Sunday, June 15, 2014

Interview with C.H. MacLean, author of 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

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 what your book is about?

It’s about a fourteen-year-old girl, unknowingly caught up in the emergence of dragons into the modern world. She has to find her magic and the meaning of true friendship in order to save her own life and preserve the fate of the world.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Most of the people are entirely from the story that comes to me. Sometimes I notice parts of the characters that are like people I’ve known. Sometimes I can see bits of me in all the characters.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

For me, the whole story explodes as a complete whole, and I try to get down as much as I can in notes. With that trunk and branches, the rest of the leaves and flowers grow organically.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Some parts absolutely require to be set in a place, such as a particular forest. In other parts, the movement from place to place is more important than the actual place. In general, for this series at least, it could have happened almost anywhere.

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Haylwen is on the hike that will change her life. A page later she faces a choice to either plunge into her fears and take control of her life or continue safely but passively as she had been.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I haven’t suffered from writer’s block the way most people talk about it. In quiet moments, stories appear to me, play out as movies in my head. I have collected more notes of stories than I will ever have the time to write. But sometimes, especially when I am tired, I have a really hard time focusing on just the important parts of the story. I can feel I’m too much in the story, and it’s just swirling. At that point I have to stop writing and get some sleep.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Probably a toss up between write or sleep.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to read, of course. But I really enjoy spending time outdoors. Getting my hands muddy. Chopping wood. Taking hikes.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Write what you love. Give all of your heart and mind to the readers, they deserve it.

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