The Dark Hills Divide is the #1 selling book so far in May for Barnes & Noble Boise, ID

200 books in two days! Those are the numbers for Patrick Carman’s Boise Idaho stop at Barnes & Noble. Carman visited over 2000 elementary students in Boise last week, encouraging kids to read and write, and to tell them about his new book The Dark Hills Divide. Carman was also featured on NBC affiliate KTVB in Boise where he was interviewed byanchor Carolyn Holly for 4 minutes live on channel seven’s news at noon show. Holly, after meeting Carman and learning about his signing to scholastic said, “I think you guys are going big time!”

Not only did Carman’s visit garner attention from the media, Kiersten Cooper manager of B&N Boise said, “…this has been one our best events…” So far this month The Dark Hills Divide has sold well over 200 copies at the Barnes & Noble in Boise. Cooper went on to say the Saturday Carman was at the store, “The Dark Hills Divide has made our sales today, there would be no one in our store if it weren’t for Patrick (Carman).”

Like other stores on this leg of Carman’s northwest tour, the Boise B&N is encouraging kids to make this the book to read this summer. “Harry Potter fans are sure to find this new book an enchanting selection to place at the top of their summer reading list,” says Gail Lindbloom, Community Relations Manager.

As Carman tours his sales at each store continue to grow. So far in May The Dark Hills Divide is showing stronger sales than best sellers like Da Vinci Code, and Purpose Driven Life at the Boise B&N. Lindbloom says that it is highly unusual to sell this many books in this short of time for a first time author.

Carman continues to amaze booksellers and fans as he heads to Tri-Cities, WA this week, where he kicked off his tour earlier in the year with an in-store event with over 300 people.This time the Tri-Cities Barnes & Noble has turned the whole store into The Land Of Elyon and is making The Dark Hills Divide the book of the summer.

About The Dark Hills Divide
This enthralling new series is set in a fantasy world in which animals can talk and enchanted stones can predict the future. In Book I, The Dark Hills Divide, the heroine, 12-year-old Alexa, has spent her life living behind the four-story walls that surround her village and the three others that make up Bridewell Common. But Alexa’s curiosity for what lies in the hills and forests on the other side sends her on a daring adventure into a secret world in which nothing is as it seems to be. Originally released by Amped Media, the series was purchased by Scholastic in March of 2004.

About Patrick Carman
A Northwest native, Patrick Carman lives in Washington State with his wife, Karen, and daughters, Reese and Sierra, now seven and nine. He grew up in Salem, Oregon, and graduated from Willamette University with a degree in economics. Carman then spent a decade living in Portland where he founded and ran an advertising agency. After selling the agency in 1998, he created a series of popular board games including “Applause,” and founded and built into the third-largest provider of online newspaper publishing in the U.S. before selling the company in 2002. In addition to speaking about his books the author speaks to youth and adults alike about the effect technology has had on culture and how reading can be used as an important (and entertaining) alternative to TV, radio and the internet.

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Patrick Carman has been featured in the following print publications:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Miami Herald
Tri-City Herald
The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
Everett News Tribune
The Dalles Chronicle
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah)

TV appearances:

KTVB _ NBC Affiliate, Boise ID
KPER_ CBS Affiliate, Pasco, WA

The Dark Hills Divide hits #1 at Barnes & Noble, Kennewick, Wa

The Dark Hills Divide, the first book in the Land Of Elyon trilogy – ( was the #1 best selling book at Barnes and Noble in Tri-Cities Washington last week, beating out Donald Trump’s How To Get Rich and Tim LaHaye’s Glorious Appearing. Michelle Price, community relations manager at the B&N store, says the staff is also reading the book and hand selling it. The book has sold over 300 copies in just a few short months at the store, and nearly 10,000 copies in that same span all over the Northwest.

The buzz started when Patrick Carman visited the Tri-Cities area in late January. Over 400 people attended the event and the employees were wowed by the turn out for the first time author. This was the first of many well attended book events on Patrick’s northwest winter school and bookstore tour.

Patrick Carman, author of the Dark Hills Divide, will be returning to the Tri-Cities May 17th-22nd to speak to over 4000 students. Barnes & Noble will highlight The Dark Hills Divide as the featured book in the summer reading program. Patrick will also be doing summer reading events in Boise, ID and Spokane, Wa. during the month of May.

About The Dark Hills Divide
This enthralling new series is set in a fantasy world in which animals can talk and enchanted stones can predict the future. In Book I, The Dark Hills Divide, the heroine, 12-year-old Alexa, has spent her life living behind the four-story walls that surround her village and the three others that make up Bridewell Common. But Alexa’s curiosity for what lies in the hills and forests on the other side sends her on a daring adventure into a secret world in which nothing is as it seems to be. Originally released by Amped Media, the series was purchased by Scholastic in March of 2004.

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Miami Herald, 3/30/04

WALLA WALLA — The publishing powerhouse behind the best-selling Harry Potter series believes a Walla Walla author’s fantasy book could be a bestseller in 2005.

Patrick Carman of Walla Walla signed a six-figure book deal with Scholastic for his first children’s novel, The Dark Hills Divide.

Scholastic has purchased the North American English language rights, world Spanish language rights, North American French language and audio rights for the book, which will be available in hardcover, possibly by Christmas.

Carman’s book advance is between $200,000 and $350,000, said Peter Rubie, his New York City-based literary agent.

“It’s a notable advance in that it really talks about the publisher’s enthusiasm and aggression to make something of this book,” Rubie said.

Carman’s 200-page fantasy is the first in a trilogy about Alexa, a 12-year-old girl who grew up inside a walled city. The 40-foot-tall, 3-foot-wide stone walls protect the townspeople from “enchanted dangers” outside.

But the story’s heroine isn’t satisfied with her safe haven. She wants to see what’s outside the walls.

And so begins her adventure in the magical Land of Elyon where animals can talk and stones tell the future.

Craig Walker, vice president and editorial director for Scholastic in New York City, said his company expects the book to be a major seller in 2005. He said what he liked about the classic fantasy was the strong female heroine.

“She’s one of these unexpected heroes, like a Frodo in Lord of the Rings,” Walker said.

“Naturally he’s a native son up there, but there’s more than that,” Walker said. “I began to hear what Patrick was doing out there, the signings and school visits. He fits the Scholastic author to a T. We do so much of our business through the schools.”

Alex MacKay, a children’s book buyer at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park north of Seattle, enthusiastically endorsed Carman’s book with Scholastic’s Northwest representative. The independent bookstore is touting the book as a “a smart and engaging tale that will thrill children and adults alike” on its Web site. It continues to sell the independently printed copies.

“I really liked it. It was a good plot with wonderful characters. I always appreciate children’s books that are more complex and have fine lines between good, bad and what’s going on. It’s not that clear-cut,” MacKay said.

The modest Carman is amazed at how well the book has sold. He’s also amazed Scholastic wants to publish the trilogy.

“I’m shocked because this is Scholastic. The Harry Potter label, the Captain Underpants label and involved in so many school book fairs,” he said.

Rubie called Carman a phenomenon because he sold about 10,000 books in less than four months.

“That is quite remarkable for someone doing it on his own. Imagine what he can do with the publishers of Harry Potter behind him. I can’t promise he can hit the list but the odds are more in his favor than not,” Rubie said.

Carman will be back in the Tri-Cities on May 21-22 to kick off the summer reading program at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Kennewick. His book was chosen as the summer reading program pick.

At Carman’s book signing there in January, more than 200 people showed up to meet Carman, said Michelle Price, community relations manager at Barnes & Noble.

“I have a good feeling about this book and it’s going to be big,” she said. “What’s so exciting about this is Patrick really encourages the kids to read anyway. With the competition with video games — to have a book from a local author and actually meet the author is huge. You get them reading on one book and it’s like a domino effect.”

The only drawback to the Scholastic deal is the delay in the release of the next two novels, MacKay said.

“We were expecting to read the second one by December and now we don’t get to. We don’t get to read the sequel for another year and a half,” MacKay said.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 3/19/04

Once there were two fathers in two kingdoms who spun fabulous stories for their young daughters.

Stories in which the creatures were magical, the danger fierce and the day saved — by brave and idealistic girls.

One of the dads grew up to be Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata, now a self-published author eyeing, on the far horizon, a possible career as a children’s writer.

The other, Patrick Carman, is a Walla Walla entrepreneur whose self-published children’s fantasy, “The Dark Hills Divide,” already has propelled him across the threshold of success.

In an auction that ended March 12, Carman clinched a three-book deal with Scholastic worth between $200,000 and $350,000, according to his agent, Peter Rubie.

The message? Self-publishing, historically the poor cousin of the book world, is becoming a more respectable route to an audience, despite the risks and expense.

“I think this is part of a trend that started several years ago with ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ and ‘The Christmas Box,’ among other books,” Rubie said, adding that it’s easier than ever to do a self-published book with a quality look.

“What most writers forget,” he said, “is that the key to publishing is distribution — getting someone to take the book and get it into stores or the hands of your intended audience. The majority of self-published authors fall down badly in this department.”

Of course, it’s the dazzling exceptions that spur writers on. “Eragon,” a self-published fantasy by Montana teen Christopher Paolini, was picked up by Knopf in a three-book deal worth a reported $500,000. Republished last August, it became a No. 1 best seller.

Then there’s Michael Hoeye, who self-published “Time Stops for No Mouse” after sketching out his ideas on a napkin at a Portland cafe. The book rallied enough grass-roots fans that Putnam gave him a $1.8 million deal for three books.

Those successes don’t come easy. Paolini, who reportedly turned down a full scholarship to Reed College in Oregon to promote his book, made 135 appearances in 2002 and sold 10,000 copies before signing with Knopf.

Carman, a self-made businessman, has followed Paolini’s playbook. He poured more than $25,000 into “The Dark Hills Divide,” the first volume in his planned “Land of Elyon” trilogy. He hired top-notch pros to do the artwork, design, editing and publicity, then set up school visits and bookstore signings to stimulate sales.

“We just started creating all this buzz,” Carman said, “and an agent contacted us from New York.”

Judith Chandler of Third Place Books said she was astonished when Carman drew more than 400 kids to an unscheduled appearance in late January, just from the excitement he had generated through school visits. For self-published authors, she said, marketing is half the battle.

“We sold about 180 copies that night,” she said. “That is stunning. I think it could be another one like “Eragon,” easily.”

Fittingly, Carman was speaking to a gym full of school kids when the call came that Scholastic had made a deal. By then, he already had made back most of his money, with nearly 6,000 books sold and a third print run — of 10,000 copies — in the works.

He also had been invited to speak to booksellers attending the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association conference, guaranteeing even more buzz.

“The Dark Hills Divide” grew out of stories Carman told his young daughters, now 7 and 9. It focuses on 12-year-old Alexa Daley, who explores what lies beyond her walled kingdom and stumbles onto a plot to destroy the Land of Elyon from within.

“It’s probably one of the better children’s books I’ve seen in a long time,” said Michelle Price, events coordinator at the Tri-Cities Barnes & Noble, which has chosen Carman’s book as the main selection of its summer reading program.

Scholastic, which plans to unveil the re-edited “The Dark Hills Divide” in hardcover around Christmas, will let Carman reprint it in paperback until November. Then he’s out of the self-publishing business. Fans will have to wait until December 2005 for the sequel.

Licata has taken a more low-key approach. He has done some interviews and a major bookstore appearance, with more in the works. But his real ambitions as an author appear to lie further down the road.

His immediate goal was to revive a 15-year-old manuscript based on taped stories he sent his daughter when she lived in China for a year with her mother. After their return, Licata sought local mentors and spent several years revising and packaging the story. (Karin McGinn, features copy desk chief at the Post-Intelligencer, was hired to do a first edit.)

The result, “Princess Bianca and the Vandals,” is a fast-paced, if still unpolished, eco-wizard story about a girl who rescues her mother and saves her pristine kingdom from marauding, anti-green Vandals.

“When I finished it 10 years ago,” Licata said, “I naively threw it into the mail to some East Coast publishers. But that doesn’t work too well, unless you have an in. I didn’t have the energy to do a full-scale (publicity) campaign. And because so many themes are common to the Northwest, I wanted to have some control over the presentation.”

He said he promised to publish it himself if his daughter graduated from college and he won a second term on the city council — “and those things happened.”

He has sold several hundred copies since October, mainly through his Web site,

The Elliott Bay Book Co. has moved a respectable 20 copies since Licata’s signing there in November, and Amazon picked up the book this month. (Daughter Eleanor, now in Ankara, Turkey, already has plugged it twice online.)

“I don’t expect this book to be a huge critical or commercial success,” Licata said, “but I did want to share a bit of fantasy with others, particularly children, with regards to the world we live in. … Time permitting in the future, I’d like to write more for both children and adults. I have a small drawer full of short fiction pieces and eventually I’d like to get them out as well.”

Even if “Princess Bianca” isn’t destined for the big time, it reveals a lively storytelling talent, honed by Licata’s childhood experience as a campfire raconteur.

“I had dyslexia and I didn’t read until I was 9 years old,” Licata said. “So I made up stories for my peers.”

It also demonstrates a drawback of self-publishing: Without a book editor’s steady hand, do-it-yourselfers are hard-pressed to get the story and packaging details just right. Even Carman’s book, which is unusually polished, has some misspellings, grammatical errors and anachronisms.

As Chandler put it, “Usually when you get a first-time author with a book they have self-published, the quality is suspect, the art isn’t quite right and it ends up with a loving-hands-at-home quality.”

So, is self-publishing the way to go? If you have a good story and a ton of hustle — maybe. Carman said his experience has been “very positive,” partly because of the help he got from Northwest booksellers.

But note this warning from Judith Haut, Random House publicity director: “It really comes down to the book,” she said, “and the talent the writer has.”


Both Patrick Carman and Nick Licata have local bookstore appearances lined up.

Carman will talk about “The Dark Hills Divide” at 5 p.m. March 26 at Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E.

Licata will read and sign copies of “Princess Bianca and the Vandals” at the following locations: 1 p.m. March 27 at Wit’s End Bookstore, 4262 Fremont Ave. N., and 6 p.m. May 1 at Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E.

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 3/18/04

From story-telling father to bona fide author.

Walla Walla resident Patrick Carman has received a six-figure offer from New York-based publishing firm Scholastic Inc. for the fantasy trilogy he created through his children’s bedtime stories.

The company plans to publish a hardback version of Carman’s 2003 self-published “The Dark Hills Divide.” The book is currently available in paperback form. Scholastic will also release the second and third books in “The Land of Elyon” series.

The official announcement is expected to be made tonight at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Spring Tradeshow at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center.

“I had no expectation of this ever happening,” Carman, 37, said Wednesday. “I can’t describe it. It does really feel like a dream.”

Carman’s New York-based literary agent Peter Rubie said the offer is “a very strong sign of Scholastic’s enthusiasm” for the project.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Rubie would not venture to predict the success of the series, but said he believes the “odds are very high” it will fair well among young readers. He said Scholastic’s interest is an indicator of the series’ potential.

“It’s really a very strong demonstration of enthusiasm in Patrick’s ability to not only write but connect with his audience,” Rubie said.

“The Dark Hills Divide,” the 200-page kickoff to the series, is the story of a 12-year-old girl named Alexa Daley. As she explores another summer in Bridewell with her father, she eagerly unravels the mystery of what lies beyond the walls, protecting her town and others.

Legend says the walls protect from evil lurking in the forests and The Dark Hills. But as Alexa begins to dig in she discovers an ancient enchantment – perhaps the work of Elyon, the fabled creator of the land. Through her adventures, she exposes a danger that could destroy all she holds dear. That is, unless she can find a way to thwart a traitor’s plans.

Carman came up with the story in ongoing tales he told to his daughters, Sierra, 9, and Reece, 7, before bed. As the story grew, he began keeping a journal of everything he created – maps, towns, character names, key moments in the story. The book was published last year by Walla Walla’s Amped Media. Afterward, Carman began marketing it by visiting schools, classrooms and book stores throughout the Northwest.

In his 40-minute presentations to children, he explained the writing process and led students through their own creative journeys by helping them dream up maps and ideas for journals. In a three-month period, he sold 5,000 copies of “The Dark Hills Divide,” drawing hundreds of children and parents to book stores.

“He’s just so charismatic,” said Michelle Price, community relations manager for Barnes & Noble in the Tri-Cities. “I think one of the things I noticed, he knows what appeals to children – not only in his writing, but how to speak with them. They feel, I think, respected when he’s talking to them. Not every author can do that.”

Price said Carman’s visit at the end of January drew between 150 and 200 children and their parents.

The story was the same in Seattle’s Third Place Books, where Carman later sold more than 175 copies of “The Dark Hills Divide.”

At Book and Game Co. in Walla Walla, about 330 copies have been sold. Comparatively, 460 copies of the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series – also published by Scholastic – have sold at Book and Game Co.

“I can see why it appeals to children,” Price said. “The main character in the book is a girl – a very strong girl. This character is a little bit different than most fantasy-type books.”

Web log writers have also heralded Alexa as a strong female role model for children who draws an equal number of male fans.

Carman said he also believes children simply enjoy fantasy and adventure.

“Kids love a good story,” he said. “They love fantasy books because they want there to be more in life than this.”

Carman said the first story in the series will be slightly tweaked for polish when Scholastic releases it in hardback this December. The second – now titled “Beyond the Valley of Thorns” – is tentatively set for release summer 2005. The third, “The Tenth City,” is expected to be out spring 2006.

Scholastic purchased the North American, Spanish, French, and audio rights.

Carman will travel to New York a week from Tuesday to work out some of the details with Scholastic. The arrangement with the company will have him on tour for the next three years. He figures he will spend 100 days a year for the next three years on the road, working in schools and with children.

Though it will be difficult to be away from his home, his wife Karen and their daughters, the tour will be a journey of his own, he said.

“We recognize this as a moment in time,” Carman said. “It’s a huge blessing for me and my family.”


Local author Patrick Carman will be at Book and Game Co. from 4-5 p.m. Saturday, signing copies of his book “The Dark Hills Divide.”


New Comments

  • Jesse Dean
    Dear Mr. Carman, I am a huge fan of your works, you introduced me into reading actually, which, if I recall correctly, i ...

  • Ayv
    Patrick, I have read th land of elyon series twice already and I intend to read it again and again until I remember it w ...

  • Jody Siahaan
    This is a note from one of my sixth grade students. I you would like to write him back you can through my email. Dear Mr ...