Monday, June 27, 2022

Pat Daily Interview - Spark

Photo Content from Pat Daily 

Pat Daily is an engineer and former Air Force test pilot who worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. When not writing or trying to bring new airplane designs to life, Pat can be found gaming online. He is a fan of role-playing games – particularly open worlds with engaging storylines where actions have consequences. Pat and his wife spent twenty years in Houston before moving to central Washington.

Greatest thing you learned at school.
Typing. I didn’t really want to take it, but I needed an elective. It’s been the single most valuable skill I picked up in high school. Unlike Calculus, it’s a skill I use every day.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
In Junior High – I wrote for the school paper and loved it. I turned writing assignments in other classes into a chance to do creative work. “My career goals” became “A Day in the Life of Joe the Bartender.”

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. It’s a compelling story that tells of a boy raised by aliens and how that sets him apart from humanity. It opened my eyes to the concept of truth as a matter of perspective. Outside of SF, I’d go with Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. His prose is so beautiful and flowing. No wasted words and intense emotions from the characters. It’s a tale of betrayal and forgiveness.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
A young man named Matthew sent me a thank-you letter for writing the book. Not a text, or a comment on my blog, an actual, honest-to-God, hand-written, stamped and put in the mail, letter. I’ve kept in on my bulletin board ever since.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
I read John Grisham’s The Chamber. It changed my opinion about capital punishment. The risk of getting it wrong is too high.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
It's the best way to both learn and teach. Stories resonate with us and stick to our minds. They pry into our imaginations and set them afire. Great stories linger and take up residence in our heads. They guide our actions and shape our values.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
At first, they were slaves to my plot and ideas and only gave grudging obedience. That made the story flat. They were silently insolent. Once I understood the characters better and gave them freedom to act in a manner consistent with their personalities and dreams, they gave me a better story. The plot evolved as they evolved.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from SPARK
In SPARK, Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, everyone has an avatar and a name for that avatar. That avatar name ends up being used even outside of the park. The two main characters, WB and Feral Daughter, have a disastrous first meeting. The two approach life very differently. Feral is a hard-ass and a force of nature, famous for having broken the nose of a young man who touched her without her consent. WB is a gentler soul who would rather think his way through a situation than fight a horde of orcs. When romance begins to blossom between the two, WB is terrified to make a move. In this scene, he overcomes his fears, yet is still hesitant.

WB: “It’s uh, well, I’m just really glad that I met you.”

Feral walked slowly over to him until she stood directly in front of him. Her eyes flicked their focus back and forth between his. WB laughed nervously and looked away. She reached up and put her hand gently on his chin, turning his face back towards hers.

“Are you flirting with me?” She said it quietly, with an intensity that made WB feel as if he were standing in a mine field. He met her gaze.


She continued to stare at him with eyes so dark they looked ebony. She dropped her hand and turned away, her ponytail spinning. She walked back to the bin of girls’ clothes and began looking again.

“Okay,” she said, nodding once.

WB didn’t realize he’d been holding his breath until now. He let it out and felt his body relax. “Okay?” What does that mean? He took a step towards her. What now?

“You deflected my question. A minute ago, you said something about wanting more detail. Then you said you were thinking out loud. Then you started flirting.” She gave him a slight smile and Will felt warm again. “What were you thinking about?”

  • Will, or WB, is physically modelled after a friend of mine from years ago. His mother was Korean, and his father was blond and American. My friend ended up with Asian features and carrot-orange hair. That’s Will.
  • The name ShaChri came from those of my daughters: Shannon and Christy.
  • SPARK was originally titled “Solar Prime” after the solar power farm next to the amusement park.
  • I’m a Survivor fan. Will’s father, Yul Kwan, is named after Yul Kwon, who won Survivor: Cook Islands.
  • The AI, Janne, was given that name as a shout-out to Jane, from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.
  • The solar power plant, Solar One, was in the Mojave Desert not far from Barstow. That was the inspiration for Solar Prime.
  • When I lived in Southern California, Barstow was purportedly home to the world’s largest McDonalds. That comes up on SPARK.
  • In the first draft, Will had a dog. It didn’t survive the revisions.
  • Mrs. Derr’s obese Corgi was modeled after my mom’s dog, Lucy. Sorry, Mom!
  • Stan Lee produced a show titled “Who wants to be a superhero?” One of the secret challenges the contestants faced involved a lost little girl. Most of the contestants raced past the crying girl, thereby losing the challenge because what superhero wouldn’t stop to help a lost little girl? That challenge is replicated in SPARK.
Meet the Characters
Will Kwan, or WB, is a quiet guy who frequently gets lost in his thoughts to the point that he’ll stop mid-chew to think about something. Will is brilliant and approaches life on a different vector than most. He’s an orphan who has nightmares about rats that are firmly grounded in reality. He’s a misunderstood survivor who loves baseball. His dad was Korean and his mom was a blonde American. Will ends up looking like Kpop star Bi Rain with bright orange hair.

ShaChri Patel, aka Feral Daughter, is also an orphan. Her parents wanted her to do ballet and join Cotillion. She opted for kendo and mixed martial arts. She has to compete several weight classes above where she belongs in order to be challenged. She is wickedly fast and attacks life the same way she games: full throttle and head on. She has a very low tolerance for idiots and lumps Will into this category when they first meet. She is petite and slender. Her avatar is a high-tech ninja. Beneath that fa├žade, she is a dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty who suffers from acne.

Your Journey to Publication
My family has been incredibly supportive. When I told my wife about the rough outline of the book, she began poking holes in my plot and logic. I reacted poorly. She refused to read a single word until it was published. That was a very appropriate reaction to my insecurity and now that it’s published, she loves the book and has given me insights into the characters that helped with the sequel.

I finished the first draft with the arrogance of a fighter pilot and started querying agents and publishers. I got 22 rejections before I found a publisher. Along the way, my writing groups helped me, and SPARK, get better. I wrote five drafts before Inklings Publishing and Fern Brady said yes. Then they assigned me a wonderful developmental editor who put me through three more drafts. Every one of those drafts was necessary and I’ve grown enough to appreciate honest, tough, feedback. It’s surprisingly hard to find. Everyone is happy to point out that you’ve missed an apostrophe, but few will tell you that it’s boring.

My daughters, my sister, and my college roommate read drafts and slapped me around as necessary. I’m very grateful.

Writing Behind the Scenes
I try to write fast, bad, and wrong. That sentence is an example. I find that if I get the guts of the story out, then in later drafts I can spend more time on research to clean things up. I spent a couple of hours interviewing someone who worked for Child Protective Services to understand the basics of foster care and group homes. Many more hours were spent on solar power.

Names are often shout-outs to people I know and love, or those I loathe, sometimes it’s both love and hate. Occasionally, I just look at my bookshelf and grab a name.

Dreams and games provide a lot of inspiration. I remember my dreams and some aspects of them have made it into my work. RPGs are my go-to choice for gaming. The Witcher, Mass Effect, and Skyrim, all sneak into my creative process.

What is the first job you have had?
Aside from delivering newspapers, my first actual job was as a golf shoe cleaner and shoeshine boy at a golf club in Seattle. What impressed me the most about it was that the manager who ran the club took time to show me the right way to shine shoes. It turns out that there’s more to it than just slapping some polish on them and then hitting them with a brush.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
I wonder when our senior cat will finally stop waking me up by yowling and stomping on my bladder and have the decency to move on to the catnip patch in the sky.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love without hesitation.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would not, under any circumstances or temptation, date Karen again. Or Denise. What was I thinking?

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
I’m afraid that COVID-19 is just the first part of a two-phase biological weapon. I worry that it’s just softening us up for the killing half.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
A coffin. For a while, this gentleman slept in it. No delusions of being a vampire, he just acquired it and tried it out. I named a character after him.

In his mother's last letter, she wrote, "Find me. Save me." And Will Kwan had heard those words before. He'd heard them in a video game.

Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, or SPARK, is a theme park for gamers: a sprawling virtual reality complex with quests and games that appeal to all ages. But beneath the surface, SPARK harbors many a secret.

When sixteen-year-old Will has to escape the foster system, SPARK, is his destination. "Find me. Save me." What had his mother meant? At SPARK, he runs headlong into the force of nature known as Feral Daughter, another runaway who has chosen to make SPARK her home and her life. As their friendship grows, Will beigins to walk a path that will unveil not only the secrets of SPARK, but also a whole new perception of his world.

So, when terrorists threaten his new home and new friend, Will cannot stand idly by. Can Will finally get his closure? Or will SPARK be destroyed, along with the new life he has built?

You can purchase Spark at the following Retailer:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CREATIVE EDGE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.