Interview with C.H. MacLean: 'The story just exploded in my mind'

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

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: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your 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.
I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

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 felt terribly frustrated because I kept 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.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

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.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

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.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

The second book in the series, Two Empty Thrones, is in the last bits of the publishing process, and will be out in July of 2014. I'm in the process of writing the third book in the series, We The Three, which should be out the summer of 2015. I have also just completed a ripping tale of a young man who dares to dream and starts a war called Fire Above, which should be out in the start of 2015.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

My current favorite is Twitter and Pinterest, but I'm a bit of a butterfly so can be in a lot of places. I like how easy it is to connect with people on Twitter and like the ease of finding topics of interest on Pinterest.

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

I don't think I have a message to get across. I really just want readers to have a great reading experience. Perhaps that is a message, though. Life is supposed to be fun and interesting, and anything is possible. I'd love to hear what messages people find in the book.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for the interview. I like to get a peek at the authors whose books I read, and enjoy being able to provide that for my readers. If anyone has any more questions they’d like to ask, I welcome conversation online, on Twitter, Facebook or my blog.

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