Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fantasy Authors of Today: Patrick W. Carr

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:

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 . . ." rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


Clara said...


Sorry; proofs make me I want to scream and pull my hair out:) Your books sound fantastic Mr. Carr! I will be reading them in the very near future.

Hannah said...

Here is yet another Christen Fantasy series that I really, really want to read, and still don't have at my library yet!!! I'll have to request them. Those covers are so dramatic, they simply beg to be read.

This might be a spoiler question, so don't answer it if you don't want to, but just how many books do you plan to have in this series?

Bookishqueen said...

I read the first one already and it was amazing! I was wondering how long it took to write?

Therru Ghibli said...

These look anazing! I am so going to have to pick these up somewhere!

So, what is your favorite type of scene to write?

Bethany said...

I am so excited about this new giveaway - this is definitely a series I want to get into. And I like your way of getting out writer's block - coffee will do it every time!
As for asking you a question; in your opinion, what are the essentials to creating a good story - and making sure people will love it and want more?
- Bethany

Rebecca said...

Wow! Those covers are super cool! Definitely need to read these. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview and for offering this neat giveaway.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for dropping by, Mr. Carr! A Cast of Stones is definitely on my reading list!

When writing any of your stories, do you struggle with the temptation at all to use high fantasy tropes, or stock characters? How do you write around them? How do you make characters that may only appear once come alive on the page?

(That's more than one question: oops! :P)


The Alpha Jan said...

Hello Patrick! I am The Alpha Jan and, with many other authors here, I am interested in your books thanks to my local Family Christian store. I was just wondering. Is there any significance Biblically to the title of your first book and if so, what is it?

The Alpha Jan

Stacy said...

Hi! Your book sounds awesome, and I am going to go order it from the library right now. :)

JoJo said...

Oh I soooo can't wait to get my hands on this new series!!! I featured it in one of my new release videos & it sounds amazing!!!!! Btw....totally a coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon gal myself!!!!

JoJo said...

My question is.... What is your best advice for aspiring authors??? Read a lot.....write a lot.....AND??????

Meredith said...

I really enjoyed your interview, Mr. Carr. Thanks so very much. The title of your book sounds really interesting, and I enjoyed hearing about the reference to the Bible verse that inspired the tory. I'd never encountered that particular verse. Do you have a favorite verse of Scripture? I notice that you enjoy music. What genre is your favorite? God bless you.

J. L. Mbewe said...

I can't think of a question right now, so I will have to come back later, but I did want to say, that this book is on my to-read list. I keep seeing this book pop up all over and it keeps moving up on my list. :-)

Courtney said...

I actually just finished this novel... Like a couple of days ago. I really enjoyed it and look forward to more. =D

Molly said...

Your novels look REALLY interesting; I will have to check them out!!

Patrick W. Carr said...

Hannah - There are 3 books in the series. The next two will be "The Hero's Lot" and "A Draw of Kings."

Bookishqueen - It takes me about 6-8 months to write a book. I'm slow and I have this day job. But mostly, I'm slow.

Queen Ali - I really don't have a favorite type. Any climactic scene is my favorite whether it's romance, fighting, mysterious. It's all good.

Bethany - I think what keeps people engaged in the story are the characters. I tried very hard to give my characters layers so that they would resonate with the reader. If we can do that, then people care about what happens to them and they become invested in our story. My editor told me I write characters like a woman would. It was a compliment.

The Writer of Dream Things - I think the secret to writing tertiary or transitory characters that come alive is to give them an identifying characteristic, something that makes them stand out from the background. Since I was limited on descriptive space, I tried to give mine personalities that came across quickly through dialog. It was the fastest way to cement the character in the reader's mind.

The Alpha Jan - The title of the book alludes to casting lots, but there are also several wordplays going on that are intentional. A Cast, as in the cast of a play or movie. Cast as in throw away. And Stone, whoa, too many to count on that one.

Jojos Corner - You've got it. The piece I would add to that is seek criticism. We all need positive encouragement, but it's the tough critiques (even the ones that hurt) that make us better writers. I've come to crave them because I know I have such a long way to go.

Meredith said...- Romans 8:28. I recite it to myself when things aren't going so well. The verse "God is in the lot" is a weird translation of Proverbs 16:1. I've tried to find the version I saw it in and can't. How weird is that? As for music, I love jazz because my sons all play it so well and it's opened my ears to the most amazing things.

Molly said...

Do you do things in real life to help you describe what your characters would do in your stories? I was wondering, (for example, tree-climbing) does it help to go out and do it, or can you just look it up on Internet? (I know Internet knows "everything" [uh, yeah right...] but it does help to get a feel of it to describe to your to your readers, right?
Just wondering if I can get out the lazy way or do I have to actually get active(?!?!?). Hee hee hee unless it really is tree climbing, I don't get around to things unless it actually makes a differences in my (never-finished bajillion) stories

Anonymous said...

Do your sons help in the writing process, do they influence your work?

Meredith said...

Thank you, Mr. Carr. I love jazz, too. It's very diverse and intricate music. Romans 8:28 is one of my favorite verses, too. It's a great comfort to know that God is with us and working out all things, (even the very painful incidents of our lives), for good and for His glory. That verse resonates with me so strongly. I love that whole chapter of Romans, especially the verse that lists all the things that cannot separate us from the love of God, (I think it's verse 32).
I also appreciate you giving me the scripture reference upon which your book is based.
My absolute favorite scripture verse is Zephaniah 3:17.
God bless you and keep up the excellent work.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Carr, What advice would you give to young writers? Thanks for the chance to win one of your books!

Unknown said...

I have been looking forward to hearing more about this book!

Erin said...

Wow! these look really interesting!
which kind of characters do you find easiest to write for?

Jasmine A. said...

I am really looking forward to reading this series.

Did you read much for fantasy books as a kid or even now? And if so, which authors?

Jasmine A.

Unknown said...

Your books sound amazing! Ms. Anne said that this was an adult series, but what I want to know is how old are your characters?

Sarah said...

I haven't read any of Mr. Carr's books but intend to. They look like something I would really, really enjoy!! Who was the hardest character to write? :)

Anonymous said...

Wow how awesome that a Bible verse inspired the series! Definitely makes me want to read your novel even more! :D That's cool that you teach geometry! I enjoyed taking it in high school!

Bezi said...

Can't wait to read another amazing fantasy novel!
What was the hardest part about building your fantasy world?

Becky said...

Mr. Carr, I am so glad to hear about your books! My family is always looking for good books, particularly fantasy, and one that was inspired by Scripture is especially welcomed.
Thank you and Ms. Stengl for the interview.

Anna S. said...

It's interesting that you are a writer AND a geometry teacher. How do those fit together for you?