For this tour, I decided to ask Patrick about the herbwomen. They were so interesting that I wanted to know more. I told him that I was intrigued by the way the church viewed the herbwomen. Here are his answers to my questions.
A Cast of Stones
In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone’s search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.
Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.
I loved this book! It caught my attention right away and kept it throughout the entire novel. I enjoyed it so much so that this is my second promo tour in which I am participating. My first was a review which you can read in my review post.
Author Interview: The Herbwomen
Why did you decide to use the herbwomen in this book?
When I set up the structure of my world, one of the things I wanted to show was a church that was a little off-track because it operated mechanistically, by using readers. It’s understandable, they’d lost their version of the scriptures centuries before so they were forced to rely on their memories of a liturgy and those who possessed the ability to cast lots. I wanted to show the beginnings of people who believed in Deas (God), but didn’t require the use of lots.
What kind of research went into that part of the book?
Once I’d decided on the use of herbwomen as a foil to a mechanistic church, most of the research went into the herbs for healing that were used. When I could, I tried to use herbs or poisons that could actually produce that affect. For example, I use zingiber root to combat seasickness. Zingiber is another name for ginger and ginger actually does help to calm the stomach. It didn’t always work. Sometimes I just had to make up something that sounded good.
Why do you think the church viewed them as evil?
The church’s liturgy speaks of Deas, Eleison, and Unknowable Aurae. It’s the same liturgy they’ve had for centuries. The only problem is the herbwomen (and herbmen) don’t regard Aurae as unknowable, but knowable. The church refuses to consider the possibility that they, themselves, might be wrong. So they’ve concluded that the herbwomen must be misguided and are consorting with evil spirits, the malus.
Do you think that they still do? (like with holistic health, yoga, etc.)
That’s a tough one to answer. I think the Church is the collection of believers. But to ascribe monolithic characteristics to such an incredible diverse body is a mistake. So, in my opinion, it’s shaky ground sometimes to say “The church believes…” I think we’re better off to say “The Bible says…” Though even there, interpretation comes into play. It’s kind of like the joke “If you’ve got two preachers, you’ve got at least three opinions.” I think we need to put ourselves in God’s hands and listen.
Are they playing parts in the next 2 books?
Absolutely. In fact, we find out in book two what the herbwomen are really all about and in book three we learn exactly why they’re in Callowford to begin with. It’s a really fun part of the story.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, Patrick! I absolutely agree with your answers about the church being a collection of believers, and we always need to go to the Bible for our answers.
Cast of Stones: Herbwoman Excerpt
Errol stepped to the bars along with the others. His eyes searched, but failed to see anything. The prison was sparsely furnished. Besides a straw pallet which lay crumpled in the corner farthest from the first cell, only a waste bucket and a pile of rags broke the unrelieved emptiness of the space.
Morin’s laughter whispered in Errol’s ears. “She is somewhat shy. He turned to address the lump of rags. “Come Odene, we have guests.”
The rags stirred without rising.
Steel crept into the abbot’s voice and he gestured toward the officer on guard. “I’m sure you don’t want me to call on the services of Captain Balina again.”
The rags unfolded themselves from the edge of the pallet and a woman, made small by age and neglect, tottered toward bars.
She kept herself as far away from the first cell as she could.
“You see, Martin,” Morin said. “She is well. I gave her mercy she did not deserve. The church could have demanded her life, yet as a gesture of grace I have allowed her to live and render such service to me as she is capable.”
Martin’s hands and eyes filled with an emotion he could not contain. “Mercy you call it? To be locked in this lightless hole to render service? What service could she possibly render?”
“Ah, well. I do not expect you to understand.” He gestured toward the herbwoman, his face hard. “Speak with Odene. I insist.” The guards behind him tensed at the hard note in his voice.
Cruk’s hand drifted toward his sword. Martin’s hand on his arm stopped him. “What is it you hope to accomplish, Morin?”
The abbot smiled without answering. “Talk to her. I find her insights . . . informative.” His eyes darted toward Liam.
Martin’s eyes narrowed. “Errol, speak with her.”
Morin smiled in triumph.
Errol stepped toward the herbwoman. Her head rested against the bars in front of him, her eyes milky with blindness.
One shriveled hand stretched through, touched him on the face. It was warm. A voice too soft to carry past the bars greeted him. Old eyes gazed at him in wonder. “You’ve been touched by Aurae. Thank the creator! I did not know any of the solis yet lived.” She paused. “Deas’ hand is on you.”