Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Tuesday Ten With Patrick W. Carr & The End Of The Magi Review

I was so thrilled when author Patrick W. Carr agreed to answer my 10 question in conjunction with my review of his newest book, just in time for the Christmas season! After you learn more about him, check our the review I did of his newest release "The End of the Magi." I was sent the book thanks to Bethany House! I was excited to get my hands on the novel!


Q1: Who is an author whose book you'll pick up and not even read what it's about because they're an author you know you'll love no matter what?

Patrick: C.S. Lewis tops the list. The first book of his I read wasn’t SciFi/Fantasy, it was the Screwtape letters. I guess some would call that Speculative fiction, but I’ve always thought of it more as anti-theology. It was a book I had to take in small doses because it made me think so much. After that, I read everything of his I could get my hands on. Another author is Michael Crichton. He’s written about everything from dinosaurs to how airplanes are manufactured and I find it all interesting. I don’t just read his books, I study them. I’ve never read another writer who can match his mastery of pace. 

Mimi: I need to read more of C.S. Lewis. His mind fascinates me! And The Screwtape Letters definitely has to be taken in bit by bit.

Q2: Do you remember who some of your first fantasy authors you devoured?

Patrick: Oh, wow. I was in college and I used to go to the Georgia Tech bookstore and browse the shelves. The first fantasy I read was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson. I bought it because the covers looked cool. That was my introduction to the idea of an anti-hero, and I stayed up late reading. After that I read Tolkien and more Lewis and Patricia McKillip’s Riddle Master of Hed series. Then I came across one of my favorite series, The Belgariad by David Eddings. I read it until the books fell apart.

Mimi: Those are some new authors to me. I liked Anne McCaffrey, Terry Brooks, and Piers Anthony. I actually had to step back from fantasy books because I became too steeped in the worlds the authors created. I'm glad that I've been able to read it again in the past few years!

Q3: In your new book, The End of the Magi, what made you decide to make Myrad have a disability?

Patrick: I don’t know anyone without one. In Myrad’s case I wanted a visible sign of what people would mistakenly assume was God’s disfavor. “You have a club foot, so God must not like you.” The goal is to have readers identify with your main character and I think a lot of people struggle with the reality of God’s love. All those voices we carry with us that tell us we aren’t good enough, or righteous enough, or whatever enough tell us the same thing. I might write a main character someday that isn’t so deeply flawed…but it won’t be anytime soon.

Mimi: I have to say I appreciate the flaws that are so evident in your main characters. While we can't relate to every piece of those flaws, the reader can see a part of themselves in it!

Q4: Ok, can you explain the difference between speculative fiction and fantasy fiction? Is there a difference?

Patrick: Probably not. I don’t know where the term speculative came from. I grew up with the terminology Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m not sure when it changed and nobody told me what the ground rules were. It figures. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention that day. Ha.

Mimi: Kind of reminds me of people using the word "bandwidth" now instead of talking about how much time we have to do something. I must not have been paying attention that day!

Q5: Was it a difficult transition from speculative fiction to Biblical fiction? What prompted you (other than the Lord if that's possible) to write your newest novel?

Patrick: The transition was actually pretty easy. Instead of spending a lot of pre-writing time world-building, I did research instead. After that it was pretty much the same. Build a set of characters and have something happen that knocks their world upside down. In this case it was a bit easier. A lot of the plot points were non-negotiables, if you will. As far as what prompted me, I heard a Bible study on tape (yes, really) back in the early 90’s that really fired my imagination about a possible origin for the magi, and I always wondered what that might have looked like. When I finished The Darkwater Saga, I decided to pursue it. Hey, it only took 25 years. 

Mimi: Well, I'm glad you pursued it! Biblical fiction has become one of my favorite genres! I do have questions about a couple of your characters. HA! I'll try to remember to mention that in my review.

Q6: How do you start the process of creating a completely new world? Do you have an idea of what it physically looks like in your mind? Can you envision a map of it in your head?

Patrick: I’m going to go in reverse order on this one. The map of the world evolves as the story is told. If my characters need a place to go in my story, then I make up one and annotate it on the map-in-progress. As for what the world looks like, I use climates and places that carry at least some familiarity to our world. The thing about world-building is you have to have enough of the familiar for the reader to find their way. If everything is alien, the story gets lost in the plethora of details. Now, as for the process, I do a lot of day-dreaming that centers around what-if. What if the church still relied on the casting of lots to make decisions? What if the clues to a crime that threatened your entire world were hidden in your mind. What if the God of the Hebrew chose you, a Persian boy with a club-foot, to reveal the birth of his Son? It’s so fun. I don’t think I’ll ever have enough time to write all the what-ifs I’ve already thought about.

Mimi: Oh my goodness, the idea of all the "what-ifs" gave me chills! Speaking of climates, I can't remember which book had the huge sand storm. In my mind I thought of those haboobs they have in the southern states. I want to get my hands on some speculative fiction maps! 

Q7: How many books have you read this year? Do you have a favorite?

Patrick: I don’t know how many I’ve read this year, except to say it’s not as many as I’d like. Writing and teaching takes so much time away from reading. I do know that the most impactful book I’ve read this year is “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell. It has 4.3 stars on Amazon. Seriously? Who are these people?

Mimi: I didn't start the year off well in regards to reading, but I ramped the past few months. I like the idea of having a reading goal, but I'm terrible at those so I never make them. lol I read what I get around to reading. And I have to admit, I don't know if I've ever given a 5 star. Maybe once or twice? Maybe.

Q8: If you could bring one of your characters in any of your books to life and have a conversation with them, who would you choose?

Patrick: Ealdor from The Darkwater Saga. I’d like to know what his world was like before the fall. That question was actually one of the things that spurred me on to write that series. I can’t imagine our world before the fall and I don’t think anyone can. But still I wonder and I hope God will reveal it to me, but if it happens, it won’t be on this side of eternity.

Mimi: Oh, interesting! I like the idea of talking with Ealdor. You know who I'd like to talk to? Well, try to talk to? Custos! All of that wisdom and knowledge in his head!

Q9: You're going to collaborate with 3 other authors on a speculative fiction novel. You each get to write a different part of the book: the world, the storyline, the characters, and the faith element based on your strengths. Who gets each role?

Patrick: Any authors? Even the greats? Alright. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and me. Lewis gets the faith elements. Seriously, how can you top the guy who wove such wonders into the Chronicles of Narnia. Amazing. Tolkien gets the world. There’s nobody else out there who’s going to go to the effort of making his own elvish alphabet just as background information. Wow. The storyline(s) goes to Robert Jordan who wrote The Wheel of Time. Any story that can hold me for 14 book over 23 years is past great, it’s phenomenal. Lastly, I would do characters. I never writer any other way, which is why you may see me writer any genre. I writer stories about people and I love making them as complex and real as possible.

Mimi: Well, now I have to find out who Robert Jordan is. Fourteen books?! Wow! And I can't find a qualm about any of the other authors you chose. I'm pretty sure that book would be near perfection. Even enough to get a 5-star rating from me!

Q10: How do you celebrate the release of a new book?

Patrick: It usually happens on a work day, so actually it’s pretty subdued. Mary and I might go out to dinner, but it’s usually just us. I’m a pretty private person. Big release parties aren’t really my thing. That’s probably bad, because writers are supposed to market their work, but I think if the story is good, that takes care of most of it.

Mimi: I don't think there's a "right" way to celebrate something, but I get where you're coming from in regards to promoting your work! I'm sure that The End of the Magi will get some terrific promotion, especially at this time of the year!


The End of the Magi
by Patrick W. Carr
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764234910

Summary:

Centuries before the magi arrived in Bethlehem,
a prophecy sets a young magus on his path . . .
Following his vision of the coming Messiah, the prophet Daniel calls forth a select group of men who will count down the calendar until the arrival of Israel's promised king. Centuries later, as the day draws near, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, flees for his life when his adoptive father and others are slain by a ruthless Parthian queen. 

Equipped with very little, in haste Myrad escapes the city and, searching for a way to hide from the soldiers scouring the trade routes, tries to join the caravan of the merchant Walagash. The merchant senses that Myrad is keeping secrets, but when the young man proves himself a valuable asset, an epic journey filled with peril, near captures, and dangerous battles begins. 

With every day that passes, the calendar creeps closer to the coming Messiah. And over everything shines the dream of a star that Myrad can't forget, and the promise that the world will never be the same.

My Review:

This was SUCH a great book. The End of the Magi is a detour from the speculative fiction they author typically writes and he makes the turn effortlessly! I wasn't prepared for how great this dive into Biblical fiction this would be, although having read all of his other books, I shouldn't have been surprised!

Are there people in the Bible you don't really think much about after their bit in history is told? I've never really given the magi much thought other than the fact that they found Jesus, gave him gifts, and didn't return to Herod. Now, after reading this book I feel like the magi are more real to me! They had a life before AND after! I won't ruin the after part, but WOW!

So, the life before starts with the reader being introduced to Myrad. What a well written and unexpected view of one of the magi. What I like most is the fact that Myrad has a disability. God chose a young boy (at the time) who isn't the typical magi acolyte to bring a gift to the Savior. His trials and tribulations that lead to him coming face to face with Jesus takes up the bulk of the story. After reading about Myrad, now I want to learn more about the other two magis lives! I mean, I know a bit as they were incorporated into the story, but I want to know them better.

One of my favorite characters in The End of the Magi is Walagash. He's a well written character and is exactly who Myrad needs in his corner. I appreciate characters who bring wisdom and thoughtfulness to a story and he does just that. Each of the characters has a purpose and feeds well into the story.

The one "negative" that I would say in this book is the use of a$$ in the story. Don't get me wrong, it fits, but I feel that it would've been more appropriate to use donkey or mule. We'd still get the same impression using a different word. Other than that, I give this high praise and am ready for my next Patrick W. Carr novel!

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.