Today I am interviewing Benedict Patrick, contestant in the 2016 SPFBO and author of the new fantasy novel, Where the Water Turns Black.
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DJ: Hey Benedict! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Benedict Patrick: Hi DJ, thanks for taking the time to chat again. I’m an Irishman, now happily living in Scotland with my wife and kids. A pen has never been far from my hands, but a few years ago I ditched computer games to throw myself into storytelling. I published my first novel, They Mostly Come Out At Night, earlier this year. Some people liked it, mostly because of the cover. Mostly.
DJ: What is Where the Water Turns Black about?
Benedict Patrick: The book is the tale of a young woman called Kaimana, an ocarina player who travels with her performing troupe by canoe between the many islands that make up the Crescent Atoll. Kaimana begins the story in frustration, wanting to find inspiration so she can compose a song that will make her known across the entire Atoll. Her wish comes true in the form of a giant, mythical monster living in a cave. Hijinks ensue.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Where the Water Turns Black?
Benedict Patrick: When I was a younger man, I spent a summer travelling around New Zealand. I was fascinated by what I learned of Maori culture during that time, and the image of Kaimana and her monster lurking in the water beneath her has been with me since then.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?
Benedict Patrick: Kaimana is essentially a frustrated artist. We first meet her when she returns home after a few years away, and her family (and to be honest, Kaimana herself) are unimpressed with how little she has achieved since she left. She clearly has a gift for music (literally – in the Yarnsworld most people develop a single magical talent, and hers is for the ocarina), but she’s at the stage when she’s questioning whether she should let that talent dictate her life choices. Wouldn’t things be easier if she settled down in her fishing village home instead?
The monster – the taniwha – is a pretty major character too, but I don’t want to give much away about him. He is huge (the cover art is pretty much to scale), and he likes to eat people. And he’s lonely.
DJ: What is the world for Where the Waters Turn Black like?
Benedict Patrick: Where the Waters Turn Black is set in the Yarnworld, the same world as They Mostly Come Out At Night, but the actual settings of the stories are pretty much on the opposite side of the world from each other.
Kaimana lives on a remote ring of tropical islands known as the Crescent Atoll. The inhabited islands of the Atoll tend to be ruled over by individual chiefs, with no central leadership. However, the many gods of the Atoll travel amongst the people – most Atoll inhabitants reach middle age having met one or two deities. When we first meet Kaimana she has never knowingly met a god, but her troupe is preparing to perform for the god of war in a few weeks…
DJ: There is a taniwha – a legendary monster – and there is also a god of war. Can you give a little more detail on these characters and how do this fit into the myths and legends of South Pacific island cultures influence?
Benedict Patrick: The concept of taniwha remains important for many modern Maori – if you look around you can find reports of rejected planning permissions due to how they encroach on known taniwha lairs. A taniwha can be an inanimate object, like a particular rock or log, or it can be a well-known or unusual animal. They can be guardians of particular locations, or they can be dangerous. One of the folkstories in the book is basically a retelling of a newspaper report from the 1870s, in which a taniwha is claimed to be responsible for the disappearance of a little girl.
Nakoa, the god of war on the Crescent Atoll, is directly inspired by the Hawaiian god Kamapuaʻa. Nakoa has the face and temperament of a wild pig. Like all of the gods of the Atoll, he is a force of nature, and his presence never bodes well for mortals.
DJ: As you mentioned before, Kaimana is an ocarina player; does music and specifically Kaimana’s music play a major role is the story? Why did add a music theme to the story?
Benedict Patrick: Kaimana’s music, and particularly how her magical Knack for music manifests itself, is key to how the story progresses, and is a driving force for her actions. Kaimana is hungry for success and recognition, and makes some rash choices to gain it.
As for the why of your question, I don’t think you need to look too hard to find parallels between Kaimana’s music and an author early into his writing career! Music, however, was much more important in the South Pacific cultures that inspired the book. Also, writing a novel about a struggling author would be a little too on the nose, right?
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Where the Waters Turn Black?
Benedict Patrick: One of the gods that pops up along the way was the MOST fun to write, and early readers agree. I don’t want to give away who it is – let’s just say this person has had a chip on their shoulder for countless generations, making them into just about the grumpiest person possible to write. Venting that anger through someone else’s mouth is extremely cathartic. I’ve already written another short story about this character for my newsletter subscribers, and I can see more in the near future. Pretty much any time I need to let off steam.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Benedict Patrick: If this is their first Yarnsworld novel, probably the short folktales that pop up between each chapter, giving a wider sense of Kaimana’s world.
If they’re already read They Mostly Come Out At Night, some of the events and characters that pop up in this book raise some interesting questions about what is going on in the Yarnsworld in general.
DJ: What is your goal in writing Where the Water Turns Black? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across to readers when it is finally told?
Benedict Patrick: As previously mentioned, Kaimana’s initial experience and failures with her music is a bit of a distorted mirror image of myself, and anyone else whose main talents or interests mightn’t be seen as a particularly profitable use of time in the modern world. How she deals with these emotions is a key part of Where the Waters Turn Black. Also, I wanted to quickly establish the range of stories I was going to be telling in the Yarnsworld setting. They Mostly Come Out At Night was a pretty dark book, whereas this one is much more adventurous, with the potential to even be hopeful.
DJ: Your previous novel, They Mostly Come Out at Night, was part of the SPFBO 2016 contest, and was runner-up winner (congrats!) for Sarah from BookWormBlues set of books. Sarah actually described your book as:
“They Mostly Come Out At Night is a Dark Fantasy novel from Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series. If you like Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss then you will love this captivating, dangerous world in which ordinary people struggle to find their place in a land ruled by stories.”
That is quite some praise is you ask me! Now, since your participation in the SPFBO 2016 how have things been for They Mostly Come Out at Night and your career as a write? Are you happy you participated in the contest?
Benedict Patrick: How have things been for They Mostly Come Out At Night? That’s a tricky one. The book has been ticking over slowly, but if I’m honest I wouldn’t say that the SPFBO has made a crazy difference to the bottom line. From what I can tell the book has done slightly better than most first-time indie launches, but nothing to get crazy-excited about. However, most people who have read it (including that wonderful review from Sarah) seem to have enjoyed it.
Despite this, taking part in the SPFBO has been an amazing experience, and I no doubt that it will pay off hugely in my career’s future. The positive feedback was nice, but the contacts and camaraderie with other entrants has been the biggest boon – I know I’ve met people in the competition that I’m going to do my darnedest to keep in touch with for a long time to come. Also, I managed to get a D&D group out of the competition, something that no fantasy geek will sniff at!
DJ: The cover for They Mostly Come Out at Night was also a finalist in the Favorite Covers portion of the SPFBO 2016 and and took home 3rd place!!!!
They Mostly Come Out at Night was a GORGOUES covers, and one that I voted for as my favorite, but I have to say that Where the Water Turns Black is ever better!
Who is the artist who does these covers, and how much do you love work she does?
Benedict Patrick: My covers are by Jenny at seedlingsonline.com . Remember when I said that my first book did slightly better than most first-time indies? She is the number one reason. Jenny is a pure alchemist when it comes to cover art. It was actually a book that she designed the cover for – Thorn by Intisar Khanani (Jenny’s first book cover, I believe) – that convinced to me look into indie publishing as a way of getting my writing out into the world.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Where the Water Turns Black that you can share with us?
Benedict Patrick: I might get in trouble for this, but here goes… My family is a golfing family. My dad was particularly enthusiastic about it, and two of my four younger brothers followed in his footsteps with great enthusiasm. I grew to hate the sport, mainly become it felt like our dinner conversations kept drifting back to it. Anyway, when Kaimana revisits her family – a family of fishing Knacks – this is what she experiences:
More and more, their conversation turned away from interesting news about themselves and their friends, and turned to fishing, and their successes when fishing, and interesting facts about fishing if you happened to be remotely interested in fishing.
DJ: Now that Where the Water Turns Black is released, what is next for you?
Benedict Patrick: I’m currently working away at the next Yarnsworld novel, currently titled Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Benedict-Patrick/e/B01DLBEJTC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Author Newsletter: http://benedictpatrick.com/?page_id=49
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Where the Water Turns Black that we haven’t talked about yet?
Benedict Patrick: I guess I haven’t specifically mentioned that it is a standalone book. Much like They Mostly Come Out At Night, the novel is an entirely contained story – you don’t need to have read the first Yarnworld novel to enjoy it.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Where the Waters Turn Black is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
When gods and monsters battle, her music will not protect her…
The Crescent Atoll is a remote string of tropical islands, connected by long canoe journeys and a love of stories.
When Kaimana, a young ocarina player, discovers the lair of a taniwha – a legendary monster – she finds herself inspired. The song she is composing about their encounter will be her masterpiece, but her disturbance of the beast attracts the ruining gaze of the god of war. She must convince the taniwha to trust her if they are both to survive.
Where the Waters Turn Black is a standalone novel from Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series. Inspired by the myths and legends of South Pacific island cultures, this book is perfect for those seeking fantasy stories with a hint of the unfamiliar.
Start reading today to discover this epic tale of friendship, gods and monsters!
I’m from a small town in Northern Ireland called Banbridge, but have been living and working in Scotland since I moved here at the age of eighteen. Tragically, that was quite a while ago.
I’ve been writing for most of my life, and have been reading for pretty much all of it (with help from mum and dad at the beginning). My life changed when a substitute primary school teacher read my class part of The Hobbit and I asked him for a lend of the book – I fell in love with the fantasy genre and never looked back.
They Mostly Come Out At Night is my debut novel, and is the first novel in The Yarnsworld series. Check out a sample chapter: http://benedictpatrick.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/MostNightSample.pdf