Patricia Malone (1932-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1932, in Chrisman, IL; Education: Attended University of Illinois, 1950-53; Carthage College, B.A., 1968; National Louis University, M.Ed., 1972. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, traveling.
Agent—c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
Educator and author. Elementary and middle-school specialist in gifted education in Illinois, 1968-2003. Freelance writer, beginning 1982. Political candidate, 1982, 1984; active in peace groups and child advocacy.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Rebecca Caudill Master List inclusion, CCBC Best Books designation, New York Public Library books for the teen age designee, and Bank Street College List inclusion, all 2003, all for The Legend of Lady Ilena.
The Legend of Lady Ilena, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Work in Progress
Two companion books to The Legend of Lady Ilena for Random House, the second, Lady Ilena: Way of the Warrior, expected November, 2005; By the Signs, a YA novel set during World War II.
Patricia Malone is a former teacher who began a second career as a children's author with her debut novel, The Legend of Lady Ilena. Published in 2002, the novel takes readers back to the Dark Ages, where fifteen-year-old Ilena learns that the area of western Britain where she now lives is not the land of her true people.
Her parents refuse to answer her questions about their lineage, and it is not until her father lies near death and speaks the words "Go to Dun Alyn, Find Ryamen," that Ilena has sufficient clues to begin her trip of self-discovery.
Ilena is more suited than most young women her age to undertake a long journey, for she has trained as a warrior rather than a wife, and her skill with a sword and her talent as a rider stand her in good stead as she goes eastward in search of the mysterious woman named Ryamen. At first disguised as a boy, her gender is eventually discovered when she encounters one of King Arthur's companions; while she is often helped during her journey, dangers and even threats of death also shadow her in a novel that Voice of Youth Advocates reviewer Kimberly L. Paone described as a "fast-paced and exciting" story that contains elements of "adventure, mystery, even romance" to enliven the plot. The conflict between Druids and Christians serves as an interesting backdrop, according to Mary Melaugh, who added in her Kliatt review that Malone's strong-willed protagonist serves to illustrate that "during these times, the rights of succession went to the women, not the men." Describing the novel as a "quick-moving feminist adventure," a Publishers Weekly contributor added that "readers will warm to [Ilena's] … hardy spirit and rejoice in the happy ending."
Born and raised on a farm in Illinois, Malone had no television and few books to read, so she became an avid story teller at an early age. As she got older and developed an interest in history, she discovered books such as Esther Forbes' Johnny Tremain and Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers. As a writer of historical fiction herself, she enjoys researching different periods, particularly when it involves traveling to museums, monuments, and the ruins of ancient buildings that figure in her stories. In writing The Legend of Lady Ilena, Malone got to travel to Great Britain, and was able to climb up atop an earthen-mound fort and view a landscape largely unchanged in the 1,500 years since her characters would have viewed it.
Malone told Something about the Author: "As a child I enjoyed making up stories, and I wrote poetry, plays, and short pieces to entertain friends during elementary and high school. However I did not begin serious attempts to produce quality fiction until my late forties. The first books that I wrote, including the early versions of The Legend of Lady Ilena, were written before school between 5 A.M. and 7 A.M., with reading and revision time at night.
"When I retired from full time teaching in 1993, I took a part time position which provided income, structure to my schedule, and ample time to finish The Legend of Lady Ilena and another book as yet unpublished. Now I work full time at writing and speaking to groups of all ages about writing and about life in the early middle ages.
"I hope first of all to tell a good story; that is reason enough to write. However I am aware of the enormous educational value of good historical fiction and make every attempt to do the research necessary to illustrate a specific historical period accurately. This is particularly important for a time like the Early Middle (or Dark) Ages since we know so little about what really happened at that time; it is possible, and important, to be accurate in the details for the setting and in what little historical information we have. Such attention to detail is becoming increasingly important in writing about World War II (a setting for other books I'm working on) also as fewer and fewer people who remember the time are around to tell about it.
"The question that I ask myself constantly as I write—whatever era I'm working in—is 'What was life really like in that time and place?' While I read and love fantasy, I write in order to invent a reality that truly illuminates life in another time."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, January 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Legend of Lady Ilena, p. 842.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of The Legend of Lady Ilena, p. 1760.
Kliatt, September, 2003, Mary Melaugh, review of The Legend of Lady Ilena, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, January 7, 2002, review of The Legend of Lady Ilena, p. 65.
School Library Journal, January, 2002, Bruce Anne Shook, review of The Legend of Lady Ilena, p. 137.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2003, Kimberly L. Paone, review of The Legend of Lady Ilena, p. 488.
Patricia Malone Web site, http://www.patriciamalone.com/ (October 22, 2004).
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators—Illinois Web site, http://www.scbwi-illinois.org/ (October 22, 2004), "Patricia Malone."
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