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.
“What’s your name?”
The lieutenant nodded. “An orphan. Well, we’ve more than a couple of those in the watch. Why are you here, Errol?”
He looked over at Knarl. “I have a friend here in the watch. This man’s captain wouldn’t send for him, told me the only way I might get to see him was to challenge. So I did.”
Even before he’d finished, the lieutenant was shaking his head. “So you don’t want to be in the watch.”
“No, not really.”
The lieutenant’s face darkened. “Soldier, take this man and escort him firmly out of the barracks.”
Errol broke Knarl’s grip and stepped away. “I came here to see my friend.”
“I don’t care why you’re here,” the lieutenant said. “I don’t have time to spend on some peasant boy who wants to gad about the imperial grounds.” He turned pointing. “You see these men? They’ve taken the black as a pledge to give their lives to protect the king.”
“I know the story of the watch,” Errol said, “but I need to see my friend.”
The lieutenant’s eyes narrowed. “You want to see him? All you have to do is follow through on your challenge. You’ll face five men of the watch. To join our ranks, you have to defeat three of them. If you manage to beat even one of them, boy, I’ll go fetch your friend myself.”
Errol’s heart skipped a pair of beats. The best swordsmen in the kingdom came to the watch.
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.
Patrick will now answer your questions:
Q. Awesome to have you with us today. Can you tell us about your story?
It’s great to be here. A Cast of Stones has a different protagonist. His name is Errol and he’s a drunk. The one thing he does well, besides drinking, is gathering herbs for the healers in his village. This talent lands him in a whole bunch of trouble when a church messenger shows up with letters for Martin Arwitten, a former leader of the church who’s hiding out in the hills above Errol’s village. The letters are calling Martin back to the capitol to help select the next king. Rodran, the current king, is dying without an heir. His death will bring an internal war of succession and will hasten attacks from the kingdom’s enemies. Into this huge mess, walks Errol.
Q. How did you come up with the idea?
I was reading a passage from the Bible that said “God is in the lot.” It really stuck with me and I started mulling over all the times I’d read about people in the Bible who drew lots trying to discern God’s will. Then my imagination just sort of ran wild with the idea and all these “what if?” questions started going through my head.
Q. What’s your main character’s greatest strength, biggest flaw?
Errol’s greatest strength is that he never gives up. I like him because he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions. He has a healthy disrespect for authority. His greatest flaw is that he has a hard time trusting people. In the beginning he’s definitely an all-or-nothing type of guy.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Getting the words right. Ha. Actually, I labored for a long time making my characters fully formed. I wanted each of them to have as many layers as an onion and one of the themes of the book is “everyone has secrets.” The secrets provide a lot of the hidden motivation for the characters and pull the reader along for the ride. I think it’s one of the motivations that draws us to conflicted people in real life, the desire to know what “secret” is making them act that way.
Q. What one question do you wish an interviewer would ask you but never has?
I love it when people ask me about my favorite books. I get all geeked out talking about my favorite fantasy authors of the last thirty-five years. But people ask me the “favorite author” question all the time. I’m probably not qualified to answer anything outside of my writing or Geometry (I teach high school math).
Q. What are you working on now? Do you tend to work on multiple projects or one at a time?
I am so not a multi-tasker. The only exception is I can juggle and read a book at the same time. Right now I’m working on the final installment of “The Staff and the Sword.” The working title is “A Breath of Wind” and I’m almost done with
the first draft.
Q. What is your favorite line from this book?
Wow. I have so many, but here’s a snippet that makes me laugh out loud:
“Why do I have to go? Why would you even want me to go? I can’t ride. I don’t know anything about fighting.” He waved toward Cruk who sat in his chair like a giant sack of grain. “Ask him. The only things I know how to do are gather herbs and drink.”
Cruk grunted and grimaced his imitation of a smile. “The boy’s got the right of it. He is pretty useless.”
Q. Did you always want to be a writer?
For the longest time I wanted to be a pro baseball player, but my knees had other ideas. I dabbled with writing a bit in college but the bug really hit me about ten years ago.
Q. Was there any part that you struggled with or avoided writing?
The idea of using a drunk as a protagonist, especially one who succumbs at such an early age, troubled me a bit. I didn’t want to glorify it, but I also didn’t want it to destroy my character either.
Q. What are you reading right now? Do you read a book at a time or more than one?
I can’t read when I’m writing a first draft, but I have a long list for when I’m done. Sometime in January I’ll settle into “A Memory of Light” by Brandon Sanderson. It’s the final installment of “The Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan.
Q. Okay, so what do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?
I like to woodwork, but my next passion, in addition to writing, is going to be piano. I took lessons for a few years a long while back, but my sons are all very musical and they’ve inspired me. I want to learn how to play jazz and improvise and all that.
Q. Who is your favorite writer now?
Wow. I have way too many to narrow it down, but I really enjoy Jim Butcher’s pacing and Brandon Sanderson’s plotting. Both of those guys are so good at what they do.
Q. Have you ever wanted to quit writing? Why? What made you keep going?
Every time I write a lousy scene. Sometimes getting the words right is such a struggle, but I’ve learned that if I just stick with it, it will get better and I can always go back and re-write it. That’s the great thing about what we do. We get a lot of second chances.
Q. If you could have a career besides being an author, what would it be?
Well, I’m too old for baseball. Ha. Actually, I love teaching. I get to teach high school math at an academic magnet school in Nashville (Martin Luther King – woohoo!) and I work with all these amazing people from our in-school administration to my fellow teachers to guidance counselors and all the staff. Teaching provides the balance I need to the solitary pursuit of writing.
Awesome answers, dude. Enjoyed learning about you and your new book!
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