Valerie O. Patterson

Valerie O. Patterson’s first novel for young readers, The Other Side of Blue (2009), published by Clarion, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, was nominated for an Agatha Award. Her second, Operation Oleander (Clarion, 2013), was selected as a Junior Library Guild selection. Valerie graduated in May 2008 with an MFA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University, where she twice received the Shirley Henn Award for Creative Scholarship. She has also received a Work-in-Progress grant from the Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators (SCBWI). In addition to SCBWI, she is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Authors Guild. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband.




Selected Reviews of Valerie O. Patterson’s Books


Operation Oleander
Valerie O. Patterson
Jess, Merriwether, and Sam are regular teens who happen to live at the Fort Spencer Army Base in Florida. Jess’s father and Merriwether’s mother are serving in Afghanistan. Sam’s father is the base commander. The three are very close friends; however, Jess’s mom worries that children of enlisted soldiers should not socialize with officers’ children. Jess has spearheaded a drive to send school supplies to children in an Afghan orphanage. Her father has sent her photos and she is particularly attached to Warda, a young girl pictured standing near an oleander plant. Since that flower also blooms in Florida, Jess has named the project Operation Oleander. However, not everyone, including Sam’s father, is thrilled with the project. Some think that the military personnel should not be putting themselves in danger by delivering the supplies. One morning while setting up the donations table in the PX, Jess’s world is turned upside down when news comes of an explosion near an Afghan orphanage. Reports come of injury and even death to some soldiers from Fort Spencer. The entire base pulls together at this tragic time, but some will blame Operation Oleander for the incident. Jess learns very painful lessons in this poignant novel. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson (Children’s Literature).


The Other Side of Blue
Valerie O. Patterson
A year after her father’s death, fifteen-year-old Cyan’s grief is still raw. Her artist mother has brought them to summer once again on the island of Curaçao in the Caribbean, where her father drowned. The setting suits Cyan just fine, since she is still searching for answers to the mystery surrounding his death. It seems implausible that, with so much time passed, she would be able to learn anything new. But wealthy island youth Mayur Bandas has alluded to knowing something about her father’s end, and Cyan is determined to find out what that is. At the same time, she is expected to host thirteen-year-old Kammi, the daughter of her mother’s fiancé. The girls have nothing in common. Kammi is slender; Cyan is chronically hungry. Kammi aspires to paint, like Cyan’s mother; Cyan does not want to be like her mother at all. The only thing they seem to have in common is a sense of loss caused by their parents. Kammi’s role here is as a contrast to Cyan, and she serves to enable readers to see the many depths of Cyan’s emotion. Patterson’s first novel is a slowly-paced, evocative study in grief. So often we think that carrying on after loss involves putting one foot in front of the other. That seems to be about Cyan’s limit throughout much of this novel. Readers will find, though, that those steps add up–somehow carrying Cyan to the point of healing. Readers will be compelled by these wrought family relations, and the mystery will keep them moving forward. A beautiful novel. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green (Children’s Literature).

Program Details

Costs: Honorariums begin at $100 depending on length of visit and distance from author. Travel, lodging, and meal expenses may apply for out-of-town travel.

  • First Line, First Page, First Chapter: Now What? A workshop on beginnings for new writers
  • What’s So Important About Voice Anyway? A combined talk/workshop on finding your voice
  • Revision is Not a Scary Monster and Other Tales. Tips on revising…and learning to love it
  • Writing from the Inside. An in-classroom interactive workshop on creative writing, with practical tips and exercises covering plot, characters, setting, and revision—designed for middle-grade students in the classroom.

Additional Information

To learn more about Valerie O. Patterson and her publications please visit