Patrick W. Carr is the newest fantasy author to be published by Bethany House, and we are all very excited about his debut release, A Cast of Stones, first in The Staff & the Sword series. Publisher's Weekly has said about his work: "Carr’s debut, the first in a series, is assured and up-tempo, with much to enjoy in characterization and description." Now that's a nice endorsement for you!
A Cast of Stones is not a YA fantasy, but is written for the adult audience. That being said, I'm certain it is an appropriate read for younger readers as well. And don't you just love those fabulous covers?
Here's a little bit about Patrick himself, swiped from his website:
Patrick Carr was born on an Air Force base in West Germany at the height of the cold war. He has been told this was not his fault. As an Air Force brat, he experienced a change in locale every three years until his father retired to Tennessee. Patrick saw more of the world on his own through a varied and somewhat eclectic education and work history. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1984 and has worked as a draftsman at a nuclear plant, did design work for the Air Force, worked for a printing company, and consulted as an engineer. Patrick’s day gig for the last five years has been teaching high school math in Nashville, TN. He currently makes his home in Nashville with his wonderfully patient wife, Mary, and four sons he thinks are amazing: Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. Sometime in the future he would like to be a jazz pianist. Patrick thinks writing about himself in the third person is kind of weird.
I am excited to have Patrick with us today for an interview. Here's a fun chance to get to know a little more about him and his work!
Hi, Patrick! Thanks for joining us today. I know all of my Goldstone Wood Imps are very excited to learn about your series. To start us off, would you mind telling a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee?
Patrick: Ha. Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon. Besides teaching Geometry (I can hear the groans now – 2 column proofs), I spend a lot of time around the activities of my sons. I have two in college and two in high school, so that’s starting to slow down a bit. I do a bit of woodworking, but would really like to go back and pick up piano lessons again. I’d like to learn how to play jazz.
Very cool. Jazz piano is the best . . . My husband fools around with it sometimes, and I just love to listen! As for Geometry . . . I was always more of an algebra girl at heart. But I admire those whose minds work that way! I'm glad to know there are people like you out there.
So tell me, what led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller?
Patrick:My dad was a great storyteller. Couple that with my own voracious reading habit and writing kind of followed from that. I used to read to my kids a lot when they were young and decided to write a story with them as the protagonists. That’s when writing really became a passion.
Nice to have a built-in audience from the start too, isn't it? I started out telling stories to my ten-years-younger-than-me brother, and it's funny how many of those stories have found their way into my professional work. Children are a great sounding board!
Without giving away spoilers, can you tell us what inspired you to write A Cast of Stones?
Patrick: I was reading the Bible verse that says “God is in the lot” and my mind just kind of went off on a tangent with it. I started getting all these ideas about an alternate reality with a church that kind of got a little off-track and what that might look like.
What a fascinating idea! I can imagine the story just exploded in your mind from that point. But tell me, did things change for you after you started writing professionally? Do you find it easier or more difficult to write under contract? What difference does a deadline make?
Patrick: I was just talking about this with Mary, my wife, today. I think the deadline has helped me be more disciplined as a writer. I can’t crank out thousands of words a day like some of my friends. I’m kind of slow and plodding, so in order to make the deadline, I have to show up every day and get my word count in. As for creativity, I think that’s more of creating the right kind of mindset. I have to let go of the frustrations and worries of the day and just relax.
Dedication and focus . . . yup, that's what you need to succeed in this business. But it's tough! I can imagine it's difficult to ballance the pressures of fulltime teaching and professional writing. But it's nice to have a creative outlet.
So now, about the story itself. Can you pick a favorite character from The Staff and the Sword series?
Patrick: I love them all, but Cruk makes me laugh. He’s this grizzled veteran-type of character and he’s a lot more honest than people are prepared for. I also really like Rokha, the daughter of Naaman Ru. She’s not a huge character, but you see her a lot and she’s this strong confident, yet feminine, woman.
And now I know we're all eager to meet these characters for ourselves!
What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration?
Patrick: I get a lot of my ideas while I’m listening to music, especially at church. I’ve got a ton of church bulletins scribbled with notes on my desk. When I need to recharge and get inspired, I usually go to Starbuck’s. The atmosphere and caffeine usually combine to get me moving if I’m stuck.
It's amazing to me how inspiration works. So similar . . . and yet so different for all of us. I could never work in Starbuck's. I'd be far too distracted! But I've also been known to make story-notes in bulletins. LOL.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
Patrick: My favorite part is the first draft, especially if I hit the zone. The characters come alive and they say and do things that totally surprise me. I’m sitting there and all of a sudden I’ll say “I had no idea they would do that!” My least favorite part is cutting a scene down to fix the pacing. I agonize over what to keep and what not.
Oh, I understand. It's a lot more fun to create than to cut. Thank heaven for editors to keep us focused . . .
If you were forced to pick a single favorite author, who would it be?
Patrick: Tough choice! I would probably say David Eddings. I think I’ve read The Belgariad a half-dozen times and it wouldn’t bother me to read it a few more. His dialog is just so good.
You know, my brother Peter has told me wonderful things about that series as well. I really need to pick it up . . . .
I know The Hero's Lot is the next book due out. Can you tell us any tidbits about it?
Patrick: The tension in the book ratchets up quite a bit, not only for the danger the kingdom of Illustra is in, but for Errol personally. There’s a character I introduce at the end of The Hero’s Lot that I dearly love. His name is Hadari. In fact, I liked him so much that I’m rewriting some of the third book so that he’s more prominent.
That's great. I love it when characters assert themselves until you can no longer ignore them. Good for Hadari!
What are you actively writing right now?
Patrick: I’m almost done with the first draft of the final installment of “The Staff and the Sword.” I’ve only got about 20k words to go. After that, I’m toying with the idea of a detective series with a twist.
Oooh, that's fun. I love a good detective novel. That will be an interesting departure for you after fantasy too.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us here today. It was a pleasure to introduce your series. Congrats again on your debut release! I hope all of my readers will get a chance to pick up A Cast of Stones.
Patrick W. Carr can be found online at his website: patrickwcarr.com
And now, the exciting part . . . a giveaway! Mr. Carr has kindly offered an autographed copy of A Cast of Stones to one lucky winner. So be sure to enter your name in the drawing below . . .
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