Author Pat Spears, Her Debut Novel “Dream Chaser” and Flawed Characters

Author Pat Spears held a book signing and reading from her debut novel “Dream Chaser” at the Winter Park Public Library on October 5. The publisher is Twisted Road Publications.

I attended the reading and book signing, where Spears read from her new novel “Dream Chaser.” The novel is a story about a man who was put into a position more women tend to have: as a single parent. Jesse McKnight is an emotionally absent father who has to learn to reconnect with his son and two daughters after his wife abandons the family. Jesse purchases a mustang mare in response to his daughter Katie’s wish of owning a horse. The horse runs into a nearby national forest on the day it’s delivered. Jesse promises Katie he will bring the mustang back.

Joan Leggitt, founder of Twisted Road Publications, kicked off the event by playing the “Dream Chaser” book trailer. Afterward, Darlyn Finch Kuhn, a local author and Chief Operating Officer at Brad Kuhn & Associates, LLC. This public relations firm put together the “Dream Chaser” trailer and designed Pat’s website.

Pat graduated of Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, F.L., and with a B.S. in social studies education from Florida State University in Tallahassee, F.L.

“Pat has a very down-to-earth, easygoing nature, but don’t let her exterior fool you. She has a very extensive education, I would say,” Darlyn said when introducing Pat.

A little bit about Pat. Pat’s work has been featured in the publications the Habersham Review, North American Review, Common Lives/Lesbian Lives, Seven Hills Review, Appalachian Heritage, and the anthologies Bridges and Borders and Saints & Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2012. She was nominated for a United States Artists Grant in 2009. She was a home accessibility consultant, executive for a small educational publishing company, high school social studies teacher and state economic education consultant, Title IX advocate and business entrepreneur. She was born in rural northern Florida and is now retired and living in Tallahassee, FL.

An interesting aspect about Pat’s biography is that she’s a sixth-generation Floridian. Although I met more non-Floridian natives than Floridian natives, this is the first time I met someone who has strong familial roots in the state. She traveled a lot and lived elsewhere for brief moments, but always maintained her deep roots in North Florida.

The topic of discussion at the reading and book signing was the concept of a flawed character. Pat read an excerpt from her novel to illustrate how Jesse McKnight fits the description of one. In the excerpt, Jesse picks up his daughters up and one of them blew out a shoe. He promised to superglue the shoe so his daughter’s classmates wouldn’t laugh at her and buy the girls new shoes. Yet sometimes, including in Jesse’s case, things are easier said than done.

“This is probably the scene where you (the reader) don’t know if you want to pull for him anymore,” Pat said.

After the reading, Spears discussed with her audience the importance of the flawed character. In Jesse’s case, one example that makes him flawed is that as a single father of three, “he doesn’t seem to understand that children need daily looking after,” Pat said. “His daughter does need a decent pair of shoes so the other kids at school don’t laugh at her. His remedy is to superglue it. Well that didn’t work.”

In my opinion (and this is what I said at the reading) is that good storytelling needs a flawed protagonist because that adds to to the conflict. A major, if not the most important thing, about a story is that it illustrates a change in the protagonist through a series of events (trials), which will shape him/her for better or worse.

In the end, I got an autographed copy of “Dream Chaser.”

Visit Pat’s website for more information and updates. You can buy her book as a paperback on Amazon or as an ebook on Amazon Kindle.

Teresa Edmond-Sargeant is an Orlando, FL-based writer, journalist, author and poet. She is the founder/owner of Heathermoors Books & Words, a boutique freelance writing service that customizes content for local publications and small businesses in Central Florida. A former staff writer in North Jersey, Edmond-Sargeant won two NJ Press Association Awards. She is the author of a poetry book “How Fate’s Confusion Connects” and an Amazon Kindle short story ebook “Eve the First,: A Fairy Tale Revision”.