Hi all, this was supposed to go live on Tuesday already, but things were a little hectic in my live and work, so I asked him to post it today. I'm not going to say much about Craig, because the interview says it all for me. ;-)
Welcome to MFB, Craig!
Thanks for hanging out with us today. First things first: Tell us a bit more about yourself?
Thank you for having me Misha! I was born in Thompson Falls, Montana, spent part of my youth in Kennewick/Benton City Washington and from there my family moved to the Belfair,Washington area. I have been married to my wonderful wife, Christina, for 17 years. In fact I asked her out in 9th grade of high school, she's the first and only girl I have ever dated and we've been together for 23 years! I love the outdoors, hiking, camping, tubing down creeks and rivers, and just enjoying everything nature has to offer. I also enjoy bowling and am still working on getting that 300 point perfect game! When I was younger I used to do a lot of cross-stitching and am going to pick it up again to create characters and scenes from my first book for giveaways and contests. I watch too much television and have so many favorite shows it would take pages to list them all.
Besides writing YA fiction, I am also a screenwriter with a short film completed and a mid-length film in post-production. I am currently working toward my Bachelor degree in Sociology. Even though writing is my first passion and I hope it's what I am able to do for the rest of my life, backup plans are always nice to have tucked away just in case. I am a cupcake fiend, especially for red velvet with cream cheese frosting and cream cheese filling! Ice cream is a staple at least once a week and besides adoring chocolate of all kinds, don't let me near Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because if I lived on a deserted island, the moon, or another planet, it would be the one food I would have to have with me. Oh, and Cadbury Creme Eggs!
Nice! When did you start writing and why?
I started writing in 3rd grade when I came in second place for a county wide writing competition. I didn't get to move on in the competition, but it was my first real taste of writing. In 7th grade I had a poem about a trout published in a local newspaper in Benton City, WA. In that same year I also co-wrote a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' book with my friend Jesse and we entered it into the competition they were having. We didn't win, but it was a fun experience. After that I mostly just read books and I really didn't get serious about writing again until I was 26 and started dabbling in screenwriting. I wrote a few scripts and a couple years after that I wrote a script based on my friend Andy Davies book 'Diary of a Curtain Twitcher'. I also began writing adult fantasy and adult thriller ideas, but I never felt truly connected to the writing. I then finished several short stories, won an online short-short writing competition and received a copy of Stephen King's 'On Writing' for the win.
After reading several YA books I decided to delve into that genre of writing and immediately felt connected to the characters and my stories. I spent several years writing short YA stories as I was considering several ideas for a full length novel and finally decided on the one which I now have representation for by MediaAria CDM. Even though I recently won third place in a one-act script competition, my first love is novel writing.
The reason I write is because I love telling stories and hearing about the joy and excitement others get from what I created. I not only write for others, but for myself as well. When I write, the satisfaction I get from creating characters, the world they live in and the stories gluing everything together is like I'm reading a book and flipping through the pages with anticipation. I'm a fan of writing pure and simple. If I was never published I would always keep writing because it's such a passion within me. Ideas are always bouncing around inside my mind like the silver steel ball in pinball game!
What sort of writer are you?
I am definitely a plotter when it comes to writing and my plot forms before anything else. My characters always find their places within the plot and end up in the driver’s seat enhancing it as the story unfolds. Without great characters a great plot is meaningless.
I always map out an entire story from start to finish. I’m not meaning just a single book, but an entire series. With SIERRA WINTERS AND THE VOID I knew the entire story arc and where all three books fit into it. I have written tentative beginnings and endings to books two and three as well. I have another series set to write after SIERRA WINTERS and I have that entire series mapped out also. I can’t just write one book and then wonder to myself what happens in the next one.
As far as writing characters into my formulated plots, I am a huge fan of bad, evil characters. I often feel sorry for my good characters, but it makes their triumphs that much more meaningful!
I also love bad guys in stories, because they're usually incredibly interesting to write. Who is your favorite bad guy ever?
Who is my favorite baddie of all time, hmm, good question. There are so many great evil characters out there to choose from, but I am going to have to go with the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia. She was the first truly evil character I ever read about when I was young and I recall having nightmares about her! So even though there are some definite competitors in my mind for top baddie, I have to stick with her at this point in time.
She's an excellent choice. Especially since Chronicles of Narnia is very special to me. What do you do to write a really good bad character?
When I write an evil character I don't want that character to be 'pure' evil and all bad. I always create a back story that shows snippets of information on why the character is behaving the way they do. This way there is always that little bit of compassion the reader can touch base with, no matter how small for the character. Of course that ounce of feeling isn't going to stop the reader from growling and despising them, but it's nice to give purpose for every characters behavior. When I do write an evil character I take that moment in time that changed their personality and take that reaction to the most extreme that I can possibly take it. In SUMMER'S SHADOW there is one main bad guy, but also a few other in-between baddies that alternate back and forth for various reasons which is fun to write as well.
I also have more than one baddie in Doorways. What is your favorite sort of heroic character?
Having more than one baddie is always fun within a story. Okay, my favorite type of heroic character? I like a heroic character to be strong-willed and as independent as possible, even if their circumstances don't exactly allow them to be. One of the greatest attributes to a heroic character in my opinion is faults. A character with faults creates emotions and affects decision making. So with all that said, a great heroic character for me is one that is ambitious, independent and strong-willed, yet realistic because they can also stumble under their own faults and problems.
That makes a lot of sense. Perfect characters make for bad reading. Which brings me to my next question: What's your pet reading peeve?
I used to consider novels written in first person as a pet peeve, I didn't like them. But as I read more and more YA novels I learned to appreciate first person more and more. My side project novel which is a YA paranormal thriller is actually written in first person from a boy's perspective. Okay, let me think here, a real pet peeve of mine when reading a book is not being able to tell the difference between characters. A well written character can be imagined by the words they speak and their actions without having to read their name. When I read a book, I want to know the characters as if they were part of my life. Yet, when characters are stale and the speech/actions are almost carbon copies of one another, there is no depth to them and its hard to care about the character. So my pet peeve is poorly written characters which ruins the story for me.
I know what you mean. I hate shallow characters like those. What do you find the most difficult part to writing?
The most difficult part of writing for me is finding a flow every time I sit down to write. If the flow of my muse is off, everything I write will come off as stagnant and stale. So what I do write two to three sentences involving one or more of my characters. I then re-write those sentences over and over in different ways until I feel it flow and once that happens it's like gliding through the skies with wings. So yeah, getting the flow of my writing started is the most difficult part of writing for me. Oh, and editing, what is that? It's a word banned from my vocabulary!
Yes flow can be so difficult to pin down. I try to do it by not leaving anything in the middle of a scene. And why is the e-word banned?
Ha-ha, the e-word. Editing isn't the most difficult part of writing for me, it's the part I least look forward to. I do enjoy re-writing my rough draft the first time and fixing problems, deleting this and adding that, you know, making it great! It's when those edits become one after another, after another and I want to curl up inside a dark closet and hide! I think every author, including myself, has the dream that their first draft will be perfect and they can continue on to their next work. Editing is just part of the process no matter how fun or painful it can be. I wonder if I said "Abra-ca-Edit" enough times, would it turn into a real magical word and edit my novels?
Excellent question... Now for another one of my own: What is the best tip you ever got about editing?
The best tip I have ever gotten about editing was a single word. "Patience". I was told with patience that the editing process would unfold much smoother than wanting to rush it along. That advice was spot on as I quickly learned that rushing an edit only harbors frustration, erratic writing and the editing process becomes much longer than it ever needs to be. Patience, I make it my top priority when editing and it works! I edited SUMMER'S SHADOW four times before sending out queries. And yes, it will be back in the editing process once again as my publication date nears.
Yes, it does say it all, doesn't it? Final question is the easiest: where can people find you on the internet?
This was a lot of fun, thanks again Misha! Book one in the SIERRA WINTERS AND THE VOID trilogy, SUMMER’S SHADOW, is due for publication in Spring 2014. Book two, FALL’S FURY and book three, WINTER’S DEATH, will follow. I have some exciting developments coming up soon which include a VBlog on my YouTube channel and my cover reveal in February 2013. Regarding the cover, there is going to be some really fun news for fans and everyone concerning it by December which I can’t wait for! You can find me, Craig MacLachlan, online at the following locations: