Our guest today is C. H. MacLean, author of the YA fantasy, One is Come. 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.
What made you decide to become a published author?
Growing up, books were happiness, motivation and inspiration for me. (They still are, of course.) When I 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.
I read a lot, and haven’t read anything just like it. It holds a scent of familiarity, but its combination of flavors is special. The combinations of magic and modern, ancient elements and new-age application take several writers and genres and mix them in a great combination. I also love how the story flows through character’s deep emotions but does so in a fast-paced plot.
Where is your writing sanctuary?
At the end of our lane, a little curve turns into a dead end. The trees cast shadows at all times of the day, slivers of sun sliding slowly past. It’s a tiny magical space in the middle of utter ordinariness.
What inspires you?
Unfortunately, almost anything. I see a story in the curve of a neck, the purring of a cat, or a flowering tree’s spicy-sweet aura.
Why do you love to write YA fantasy?
I love fantasy for having room to explore everything new again, for allowing world-building and touching the childhood space where all of life is magic. YA similarly finds characters at a crucial life step, the special tipping point between being someone’s child and being your own person. But that’s why I love reading the genre. I just write the stories in my head, which happen to be YA fantasy.
You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book. What’s the first ingredient?
Desire, drive, motivation, whatever you want to call the energy that keeps the characters moving. That same energy is also needed to keep the writer moving and focused on the story for the readers.
Aside from writing, what’s your passion?
Reading, of course. I also enjoy being active in nature, whether hiking or gardening.
What’s next for you?
Two Empty Thrones, the second book in the Five in Circle series, is scheduled to be released in July. I am currently writing the third book in the series and hope to have it completed by this winter. I also just finished writing my first draft of Fire Above, a story about the young man who dared to dream and started the first human-dragon war. It should be out in the winter.