I’m delighted to welcome author Patrick Johns as he hops onto my blog for a quick chat about his latest book, The Lost Soul, as part of his fabulous Book Tour! Be sure to check out the other stops and support the bloggers and author.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
Hello! My name’s Patrick. I’m an author who has been living in Spain for three years writing fantasy, poetry, and songs. But I wasn’t always a writer. I grew up in Ramsey, New Jersey as a math nerd. I loved math so much that I studied industrial and systems engineering and mathematics at Virginia Tech. After graduating I worked for a large engineering firm outside of Washington D.C. This job was anyone’s dream…but mine. I felt stuck as everyone told me work was work and wasn’t meant to be fun. I began to question this…a lot! Why couldn’t I wake up to something I enjoyed doing? And why is everyone saying this is impossible to achieve? Jerry Seinfeld has said, “I never worked a day in my life.” This is proof that it’s possible to enjoy what you do as a profession, but first I had to answer a difficult question: What do I want to do?
Alongside being a math nerd, I was also a book nerd with a wild imagination. I would be the one reading all day at the beach while all my brothers and cousins would be playing in the water. I would always ride my bike to the local bookstores just to be surrounded by stories. Growing up I wrote my own short stories, had my own imaginary worlds, drew my own characters, and wrote song lyrics. I even took a creative writing class in college just for fun. I did all of this because it’s what I enjoyed. All these separate puzzle pieces suddenly came together to paint the full picture for me: I didn’t want to solve problems in the real world, I wanted to solve problems in the worlds that I create.
So I began writing my first book, Junkland. I made it my goal to stay in my job until I finished this book. Once I finished, I left my job and moved to Spain to teach English and pursue writing.
When I’m not writing I’m usually reading a book in a park or at the beach. I also enjoy surfing, hiking, yoga, and playing the guitar.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
The Lost Soul will be the second book in The Hoarding series which will be published on June 1st, 2021. The first book I wrote in the series is called Junkland, which I published in November 2017. Junkland took me only a year and a half to write, but The Lost Soul took me longer—nearly three and a half years from start to finish. The overall story of the series grew way beyond what I had imagined, and The Lost Soul dives deeper into the characters and into the world of Astenpoole.
I also have my first poetry book coming out this fall called Stages of a Scattered Mess, focusing on the themes of infatuation, love, and disillusion. Stages of a Scattered Mess will be the first book in the poetry series A Poetry Collection of Growing Up. This collection includes all the poems and song lyrics I have written in the last twelve years of my life, focusing on first love, true love, disillusion, breakups, false acceptance, moving on, and change.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
The Hoarding series is fantasy. But my fans have actually labelled it fairy-tale fantasy, which was exactly what I was aiming for since a big influence behind writing Junkland was Disney movies. I love all fairy-tale Disney movies, and I wanted to write something more for an older audience.
The Hoarding series begins with Junkland, which is about a young boy named Jahrys Grent who works in his father’s shop just outside the castle walls. He hates it. Jahrys daydreams about becoming a knight, saving princesses, and defeating cruel kings. He believes that a knight fears nothing.
Until the Hoarding comes to Astenpoole, and he experiences fear first hand when his home is destroyed by Hoarders. These Hoarders come down from the mysterious Western Mountains—a giant mountain range which no one has ever crossed before; the people of Astenpoole do not know what lies on the other side. The Hoarders attack the kingdom with laser-like guns, called Captors, sucking up everything into a Captor Pack; it kind of looks like what the Ghostbusters used. But instead of sucking up ghosts, the Hoarders use these Captor Packs to process some kind of energy from all of the material they suck up from their Captors including humans, animals, carriages, doors, debris—everything. Once they process all the energy from the material, they shoot it back out compressed in the form of a block. And over time, these blocks are stacked up to make walls which eventually forms the Junkland, kind of like the world Wall-e lives in.
Meanwhile, the King of Astenpoole shuts the gates of the castle, abandoning Jahrys and many others outside the castle walls to fend for themselves with the Hoarders. In order to make an attempt to help his people, the king sets up Retrieval Stations along the castle walls where survivors outside the castle go to be assigned a job. These jobs consist of retrieving something beyond the castle walls in the Junkland for inhabitants inside the castle, and in return, is granted a reward, usually something to help survive out in the Junkland. Jahrys is forced to become one of these Retrievers.
But when one mission puts Jahrys and his friends in danger, he realizes the only way to stop the Hoarding is to get into the castle and find the mysterious princess he had fallen in love with three years prior.
The overall mystery of the series is figuring out who these Hoarders are, where they came from, what really lies over the Western Mountains, and why these Hoarders are collecting and processing energy. Hence, the Hoarding.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
When I graduated university in 2015, I went through a breakup and worked at a job I didn’t feel passionate about. This difficult time I went through made me think a lot about what I truly wanted to do with the time I have on this planet. Just before the breakup, I had written a short story that had so many plot holes it hurt my head just thinking about it on my exhausting drive-homes from work. So I gave up on it for a few months as I couldn’t fit any of the pieces together to form a coherent story. After the breakup, motivation to make a positive change in my life flooded through my body. It was the push I needed to return to writing. I told myself I would start over with a new story, and this time, I would finish it. But the big question I faced was…What do I write about?
In January 2016, I went to see Aladdin on Broadway. Aladdin has always been my favorite Disney story. But this time I felt something more than just watching one of my favorite stories. I cried. I laughed. I felt moved and touched by Aladdin’s wants and needs and desires. The song, “A Whole New World,” became my national anthem, my inspiration, my hope, my dream.
After seeing Aladdin, I returned to my normal work life with this newly found inspiration. I was bored one day, walking in the stairwell, when I spotted an emergency light. One I had past many times and had always felt curious about. But this time, the emergency light looked like a character with its two big eyes and square body. I instantly pictured him in a junk land type setting. It was then when I knew this was the character I needed to write about. So I did what any normal person would do and took a picture of this emergency light, went to my desk, and began writing an outline. The outline was barely a page long. But it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Once I saw that end, I didn’t hesitate, I opened a Word document and dove into writing the story. And the final product became something beyond I initially had imagined in that first outline. The emergency light unfortunately did not make it into the final story, but I need to owe all my credit to him as he was the reason why I wrote Junkland.
I got the inspiration for writing The Lost Soul, the second book in The Hoarding series, as I was tubing down Harpers Ferry. I never planned on writing a full length book. Nor did I ever imagine publishing one. It just happened. While I was in the middle of writing Junkland I thought it was going to be a standalone book. But as I was tubing down the river, the idea of a three book series came to me as if it was handed to me as a gift from the sky. Delighted by this new gift, I had to remember it until I was able to access a phone to write it down in. And once I got back to writing Junkland, I had to tweak a lot of the story to prepare it for the series I had in mind which is now, The Hoarding.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Write what you love.
There’s so much advice out there telling writers to write to market, and I don’t agree with this. Research stories of how your favorite writers became authors. You’ll probably find that many of them didn’t study anything close to writing. J.K. Rowling studied French. George R.R. Martin studied history. Pierce Brown studied political science. Stephanie Collins studied English. All these authors had one thing connecting them, they all wrote because they had a story inside of them screaming to be told. They couldn’t help it. And as you read their books, you can feel the love they had put into each and every word. Your readers will know if your heart was put into your story. If you pour your heart into your writing, you will not only enjoy the process more (because writing a book is difficult), but you will attract a true readership dedicated to your work.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
I grew up playing in imaginary worlds. Writing allows me to return to those worlds. And it reminds me how life should be lived. I teach English here in Spain, and I see so many of my young students who have no shame of what they draw on paper in school, what they say, or what they think. Kids say, do, and create what they want without thinking of who is going to judge them. And I think that’s what makes a writer: someone who doesn’t forget about their inner child, creating whatever it is his or her heart desires, and sharing it with the world without fear of judgement. Because it came from deep within their heart and that’s all that truly matters.
List three interesting facts about yourself
If you met someone who truly knows me, they will tell you that I love pigs. I’ve wanted a pet pig since second grade. Usually this response brings about questions like, “But pigs are gross and smelly and dumb!” This isn’t true! Here are a few pig facts…Pigs are actually very clean animals. They are one of the smartest animals in the world. And they need to socialize and play like dogs, but also can be independent like cats. They can learn how to use a fricken litter box! Sounds pretty good to me!
I travel a lot, but I’m afraid of planes. I always shake on the take offs and landings. And if there is turbulence, I am praying for my life.
My goal in life is to sing a duet of “A Whole New World.” My life will not be complete until this happens. Ladies, please send me your resumes.
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
I hate marketing. However, if you plan to sell books, you must market. And for me, it’s the worst. First, I hate social media. The only reason I got an Instagram account was to promote my writing. Anytime spent on my phone stresses me out. But unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere, and an online presence is important to selling books and building an audience.
I also hate talking about myself. Usually my friends are the ones to publicly announce to the crowd at a party that I am a writer, but I will not bring it up myself. And getting the word out about your work is important for being a writer. How else will people learn about your books if you never talk about them? You’re an author, BE an author.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Spread the word! Tell a friend! Tell that friend to tell another friend! Even if you don’t like reading, that’s fine, but I’m sure you know someone who does. Don’t forget, books make a great gift! Why not support an author in the process? And more importantly, leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Every review matters whether it’s negative or positive.
What is your next project?
This fall I’ll be publishing Stages of a Scattered Mess. It’s the first book of my poetry series, A Poetry Collection of Growing Up. The poetry collection focuses on poems I wrote from the age of sixteen to twenty-eight. The first book will focus on the themes of infatuation, love, and disillusion. The second book, Stages of a Breakup, will focus on denial, anger, and depression. And the final book, Stages of a Healing Heart (title may change), will focus on the themes of false acceptance, true acceptance, and change.
Hopefully this summer I will begin writing The Palms of Light, the third book in The Hoarding series. I’m praying this book won’t take as long to write as The Lost Soul, three and a half years. Fingers crossed!
Book Blurb for The Lost Soul
Jahrys Grent, now King of Astenpoole, is faced with restoring Astenpoole and cleaning up the Junkland. While King Jahrys reshapes the kingdom, dealing with lords and knights, word of another sorceress, Emilia Danell, reaches Astenpoole. Preparing for another fight, Jahrys worries that Emilia comes for the same reason as the previous sorceress, Nadia Danell.
Connect with Patrick
To see what Patrick Johns is up to, follow him on:
For more information about The Hoarding series, subscribe to his website: https://patrickjohnswrites.com/