Interview with C.H. MacLean: 'The hard part is finding enough time'

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

About the Book:

With her powers growing every day, fourteen-year-old Haylwen Rightad thinks she’s safe in the magical forest. And now that she finally has the friends she always wanted, what is there to be afraid of?

But she’s not out of the woods yet. Old enemies rip through her beloved forest, threatening to haul Haylwen and her newfound friends away. Their safety shattered, Haylwen and her friends are suddenly at each other’s throats. Is the friendship she worked so hard for already ruined, or is there another, unseen enemy at work?

Haylwen and her brother must unmask this mysterious enemy before they can fight it off. 
But even if all their enemies are destroyed, the King of the magic users will stop at nothing to ensure he’s still in power when the dragons take over the world. And he’s hidden an enemy where Haylwen would never think to look. 

If no one is what they seem, who can she trust?

For More Information

  • Two Empty Thrones is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
  • Read first three chapters here.

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?

Two Empty Thrones is the second book in a series. The entire saga exploded like a supernova in my mind, I have no idea where it came from. The black hole left behind sucked me in. Spinning around in it, the story played itself by me like a movie, with me floating just above it all (ducking behind a tree when things get really nasty). In the center, of course, stands this curly-haired girl, unaware that just standing there makes her so much more than below-average. She is just starting to realize how powerful she is. I shiver just thinking about how it must feel, and where she is going to go.

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 is finding enough time. I love writing, talking about books, researching and even editing. (I really love 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 the thought of the readers, how much they would love the story, pulled me back. Re-invigorated, I 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. Starting out in the traditional route took so long and with the usual amount of rejections gave me enough time and motivation to researching self-publishing. Not long into it, my assumptions in shreds, I was convinced. 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 (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

The third book in the series, We The Three, should be out the summer of 2015. I'm just starting on another in the series. Outside of the series, 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 (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I didn't have a message to get across, and just wanted readers to have an exciting, engaging story. Reading it, though, I see Haylwen's story as an inspiration to trust in yourself and not believe in anything else. Sort of like reading a good book, maybe life is supposed to be fun and interesting, and being happy and loving life not only helps you, but helps others as well. 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 very much for the time and to the readers for reading. I would love to hear comments and you can visit me anytime on my website and blog, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.  

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