I am a collector and concocter of myths and legends, as well as some very real truths (though it may often be difficult to tell which is which). I have written many things on many topics. Some were not very good, and therefore not very important. What is important is my ever-increasing stack of yet-to-be-written adventures.
What inspires you to write?
That’s an easy answer: C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl. When I was young, I got into trouble a lot at school. It wasn’t that I was a bad kid, I just had a hard time sitting still. I got bored very easily, and the things that a kid finds to get him or herself un-bored…are not always acceptable to teachers. So, I spent a lot of time in the library. In the library, there were loads of interesting books to keep me from getting bored (and keep me out of trouble).
When I used to read about Charlie Bucket’s golden ticket, or Sophie’s witching hour “abduction” by the Big Friendly Giant, I couldn’t help but fantasize about that sort of thing happening to me. But, nothing stirred up those kinds of thoughts like the Chronicles of Narnia. I couldn’t get enough of the idea that one could travel so easily from the most ordinary places to lands of great adventure and marvelous wonder. I wanted so badly to find a door to Narnia, that I often wondered if I could make it happen by believing hard enough. It never worked, I’m sorry to say (although, I suppose I might not be allowed to tell you if it had). So, writing stories about kids finding magical doors is (probably) the closest I’ve gotten to visiting Narnia myself.
Tell us about your writing process.
I always had it in my mind to get to Narnia, or Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Writing stories is just the closest I’ve gotten so far.
My favorite part of writing a book is when it writes itself. Sometimes the events just seem to happen on their own, and my only role is to write them down as fast as I can. When that happens, it’s a real joy, because I get to experience the book the same way the readers do.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
There used to be a TV show from Ireland called “Ballykissangel.” One of the characters, Niamh, was the person I kept picturing when I wrote about Sister Frances. Frances was not actually based on Niamh at all, but there was a loose connection in my mind, for some reason.
Mr. Martin MacArthur is a lot like me, I think. He never made it to Narnia either (unless we’ve both been sworn to secrecy), but I am a bit envious of the adventure he did find throughout his life. I am too old to travel to Narnia now (they have certain rules about that), but it would be nice to have such a fantastic journey.
The cartoon and books called “Charlie and Lola” remind me of David and Alice. The way actor Ricky Gervais speaks reminds me of Brent. Lana and Audrey happen to share names with two of the most memorable movie stars of the 1950’s. But, all this is pure coincidence. The characters are who they are because that’s who they are. Sure, some things have to be changed here and there (for various reasons), and I might forget a detail or two along the way, but I write true stories…for the most part.
What advice would you give other writers?
I don’t really know whether what works for me will work for others, or even that what works for me will work for me again next time I try it, so I don’t have any advice on writing, per se. What I do know, though, is that in today’s world where readers face an unlimited quantity of high-quality low-cost works, it’s all about quality. Whether it’s a cookbook, romance novel, gardening how-to, memoir or political treatise, great writing and professional-quality editing are critical for a book’s success.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Writing my first book would not have been possible without my parents (especially since I wouldn’t exist!). The other person is my friend Kelly Lenihan (whose name you will find listed in my book for more official reasons). She has been the Fairy Godmother to my writing career. Without her help, there is almost zero chance that I would ever have gotten a book published, and very little chance that I would ever have written a second.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Increased competition between traditional publishers and indie authors has changed the publishing landscape. By imagining what’s possible, readers and authors can prepare for the future, or take steps to realize the future they desire.
What do you use?:
What genres do you write?: fantasy, adventure
What formats are your books in?: Print