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Author Talk: July 2013

Patrick W. Carr, author of the acclaimed fantasy A CAST OF STONES, returns with THE HERO'S LOT, the second installment in The Staff and the Sword series. Picking up where the first book left off, forces bent on the destruction of the kingdom conspire against Errol Stone, who is falsely accused of terrible crimes and sentenced to undertake a perilous quest. In this interview, Carr talks about choosing clever --- and pithy --- titles, how even authors are sometimes surprised by the way events unfold in their own books, the ongoing romance between Errol and Adora, and why writing the second book in a series is sometimes harder than producing the first.

Question: How did you come up with the title?

Patrick W. Carr: When I was developing the series, my first aim was to keep the titles pithy. Back in the day, I enjoyed reading The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, but man, talk about a mouthful. I also liked the idea of making the title a play on words. THE HERO’S LOT is, I think, a nice example, referring as it does to the plight of my protagonist, and his ability to cast lots as well.

Q: What surprised you the most in the second book?

PWC: It may sound a little strange, an author being surprised by something he writes, but it happens to me all the time. I would have to say the events that unfolded around the ilhotep close to the end of the book really caught me off guard. It completely left the nice, neat, somewhat predictable outline I had prepared and went off on its own. I rather liked the result.

Q: At the end of A CAST OF STONES there seemed to be something going on between Errol and Adora. Will we see more of her in this book?

PWC: Oh yes. Adora becomes a major player in the series and Errol’s romantic interest. I particularly enjoyed writing the scene at Count Rula’s daughter’s wedding. Of course, their romance is bound to beset by difficulties. He’s a peasant, she’s a princess. He could die at any moment. All great romances have their little difficulties.

Q: What was the hardest part of writing the second installment of The Staff and the Sword?

PWC: Making the manuscript short enough to be readable. I wanted the second and third manuscripts to come in close to the length of A CAST OF STONES, but doing so in the plot structure I’d laid out proved to be more difficult than I realized. THE HERO’S LOT could easily have been 50-60 thousand words longer, and the last book, A DRAW OF KINGS, even more so.

Q: Theologically, what happens in THE HERO’S LOT?

PWC: I don’t want to give too much away, but most readers picked up on the trouble the church was in during A CAST OF STONES. That wasn’t by accident and I wanted to continue that plot line in THE HERO’S LOT. Martin Arwitten becomes a point-of-view character and it’s through his eyes that we see the church struggling to right itself while the whole world seems to be crumbling around it.