Following her dream to study the law, Patricia (Trish to her friends) finally met her goal, then spent the next years trying to juggle husband, children, home and career—and to fit in time for her hobbies like, performing in musical dramas, gardening, cooking, reading, and…. With her oldest having flown the nest and the two younger coming closer to doing so by the day, Trish turned her attention to new endeavors—specifically, to creating new worlds. Oathtaker, Trish’s first published work, began as a challenge, but Trish discovered along the way the joy of storytelling. Currently, Trish is working on Select, the first sequel to Oathtaker (when not taking care of her home or practicing law, or trying to figure out how to create a world in which she can be in two places at once).
Hello, Patricia! It’s always fun to have another fantasy writer join me here on my blog, and an interview is a great way to get to know a little more about the person behind the books. Let’s start with your writing experience. When and why did you begin writing?
Back in the day, I wrote a great deal. I was young—and had time on my hands. But life intervened and so I gave it up for many years. What prompted me to start back again requires the telling of a story that I am not all that proud of—but here it goes!
I stumbled upon a fantasy series a few years ago that positively grabbed me. It ran about 8000 pages, but I read it, back to back, four times. I was enthralled, enchanted, entertained. Frequently, I would stop to ponder: how did he do that? Did he know in Book One that some little bit of a story would take on such significance later? How did he manage to keep me on the edge of my seat, constantly begging for more and moved to tell everyone I knew that they simply had to read these books? Well, the long and short of it is that once done, that series had become my new standard and as a consequence, I had a very difficult time finding things that spoke to me, that made me beg for more. I picked up book after book. This one had no character development—that one had no characters with any redeeming value that I could cheer for—the next one was—well, you get the picture. I know there are fabulous books out there as I’ve ready a great, great number of them, I just seemed to be having difficulty in finding them at the time. So, I started to complain. The truth is, I complained a lot! I complained so much that one day, as I was watching my young teenage daughters watching me—I realized that I was speaking about something about which I knew nothing. So, I decided to put my money (time is money, you know!) where my mouth is.
I remember looking at my children and telling them that I felt convicted. I was mouthing off about something I’d never done myself. So, I said, I would take on the challenge. If I could write a story—a book—that others would find satisfying, then I could complain. If not, I would “shut up.” So, I began. I picked it up and dropped it off more than once. One day, after not having written for some time, I knew I would have to start from the beginning in order to get a feel for where I was. I started reading. I laughed. I cried. It was as though I had not written the story myself; it was so “new” to me. That was when I knew that I had to finish Oathtaker. Meanwhile, the older of my two daughters started reading. She would stand over my shoulder, with that look in her eyes. I would glance at her. “Done with that chapter?” I would ask. “Mmhmmm.” “You want more? Is that why you’re standing here?” “Mmhmmm,” she would say. And so, we went. I wrote. She kept demanding more. Had she not, I do not expect that I would have gone to the trouble of actually publishing Oathtaker when it was all said and done.
I learned so much in the process of writing Oathtaker. Of course, I learned the joy of storytelling. But I also learned how very difficult it is. I’ve never juggled, but I compare writing to juggling in that a writer is working with numerous—sometimes thousands—of little facts bouncing around in her head, all at once. The writer must be aware at every moment of what the character is doing, thinking, what motivates them, whether something is fitting with their past and whether it will fit in with what the writer knows is coming, and so on and so on. I also learned that it is an enormous undertaking and, as a consequence, I have a whole new respect for those who write. Needless to say, I don’t complain in quite the same way I did when I was speaking out of ignorance. . . .
I have had that same experience with a few books—reading them and then using them as the standard to judge others. I’ve had to set up some classifications in my mind to keep me sane (and hungry!): there are the normal books, and then there are the excellent books that are above and beyond average, in a class of their own. I also understand about coming back to a story you’ve written and being surprised by it. “I wrote that? Really?” It’s crazy! Is being a writer anything like you thought it would be? How is it different?
I never really thought about what it would be like to be a writer, so it is difficult to say. However, I find that what most writers seem to dislike the most is the part that I seem to like the most: editing! I know, that sounds odd, but getting the words down is difficult for me. Polishing them—or attempting to, at any rate—is satisfying somehow. Perhaps it is my legal training. I’ve spent years writing and revising things of a legal nature. It trained me for finding the holes in things and gave me the skills to wrap them up tightly.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Yes—writing! Sometimes when I sit down to write I have to tell myself to just get words on the page. Let the story take over. Let the characters decide for me where they want to go. Let events unfold and mysteries be revealed. Just—let it happen. (Then, I get to do the fun part—the editing!) It is interesting how, when I go back to read, I do not remember the events. I don’t know where they came from or how they got through my fingers and to the page. It is a great mystery!
I do that, too! How funny… So what gets your creative juices going? Music? What are some of your favorite songs to write to?
I am a huge Broadway fan. I am mesmerized by the music of Phantom of the Opera, Aida, Wicked, and more. Also, I think some of the most beautiful music ever written is presented to consumers behind pictures that move across the screen. Think for a moment of the atmosphere created by the music for the Lord of the Rings series, or Harry Potter, or Out of Africa, Sophie’s Choice, All the Pretty Horses. Most of my iTunes library is made up of these works. I also use Pandora regularly. There, I created my own “movie scores” station that provides me with a steady diet of terrific movie scores, and the sounds of Enya, the Celtic Women, and so on. They help set the mood for me.
We think a lot alike! I have my playlist of “Writing Music” that is made up almost entirely of soundtracks. (FYI, Spotify is another great resource.) Music inspires scenes and emotions—and those give us stories. Tell us about your latest book. Why did you choose to write this particular story?
When I set out to write Oathtaker, I only knew a couple of things about the story. I actually thought that the opening chapter (or a portion of it anyway) was the prologue. But the characters demanded that I stick with them and that I tell their story. I am glad that I did!
I knew at the outset that I wanted to tell a story about someone who was willing to give up what they desired in order to abide by their word—and I wanted to show the glory that could come from doing so. I seem to have childhood memories of people who said what they meant and meant what they said. I suppose that was a naïve view, but it was one I longed for and one I tried to pass on to my children over the years. (Indeed, I told my children regularly when they were young: “Yes, I am a mean mom. I mean everything I say.”) The world has changed and not always for the better. Sometimes I grow weary of being disappointed in finding how rare it is to find someone who will honor his word. That idea grew on me and became one of the central themes of Oathtaker.
That’s a sentiment that often plagues me, and so I enjoy seeing the examples for “good character” set in enjoyable fiction. Speaking of character, who is your favorite character in Oathtaker and why?
I have to say Velia. She has spunk. My favorite exchange is when she tries to break free from a guard. She demands he let her pass. He refuses. She asks “What will Lilith do to you if you allow me to pass? Really? What harm could it cause?” “She’d kill me, that’s what,” he responded. “So, let me get this straight. If you don’t let me pass, I’ll kill you. If you do let me pass, Lilith will kill you…. I rather like the sounds of that.”
She sounds intriguing. Characters like that can often inspire more stories—at least for me! Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
I am working on Select, the first sequel to Oathtaker. I have been so busy working with getting Oathtaker out, that I am sorry to say that my writing time has been—nonexistent. I am making a new commitment to get back to work! Like Oathtaker, Select will have a “theme.” The theme is about discovering one’s call—what is it one is meant to do? What purpose is this person intended to fulfill?
Those journeys of discovery can make for some excellent tales. If you could take a physical journey into any book, which one would it be?
This is difficult. There are so many wonderful worlds that others have created. Some of them intrigue me—but they are harsh, or for some other reason I wouldn’t want to be “caught” in them. So, I’ll go for something unique and relatively harmless. I’ll say Hogwarts. Yes, I think it would be fun to spend some time there!
Yes, the circumstances or political climate in a setting can be a little off-putting when you’re considering a vacation, can’t they? The writers that can make a setting equally exciting and frightening are amazing. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
I am not sure I can say what others have influenced my writing, but many have influenced me personally. I adore Victor Hugo. I don’t even care about what happens in Charles Dickens’s stories—I just want to read his descriptions! As to what writers influenced my decision to write—Terry Goodkind is at the head of the list. He is positively genius.
Goodkind is one of my favorites, too. Besides writing (and reading!), what do you like to do with your free time?
Yikes! Free time? Is there such a thing? Hmmmmm. Free time, free time…. Oh, yes! I remember now! That is the time one has that is not previously committed to something else. I’m not sure I have any, but what I do when not writing could fill a book. There is, of course, my family. I also garden, cook and perform in musical dramas….
Finally, I have to ask: Chocolate or vanilla?
If we’re talking ice cream, neither. If we’re talking “scents” (which would mean something to readers of Oathtaker), it’s a toss up. When it comes to taste in general, I have to say—chocolate. Smooth, creamy, milk chocolate. Hmmmm. It’s breakfast time. Chocolate croissant, anyone?
Me! Me! (But I want dark chocolate in mine!) Thanks, Trish, for being such a fun and interesting guest. I hope we see a lot more of you and your work!
When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle beasts of the underworld that were summoned by powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears an oath for the protection of her charge.
Armed with a unique weapon, her attendant magic and that of her Oathtaker cohorts, the knowledge of ancients and the assistance of a spymaster, Mara seeks safety for her charge from one who would end Oosa’s rightful line of rule and from assassins who endeavor to bring ruin to the land.
As Mara puzzles to decipher ancient prophecy concerning her charge, as she is haunted with memories of her own past failings, she discovers the price her oath will exact.
To renounce her word would be treasonous; to fail, ruinous; to persevere, tortuous.
Abiding by an oath requires sacrifice.
Praise From Reviews
I have never been able to get into a fantasy book before BUT Patricia Reding opened my eyes to a brand new world! I found myself falling in love with the characters… To me it goes on my top 10 books of the year of 2013. — A. Gooch
I was hooked before the end of the first [chapter]. There’s magic and secrets, prophecy and discovery, and a fierce heroine you can really root for. . . . — Madeline
A riveting tale that keeps you turning the pages. A great story from start to finish. — Jad2013
The Oathtaker is a beautiful and fantastic epic adventure filled with all the things I love most – a captivating storyline, edge-of-your-seat suspense, thought-provoking characters, and never-ending twists and turns. I would enthusiastically recommend this… Patricia Reding has created a wonderfully enjoyable story filled with a spectacular array of characters that are so rich and vivid that you will wonder if you can still hear them talking to you even after you have finished reading this book. . . . Patricia Reding is a marvelous new author that you simply have to discover for yourself! — Amber