Sunday, February 02, 2014

Meet C. McDonald!

Yessss! Double yessss, and triple yessss. Why? Because I'm tremendously excited to have C. McDonald here for an interview. I'm always happy when I can do a bit of drum banging for another writer, especially one as incredibly talented, challenging and versatile as C., but in this case I'm over the moon.
The reason is quite simple.
I first came across C. on authonomy. C. had uploaded a few chapters of the second part of an epic fantasy trilogy, and I went and had a bit of a read. After one chapter, I almost didn't read on. Starting with the second part of something is always a bit difficult, and since it is written in an almost Shakespearean English, my weak little non-native speaker soul wanted to cry uncle and run. I don't know what compelled me to continue on to the second chapter anyway. Not that it matters. Because I ended up reading the entire book. And then I asked C. for the first part. And I can't wait for the third. C. isn't a writer, but a weaver, a wordsmith, a perfectionist.
A mutual friend said, C. would eat a dictionary for lunch and fart perfect chapters in the afternoon. A bit of a crude simile, but thoroughly appropriate.
In addition, C. has been kind enough to walk with me through each of my books, and never have I received more valuable feedback. I'm truly glad I'm a bit better at punctuation and finding nits like omitted speech marks and stuff, else I wouldn't know how to ever repay C.'s efforts and generosity.
And in case you've noticed, yes, I'm deliberately dodging
using the personal pronoun.
C. wants to remain a mystery, so I thought
I'd better stick to C. to ease my life,
and spare you having to read your way through
a lot of he/she, his/her, etc.
I asked C. for an author pic.
What I got was the verbal equivalent of this: 

Now let's just ask a few questions, and see how much we can prise out.

Who are you?

My name is C. McDonald.

Where are you?

I live in leafy Surrey, a county in South-East England.

Where I will go in summer, and we will find out what happens when an English and an Austrian walk into a pub.

How are you?

I'm good, thank you - all the better for seeing the sun today after days of pouring rain.

Which book do you want to talk about?

I'd like to talk about my epic trilogy titled - Noor: The Place of Perfect Light, and more specifically the first book - Atrament Speaks. What's it about? That's a bit tricky as three stories are told alongside of one another, which gradually merge together towards the end of the book. I suppose, in the shortest of terms, it's a story about loss. The struggle to retrieve/reinstate something precious that has either been taken, or stolen, together with the choices made to do it. Love and loyalty also feature throughout.

This goes well with a quote from the book - “No story runs alone. Always, it travels in the company of others."
Why did you write it?

It began as an idea, as all stories do, but initially ran along the lines of a story for children. After a chance discussion with friends about natural abilities we all have, I thought about how much those qualities were either ignored, or undeveloped through lack of resources, and what a waste it was. Later, I wondered if that would be the situation if talent could be seen? The question was how to display it? Little lights travelling beneath the skin seemed an obvious choice. The next evolution was, if it was common to all would it be treasured, or squandered? As I realised the concept could be expanded, together with building a world full of colour so strong and vibrant it would hurt our human eyes, all thought of a book for children was abandoned, and I began to write Atrament Speaks in 2008, which I later self-published in 2010. The edition which will soon be published and available for purchase on Amazon's website, is a revision - the story hasn't changed but the language is now a mixture of 18th Century English and that in modern usage, which I think makes for a smoother read.

Tell us about your main character. What qualities/flaws/principles does he/she have?

Another tricky question! I don't have a main character, since I think they all have strength in their own right, and obviously the flaws we can all relate to.

Take Atrament for instance. Hating the human part of himself, this hatred is, in the first instant, transferred to the humans who inhabit my alternative world of Lessadgh, and later in Noor, is directed against The Guardians, rulers in all but name of the world created by the Disobedient Ones, and who instigated his fall at the height of his power.
Clara Maddingley, a woman who has her foster-son taken from her, is racked with grief. Prepared to do anything to get him back, she in turn is taken by force into Noor, and learning who was responsible for her son's ultimate madness, vengeance becomes her aim at the end of the book. That's just two characters. I could go on, but then there'd be no need to read the book to find out how all this knits together and what the outcome is...hah-ha.

Is there a song you'd associate with your book?

No, I don't think I even thought of that whilst writing it.

If I'm allowed a suggestion, I'd say something like  Clannad, I will find you

Which actors would you cast for the movie?

I can't say I've given that any thought. I think it would make a stunning film, directed by Peter Jackson, but I would say that...wouldn't I?

If you could make up your own genre for this book, what would it be?

Atrament Speaks is catalogued as 'fantasy', but to be honest that irritates me. Unless you write something totally factual, all fiction is fantasy, though I understand why genres are useful for readers.

Is there a message in your book?

Perhaps there is. Perhaps there isn't. I think sometimes things really resonate with a reader of any book, and they'll take what they want from it.

What are you currently working on?

The second book of the trilogy - The Sphalerite of Almandine - is complete. Currently, I'm working on three projects - the third book of the trilogy - Footprint of a False God - a book that would inevitably be logged under 'crime', with a working title of - Skin and Bone - and a book for young adults titled - Mustard Seed.

Which target audience do you write for?

All of the above, including one not mentioned, children aged between 8 to 12-year-olds. I wouldn't want to write for just one audience. I think that's limiting, and I'm all for expanding, or testing, any ability.

Why are you a writer?

I've always written. Fairy-tales when I was a child, lovesick poetry when I was a teenager, and though there was a hiatus when life got in the way for a few years, the story-telling bug resumed once my children were old enough to want something original rather than being read to from a book. If I don't write, I feel there's something wrong with me and find it quite depressing. When I write, I'm all of my characters and can act out so many things, even the darkest ones I wouldn't dream of doing in real life, as well as visiting places I'd never be able to, except in my imagination.

Where do you get your ideas from?

I really don't know. My head's bulging with ideas, but where they come from is a question I can't really answer. I'm fascinated by 'otherness', so maybe that has a lot to do with it.

Plot or characters? Which is more important?

Both. A plot may drive the characters, but in turn, they drive the plot, so a bit of a chicken and egg answer.

Do parts of you shine through?
Since we're all many faceted, I'd be surprised if it didn't. In any book there's surely some part of its author.

How does a typical day look like?

After carrying out necessary mundane things, into the worlds, scenarios I create - is that weird?

Nope, sounds familiar.

Who is your favourite author?

Cormac McCarthy.

Is there an author you'd love to be compared with?

No. I think readers make their own comparisons, or not.

Who is your biggest supporter?

I've had the most fantastic support from a number of people, who have been incredibly generous with their time, advice, and assistance. That said, my son would have to take prime position. He's quite a critical reader, and points out where I've slipped up with plot lines, or what a character would or wouldn't do, and whether something works or not. In fact he's quite brutal at times.

And I know where he gets it from :-)

What's your favourite book of all time? Why?

Without doubt Dune. The world building is marvellous, the culture of its various peoples, and families is vivid, the scenarios stunning, and the imagination poured onto the pages by the author is incredible. Add to that, it was written so long ago, and is still relevant and fresh - I think it's a masterpiece.

If you had a super power, which one would you choose?

Total recall. There'd be a lot of disadvantages, but I think the advantages would be huge.

What are you addicted to, or can't live without?

I'm claiming the right to remain silent on the basis I might incriminate myself.

What's the most stupid question you've ever been asked?

Why don't you vote?

1 comment:

  1. Angelika's interviews go from strength to strength as this one with the intriguing and mysterious C McDonald shows. Keep them coming!