Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in The Lost Soul Book Tour, a month-long event organized and hosted by the author himself, Patrick Johns! Along with a bunch of fantastic hosts, I’m joining in the celebration of the publication of the second book in Johns’ The Hoarding series, a Coming-of-age Fantasy Adventure tale.
Patrick stopped by for a chat where we discuss how this story of his came to fruition, his extensive research on historical rebellions, what he believes makes for a good story, what lies ahead, and more! Keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, check out the awesome interview, and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
Patrick has put together an impressive tour that will last all throughout the month of June, so be sure to keep an eye out for some great features across blogs and Instagram. You can visit the official tour page on Patrick’s website so you don’t miss out on a single thing!
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.
Once Emilia reaches Astenpoole, Jahrys quickly realizes things are not as they seem. With nightmares plaguing him, and a power he doesn’t understand, The Lost Soul takes Jahrys on a quest beyond the Western Mountains and into his destiny.
Patrick Johns is a wordsmith who grew up in Ramsey, New Jersey, where he would play for hours in his basement with his dinosaurs, and out back in the woods with his imaginary friends in imaginary worlds. He has been writing since he was young—creating worlds and drawing the made-up characters within them, but his imagination was put on hold while in college.
Patrick is a graduate from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering and a second degree in Mathematics. While he is doing very well, he never forgot his imaginary friends, and always imagined bringing their world to life in a novel.
Upon graduation, Patrick’s wonderful parents took him to see Aladdin on Broadway, one of his favorite childhood stories. And yes, it is his dream to one day soar high into a diamond sky on a magic carpet, singing a beautiful duet with someone he just met and fell madly in love with! After the play, Patrick’s creativity sparked and he started writing again to make this dream come true—as well as his childhood dreams of imaginary worlds.
Junkland is his first novel, now available on Amazon. The second novel in The Hoarding series is underway, with the third soon to follow.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Patrick. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
A pig lover living in Spain writing books and songs.
Give us an idea of how The Hoarding came to fruition.
After I graduated university with both an engineering and math degree, I went to work in a large engineering firm just outside Washington, D.C. This job was everyone else’s dream…but mine. I wasn’t happy with my current situation. I actually got pretty depressed and hit a low point in my life—you could call it my quarter life crisis. I was going through a breakup, didn’t enjoy my job, and didn’t connect well with the area I was living in. I was a lost puppy. My whole life I had decisions made for me and my goals laid out on a plate. Now, all I had was an open road in front of me with no road signs to guide me. There was one thing I did know for certain: I wanted to work on something that would make me want to jump out of bed in the morning.
But what could I do?
I began to recall memories from my childhood. All those stories I wrote in elementary school. All those times spent playing outside in my imaginary worlds like taking my all-star basketball team to the championship, searching for dinosaurs in my woods, and training to become a Jedi. All those bike rides to Borders just so I could get lost and be surrounded by books. All those times I would rather read than hang out with friends. All those song lyrics and poems I wrote over the past twelve years of my life. Even the creative writing class I spontaneously took for fun in university. All of these were separate puzzle pieces finally coming together, painting a picture as clear as day, telling me: I was meant to write.
But what do I write about?
In January 2016, I went to see Aladdin on Broadway in New York City. Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie. But I felt different this time watching Aladdin on stage. I laughed. I cried. I smiled. Shivers ran down my spine. I felt…inspired. I connected with Aladdin as he, too, dreamed of living a better life. And that was the moment I realized I needed to right a story like this. I wanted my readers to feel this kind of inspiration after they read one of my own stories.
So I returned to my life in Washington, D.C. with inspiration running through my veins. One day, I was walking through a stairwell, one I walked through dozens of times already, when the familiar emergency light on the second floor caught my eye. This time, I stopped to admire it as any normal person would do. This emergency light had a little square body and two, big lightbulb eyes. Suddenly, the idea hit me that this was the character for my story. So I took a picture, went to a desk, whipped out my phone, and began outlining a story. I knew exactly what the setting needed to me: a land filled with junk similar to the one Wall-e lived in. The outline was barely a page long, but there was a beginning, a middle, and an end. Once I saw my end, I didn’t hesitate to dive into writing the story.
Soon, something that was intended to be thirty pages turned into fifty. Then fifty pages turned into seventy. Next thing I knew I had hit one hundred pages! Then I found myself tubing on a river with some friends, thinking about my story, when an idea for a series popped into my head. I had to rush to shore to write it all down. And that was the birth of The Hoarding series. Unfortunately, the emergency light character did not make it into the final draft, but I owe him everything. He is the reason why The Hoarding exists today.
After I published Junkland, the first book in The Hoarding series, I left my engineering job behind and moved to Spain to teach English and pursue writing. I’ve been living in Spain now for three years. I’ve been hard at work getting The Lost Soul, the second book in The Hoarding series, ready for publication while writing countless poems and songs. My writing journey has brought me to Spain, and I can’t wait to see where the third book in The Hoarding series takes me in life.
Can you share with us something about The Lost Soul that isn’t in the blurb?
I realized it’s difficult to talk about a sequel without giving away stuff from the previous book. But I will say that The Lost Soul takes place just after the events of Junkland, following the protagonist, Jahrys Grent, as he struggles to discover who he truly is after obtaining what he thought he had wanted in life: to become a hero. The Lost Soul has a lengthy cast of new characters, while diving deeper into the lives of old ones. The story is a lot darker, the plot thickens, and the world of Astenpoole expands. The Lost Soul will take readers further across the Farrest Sea and maybe…just maybe…over the Western Mountains ;). I also find it pretty cool that I wrote The Lost Soul in so many different places. I wrote parts in Virginia, New Jersey, Andalucía, Cantabria, and Galicia. It’s probably the reason why it took me so long to finish it because I was bouncing around everywhere.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
The Lost Soul has larger battles, especially a ship battle. I had to advance my naval vocabulary while learning how ships were made and what ships looked like in medieval times. I also had to research historic battles, on water and on land, to really put myself in that kind of situation so that I could write a battle that felt realistic.
The magic system also gets more involved in this story which I developed around my yoga classes. I started taking a lot of yoga classes just before starting to write Junkland. I felt it only necessary to base my magic system on the energy within one’s body and the energy within the environment.
The world building in The Lost Soul also gets very advanced as the characters begin to explore more of the world beyond Astenpoole. Living in Spain has helped me create better castles and imagine other kinds of landscapes. When I wrote Junkland I only really had the experience of living on the east coast of the United States to go off of. And we don’t have castles like I’ve experienced here in Europe. And the mountains I’ve seen in Spain and on the west coast of the United States makes the mountains on the east coast of the U.S. look like little hills.
What do you hope your readers take away from The Lost Soul?
I want my readers to feel inspired. Inspired to read more. Inspired to write. Inspired to pursue their own goals and dreams in life. I want them to feel as I had felt after seeing Aladdin on Broadway: Inspired to make that positive change in their lives. Because the time is now, not tomorrow. On my writing journey, I’ve met so many people who weren’t happy with their current situation, whether it be in a job, in a relationship, in a place they were living, or even unhappy about their poor eating habits and unhealthy daily routines. But instead of making a positive change, many people tend to just stay put, accepting that this is how life is supposed to be and change is impossible. However, it’s the fear of failure that’s actually holding them back. And failure is key to growth and success. Because it is possible to live a healthy lifestyle, work a job you love, be in a relationship worthy of your love, and to pursue your dreams. And this is what I want The Lost Soul to symbolize.
And of course I want my readers to be excited for the next book in The Hoarding series where all the secrets will be revealed and Jahrys’s adventure comes to an end.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
For my writing style, the characters come first. I’ve read stories with great plot, but lacked character development, which ended up being a boring, flat story. I’ve read stories with great, developed characters and a flat, simple plot, but the overall story was incredible because of the connection I had with the characters. For example, in The Lord of the Rings, a hobbit needs to walk many miles to destroy a ring in a volcano. Sounds pretty simple. But it’s the characters that make the journey across Middle Earth memorable. In the Harry Potter series, the Dark Lord returns to take over a high school, kill a teenage boy, and return to power. But it’s Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and all the surrounding characters, that make this series one of the best ever written.
My stories are heavy in character development. When I first outlined Junkland I already knew who my protagonist was, what he believed in, where he lived, what his desires and dreams were, what he liked and disliked, the antagonist he had to confront, even down to his dating situation. And the plot of Junkland formed around all of these character details. But the protagonist is nothing without the antagonist. The villain of the story is the most important character to develop to really build the plot. The antagonist is who gives the protagonist his or her purpose in the story. Without the antagonist, the protagonist has no problem to face. Strong stories have powerful, well-developed antagonists, which will further enhance the plot. The next important characters to develop are the secondary characters. Notice how many people never choose Harry Potter as their favorite character in the Harry Potter books? Usually people choose Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Hagrid, or one of the many other characters from the long list of secondary characters. This is because good stories have strong secondary characters which enrich the plot around the protagonist. I think Harry Potter would have been a whole different book series if everyone chose Harry Potter as their favorite character.
Overall, readers want to read about characters. They want to relate to them. To feel for them. To cry with them. And the only way to do that is to develop your characters first and let the plot come second.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
One of my favorites, and a reader favorite, is Hemule. Hemule is Jahrys’s mule in The Lost Soul. I’ve always loved Disney movies that humanize animals, which is something we do to our dogs and cats and fish too. I also like humanizing animals in my writing. I think it’s special to have a bond between a person and an animal. And the bond that Jahrys and Hemule created together was so much fun to write. I actually killed off Hemule in the original draft, but my beta readers told me I couldn’t do that, Hemule must live. Like I said above, developing secondary characters are what bring a story to life as they bring out the best (or the worst) in the protagonist.
What do you think makes a good story?
The villain. Or it doesn’t even have to be a villain. Let’s call it the antagonist. The antagonist is the back bone to the story who will be the one who drives your protagonist. Without the antagonist, your protagonist has no purpose. And the antagonist doesn’t have to be in the form of a human. It can be a comet on route to Earth to kill all mankind. I love stories with a well-developed antagonist like the Joker in The Dark Knight. I remember wanting to find out more of the Joker rather than Batman. The Joker was who gave Batman meaning. I’ve read too many stories where the protagonist only talks about the antagonist, but we never actually get to see them until the very end. How do I know what I’m going up against if I don’t know how the antagonist is thinking, feeling, or what they are doing while plotting to take over the world? That’s why I love books that choose their antagonist to be a point of view character, giving the reader an opportunity to connect, relate, and form an opinion around the antagonist.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
I could be lame and say nothing. Only because book one’s mistakes were what made book two even stronger. It’s important for writers not to be hung up on their first book being perfect. It will never be. Publish it and move on to the second one. Save your new ideas, your new writing skills, everything you would do differently for your next book. But share your work! Get it out there! I look back on my first book and see all the flaws when people only see positives. But for me, I can see how bad the writing was and all the things I should have done differently. That’s normal. It means growth. I’m advancing as a writer. My second book, The Lost Soul, is completely different than my first book, Junkland; the writing is better, the characters are better developed, the story structure flows more fluent, and even my grammar has improved and I stink at grammar.
I will say that I wish I found a writing community sooner. Writing is hard, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And I’ve ran a marathon! But writing will challenge you mentally and physically. People will question you. The world will question you. You will lose relationships. But you will gain new ones. And your fellow writers, and people who believe in you, will be your support through the writing process. Surround yourself with a positive community and BE a writer. Own it!
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Write from start to finish. It honestly goes with anything you pursue in life. Finish what you’ve started. I had a friend who was a better writer than myself. But there’s one big difference between me and him: I finished a book and he didn’t. He kept showing me beautiful paragraphs he had written, saying they weren’t good enough. I kept telling him to keep pushing forward, finish a chapter, write until the end. But he never did. And this is a problem I see with many people trying to become an author. Know that you can always go back and edit what you’ve written, but you can’t edit blank pages. J.K. Rowling rewrote the first Harry Potter book five times. No one will see your first draft. That’s why it’s called a first draft. Write with the door closed with no judgement and an open mind. And once you’ve seen your end, then go back and edit and judge your work as if the door is open and people are watching. But your first draft should be free writing, endless creativity. Have fun with it!
Thank you again for taking the time to have a chat, Patrick. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Thanks for having me! The Lost Soul, the second book in The Hoarding series,will be available on Amazon on June 1st. I will then be kicking off my virtual book tour for the month of June. At the end of the month, I will be returning to New Jersey for the summer and staying for two and a half months (I haven’t seen my family in two years!). I can’t wait to reconnect with my New Jersey roots and take a little break from Spanish. While I’m home, I will be preparing my first poetry book, Stages of a Scattered Mess for publication in November 2021. Stages of a Scattered Mess will be the first book in my poetry series A Poetry Collection of Growing Up. I’m really excited for this one! A Poetry Collection of Growing Up is a compilation of all the poems I’ve written in the past twelve years of my life. It will be a three book series. The first book, Stages of a Scattered Mess, will focus on the themes of infatuation, love, and disillusion. The second book, Stages of a Breakup, will focus on the themes of denial, guilt, anger, and depression. The third book, Stages of a Healing Heart (title may change), will focus on the themes of false acceptance, moving on, and change. These poems are the raw emotions I’ve experienced as a teenager and in my twenties. I’m so excited to share them with the world!
I will also begin writing the third book in The Hoarding series, The Palms of Light. I can’t wait to jump back into the world of Astenpoole to bring this amazing story to an end, while opening the doors to even more possibilities in my writing journey.
Patrick is graciously giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to a lucky winner, so enter below to throw your hat into the ring! You can also visit https://patrickjohnswrites.com/book-tour/book-tour-giveaway/ for more info.
International • Ends 6/30