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Interview with C.H. MacLean, author of ‘Two Empty Thrones

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C.H. MacLeanTo 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.

  1. 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

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, C.H.. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Two Empty Thrones is my second published book and is the second book in the Five in Circle series. Fire Above, my third book, about a young man who dares to dream and starts the first dragon-human war, should be published in the winter of 2014/15. The third book in the Five in Two Empty Thrones 2Circle series will be released shortly after that.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

After a few nibbles but no bites from mainstream press, 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.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Once I decided to self-publish, all the extra work such as formatting, cover art, and so on, took about six months.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I saw it lying on the counter and my first reaction was, wow, that looks like an interesting book. Then came the shock of, Hey, that’s my book! I’m sure the grin on my face was ridiculous. Of course I celebrated by giving my love a big hug and kiss!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I started with requests for book reviews, including Goodreads and LibraryThing giveaways. I really wanted to have readers’ honest opinions of the book as my promotional foundation.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Having a real book out there, seeing my name on books only inspires me to write more. The stories just tumble out now, and I can see I’m getting good material down more quickly.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I was humbled when I realized how much work goes into publishing a book. I guess my idea of self-publishing deserved to be crushed. I hoped it just meant all you have to do is write, upload a file and poof, you’re published. But there are so many things that have to get done: formatting, proofing, cover design, book blurbs, sales descriptions, etc.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I love knowing that someone out there is enjoying reading the story. I cherish reading and know how much I enjoy a good book. Hearing that someone else is having that same feeling from my book is the best.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Keep writing. Pour your heart and soul out for the readers. When you get tired or stuck, remember them and just keep writing.

 

 

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