Patrick W. Carr's newest book, A Cast of Stones, has a tagline that states it is An Epic Medieval Saga Fantasy Readers Will Love! The synopsis certainly sounds good, but I found myself curious why the author chose to set his book in medieval times? He was kind enough to explain...
When I first started “A Cast of Stones” under a different title, I had actually toyed with the idea of approaching it as an alternative European history kind of work. There had never been any other choice but Medieval, which for me meant sometime between 500 – 1500. Prior to that and I was dealing with the vestiges of the Roman Empire and after that, I would have to take in to account the effects of the Renaissance. At last I settled on 14th century Europe. But at the same time, I also wanted to build a mythos that was unique to my world, which meant I had to drop in the back story here and there. One of my favorite chapters in the book, because it ends with a really high creep factor is “Conger’s Tale.” So, I guess the truth is there are certain inspirations that come from the real world, but it’s definitely not what you would call historical fiction in any way.
Now I started sweating the details so that I had a fantasy that was believable as well as fun. This might seem strange for a fantasy, after all, many authors have written great fantasy without a discernible time frame or even mixing time frames. For example, if you were to read “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” by Stephen R. Donaldson, you would be hard pressed to identify a matching period in history. There simply isn’t one. There’s one castle in the story, but it’s called a keep and it was carved, not built, out of solid rock by giants. On the other hand, if you read “The Belgariad” by David Eddings, he seems intent on mixing as many time periods as possible. There are equivalents to knights in armor, roman legions, Vikings, English longbows, and others. Yet he manages to blend them all into a ripping good story.
I placed my story in the medieval time period, not just because it fit the military aspects I needed, but because it lent itself to the religious aspects. I needed to depict a church that worked mechanistically, ergo, I needed to place my story sometime before the reformation. Once I had done that I chose a more exact time frame. My story had war in it, in both naval and land battles, but I didn’t want to deal with the complications posed by cannon. I wasn’t opposed to cannon, but with the recent popularity of “Pirates of the Caribbean” I wanted to ensure I avoided comparison.
So I chose the 13th – 14th century. It fit the bill and didn’t pose the plotting problems of later time frames. It’s important, I think, to keep from ascribing too much weight to this choice. After all, I was writing a fantasy. The purpose of the time period was to serve more as a receptacle for ideas of magic and setting and character. It would have been a mistake to allow the historical reality of 14th century Europe to dictate the book even though I tried to stay true as much as possible to that period.
I think the most important thing for a fantasy writer to remember is consistency within the story. Eddings and Donaldson taught me that almost anything would work, but I had to stay internally consistent. I’ve read stories where the author disobeys his own rules. The temptation is there for all of us, especially when we write ourselves into a corner, but fantasy readers are at once a forgiving and demanding bunch. We can handle dragons in New York City and time travel to King Arthur’s Court, but we won’t tolerate the author making up the rules on the fly.
About the author:
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release date: February 1, 2013
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