• A business economics graduate.
  • An entrepreneur.
  • A storyteller.
  • A fan of the liberal arts.
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Patrick Carman has written several best-selling children's book series, including The Land of Elyon books.

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IAM

A Best-Selling Author

Patrick Carman ’88 turned his children’s bedtime stories into a popular fantasy book series.

The story of Patrick Carman's path to becoming a New York Times best-selling author is rooted in his time at Willamette, where the liberal arts environment made him unafraid to explore new interests — like writing children's fantasy books.

"I took some art classes and some English classes and some film classes," says Carman '88, whose major was business economics, the precursor to today's economics degree. "The liberal arts experience encouraged me to get out and dream big, and it gave me an open mind about what I could accomplish."

Willamette is also where he met his wife, Karen (Wilcox) Carman '89. The couple has two daughters whom Patrick once entertained with stories about a curious girl seeking adventure in the lands outside the walls of her town.

Those stories turned into The Land of Elyon, a popular five-book series released by Scholastic, the world's largest children's book publisher and distributor. The first book, The Dark Hills Divide, was published in 2003; the fifth and possibly final book, Stargazer, came out in 2008.

The story of Alexa's exploration of the magical land outside her city has sold more than a million copies and has been printed in at least 20 languages.

When Carman first graduated from Willamette, he led a string of successful creative projects before becoming serious about his sideline passion of writing.

Lately, Carman is also gaining attention for his work on multimedia stories. He has appeared on both The Martha Stewart Show and the Today show to discuss his book The Black Circle, the fifth book in a Scholastic series titled The 39 Clues. DreamWorks has already acquired the film rights for the series.

He also has his own multimedia project, Skeleton Creek, a ghost story packaged like a boy's journal. The project asks children to read parts of the journal and then go online to view videos that reveal more elements of the tale. The second book in this project, Ghost in the Machine, was recently released.

Carman uses his success to encourage a love and understanding of reading among youths. He spends many months on the road visiting schools and talking about his books, and he even promotes literacy abroad — he worked out a deal with Scholastic to bring libraries to Central American villages, and they have opened more than 35 libraries to date.

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