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A Draw of Kings: Interview with Patrick W. Carr

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I'm delighted to have author Patrick W. Carr here on the blog today to talk about his book A Draw of Kings, the final installment in The Staff & the Sword trilogy!

A Draw of Kings

by Patrick W. Carr

Series: The Staff & the Sword #3
Genre: MG Mythological
Paperback: 464 Pages
Publication: February 18, 2014
by Bethany House Publishers

Their journey to Merakh should have made Errol and his companions heroes of the realm. Instead, much is changed on their return. In the wake of the king’s death, Duke Weir is ruling the country–and his intentions are to marry Adora to bring an heir.

With Errol and the others imprisoned and the identity of the rightful heir to the throne still hidden in secrecy, Illustra is on the verge of civil war–and at growing risk from the armies of Merakh and Morgol.

A dangerous mission to free Errol succeeds, but the dangers facing the kingdom are mounting with every passing moment. The barrier has fallen, ferals are swarming toward the land, and their enemies draw near. Will the revelation of Illustra’s next true king come in time or will all be lost?

Author Interview

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I got the writing bug in college. You might say I owe my writing career to Georgia Tech. The stress of engineering school necessitated some serious escapism. My favorite way to escape the stress of Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics was to read. Georgia Tech at that time had a pretty decent bookstore with a good-sized fantasy section (imagine that!). And I picked up a few books and that was it. I was hooked. From there it was a pretty short jump from reader to writer, though it took a couple of decades after college for the whole thing to come to fruition.

What inspired the writing of The Staff and the Sword series?
I wanted to write an epic fantasy that with allegorical elements. It was tough going for a while because I couldn’t get “the magic” element settled in my mind. I was very conscious of the Biblical prohibition against magic so I had to step lightly. Then I had the inspiration of using the medieval church, with some of its failings, as a model for one of the themes and everything started to come together. Originally, the story was quite different, and VERY preachy. Ick.

How has your initial vision of the story changed over the course of writing the series?
Ha. Immensely. In the beginning one of my main characters was a dwarf and the scope of the tale was far smaller. That incarnation of the story didn’t make it past three or four chapters. I liked it well enough, but felt that the direction just wasn’t right. The preachiness of it bothered me. I was trying to make a point, but in the beginning it had all the subtlety of a chainsaw. I shelved it for about three years before the pieces fell together and it became a coming-of-age story about Errol (with all his flaws) instead of just a simple story about the search for a new king.

I saw that your son made original music for A Cast of Stones, the first book in the trilogy. How did this come about?
You have no idea how happy I am that you asked this! Patrick (my son, not me) was born with these amazing hands. Actually, all my kids have them. They get them from my wife, Mary, not from me. I have construction worker hands with these little stubby sausage-link fingers. Anyway, Patrick and his brothers (Connor, Daniel, and Ethan) all took piano lessons when they were young, but when Patrick was a freshman in high school, he was kind of running out of steam and about ready to quit the instrument.

Then he joined his high school jazz band. It was like a key fitting into a lock. Patrick caught fire and became this amazing jazz pianist. He won jazz midstate piano as a Sophomore and state as a Senior. I have to give a shameless plug to Dr. Richard Ripani at Hume Fogg. His jazz program is beyond amazing. Anyway, Patrick had found his passion. He went to the University of North Texas to pursue jazz piano studies. He’s still there as a graduate student. When I got the idea of having a book trailer set to music, I asked Patrick to compose the theme.

As an aside, I also used one of Daniel’s compositions for strings as a secondary theme. The high school orchestra performed it as one of their pieces his Senior year and I asked him if we could borrow it for the book. The musical talent and work ethic my kids have is really humbling.

How has your faith influenced your writing?
It permeates everything that goes on paper. It’s both an encouragement and a constraint and my prayer is that God will help me to be a better writer. In more practical terms, I like to write about characters that have deep struggles with their faith and ask all the questions that each of us come to sooner or later in our walk.

What is your goal as a writer?
There are two that I have and the first one is admittedly a bit shallow. I’d like to hit the New York Times Bestseller List. That’s my pie-in-the-sky goal and I look at that with “if it happens that would be cool” kind of attitude, but I don’t get wrapped up in it. That’s just so far out of my influence or control. The second goal is more accessible, but more unattainable. I want to write an entire book that’s great. I have my own definition and it works like this. When I first started writing, I would go back over what I’d done and every now and then I’d go “Wow, that’s a really good line.” Later on, that grew to “Wow, that’s a really good paragraph.” With more practice, it grew to a scene, then a chapter. I’m sure you can see where I’m headed. Someday, I want to be able to say that about an entire book. At that point, I probably won’t care whether it hits the NYT or not.

If you were to play a role in The Staff and the Sword series, what would your occupation be and where would you show up in the story?
Well, I’m a little over fifty, so there’s not much for me to do. I could fight, but I’m not nearly as quick as I used to be, so I’d probably go down pretty quick. The character I’m most like in personality is Willem who’s the new Tremus of the Conclave. He’s good at his job, but not the best, and we’ve got the same sense of humor.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on the first book of a new trilogy (it might end up being a trilogy of trilogies) that’s mix of medieval fantasy and detective genres. I’m really excited about the premise and what’s happening with the characters so far. I think it will be out in a couple of years. Bethany House has already agreed to contract it which is nice confirmation that the story idea has merit.

About the Author

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.

Connect with Patrick
Website | Goodreads | Facebook


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