Thursday, January 19, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patrick E. Craig

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patrick E. Craig

Let's give a warm welcome to multi-genre, award-winning author Patrick E. Craig who took a few minutes to sit down with us today and chat about his recent release The Quilt That Knew.

What was your inspiration for the story?

The main character in The Quilt That Knew is an Amish woman named Jenny Hershberger. I started writing about Jenny twelve years ago in my Apple Creek Dreams series. Then she was prominent in my Paradise Chronicles series. So, I’ve known Jenny for a long time. Recently I started reading some Agatha Christie mysteries and it occurred to me that Jenny would make a great Amish Miss Marple. In the preceding books Jenny had written a column for a local newspaper called “Ask Jenny” where people sent in questions about the Amish community, including inquiries about unsolved crimes. It’s a natural progression for Jenny to move into a new season in her life as a sleuth. And that’s how The Quilt That Knew was born and with it, The Porch Swing Mysteries series.

How do you develop your characters? (e.g. decide on their vocation, names, etc.)?

I have been an avid reader since I was very young. I am also a historian and some people say I have a photographic memory. So, I have a literal library of names, jobs, historical events, life occurrences, fictional personalities, and other information in my head. My characters are born out of that filing cabinet. Often, they seem to spring into existence fully formed. Jenny Hershberger was one of those characters.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I’ve always wanted to write. But for years after college I was a professional musician and then I left
the music business, went to Bible college, and became a pastor. In 2007 I retired from church ministry. I started attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference and met Nick Harrison, Senior Editor for Harvest House Publications. Nick invited me to submit a one-sheet to him. He mentioned that he liked Amish stories and quilting stories.

So I sent him an idea for an Amish quilting story— in which God forces a young Amish woman, a master quilter, to make a life-or-death decision concerning her masterpiece quilt. To my surprise, Harvest House bought the story, upgraded it to a novel, and asked for two more. There I was, contracted to write three full-length Amish books, and completely unencumbered by any knowledge of either the Amish of quilting! Thank goodness for Google! After those three books I started publishing under my own imprint, sold some books to different publishers, and here I am, eighteen books later.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not?

I have considered writing under a pseudonym for this reason. I have been thinking a lot about the general market lately and the millions of readers who won’t read an overtly Christian book, but desperately need a saving relationship with Christ. I recently did a workshop for the Creative Christian Symposium where I spoke about writing for the General market. Here are a couple of points:

  • Reading good literature teaches empathy. Great books invite us to see the world from the perspective of someone who seems quite different from us and to realize that we are nevertheless, connected to them.
  • Many great authors weave transcendent themes into their writing—themes like redemption, faith, sacrifice, love, kindness, perseverance, faithfulness—and if you mix those themes into enthralling stories filled with action, adventure, desperate situations and heart-touching resolution, you provide pathways to understanding the human dilemma in every life arena.  But there has been a struggle in wanting to move in this new direction. If I write general market fiction, do I write under my own name and risk alienating my Christian base, or do I use a pseudonym and start a whole new brand. A tricky question indeed.

If your book is part of a series: Did you set out to write a series? Why did you decide to write a series?

The Quilt That Knew
is book one in The Porch Swing Mysteries series. I love a good series and yes, I wrote the book with a series in mind. (I’m working on book two now.) As an independent publisher, I discovered that my readers are not satisfied with just one story about a specific character. I have written a few standalones, but most of my books are serial. This gives me a lot more room to tell the story, develop the characters, and attract more readers. And, if you are promoting your own books, it is easier to promote a series on Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

I don’t have an exclusive genre I write in. I consider myself a storyteller, and not a brand writer, so I write in many genres. I have written Amish, western, WWII, Civil War, historical fiction, Literary anthologies, and even YA paranormal. I have over sixty story ideas on my computer I hope to turn into books. When I told my agent that I was branching out from Amish, he did his best to dissuade me, but there are just too many stories banging around in my head to stop. 

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

  • First, write well. Readers choose what to do with a book (read it or put it down) because it is either good fiction or bad fiction. The story is inspiring or forgettable. The characters are compelling or stale. Your book won’t go anywhere if it is not top-drawer.
  • Secondly, write to answer specific questions. Shake readers up by depicting present-day issues. Issues that are down to earth and every-day. Issues they’ll encounter if they turn on the news, or log in to Facebook, or watch the neighbor’s kids arguing in the yard. Plant inescapable questions and doubts in their head. Give them desperate situations that only God can fix.
  • Lastly avoid Christian clich├ęs. If you use them, a large majority of your readers will dismiss your book out-of-hand. You must circumvent their defenses. You must be original. You must show, and test, your faith in your characters’ actions and decisions. Actions speak louder than words.
What books are on your nightstand right now?

The Samson Option by Seymour Hersh, Say Goodbye to The River by Patrick E. Craig, and The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey

What is your next project?

Murray Pura and I are writing the second book in our Western series, The Honor Trail, and a Brad Thor-type thriller, The Samson Protocol. I am also starting book two of The Porch Swing Mysteries, The Boy in Blue Denim, and a memoir from my days in the music business, The Resurrection of Whitey Fuzzwah.

About The Quilt That Knew 

A young girl buried in the woods for forty years…
A desperate killer loose in the village…
A mysterious Amish quilt and a golden ring…

Amish writer Jenny Hershberger returns to Apple Creek, Ohio, the village where she grew up. But this is not a happy homecoming. She’s been called upon to solve a horrible crime, but will the killer find her first?

Best-selling author, Patrick E. Craig, has published books with Harvest House Publishers, Harlequin Books, and Elk Lake Publishers, as well as his own imprints, P&J Publishing and Islands Publishing. He has written eleven novels including the CIBA Award-winning Islands series and two best-selling Amish series, Apple Creek Dreams and The Paradise Chronicles. He and his co-writer, Murray Pura won a finalist award in the prestigious Word Guild of Canada competition for Contemporary Short Fiction. He has penned two novellas and an award-winning book of contemporary fiction short stories as well as two Young Adult paranormal books. His work is included in two anthologies of Amish stories from Elk Lake Publishers. He lives in Idaho with his wife, Judy.

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