NK Chats To… Patrick Canning

Hi Patrick. Thank you so much for joining me on Novel Kicks today. Can you tell me a little about your novel, The Colonel and The Bee and what inspired the idea.

The Colonel and the Bee is a Victorian Age adventure novel about a young acrobat who meets a larger-than-life explorer and the journey they go on together. The idea for the book was as simple as people flying around in a hot air balloon, getting into adventures, and the characters and themes followed.


What’s your writing day like, where do you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?

I try to write every day (though admittedly little on Sundays). I write in coffee shops because there are too many distractions at home. I wouldn’t say I have any real rituals other than a cold brew or iced tea, and I’ll either listen to the ambience of the space or something instrumental in my headphones to really focus in.


Can you tell me a little about your writing process from idea to final edit?

I always have a long phase of gathering material for a particular idea, and once that becomes enough for an outline, make a fairly general outline. Whenever the schedule allows, the outline goes into a first draft (which usually takes a few weeks). Then it’s many rounds of rewriting, outside feedback, and whatever else is necessary to get the book out.


What music would feature on a playlist for this novel?

Any kind of whimsical classical music. The soundtrack for the movie The Brothers Bloom might work.


What is more important when writing a novel, character or plot?

I think it depends on the particular novel. Stories that are more firmly rooted in genre will probably have a more plot-dependent execution because there are certain reader expectations, but if something is a little more literary or unconventional, character might take the lead. The boring but true answer is that both are simultaneously the most important, and in some ways inseparable if done correctly.


How do you approach creating a character?

Characters just kind of introduce themselves naturally as the story comes together. Sometimes they’ll flip genders, or merge with one another if they’re kind of serving the same purpose. Later on in the revision process, it’s always fun to make the characters unique and distinguishable with their own voices and quirks.


If you could get in a hot air balloon and go anywhere, where would you go and why? Also, which three books would you take with you on your journey?

Hmm, probably Norway, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. I’m going to bring The Hobbit which I haven’t read since I was little, War and Peace, because the isolation of a hot air balloon is probably the only place I’ll ever be able to finish that book, and a map of Scandinavia, so I don’t accidentally fly too far into the Arctic Circle.


Which author has inspired/influenced you most?

Probably Bill Watterson from a kind of philosophical standpoint, and craft-wise, Stephen King. His book On Writing is a favourite of mine and definitely one I’d recommend.


Do you have any advice for someone starting out but doesn’t know where to start?

Not to overthink things too much at the beginning. There is a mountain of advice out there (which I guess this is now a part of), and keeping one eye on craft can be useful, but when it all gets too overwhelming, just remember you have a story you want to tell. As long as you have an even general idea what that story is, you have enough to write a book.


Any other advice for new writers?

Don’t give up! Find whatever you need to sustain yourself in the long and sometimes trying process that is writing and don’t ever give up (if you really want it). Also, don’t give up.


About Patrick:

Patrick grew up in Illinois and now lives in Los Angeles with his dog, Hank. He likes volleyball, gin, science, blues harmonica, and bar trivia.

He doesn’t like junk mail, astrology, or Capricorns.

Some of Patrick’s favourite authors include Bill Watterson, Liane Moriarty, David Foster Wallace, Stephen King, and Kurt Vonnegut.

The genres he writes in vary, but he always tries to include unique characters, engaging prose, and the best yarn he can weave.

For more information about Patrick and his novels, visit https://www.patrickcanningbooks.com/



About The Colonel and The Bee:

A peculiar explorer and downtrodden acrobat span the globe on a building-sized hot air balloon, in search of a precious artifact and the murderous treasure hunter who seeks it.

Beatrix, a spirited but abused acrobat in a traveling circus, seeks more than her prison-like employment offers. More than anything, she wants to know her place in the world of the halcyon 19th century, a time when the last dark corners of the map were being sketched out and travel still possessed a kind of magic.

One night in Switzerland, the mysterious Colonel James Bacchus attends Beatrix’s show. This larger-than-life English gentleman, reputed to have a voracious appetite for female conquests, is most notable for traveling the world in a four-story hot air balloon called The Ox.

Beatrix flees that night to join the Colonel, and the two of them make a narrow escape—Beatrix from her abusive ringleader, the Colonel from a freshly-made cuckold. Beatrix, feeling the Colonel may have the answers to her problems, pledges to help him catch the criminal he seeks in exchange for passage on his magnificent balloon.

The criminal seeks a precious figurine, The Blue Star Sphinx, but he’s not alone. The Sphinx’s immense value has also drawn the attention of the world’s most deadly treasure hunters. A murder in Antwerp begins a path of mystery that leads all the way to the most isolated island on Earth.

What dangers await the Colonel and the acrobat?

Click to view The Colonel and The Bee on Amazon UK.


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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