Tested by Fire by Pat Patterson

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 | 19 comments

Tested by Fire by Pat Patterson

I was intrigued by Pat Patterson’s novel, Tested by Fire – He Sought Revenge, He Found Redemption because I was already familiar with his devotional,  Answering the Call – A Daily Devotional for Paramedics and First RespondersI know you’ll enjoy meeting Pat! Please leave a comment and sign in on the Rafflecopter for even more opportunities to win a Kindle version of his novel. 



Fabulous Fridays

Pat, I am intrigued by your books. My daughter is a paramedic, my daughter-in-law is an Intermediate EMT, and my background is on the other side of the hospital doors in orthopaedic nursing. I gave both of my girls a copy of your devotional, Answering the Call, a couple of years ago. Tell us a little about your career and how you started writing.

Thanks, Norma. I began my writing career about fifteen ten years ago when I was working in Durham, North Carolina as a paramedic. I reached a point on the job where I began to feel an intense need to tell my story. I wanted other people, especially my family members to understand the difficulties paramedics face every day. EMS is a tough profession, with lots of internalized pain and suffering, so for me, writing became my outlet.

I began by writing short stories featuring two fictional paramedics—Sid Drake and Jim Stockbridge. Jim was based Tested by Fireon my good friend and EMS partner at the time, Andrew James Stocks (A.J.). By the way, I dedicated my first book, Answering the Call, to A.J. He died just shortly before its publication.

Anyway, it was about 1999. A.J. and I were sitting in the ambulance one day between calls discussing my stories, and can I remember saying to him, “So what should your character’s name be?” He responded without hesitation. “Jim Stockbridge,” he said, with a nod. I liked it. It wasn’t the perfect name for a lead character, but it worked. And so Jim Stockbridge was born in an ambulance bay at the old Lincoln Community Health Center, in Durham, N.C., sometime between 3:00 and 4:00 AM, during a long night shift.

My friend Eddie Jones had read a few of my stories. He called me one day to see if I’d be interested in writing a monthly devotional for his new website, Christian Devotions. I jumped at the opportunity, and after having received positive feedback from the readers, he and his partner, Cindy Sproles, created a First Responders’ column for me. This led to a long series of devotionals that Eddie eventually published. And so my first book become a reality: Answering the Call.

How does working in a profession where you see life and death battles and people in fearful situations on a daily basis impact your spiritual life?

EMS tore me down spiritually. But God has used those experiences to make me a much stronger Christian.

To witness death and dying on a daily basis takes a toll on even on the most rock hard individual, and people learn to respond it in different ways. During my first few years in EMS I subconsciously developed an invisible, protective garment that shielded me from the pain. At least I thought it did. I would later learn just how much of a toll the pain had taken on me.

I was working four jobs at the time, just to make ends meet. I was tired, short-tempered, and to be honest, not much of a Christian. I look back now with regret. So much time was wasted. I went to church, spoke the right words, even shared the Gospel with people and prayed with patients in the back of my ambulance, but I wasn’t walking with Christ. I had much selfishness, pent up anger and frustration that I couldn’t even see. I hate to think now of the negative impact I must have had on other people. There were victories, of course, but there could have been many more.

One early July morning just before shift change, I received a dispatch for a possible suicide. While we were en route to the call, the dispatcher came back with an update: “Medic-61,” she said. “Be advised…fourteen-year-old female…possible hanging.”

As we raced to the call, I pictured my fourteen-year-old son at home getting ready for school, and my protective shield went up. We arrived on scene to find a small group of people—the family, the first responders and cops—standing in the front yard of the home. Many were crying. I noticed tears in the eyes of one of the officers. I knew then that our patient was dead. By protocol I had to go inside and check, so I entered the house and found a young teenager girl dead at the bottom of the staircase. There were no signs of life, and her neck revealed the ligature marks of hanging. Death was confirmed.

“Nothing we can do here,” I said to my partner. “Let’s get back to the station…I need to get to my other job.”

I was ice cold. I didn’t mean to be, it was just what I had become. Too many years of death and dying, and of witnessing other people’s pain … it had taken a toll on me, and in a couple of weeks, I would learn how much.

When my wife’s father died, I didn’t know how to respond. I reacted the same way I did at that EMS call. I felt numb to the pain. Cold. But a month later, as we sat in a semi-circle of chairs beside my father-in-law’s grave, it suddenly all came out. I broke down and cried…and cried…and cried.

EMS took a toll on me, but God has been faithful. He used those experiences to mold me into a stronger Christian, with a softer heart than before, and a far deeper level of compassion for others.

How did you start writing and what inspired Tested by Fire – He Sought Revenge, He Found Redemption?

Tested by Fire was inspired by those early years when A.J. and I responded together to so many EMS calls. Shootings, stabbings, overdoses…gang-related violence…we saw it all. At some point I realized I had a story to tell, so I took those two fictional characters—Sid & Jim—and wrote them into a novel based on that grit and violence. I wanted the reader to see Jim as a real person—angry, struggling with emotional pain and the recent loss of his friend.

Answering the CallAnswering the Call is a devotional and Tested by Fire is a novel, what do you find the most difficult about writing two different genres?

Writing devotionals requires obedience…to God. It means taking an impactful memory or event in life and searching God’s word to find a hidden truth in it. Sometimes my search leads me in a direction different from the one that I had intended. But if God’s truth is revealed in the story, then I deem it a success.

Fiction is harder work. But it’s fun. There are rules that the wise author must follow, but the creativity of fiction allows unlimited freedom. I have learned to start my novels by writing the dialogue first, along with basic scenery. Then, when the rough draft is completed, I go back in and fill the story with colorful details. I find the dialogue fairly easy. I find it much more difficult to tie together the chapters so that they flow together into a seamless story.

What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

With Answering the Call, it was to help other Christian paramedics and firefighters understand it’s okay to be a Christian on the job. One reader commented, “Paramedics are not necessarily known for their Christian beliefs, at least outwardly anyway. So it’s nice that someone made the effort to remind all of us of that connection between what we do and who we do it for.” So I would hope that my devotionals would instill boldness with the reader, but also tenderness. Christ was the strongest man who ever lived; he was also the kindest and most gentle of men. Another reader left this comment: “I am always moved by these heartfelt and very vulnerable devotions. Thanks for a wonderful and touching ministry.” –Anonymous. That comment made me smile.

When someone reads one of my novels, I simply hope they enjoy it. That they escape from reality for a little while, and find themselves involved in the action. I grew up reading the books of Clive Cussler. He is still my favorite author. His novels are page-turners, and interestingly, I discovered long ago just why. Every page of his novels seems to be able to stand alone. In other words, if I could only read was one page of the book, I would still be entertained. It would leave me wanting more. When I write, I try to make each page a small adventure that, like his, will stand alone and leave the reader hungry for more.

I know those moments of heartbreak and exhaustion from both sides, the medical personnel trying to save a life as well as serving as a sounding board when my own girls need to unwind. Working as a paramedic is a high stress job, how do you unwind?

I retired from the ambulance in 2009, after 20 years on the job and a severe back injury that required surgery. After three years of intense self-induced physical therapy, I slowly worked back to my pre-injury condition. Today, I still use the methods of unwinding that I learned during those years on the job. For me the best medicines are the woods and the water. I escape whenever I can for a hard trail run or a ride on my mountain bike. I also kayak and sail, and I enjoy a good hike or backpack in the rain. I am a loner at heart, so I am picky about my companions. You will usually find me out there alone, pushing a little too hard. In summary, I rely on cardiovascular exercise, clean air, nature, and a good deal of solitude to deal with the lasting stressors of the job.

What was the greatest problem/challenge you faced in writing Tested by Fire?

Haha … Easy. Just finishing the book! I had no idea what I was doing when I started Tested by Fire. I edited and rewrote it so many times that it took about ten years to write. I like to call it, “My crash course in novel writing.” Beyond that, my greatest challenge was learning to maintain proper point-of-view. When I started writing Tested, I would jump in and out of characters’ minds without hesitation. It took a while, but with the coaching of a wise literary agent, I quickly learned how to stay within one character’s mind throughout a scene, before switching the point-of-view.

How did you weave a spiritual thread through the book without being preachy?

I try to put my Christian characters into tight positions, and then let the reader watch them work it out in a Christ-like manner. I may have main characters discuss spiritual matters, but I avoid the temptation to have them share strong opinions on faith. I give my secondary characters a little more leeway. I always avoid prayers and “witnessing” in the dialogue.

Have you ever had a moment when something one of your readers said or wrote gave you pause, inspired you to think about your work a different way, or made you change some element of your narrative. 

After reading a few negative comments from readers, I have become much more careful with my dialogue. In Tested, I allowed some characters to use phrases like, “Oh, my god,” or “Mary, Mother of God!” not intending for them to be offensive but rather realistic expressions of the characters’ concerns. I realize now that I had been using the Lord’s name in vain. I will not do that again.

What would you say to non-EMS professionals about your work that you would like the general public to understand?

I would like for the general public to understand that paramedics are not just “ambulance drivers,” but rather, true medical professionals. Paramedics often perform most of the skills that would otherwise be handled in the ER by doctors. Also, paramedics really do see it all. We see every kind of emergency and every kind of person. We see people at their worst and at their best. We work long hours, eat bad food, and miss lots and lots of sleep. The job can really take a toll on the individual.

(I add a big “AMEN!” to that one, Pat! I did not have the understanding of the scope of a paramedic’s job, even as an RN, that I have now through my girls. EMS is one of the most emotionally demanding jobs in medicine. After hearing my girl’s stories and riding along with my daughter, I have the ultimate respect for what it takes to do your job day after day.)

Book Blurb:

Paramedic Jim Stockbridge doesn’t need God, he’s a fighter, and as far as he’s concerned the world is his toy. But when he responds to an EMS call in the ghetto and finds his best friend brutally murdered by a vicious street gang, he suddenly realizes he’s in for the fight of his life.

Mad with rage he hunts down Sid Drake’s killers and renders his own form of justice, but he soon finds himself lost, tangling with the warlord of the Core Street Crew, a ruthless killer named William “J-Rock” Jackson. And so it begins, a long dark journey that pushes Jim deep into his own personal world of bitterness and revenge, and ultimately to the brink of disaster.

Haunting nightmares ensue. Endless nights. A biker gang nearly kills him. An angry detective wants him behind bars. But Jim’s ultimate fight is yet to come—a duel to the death on the deck of a sinking boat with his girlfriend held captive in the hold below. Will he succeed? Can he defeat J-Rock once and for all? Can he save the beautiful love of his life from a cold drowning death, and carry the gospel back to the ghetto street where his best friend died? He must, but to do so will require strength he never knew, the kind of God-given power known only to a man who has truly been…Tested By Fire.

About the author:

Pat PattersonAfter a successful career in professional photography, Pat went back to school to receive a degree in Emergency Medical Science. Upon completion, he hit the streets as a paramedic, where he served on the front lines for almost twenty years. Today Pat serves as Associate Professor in the EMS Department at the local community college. He writes monthly articles for two fine publications—Common Ground Herald and Inspire A Fire—and works on his novels, as times allows. He and his wife Kim, have been married for thirty-two years. They have two sons, two grandchildren, and a growing family with which they maintain strong connections. Pat’s latest novel, Paramedic Killer, is due for release on November 24th from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Connect with Pat:


  1. http://www.inspireafire.com/author/ppatterson/
  2. http://www.commongroundherald.com/Common_Ground_Herald/Pat_Patterson/Pat_Patterson.html
  3. http://pat-patterson.blogspot.com/
  4. http://answeringthecall911.blogspot.com/
  5. http://testedbyfire-medic7.blogspot.com/

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/pat.patterson2

Goodreads: Pat_Patterson

Twitter: @PatPatterson_NC

Book Links:


Answering the Callhttp://www.amazon.com/Answering-Call-Inspirational-Encouragement-Firefighters/dp/0982206534/

Tested by Firehttp://www.amazon.com/Tested-Fire-Sought-Revenge-Found/dp/1938499379/

Preorder Paramedic Killer – http://www.amazon.com/Paramedic-Killer-Pat-Patterson/dp/1941103499/ Paramedic Killer

Barnes & Noble:

Answering the Callhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/answering-the-call-pat-patterson/1020589709?ean=9780982206539

Tested by Firehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tested-by-fire-pat-patterson/1118632453?ean=2940014212823

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  1. Sound like great reads. I want to get these books for my nephew, who aspires to be a paramedic.
    Marilyn Bay Wentz, author of Prairie Grace, historical fiction, and All We Like Sheep, devotional

    • Thanks for stopping by, Marilyn!

    • Thanks Marilyn! Where does your neph live? Have him contact me if he has any quest about the job!

  2. Well, you’ve certainly intrigued me to read your books! Great interview! Most interestingly to me is your message here, “Writing devotionals requires obedience…to God. It means taking an impactful memory or event in life and searching God’s word to find a hidden truth in it.” I hadn’t thought of it that way. Definitely makes me pause and think about how I would write a devotional if I decided to. Looking forward to hearing more from you! Blessings, Marcie 🙂

  3. I imagine being a paramedic is rough. It would be so hard to arrive at a car wreck or a shooting and set your own emotions aside, in order to deal with the issues at hand. May God bless your book.

    • Thanks for visiting my blog, Karen!

    • Thank you, Karen. One of the hardest parts of doing this job is learning how to deal with those emotional moments. Paramedics do see a lot of pain and suffering. But it’s the long term effect of the continuous long runs of calls that bothers me most. I try to teach my students to understand that, and to find effective ways to deal with the day to day stress…like running, exercise, or simply talking with a trusted friend. It all came crashing down on me one day; I hope to help prevent that from happening to others.

  4. Wow! Fantastic AND moving interview! Definitely plan to read both. Thanks Pat and Norma!

    • You’re welcome, Felicia!

    • Thank you, Felicia! Norma set the stage for me by asking some excellent, thought-provoking questions.

  5. Sounds like a great read. Having had to use the services of paramedics twice within a 2 month period I truly understand their professionalism. I would love to read both both and they sound very interesting.

    • I agree, Kathleen, they receive far you little credit for what they do!

    • Kathleen, I believe most Americans take for granted the excellent public services offered to us every day. I just recently had a simple, non life-threatening emergency while at home. My wife drove me to the ER and within fifteen minutes of the accident I was sitting on an ER bed. What a marvelous country we live in. I thank God for the paramedics, firefighters, police officers and other public servants who give their time and energies to make this such a special place to live. Not to mention the doctors and nurses who provide the needed medical attention.

  6. I love that this is written by someone who actually does the work not just researched it.

    • I agree! That makes it so much more intriguing!

    • Jan, a friend once told me, “Write about what you know about.” That comment contained a lot of wisdom. Interestingly, I once believed that I would I have a lifetime of stories to write about from my time in EMS. Unfortunately, my memory is slipping, so I’m glad I wrote Answering the Call when I did. Each story was fresh in my mind when I wrote it. I hope the realism shows.

  7. Being an RN I like to read books that deal with the medical field and what a bonus for it to have Christian themes. Thank you for sharing your interview and the opportunity to win your book.

    • You’re welcome, Anne!

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