Interview with YA fantasy author C.H. MacLean
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 One is Come.
Visit his website at www.chmaclean.com.
About the Book:
Haylwen doesn’t care who actually blew up the wall of the school library. With a chance to finally have real friends, all she cares about is if her suspension will make her parents move again. Her parents, forced to keep their own magical past silent, are shocked to learn that she is indeed a magic user. She tested negative. Twice! Desperate to hide Haylwen from the King of magic users, they flee, but their efforts thrust them all into mortal danger.
Haylwen’s parents don’t know about the prophesy of “The One,” or that the only one who doesn’t know Haylwen is a powerful magic user is Haylwen herself. The King and the dragon clans’ plans to remake the world are already in motion. As Haylwen struggles with her feelings of loneliness and unworthiness due to her inability to make a friend, she is completely unaware that the fate of the entire world rests on her choices.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, C. H.. Can you tell us where you are from?
I was born in coldest Minnesota and it must have gotten into my bones for a spell. I flew to live for a short time in Hawai’i, but went back to Minnesota, then moved to Colorado, but got dragged back for more Minnesota. I leaped to California, and (third time the charm) never went back. There’s nothing wrong with Minnesota, of course—the nicest people I’ve ever met live there—it’s just not for me. I now live in the Evergreen State of Washington, in a forest.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
The title came with the story. It must have been wrapped around it from the start. When the story exploded in my head, the title scattered all over, mixed up in all the little bits as I put them back together.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
Heidi Sutherlin designed it. She was great, really taking some time to get to know me and the book before starting. She and I went back and forth as we tried a couple of drafts. When I saw this one, it was perfect. The dragon eye watching with intense energy, wisps and sparks of magic floating among the trees, as Haylwen and Cadarn head into their future.
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
I’ll let other people tell you from snippets of reviews I’ve received:
…undeniably brilliant…I fell straight into this story and loved it immediately… a definite must read …spellbinding…page-turner… plenty of action, angst and magical awesomeness.
Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?
Honestly, I didn’t intentionally include any messages. I was just writing a book that my readers would enjoy. However, if Haylwen were being interviewed I think she might say what she learned as she lived the story is to trust yourself.
Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
While it certainly wasn’t the easiest to write, writing (and re-writing) Sick Day really stuck with me. I know exactly how Haylwen and Abrennin felt before and after the chapter, and to watch the two of them bond, take a terrible thing and make it a special turning point in their new relationship hit me as a powerful part of Haylwen’s story.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
When I reached the point that I realized I had a really great story, I thought about how much books meant to me. Knowing there are readers out there who will be inspired like I was, I just had to share. It’s an exciting read, and Haylwen really is quite inspirational.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
I’ve never seen the movie E.T. When it first came out, I went with my brothers to see it in the theater. But I got scared and ran out of the theater. Haven’t been able to watch it since then.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to travel to an undersea sulphur vent. To see those creatures, completely different than anything else on earth, would be like going to another planet.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
Oh, I’m such a morning person! I so completely relish being up well before the first traces of light trickle in and let you know a new day is coming. Watching the sun rise is like an epiphany every time.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
A lot of my family are writers. My father, both brothers, nephews, all are talented writers.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
I was absolutely and completely. Unlike my older brother, I was a complete and utter dreamer. Following him through the education system produced mixed reactions, including to the detriment of my psychological profile in school, I must say.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
Thank you, magic genie! I so love my patents for the matter-energy conversion machine. With it, I am going to clean up the environment, make people’s lives better, and really make a difference.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Hold onto your dreams regardless of what others tell you. Life doesn’t have to be serious, and being happy is of great value to the world. I would love to hear from you, and you can visit me anytime on my blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.