Writing adds up for MLK math teacher Mr. Carr
Faculty in Metro Schools are immensely talented and actually have a life outside the classroom. One of those faculty is MLK High School Math Teacher Patrick W. Carr, who recently published his fourth novel, The Shock of Night, the start of the Darkwater Saga series. We reached out to Mr. Carr to learn more about his new book and what advice he had for aspiring authors. See our Q & A below. What is your new book, The Shock of Night, about?
Patrick Carr: Here is the official synopsis: When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded, Willet Dura, reeve to the king of Bunard, is called to investigate. As he begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.
Willet returns to his task, but the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers, and his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, as though he can divine their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he's been passed the rarest gift of all--a gift that's not supposed to exist.
Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he's pulled into a dangerous conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world--a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his inability to remember how he escaped the Darkwater Forest--and what happened to him inside it.
What or who inspired it? Patrick Carr: My father was a Vietnam veteran who came back with, like so many men and women, with PTSD (Post traumatic stress syndrome). When I got the idea for the series, I turned to my memories of my father for the inspiration of the hero. So many men and women from war carry wounds that we can’t see, and I wanted to capture that. The way my father fought through his wounding to be a loving husband and father was and still is the best example of courage I’ve ever seen. I wanted to capture the essence of that courage and struggle and doubt for my hero, Willet Dura.
What do you see as the major themes in your book? Patrick Carr: Beyond the wounds of war, the most important theme is that everyone has worth. I’ve drawn on my experiences as a teacher to craft characters that usually don’t make it to the written page; people who tend to be overlooked, especially when it comes to epic fantasy. Each day I’m astounded by the diversity I encounter that exists in the minds of my students, students who may look much like each other, but their diversity of thought and insight amazes me.
When did you start writing? Patrick Carr: I began writing as a hobby about twelve years ago and was fortunate enough to get my first publishing contract in 2010 with a trilogy entitle “The Staff and the Sword.” But before that I wrote a series of books for my four sons. I read to them extensively as they were growing up and wanted to write a story featuring them as the main characters. Those stories were a lot of fun even if they weren’t quite good enough to be published.
Did you always want to become an author? Patrick Carr: I’ve always wanted to be a lot of things, but I’m too old and my knees are too bad to be a baseball player and I don’t have the talent to be a professional jazz pianist. I love writing and I’m blessed and lucky enough to have experienced the thrill of being published. I can’t imagine NOT writing at this point. The creative process is an absolute rush.
What are you reading right now? Patrick Carr: I’m in the middle of a Brandon Sanderson novel entitled “Mistborn.” I also have a long TBR (to-be-read) list after I finish. So many wonderful stories, so little time.
What is your advice to anyone who wants to become a professional writer? Patrick Carr: Cultivate the habit of writing every day. There is no substitute and no shortcut to time spent in the craft. And don’t expect great literature from your first draft. It doesn’t happen. Just be patient with yourself and don’t give up! :)
Patrick W. Carr is the author of the acclaimed fantasy series The Staff and the Sword. A Cast of Stones won the 2014 Carol Award for Speculative Fiction and the 2014 Clive Staples Award. A Cast of Stones and The Hero's Lot were both finalists for 2014 Christy Awards. He teaches high school math at Martin Luther King High School and makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee, with his incredible wife, Mary, and their four sons. His website is www.patrickwcarr.com.