Cat's Meow interview 2005

Author Patrick Carman, an originally self-published entrepreneur, recently joined the CATS staff for lunch to tell us about his new adventures. Carman, whose book The Land of Elyon, Book 1: The Dark Hills Divide (0439700930, hardcover, $11.95) was published earlier this month by Scholastic. The energetic and determined Carman originally self-published and promoted this title, selling nearly 5,000 copies. The Carman family, Patrick, his wife and two daughters, will launch a four month nationwide bus tour on January 10, 2005 from their home state Washington. To learn more about Carman, the bus tour, and this fantasy visit or Bon Voyage!Q: What are some of the themes in The Dark Hills Divide?A: There are two prominent themes in The Dark Hills Divide. The first, and probably most important, is that we often misunderstand people and situations. Alexa discovers this for herself as characters and places in the story challenge her expectations. As the story progresses she is forced to re-think how she feels about the world she inhabits. The second theme is that finding adventure means stepping out into the wild world. For Alexa this means taking the first step into an unknown place. For young readers this means having the courage to try something new – joining a team, singing in the choir, writing a story – the adventure only begins after we make the decision to step out and try something that might be scary or difficult.Q: How did you come up with the idea for this series? A: The Land of Elyon series started out as a story I was telling to my own children. Once a week I would turn down the lights, gather them close to me, and tell them a small part of Alexa’s story. This took place over the course of a couple of months and I drew maps and filled a journal with notes as we went along. Those early story times with my daughter’s became the basis for the series, and I spent the next year writing the first book.The core idea for the series was simple: a young girl living in a kingdom surrounded by walls. She’s never gone outside, and escaping into the wild is all she thinks about. From there I was able to create a story about her adventures inside and outside the walls of the kingdom.Q: Alexa lives in a world of fantasy, but she comes across as being very normal for her age. Do you think that’s what helps kids relate to the book and the character? A: I do! I have always been a storyteller and I especially like telling stories to kids. While the book is a fantasy story, Alexa is just a normal twelve year old with the same fears and dreams as most real people her age. I wanted kids to be able to see The Land of Elyon through Alexa’s eyes and understand what she was feeling because they would feel much the same way.

Patrick Carman