My Favorite Bit: Patrick Swenson Talks About RAIN MUSIC

Patrick Swenson is joining us today to talk about his novel, Rain Music. Here’s the publisher’s description:

There’s magic in the forest and it sings . . .

Truman Starkey heard it once, there in the ancient rain forest. A song that could raise the dead, a song that could bend time to its will. A song that might finally solve the puzzle of what Truman has lost—his ability to compose music.

But every magic needs fuel, and this magic, this song, demands a soul, a heart, or the most dangerous drug ever invented: Moss.

Kat Gregory is a bar singer who hopes there’s no such thing as destiny, because if she can’t change hers, someone’s going to die. She knows. It’s happened before. Kat must risk her mind and soul on Moss, and on a man she’s never met.

Joel Hines knows he can thwart his destiny if he can just bring his mother back from the dead. To do it, he needs more of the Moss that has warped him into a mage of terrifying power. That means hunting down Kat. He’ll torture and kill anyone who gets in his way.

What Truman doesn’t know is that the mysterious song in the rain found him for a reason. His true destiny is to compose the music that will defeat the mage.

If only Kat can find him.
If only Hines doesn’t find them first.
If only Truman trusts in destiny . . .

What’s Patrick’s favorite bit?


I’ve been a teacher now going on 37 years. I’ve had more than a few adventures along the way, as well as many side jobs, all of which have kept me hopping: There’s my teaching job, of course, as well as writing stories and novels, owning a publishing company, and running a yearly writers retreat.

My humble beginnings, though, were at a small school on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, near the shores of Lake Quinault, where I taught music, English, and reading, and coached some JV basketball and the track team. Back then, it was a K-12 one-building school of about 350 students. (It’s about half that number now.) In the summers, I worked at a resort on the lake, called the Rain Forest Resort Village. I came back to Quinault in the early ’90s on a two-year sabbatical of sorts, working and living at the resort and doing a lot of writing. It’s also now the site of my annual writing retreat, established in 2007, which now consists of three five-day sessions in February and March that bring over 100 writers to the rainforest to write and learn.

With all these connections to Quinault, I was bound to write something about it. Rain Music—a story of ghosts, music, and magic—is set there, at that resort where I worked. It’s a story that was going to take place in the 1990s and ended up being set in our present.

A lot of real-life happenings from those years slipped into the novel, and because those events were at different points along that 37-year timeline, I created my own take on the resort, pulling events and facts—both positive and negative—into the present. I guess the reader can’t know for sure which events happened to me and which ones didn’t—unless you know me fairly well—but here are a few of my favorite “slice of life” bits that ended up in the novel:

1-There was a span of time when the Northwest Championship Hobie Cat races were held at Lake Quinault, and the resort was both a sponsor and the official headquarters for the event. Every accommodation at the resort would fill up: The cabins were full; the motel was full; the RV park was full; the campground was full. In fact, the owners opened the huge sloping lawn to accommodate more tents—the one time of year they allowed it. One of the larger cabins became the race headquarters. Dozens of Hobie Cats and their beautiful multi-colored sails lined the beach. Live music pounded in the lounge, and a good deal of partying added to the festive atmosphere. I saw all this happen while I worked shifts during the busiest hours, and while trying to join in on some of the fun. (So: what about that skinny dipping scene during that weekend? Did that really happen? I guess you’ll never know . . .)

2-There really was a “Lime Bowl” that took place during a local football game, where lime marker was used by mistake to draw the boundaries and yardage lines instead of line marker, and many of the players suffered burns during the game. Several of them ended up in the hospital.

3-There was a student I taught in 5th grade who, when I returned for my sabbatical years later, was alleged to be involved in a real murder that took place in the area. He was found innocent and released, but the man who did do the murder was locked up, and as far as I know, he’s still there, which is a very good thing.

4-The general store and the rooms upstairs are indeed where I stayed during my years off from teaching. One of the owners lived up there too. After I was gone, the owner built himself a log home further up the valley. The rooms are now mostly used for storage.

There are quite a few other bits of reality scattered throughout the novel. In the process of telling a fictional story, my own story snuck in there. It’s my most personal book, and even with its dark fantasy plotline, it’s still one of the truest stories I’ve ever told.


Rain Music Universal Book Link


Fairwood Press



The Rainforest Writers Village


Patrick Swenson, a graduate of Clarion West, is the author of The Ultra Thin Man and its sequel The Ultra Big Sleep. He has sold stories to the anthologies Unfettered III, Seasons Between Us, Gunfight at Europa Station, Like Water for Quarks, and a handful of magazines. He is currently at work on the third in the Ultra series, The Ultra Long Goodbye. He runs the Rainforest Writers Village retreat every spring at Lake Quinault, Washington, and has taught high school English for the past 36 years. He lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with his only child Artemis, who currently attends DigiPen Institute of Technology.

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