To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.
With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.
But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.
Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,” C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.
So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere. Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or…” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.
C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons… that are willing to be named, at least.
His latest book is the YA fantasy, Two Empty Thrones.
For More Information
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Would you call yourself a born writer?
Yes and no. Growing up, books were happiness, motivation and inspiration for me. (They still are, of course.) But I didn’t think I was creative or skilled, so I pushed writing away as anything other than a hobby.
When I finally realized I had a great story, I thought of how many other people would love to read it. If I could give back to the stories what they gave to me, if I could give something to the readers out there, I knew I had to. Finally sitting down to write, I found it easy, diving into a time-warp similar to reading a great book.
It might sound cliché, but it really came to me in a vision.
I finally gave myself permission to sit and write, and the story just exploded in my mind. Plot, scenes, titles, characters, all just rippled out from that explosion. In the center stands a curly-haired girl, thinking she is less than normal when she really is so much more. She showed me how she stood up to her fears and risked everything to save herself and the world, making it a better place.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I just write the stories that leap out at me. I don’t think I try to write for themes. I really just want readers to have a great reading experience. Life is supposed to be fun and interesting, and anything is possible. When I read my books, like reading other authors, I find the themes that I am living at the time.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
I don’t know how long in actual time. With all I had going on, and trying to learn a new industry, that time spanned about two years.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
I am disciplined, but that doesn’t really matter when it comes to writing since it’s more of a compulsion. For now, I work full time, so I fit writing in anywhere I can. Notes scribbled on scratch paper, bits and pieces jotted down after work, blurts into a voice recorder all get put into a pile. On weekends, I polish and place the gems into their settings.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
The hard part was finding the time. I love writing, talking about books, researching and editing — everything about books. But I didn’t start out as a writer. Finding the time required tough prioritizing, where every minute held value. I often feel terribly frustrated because I keep being pulled away.
But then I thought of the readers, and how much they would love the story. Holding onto that inspiration, I re-framed my thoughts and focused on the long-term, giving myself enough room to succeed. At the same time, I only lived in the moment, relishing the process.
What do you love most about being an author?
I think it’s the idea that someone out there will get to enjoy reading the story. I love to read and know how much I enjoy a good book. Thinking someone else is going to have that same feeling from my book is the best.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
I self-published. Though I started out thinking the traditional route was the only way to go, researching self-publishing convinced me to re-think my assumptions. With my team of editors, designers, manager, etc., I can put out a work of equal quality but on my own terms. I really like the ability to preserve the vision of the book in self-publishing and being able to allow for an extended print time.
I was flabbergasted at how much work it is! Multiple rounds of editing, cover art design, formatting, marketing, the list goes on and on. It’s pretty inaccurate to call it “self-publishing” when it really takes a great team. Seeing the final product, I am completely happy with the decision.
Where can we find you on the web?