Monday, September 15, 2014

Straight From the Mouth of 'Two Empty Thrones' 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 the YA fantasy, Two Empty Thrones.

For More Information

Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an

I've always loved to read, and knew the power of a good book. When I finally realized I could write books like that, I wanted to give back, inspire and invigorate others like other authors had done for me.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

The demands are strong: an almost overwhelming urge to write, but knowing to finish anything takes forever. You can always edit some more, tweak it here and there. And there is no guarantee that it will be liked. Unless readers know about your book, how can they enjoy it? And with the volume of books already out there, how can they know about yours?

Compared to my other job, though, I love being a writer. It really feels like a calling, like I'm doing something to make the world brighter and more fun.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

My research on the publishing world led me to a bevy of information about self-publishing. The information challenged my previous biases against it. I decided to self-publish for several reasons, the two main being the amount of control I have over my work and the ability to keep my book in print for as long as I want.

But the work involved overwhelmed me! I had no idea how much effort went into it, such as formatting, cover art, and so on. It took about six months of heavy lifting.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry (e.g. rejections, the long wait, etc.)

I don't really have that much; after self-publishing, I think I have a lot more respect for the publishing industry. However, I can say with the explosion of quality alternatives to traditional publishing, I see we're on the verge of a Gutenberg-level revolution.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

The love of my life is crucial in getting everything done, so I would have to say I feel nothing but gratitude for her. My two kids get pretty tired of hearing about it all but sometimes they really get into it. Lately they comment on everything, help me pick out covers and are even creating their own versions of covers and story lines. As far as the time I spend writing, they all seem to understand that writing is a part of who I am and something I just need to do.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

I can’t think of anything crazy or insane with this book. Publishing the first book in the series had a lot more hiccups. Like noticing that the book formatting somehow randomly deleted more than half of the italics in the book, and we had to go back through and find and change all those passages back into italics.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I don’t know if any of them help make direct sales. However, in terms of reaching a larger audience and making relationships, I like Twitter the best, Facebook the least. Facebook makes it painfully hard to get your posts to your fans, even if they’ve liked your page.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

To be honest, so far my focus has mainly been on getting reviews so I’ve been giving the book away for free a lot. Besides the fact that reviews are so important, I feel that in a tough genre, like fantasy, it’s a great way to get your foot in the door and get word of mouth started.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

While I love jumping on the roof, I'm not really a screamer. But I would yell about how much I appreciate my team and what a great book we produced.

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above don’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

Oh, well put. After all the work and worry, to hear how much readers enjoyed the book and to know life is a bit better for them, is a morning rainbow after a thunderous night.

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