing a fictional novel harder or easier than writing your nature guides?

The Uncommon Field Guides were easier--once I got the first line, I had a foundation to build on. But fiction! Before I tried writing fiction, it seemed to me that you’d have a story in mind and write it, A to Z. But it’s more like setting off from port and then realizing you can steer the boat on any course--the direction is not as linear as it’d seemed it would be.

How would you recommend people respond to naysayers? You’ve obviously come across opposition from the whalers & others, so I’m sure you could probably give us a few tips on how to deal with them.

I do believe most people are goodhearted and have similar values. The whalers don’t want to drive the whales to extinction, and the loggers don’t want to destroy the forests, and the nuclear workers don’t want radiation to contaminate the earth for eons to come. Sometimes I think we have more in common than we hold as differences, and when you meet individuals whose views you oppose, you can sometimes find that common ground. But when money comes into the picture--as livelihood, as company profit--that common ground shifts. Look, there will always be naysayers. And apologists. And outright liars. Your only defense: be truthful; don’t be one of them.

Is Lichen your original last name or did you choose it? Either way, it’s entirely appropriate!

Lichen was a chosen married name; the marriage has since ended, but I kept the name. It’s an interesting experience to choose your name--what would you name yourself if you could choose? (And you can choose, if you want to!) I wish our society encouraged people to take names that said something about themselves, rather than just revealing what their fathers’ fathers were named (as if we were not equally the children of our mothers--as if as if our mothers’ names didn’t count as “real.” Yeah, don’t get me started.)

What do you like on your pizza? If you don’t like pizza, then what’s your favorite guilty pleasure food? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping or food!)

My current favorite is a take-and-bake with artichokes, bacon, chicken and spinach on thin crust. And now that you’ve got me thinking about it, I know what I want for dinner tonight...

KIDNAPPING THE LORAX is the story of three young environmentalists who kidnap the Secretary of the Interior and take her to the Pacific Northwest woods to reeducate her, in the belief that once she sees the forests as they do, she will start making the correct decisions for the land. But will all go as planned?

If you're curious about Patricia's book, then you're in luck! The publisher has dropped the price of Kidnapping the Lorax to 99 cents in honor of Earth Day! It'll remain at this price for the next few days but will eventually go back to the original price of $4.99, so make sure to take advantage of this special price while you can!

You can purchase this ebook for the kindle, nook, or in the format of your choice on smashwords!

Also make sure to visit Patricia's website at!


Want more cool books? Make sure to enter the Easter giveaway hop!


  1. You do a great interview! I followed Pat over. She writes a great book.

  2. This is a great interview. I've known Pat for years (full disclosure: I'm her publisher and nemesis) and I learned stuff I never knew about her. I highly recommend this book (even did before I became a publisher, back in the day when I was just a lowly peon in Chrysalis Women's Writers Group which Pat LEADS at the local community college.)

    I know nobody believes me, but, hey, how much vested interest can someone have in a $.99 book? Buy it while it's cheap!

  3. Thanks! I was actually a little worried that my questions were a little too predictable, so I'm glad to hear this! Of course, I can't take all of the credit- Patricia did most of the work by answering the questions & providing photos. :)

  4. A great interview as Pat reveals her activist history on behalf of animal rights and environmental issues. Oh that we should be as willing to stand up, be counted, and do something on behalf of our natural world! BTW, Kidnapping the Lorax is a five star book. Alice Lynn

  5. Oh, hey, I read the Monkey Wrench Gang. I just didn't remember the name of the author. Now I get the Ed Abbey reference! D'oh!

  6. Love those old photos! I'm awed that I know someone who actually went after the whalers. And continues her work in her writing.

  7. Pat's other books on nature are outstanding, as is Kidnapping the Lorax (fiction). She has at least one other fiction book in the works. Can't wait till it's finished. Beth