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.
Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?
A vision of a curly-haired girl, thinking she is less than normal when she really is so much more, standing up to her fears. She keeps choosing, as best she can, to be true to herself. She’s not perfect, but she’s stubborn. She really is inspirational.
Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?
After having a few nibbles but no bites from traditional publishers, I started reading about self-publishing. My previous biases against it were pretty wrong, I found out, and I learned about a lot of benefits. Convinced, I self-published with the help of talented editors, designers, and marketing experts.
Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?
I live in the Pacific Northwest, glorious land of trees. I would love to take you on a walking tour of some of the great forests around here and talk books.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?
Of course, I love to read. I also enjoy a good hike, bike or any other outdoor activity. Chopping wood or cleaning up the forest, anything that gets my hands dirty.
Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?
Right now, I have another job, but will switch to writing full time in the near future.
In your opinion, what makes a good book great?
I think two things really make a good book great. First, the particular gems hidden in the story, the tiny snippets of universal truth or perfect poetry woven into plot and character. Second, the overall seamlessness. Did the story run and end as it should have? Did you finish and say, Ah, yes, all is as it should be. (Or, I can’t wait for the next one!)
Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?
When I was ten I don’t remember thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had a lot going on at that time in my life and mostly just hid in books. I guess that says something, though.
Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?
Haylwen lost it. The climb, the heat, the pent up frustration of the day, and of everyone who had ever teased her, erupted. She felt it surge within her, blinding her, and she just reacted.
She didn’t care if this girl was Rivenwake’s best friend, she was horrible. Without thinking, she took all her mad and let go, all at once. She focused it completely on the girl, everything else blurring—her finger seeming to cut through the air, leaving torn pieces behind it as she pointed at the other girl. She wanted to shout, swear, something to express this fury. Some sort of sound came out of her mouth, low and very angry sounding. If it was words, it wasn’t English. The girl looked surprised, just before she burst into flames.
Giant leaping flames made Haylwen cringe back from the heat. For a second, she was in shock, trying to figure out what she did, how she did it, what just happened. A hissing, popping sound, getting louder, broke her out of her startled state. Was that the sound of the girl cooking? The enormity of what she had done was starting to flood her with overwhelming emotions. But the flames were shrinking, the heat backing off. Quickly, they were small enough so she could see that the sound was coming from the girl inhaling the flames, sucking them up like spaghetti. With the last one gone, she licked her lips, smiling. She gave a small burp, and smoke puffed from her mouth.
“Well, that was unexpected. A positive test, if an unusual outcome,” she said, smoothing her shirt. “And I see now what Rivenwake was talking about.”
Haylwen was still wide-eyed and trying to process what was going on.
The girl looked her up and down, and Haylwen took another step back. “Yep, you are a mystery. If I hadn’t been here myself, I would have never guessed… well, first things first. Here, I have something for you.” She half turned, muttering to herself, making motions in front of her. Haylwen couldn’t hear what she was saying or see what she was doing. It was all too strange, and Haylwen wondered if she was having hallucinations. How would I know?
Before she could chase the thought more, the girl turned back, holding out her hand. She tilted her hand so Haylwen could see what it was. Sitting there, glittering in her palm, was a ring. Thick, woven in a complex braid, it was gold, with a red tint that was pulsing, as if it were breathing. It was gorgeous. She had never had a real ring before. She looked at the girl, whose eyes were flashing but without a trace of malice. Haylwen didn’t move closer, but neither did the girl.
What’s next for you?
One is Come is the first book in the Five in Circle series. The second book, Two Empty Thrones, is scheduled to be released this July. I am currently writing the third book in the series.
I also just completed a book entitled Fire Above, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first human-dragon war. It is going through the first round of edits and is scheduled to be released the winter of 2014/2015.