As part of his blog tour for Platform 21, I have author T. R. Patrick here to answer a few questions about his writing.
What inspired you to become a writer?
From as far back as I could remember, I was always immersed in stories. It all started with video games. I played great classics like Final Fantasy III (VI), Secret of Mana, and Lufia. These games introduced me to some incredible story telling, and I fell in love with the characters and their stories very quickly. As a kid, I was very in touch with my feelings, and I developed quite a bit of empathy for the characters portrayed in those stories.
To compliment my range of stories, my mother made it a point to read to my brothers and me. These weren’t the kinds of stories reserved for children. Instead, my mother read me books like “Pawn of Prophecy” (David Eddings) and the “Shanarra” series (Terry Brooks). I was only eight and nine when I was introduced to those books.
So, it was only natural for me, at the ripe young age of nine, to pick up the pen and start writing my own stories. My first endeavor was actually writing a narrative for a scene out of “Lufia and the Fortress of Doom.” I actually gave it to my mother for mother’s day, since she was a big fan of the game. Yes – needless to say, I was a huge nerd for a nine year old kid. But hey, that’s who I was and I’m damn proud of it.
As I went on through my young writing career, my Dad noticed that I had developed quite a bit of interest in writing. One day, I was assigned the task of writing a short story for my sixth grade English class. Naturally, I wanted my father to check my work. I gave him the paper, which he promptly read. Instead of just accepting the work of an eleven year old, he decided to challenge me. He ripped up the assignment, and passed me a college level writing text book. He told me to read it, cover to cover, and then try writing the story again. So, that’s what I did.
After my father received my second attempt at writing the story, he red lined it and asked me to correct it. We made it through about three rounds of this process until finally he agreed I had a good, finished product. Then, without any warning at all, he ripped the perfect assignment to pieces and told me to write again. This time, however, it needed to be right the first time. Finally, after an entire weekend of work, I managed to pen a short story at a near-college level of writing. Needless to say, my English teacher had a number of questions regarding who wrote the story. After I told her how it happened, she was left dumbfounded.
From there, my writing just blossomed. I wrote two books which I left unpublished. It wasn’t until I found Platform 21 that I felt confident enough to publish a book. This one just came to me, and it really moved through me. Inspired writing can be quite an interesting phenomenon, and I’m not really sure how else to describe my experience with Platform 21. The story literally fell into my lap, and I’m incredibly astonished how well it actually turned out.
What kind of research did you do to write this book?
When I set out to write Platform 21, I didn’t want it to be your average Young Adult Dystopian Thriller. It was a goal of mine to prove that a writer could pen a story that takes place in a realistic setting, with real history, science, and references to current events; while still being interesting and entertaining to a Young Adult audience. It goes without saying that in order to achieve this goal research was going to be a priority.
East Liverpool, OH is the most important character of the book. This city is a real town on an obscure corner of Ohio. It has so much history and depth surrounding its story. They have legends, and tales that date back far before this nation was even conceived. With interesting landmarks, and its own paranormal investigation society, I knew right away this had to be the setting of the book.
So, I went to East Liverpool, OH and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast. The owners, Don and Cheryl Taylor, were more than happy to welcome me into their home and show me around town. Not only did I learn about the history of the city, but I got it all from the perspective of someone who lived there. A lot of those little details about the city may not mean much to the average reader, but to someone who was born and raised in East Liverpool – this story can feel like reliving some of your fondest memories.
Did you base any of the characters on real people?
Absolutely! There are some people you meet in life that just change you and the way you view the world. The characters in our own life story can sometimes be far more colorful than anything we read in fiction. When you meet these people, you just know you’ll remember them forever, so why not include these personalities in your book? Don Taylor, the High School teacher; Chief Fort, the Navy Sailor; Gordon, the strange scientist you meet at the end of the book; are all character inspired from real life people I’ve met in my travels.
History plays an important part in my book. All of the historical figures, and even the ghosts (aside from the obviously made up fictional ones) were inspired by real events and stories. The ghosts you meet in Platform 21 are actually inspired by ghosts well known by East Liverpool locals. Gretchen Gill, John Petty, and Earl Tweed are all very real. I did my best to ensure that my re-telling of the history was spot on. Naturally, some creative liberties were taken, but at its heart, Platform 21 is actually a bit of an historical fiction.
Do you write your book from page 1 to the end, or do you jump around?
How can you write page 239 if you don’t know what Sally did on page 147? Stories should always be character driven. Before I can write a book, I need to know how it ends, and where it begins. I’ll need to know who the actors are in the world, and what their goals and intentions are. You have to remember, everyone thinks that they are the main character in their own little story. If you don’t write your characters this way, you’re missing out.
With that in mind, you can’t let your characters drive the story if you’re jumping around the narrative and forcing them into the situations you want them forced into. You need to start at chapter one, and role play. As a writer, you are an actor and you play every role in the show! Sometimes, your characters will surprise you. They will do things that throw your story in another direction. For example, in Chapter 23, Damien Martin – who is one of my favorite characters – did something so incredibly crazy, it changed the entire direction of my eight book series. The twists in Platform 21 surprised me as much as it will surprise readers! Now that’s a lot of fun!
Is there any specific message you hope readers take away from your story?
This is an important question for me to answer because there will be plenty of people telling you what my message was. Should the book ever hit mainstream attention, I will have my share of critics, and my fair share of supporters who will take a viewpoint they observed in the book, and claim it to be my message. Let me try my best to squash some of that right now.
It was never my intention to write an over-arching message into Platform 21 that would try to get the reader to change his or her opinion regarding some of the controversial topics discussed in the narrative. Rather, it was my intention to put the reader into a perspective that was foreign to them, and introduce controversial subject matter. The characters responded to the situations in the way that fit their world views and opinions, not mine.
The purpose of introducing these kinds of topics is to generate discussion, not change opinion. I think there is a lot of depth to the problems that face us, and how we as a society choose to govern itself. As a writer, I feel an obligation to both the reader and society to introduce tough topics. I have an obligation to show the truth, as opposed to providing different opinions of an issue. I have an obligation to research, study, and present different sides as accurately as possible.
In Chapter 25, where most of this discussion takes place, you’ll find that the characters are using some of the exact same language notable speakers on these topics have used. It was my intention to represent the different positions just as they are being represented by their proponents in current events. What results from these discussions in the book is likely to sting readers in a way that will linger. At least, that’s what was intended.
If there is an over-arching message to the story, it would be, ‘You are not alone.’ That, in a nutshell, was the theme. We aren’t alone – Though at times it seems you are given up, and taken away by those who would use or abuse you, never forget that you are not alone. There will always be someone willing to offer you a helping hand. You just have to remember who they are, and give them the opportunity.Platform 21 (Beyond the Veil #1) by T. R. Patrick
Published by Self published on Oct 1, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Luke’s life is about to take a dangerous turn.
But first he has to die.
In the year 2052, high school sophomore Luke Gibson considers himself an average teenager in a world on the brink of monumental change. Joining his parents and sister, Laura, at the first World Energy Initiative Conference, he is among thousands gathered in a Denver arena to celebrate free renewable energy when a massive earthquake strikes killing everyone in the stadium. The last thing Luke sees before his death is a girl reaching out to him—a stranger whose face he remembers from his dreams.
The end, however, is not the end. Suddenly, inexplicably, Luke is back home in Ohio and everything is different. His sister is gone, the victim in an unsolved homicide years before. Angela, his mysterious dream girl, is here also, and the only person besides Luke who recalls the previous reality. And now their determinationto uncover the truth about Laura’s murder and their transformed world is making them targets—forced to flee for their lives from a nameless shadow organization and a government seeking vengeance for an unthinkable act of terror—as they stand on the threshold of a dark conspiracy that threatens all humankind.
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