How did you come up with the idea for a cast of stones?
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.
How long did this novel take to write? What surprised you about being an author?
|My Supportive Family|
I’m not a very fast writer. I see people posting about how they cranked out four or five thousand words in a day and I’m dumbfounded. Two thousand is my upper limit. The nice thing about being slow and deliberate though, is that I don’t have to do a lot of whole-sale rewriting. Most of my edits are for tone and readability, not for plot. The exception is this last book in the series. I completely rewrote the first five chapters three or four times. Getting the initial direction of the novel right drove me crazy for a while.
Your main character Errol finds himself running for his life. He’s challenged to fight in order to move up in the ranks when he joins a caravan - The fight scenes were so believable. Do you and/or have you used a sword or a staff? What made you interested in this type of fighting, especially that of the staff. It was interesting. If not, what prepared you to write the fascinating fight scenes and the training involved in learning to use both of these weapons?
I fenced when I was college before my knees convinced me to do otherwise, but I've never fought with a staff. What helped with the fight scenes more than anything, oddly enough, was all the physics courses I took on my way to an engineering degree. That, coupled with my own experiences in different sports, gave me a feel for how things behave in the physical world and I was able to translate those ideas into words. I also did some research, which I found quite rewarding, especially the information on why swordsmen don’t, as a rule, strike for the legs. Those scenes are easy to write but take a long time because you have to make sure the details are perfect.
This is a land of Kings and Knights, in this case King Rodran has no heir and the knights were called the Watchmen – How did you come up with your imaginary kingdom and what did you imagine it to look like? Did you base it on a real place? Did the King Arthur stories inspire you?
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. The inspirations came more from history that King Arthur. I've become more confident as a writer in the last three years, but Arthur is pretty hallowed ground for a fantasy writer. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable tackling that as a topic. Maybe in a couple more decades.
In your novel you talk about Herbwomen. They seem to be nurse practitioners with a few extra gifts. Some people feared them, hated them but Errol liked and respected them. You mention several herbs and what they do and how they played a major part in a few events these characters went through. You mention Urticweed , Crimsonweed and Veritmoss. Are these herbs real? If so, how did you learn about them and their properties to help people? What do the Herbwomen represent in this story?
|A Scene in my book|
Awesome question. In some cases the herbs are real, but those are rare. What I did try to do is base the effects of the herbs on things known to us. For example, zingiber is another name for ginger root which really does help relieve queasiness. The others, however, are purely fictional, but if you research the names I made up for them, you may discover something interesting. Crimson, as everyone know, means red. What the herbwomen, and those like them, represent in this story is pretty complicated. Most readers will notice that the church in my story operates pretty mechanistically. This has a parallel to our own history in the middle ages prior to the Reformation. I’m going to stop at that point, though I will be happy to finish the answer down the road. Readers will bring their own interpretation to the story and I think some of those will actually be superior to my original intention. I wouldn’t want to spoil that.
I like the fact that you didn't get really graphic with the violence or have the story creepy. Do you have a code you write by? A line you won’t cross when you describe fight scenes and the ferrals etc?
Thank you. Yes, I had a code for the story and applied it as well as I could. I allowed death to be personal, which is why I recommend the story to about fourteen and up, but I’m not going to indulge in any graphic descriptions of death, violence, or sex. In some writing and a lot of movies there’s a line that gets crossed where people slow the story to sort of revel in the violence. I didn't want to do that because it wouldn't have fit the tone of the book. There’s a warmth that would have been lost and that would have bothered me.
Errol learns to use the punja sticks, staff and prefers it to the sword in fighting. I found that fascinating how Errol learned to use the staff and how everyone he studied under had a different style. I also found it interesting that the different types of wood that the staff was made out of made the instrument act differently in his hands and how it affected his moves in battle. Is this form of fighting real? If so, how did you learn about it? Why did you make Errol use this weapon when no one else did? What research did you do in order for you to write the complex scenes of Errol’s training and when he used it in the challenges he faced?
I would so love to answer this, but it would be a major spoiler. J I hope we can do this again in about a year. My question to readers is this: What do you see when you read the book? What do all these things mean? I’d love to hear your take!
Rale trains Errol to use the staff and says he’s doing well. But He’s lost! Errol says no he’s not he’s right here! Grin. Rale continues to say, “Keep your sense of humor boy. You’ll need it, such as it is. What I meant was you've lost your sense of self. I've seen it happen to other men who've crawled out of the barrel. For the past 5 years your aim has been to keep yourself drunk enough to keep from remembering Warrel’s death. Now, without that, you’ll have to find some other purpose.” I like how you describe it’s not about the drinking its why he is numbing his brain and emotions. I liked Errol from the start, what do you hope readers learn from Errol? Did you base Errol on someone? If yes, please tell me who. If not how did you come up with his character?
|A Scene from My Book|
Errol in a broad sense is Every-man. I've yet to meet anyone that didn't struggle with something they used to numb their feelings when life got too real. I chose to give Errol a drinking problem because it’s so visual which makes it easy to use for a book but that’s certainly not the only type escape people use. What I want people to take from Errol is his courage. I love the way he forces himself to confront his memories and feel those feeling no matter how much they hurt. Often we write about the people we would like to be. Writing and fiction aside, Errol is my hero.
FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK
You've been given the opportunity to use a time machine. Where would you go and what would you do?
Journey back to the time of Christ. In all honesty, this has both good and bad reasons. First, I would like to worship him in person, to kneel at the feet of the creator of the universe and worship. The second reason is a bit shameful really. I would like to be able to take those occasional doubts and kill them once and for all.
If you had 24 hours to hang out with any two people alive or dead in the history of the world (besides Jesus – that’s a given) What two people would you pick and what would you do?
I would pick a pair of people who've passed away. The first is my dad. He died about six years ago and I’d just like to see him one more time to tell him how much I still love and miss him. He was such a great storyteller. The second person would be Robert Jordan. His “Wheel of Time” series is magnificent (though a bit long), and I’d like to just sit under his teaching for a while to refine my craft.
What three things would you not want to live without? (besides your family – think of creature comforts you look forward to daily)
|Our Crazy Dog|
Coffee, hot showers, and good books. If I've got my family and those things, life is pretty good.
Name two jobs that you've had people might be surprised at.
Grandfather clock delivery man and mechanical design engineer for a project designing flight software for the F-16. Those two don’t really have a whole lot in common.
You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?
I've got an engineering degree, so I’d probably be working to help build the tools we would need to survive. I’m definitely not the guy to put in charge. I hate having to tell people what to do.
What movie greatly impacted you as a child? Why? If you didn’t watch movies as a kid what book affected you?
In 1977 I saw Star Wars when I was fifteen. Get this, I loved the movie so much, I bought the soundtrack on 8-track tape and listened to it for hours in my dad’s car parked in the garage. The music would play and I would see the movie all over again in my head. What a wonderful mix of science fiction and swashbuckling and romance. The movie was the perfect piece of escapism for an angsty teenager.
ANY COMMENTS FOR OUR READERS PATRICK?
Yes. Thank you so much for reading. I sincerely believe that the desire to create is one of the deepest desires we have as people. Mine takes the form of words on a page and so many of you have already told me how much you've enjoyed the characters and the world I've created. I’m so grateful you've taken the time to turn the pages.
I love to hear from readers they can contact me on my website http://patrickwcarr.com/
Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your book Patrick. I really enjoyed reading about Errol and his wild adventure. I can't wait to read the next book.
READERS BETHANY HOUSE is giving away 10 copies of this book. ENTER the DRAWING NOW!! GO TO TBCN www.bookfun.org You must join the site to enter. It's FREE and EASY!!
This books will take you on a wild adventure and Patrick has a cast of characters you'll be rooting for Especially Errol!
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