A Cast of Stones
An Epic Medieval Saga Fantasy Readers Will Love
In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone's search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.
Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom's dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.
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An Interview with the author
I'm pleased to welcome Patrick Carr to the blog today. I don't know about all of you out there, but that cover alone makes me want to read the book! So much depth! For now, let's have a chat and find out a little more about the author.
When did you decide to take that step that made you a published author? I had joined a writing group in Nashville. Originally it was just to have that on my resume’. At the time I didn’t think I needed any help with my writing. Later, I learned just how wrong I was. The people in the group, MTCW, convinced me to go to the ACFW convention in Indianapolis. That was 2010. That was THE step that led to being published. Up until then, I’d had zero luck getting an agent, but I met Dave Long with Bethany House there and he showed an interest in my book.
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it? Managing my time since I hold down a full time job. I try to keep a consistent schedule. If I miss more than two days in a row without writing, I get very antsy. I’ve learned that bad habits are hard to break and good habits are easy to lose.
Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day? I spend the days in the guise of my mild-mannered alter ego, “Geometry Teacher Man.” I’m really fortunate. I teach at an academic magnet school in Nashville, Martin Luther King High. Teaching is a wonderful balance to the solitude of writing. They each complement the other. At one point I thought I would enjoy just writing, but I think the isolation would be too much. I need both, the solitude and the association.
What inspired the idea behind your book? I was reading my Bible and this verse, “God is in the lot,” jumped out at me. Originally, which was six or seven years ago, I wanted to write a fantasy which was going to be a critique on the whole idea that life and universe happened by chance. I’m so glad I didn’t do that. It would have been way too preachy. About three years ago, after I’d given up on the idea, I had an inspiration for a whole new direction with the story. I’ve been told several times in the past few years that readers don’t like to be preached to, so I’m really happy I gave up on that first idea.
What message do you hope readers take away from the book? The book carries a lot of allegorical references in it, but I think my favorite message is that everyone is special. I believe we all hold within ourselves the capacity, not only for evil, but for great nobility. This is one of the themes that stretches across all three volumes of the trilogy.
What is your favorite scene in the book? I have a lot of them that I love, but I think the one that gave me that biggest feeling of being inspired was the scene close to the beginning where Luis tests Errol to see if he’s a reader. The buildup of tension in that scene and Martin’s (the priest’s) reaction at the very end gave me goosebumps.
Which character will be the most difficult to part with? Errol. I’ve spent so much time in his skin because he’s the main point-of-view that it’s almost like having a best friend move away. Years from now, I’ll probably stop in the middle of some ordinary task and wonder what he’s up to as if he were a real flesh-and-blood person. It’s kind of depressing in a way.
Do you share any personality traits with Errol? Ha. Most of his flaws (except the drinking) and then some. No one’s yet asked me how I’m able to write such flawed characters and I hope they don’t.
Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write? That’s a funny thing. If I’m editing, there can be noise and interruptions galore and it won’t bother me. Editing is very analytical so it’s the kind of thing I can pick up and set down at will. Writing a first draft is a different proposition entirely. I need a block of time without interruptions or I just don’t get much done at all. The creative process for me is pretty temperamental. I do my best work at Starbuck’s. There’s ambient noise, but it doesn’t have anything to do with me and they play a pretty good selection of instrument jazz which helps a bit.
What has been your greatest pleasure in writing this book? Building these characters that seem so real. My approach to creating them was the theme “Everyone has secrets.” It really helped in fleshing them out.
What kind of research was involved for the series? Did you find it became easier with each book? I originally thought of my world as an alternative history of Europe, so there are a lot of those influences. In the original research, I settled on the 13th century because I wanted to identify a period in which cannon were not used in warfare as of yet. Once I’d set the timeframe, the research for successive books came pretty easily, though I have to admit, writing the sea battles in the second book required a lot of reading to get the details right.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series? I do have plans. It’s a detective series with a twist. Right now, I envision it being set in a contemporary time frame though that may change. My intention is to make it a series, but in a different way than “The Staff and the Sword.” Each of these books would be a stand-alone so that reading the first or second book, though it would be helpful, would not be a requirement.
What do you have in store next for your readers? “A Cast of Stones” will be followed by the release of the two sequels that complete the trilogy, “The Hero’s Lot” and “A Breath of Wind” (working title). There’s about a six month gap between each of the books, so people will be able to find me on the shelves for at least the next year.
What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author? I got an email that my agent sent me. Someone who’s in the publishing business told him I was their new favorite author and that my books were the best he’s read in years. I read that email every time I go through one of those phases where I’m struggling to get the words right.
What type of hero do you like best? Flawed. Nobody relates to someone perfect. That was one of my struggles when I was writing about Liam.
What type of heroine do you like best? Strong and feminine. I don’t see those two traits as mutually exclusive. One of my heroines, Rokha, is beautiful and quite confident in her beauty, but she can pull a sword and put you in your place as well.
If you could live the life of any character in any book, which would choose and why? I wouldn’t choose any of them. They’re all in too much danger. The things we love in books, danger, doubt, and struggle, most of us would deplore in real life.
Is there a genre you wish you could write, but haven’t made the plunge? Which one and what appeals to you about it? I’ve always wanted to write a detective story, but I have to admit the task of writing a good first-person narrative intimidates me. I’ve only just recently been able to write a full length novel with a single point-of-view character. The appeal of first-person though is too seductive to turn down so I’ll be using that for my detective series if I can get it to work. I can’t think of a better way to be completely enmeshed with a character. It’s really exciting to think about.
Tell us the soundtrack to your book. This is too cool. Two of my sons are into writing music and I’ve persuaded them to write a couple of pieces for the book. They’re very dramatic with a hint of creepy. I hope to have them available on my website for download by the time “A Cast of Stones” releases Feb. 1.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received? Kaye Dacus who runs our writing group says this all the time. “Finish the first draft!” She’s right of course. It’s so easy to get caught in the endless edit loop. We all know it so well that as soon as the first word comes out of her mouth, we all chime in together.
Which authors and books have most influenced your writing style? Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings. David Eddings – The Belgariad. Stephen R. Donaldson – The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
What is your favorite movie based on a book, where you preferred the movie? I thought Peter Jackson did a phenomenal job with Lord of the Rings. In the last movie he edited out “The Scouring of the Shire” which was in the book. I thought that was a good move on his part.
Do you believe in writer’s block? Has it ever happened to you? Yes. If it’s really bad I close up the laptop and take pen and paper to Starbuck’s. That usually does the trick.
Is there a book you’ve ever read more than five times? Which book and what drew you back to it? The Belgariad by David Eddings. His characters and dialog are so skillfully done.
Have you ever literally deleted or thrown away a book you’ve written? No. Nothing’s ever wasted, it can always be used as a bad example.
Favorite place? Wherever my wife is.
Best Christmas present? Having everyone home for Christmas (I have 2 sons at college).
Favorite author? David Eddings and Robert Jordan
Favorite smell? Mint
Favorite series? Sherlock, the BBC adaptation with Benedict Cumberbatch
Favorite movie? The Incredibles by Pixar
Favorite dish? Pizza
Favorite color? Blue
Favorite quote? If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run, then yours is the world and all that’s in it, and what’s more, you’ll be a man my son. Rudyard Kipling.
Your best trait? My wife says I’m a man of my word. I hope so.
Your worst trait? Ooh nasty nasty temper sometimes. I’m working on this, I promise.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your reader’s today? Yes. Thank you for reading. You’ve given me the opportunity to share something I loved creating. I hope you’ll contact me with your thoughts.
Author Patrick W. Carr
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.
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