Patrick Carr takes questions

Patrick W. Carr

Patrick W. Carr

Patrick W. Carr, the author of the Staff and the Sword series, and the upcoming Darkwater Saga is now taking your questions in the comments. Please check out his website and get to know him and his work. Newbie questions are fine!

Patrick will be giving away a copy of A Cast of Stones to one lucky commenter. Squarespace keeps no record of the email of commenters, so to be eligible for a prize, either leave your email address (in spambot-proof format: yourname at whatever dot com) or safer still, subscribe to the comments by email, just above the comment box to the right.

Amazon links to Patrick's books:

I've moved the comments up here for easier reading, again, very lightly edited. The originals remain below.

Janet Ursel:
I've got to know: how on earth do you teach and still find time and energy to write? I am in awe.

Patrick Carr:
I get up every morning at 5:30 and write for an hour or so before school. It's the only way, because after class my brain is like a bowl of tapioca. Strong coffee and dark chocolate help quite a bit as well.

Amanda Gawthorpe:
I second Janet's question. As someone who also has four kids and a job, time management is a big issue for me. How do you do it?

Patrick Carr:
Well, the kid part has gotten easier of late. My youngest just turned 18 and so they're all off at college this fall. I just have to make sure that I'm still being the husband I'm supposed to be. The really hard part was the last couple of years when grad school was in the mix as well. Definitely don't want to do that again...ever.

Lydia Thomas:
What drew you to writing fantasy?

Patrick Carr:
The idea that I could write absolutely anything! Of course, the freedom to write anything, means the requirement that you figure out a way to make it work, world building and all that, but the fun remains. It's the ultimate mind experiment of "what if?"

Janet Ursel:
I'm going to turn your own question back at you: do you take people you know and put them in your stories?

Patrick Carr:
All the time. I'm a terrible cheat plus when the cast of characters gets to a certain point having pictures on file of what everyone looks like helps me to keep the descriptions consistent. In every series I will have one character that is my sister, Ramona. She's my alpha reader and gets a kick out of looking for herself because I always mix up the letters of her name and use it that way. Example: Anomar in A Cast of Stones, is Ramona backwards. I kill myself sometimes.

Kiah:
That's hilarious. :) So, was Errol inspired by anyone you know?

Patrick Carr:
Errol was modeled, looks anyway, after my oldest son Patrick. Thankfully, my son's not an alcoholic. I'm very proud of him.

Janet Ursel:
That is hilarious! I don't think I would dare, personally.

Patrick Carr:
While I'm waiting for the next question, I will begin telling the famous (to those who know me) eyeball story.
So when Patrick Jr. was little we used to play this game where I would lie on the floor and he would stand on my hands. I would then push him up toward the ceiling like he was in a miniature elevator. I think he was probably 4 or 5 at the time.

Kiah:
I just finished reading the Staff and the Sword Series a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it! How long did it take you to write the entire series?

Patrick Carr:
I started on A Cast of Stones years before it got published. I got about 3 chapters in and just couldn't get the story to gel in my head so I put it aside for 2 or 3 years. While I was visiting my sister one evening, I got this idea for a different approach to the story. I worked it for about a year and then took it to a couple of publishers. About a year after that they picked it up, by which time I was over halfway through the sequel. Then I wrote A Draw of Kings in about 8 months. That was the deadline that was the hardest. So all together it took about 5 years of writing, but it was stretched out a bit.

Patrick Carr:
(Eyeball story continued)
Anyway, one evening we were playing our game and Patrick's feet slipped. Down he falls and lands, no kidding, right on my face. It didn't hurt that much, but my head had no place to go and when he landed on me I heard this sound that went...qqqwwwiiiicckkkk.

Amanda Gawthorpe:
I'm truly terrified to hear the rest of this story!!

Ashley M. Holbrook:
Who's your favorite niece? Hehe. Just kidding. Ok, serious question this time. What's your favorite aspect of creating a new character for one of your stories?

Patrick Carr:
Ashley!! Thanks for dropping by! Okay, here's the answer: Figuring out what their past and their secrets are going to be. I think that defines so much of us and once I get that straight in my head, it's a lot easier to get that character to react realistically.

Patrick Carr:
(More eyeball)
So I sit up and my nose and face feel funny, like I'm all stopped up. Then a small trickle of blood comes out the right side of my nose. Not much, not even as much as a little nose bleed. But my ears started to feel stopped up to, like I've been in an airplane and just landed.

Nadine Brandes:
I'm refreshing this page every four seconds....must. know. what. happened. [grin]

Athelas Hale:
Okay, I must think of some very good questions... I read your "The Staff and the Sword" series, and LOVED it. What made you first decide to write fantasy?

Patrick Carr:
A lot of that decision was probably because that's what I read. I cut my teeth on Lewis, Tolkien, Eddings, Donaldson, Feist, Kay. You name it, I probably read it. I really enjoy the world-building process even though it can be difficult at times to come up with a set of rules that feels genuine.

Athelas Hale:
World building is a lot of fun. Do you ever develop entire languages for your worlds? Do you have a favorite part of the world building process?

Patrick Carr:
I experiment a lot with other languages such as Latin (The Staff and the Sword) or Old English (The Darkwater Saga). I think my favorite and most challenging part of world-building is coming up with a workable and intriguing system of magic. I tend to lean toward Sanderson's definition which means it has to have rules, limitations, and consequences.

Patrick Carr:
(Still more eyeball)
So, I pinch my nose shut and blow to clear my ears.
And my right eyeball starts to come out of the socket!!
I'm sitting next to the laundry basket so I grab a clean diaper (we used cloth for our kids at that point) and push my eyeball back in. And, clever man that I am, I yell "Mary, we need to get to the hospital now!"

Amanda Gawthorpe:
Oh. My. Goodness.

Patrick Carr:
Seriously, right? Talk about getting a different perspective.

Janet Ursel:
I shouldn't. I really shouldn't. But I'm laughing.

Athelas Hale:
Oooww. Do you still have trouble because of this, or did they get it fixed. (Also, I can see why going to the hospital would be a good idea. xD)

Patrick Carr:
No, no trouble at all. It's cool the way we heal and I've had lots of opportunities to do that.

Athelas Hale: coughs So, you seem to have a lot of experience with the emergency room and healing... Just curious, but how do you usually research your novels?

Amanda Gawthorpe:
There is no book that is universally loved by all people. All authors will face negative reviews. How do you deal with them?

Patrick Carr:
It depends on how I'm feeling that day. I read every review no matter how bad it is. A few of them have actually contained some insight that I've used to try and be a better writer. Some of them come across as pretty mean-spirited. I had one reviewer that said she wrote the (very bad) review while she was under spiritual attack. Then she wrote for 11 paragraphs about why my book was garbage. I thought, "that wasn't much of an attack." When you get those reviews, you just have to roll your eyes, chuckle, and move on.

Patrick Carr:
(Eyeball saga)
So we get to the emergency room and by now the skin around my eyeball has these funny lumps around it and when I push on them they make this rice krispy kind of sound. So the nurse takes all my information and tells me to wait. So I wait, and wait, and wait. And now I'm thinking "I've got an eyeball trying to come out of the socket. What does it take to get seen around here?"

Emerald Barnes:
Sorry I'm late to the party! (Hate I missed Nadine's interview. Was wanting to get my hand on her book for a long time now!) I just read the eyeball story. Wow. I couldn't imagine that!
Fantasy novels fascinate me because I love new worlds! How do you find describing new worlds? Do you feel like it's easier or harder than writing about a well-known place?

Janet Ursel:
It's still going on, Emerald. Jump threads and come join us! You have 15 more minutes!
And you can do both at once. I am living proof...

Patrick Carr:
I find it harder, actually. Making up something out of whole cloth is always a challenge because I'm such a stickler for realistic magic systems. That's probably my engineering background at work. I was educated and trained to look for flaws. It makes me a terrible nit-picker when I'm putting together a story. I would love to write some urban fantasy sometime just so I can rely on a ready-made world. We'll see. So many books to write, so little time.

Nadine Brandes:
Hi Emerald! There are still 15 minutes left to my interview: https://janetursel.squarespace.com/disenchanted-launch-party/2015/7/7/janet-ursel-interviews-nadine-brandes
And you can also read some of the Q&A questions here: https://janetursel.squarespace.com/disenchanted-launch-party/2015/7/7/nadine-brandes-takes-your-questions
Glad to have you here! :)

Emerald Barnes:
Fantastic! I'll pop over there right now. My internet has been out until now and it's spotty. :/ Anyway, heading over there now! thanks!

Patrick Carr:
(Eyeball-ness)
So the doctor finally sees me and decides to take an x-ray of the funkiness that is happening in my skull. The doctor says "You've broken the occipital orbit bone under your right eye and air went up through your sinus behind the eye."
And what happens next? The same thing that always happens when I go to the emergency room. The doctor looks at me and says, "Yeah, we really can't do much since the bones not displaced. Here, take these antibiotics and don't blow your nose for 6 weeks."

Nadine Brandes:
LOL

Janet Ursel:
If it weren't for the fact that doctors saved my life once, I would have a similar grumble. They always seem to say they can't do anything...

Kiah:
Wow. Just wow.

Janet Ursel:
I have a terrible confession to make: I had to read Nadine's book first because she was the one I was going to be interviewing. But I really loved that you started out A CAST OF STONES with a drunk as the protagonist. :o) Any particular reason for that? (And seriously, you had my heart pounding with that chase scene! So well done!)

Patrick Carr:
I wanted a flawed hero and for Errol, I wanted that flaw to be visible so that readers could 'see' his flaw. I wasn't confident in my ability at that point in time to depict a more hidden character flaw, plus I had that scripture running through my head from Isaiah (I think) that says "He had no form or comeliness that we should admire him.


Sydney Anderson:
I got the free kindle version of A Cast of Stones not to long ago and read it while on a vacation that had a lot of drive time. You can check out my review here: http://singinglibrarianbooks.weebly.com/teens/a-cast-of-stones-the-staff-and-the-sword-1-by-patrick-w-carr I thoroughly enjoyed it and am now reading the second book in the series. How did you come up with the idea for this series? I look forward to reading your other novels. :)

Patrick Carr:
I was daydreaming in church and got the principal idea from casting lots in the old testament. My brain went "what if?" and the story kind of progressed from there. Thanks for reading!

Janet Ursel:
The winner of A CAST OF STONES is Kiah. Please contact Patrick or me with your address.