Tuesday, August 12, 2014

10 Things You Didn't Know About C.H. MacLean

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 the YA fantasy, Two Empty Thrones.

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10 Things You Didn't Know About C.H. MacLean

  1. If I'm going to be pushed off a cliff, I'd rather jump 
I find there are plenty of times when life seems to push you off a cliff. Sometimes, despite all my planning and work, the train tracks end suddenly, the suspension bridge snaps as I'm half-way across, my plane engines explode, etc.  I know people who can't help screaming and dearly hold to their right to lament
life's injustices. Nothing wrong with that. If you catch me off-guard, I might yelp too. But then my brain flips, and it suddenly makes sense to jump. I mean, at least it's my choice, right?

  1. But that doesn't mean I'm a push over
Now, that is not to say that if a person tries it, I just jump every time. I know a bit of kung-fu, and look at him closely. (Yes, honestly, it's almost always a “he”.) I'll judge whether I can or should flip him over my shoulder or take him with me. Sometimes he's the one that needs to jump, and sometimes it's nice to have a partner on the way down. Or just a cushion at the bottom.

  1. If I'm going to jump off a cliff, I like to smile when I do
 If it's my choice, why shouldn't I enjoy the experience?  I can almost always find something fun about it. If nothing else, baring my teeth lets me breathe but filters out the bugs.

  1. I like to make my wings on the way down.
 People tell me this is a personality trait, but it just makes sense. The only accuracy most people have to predict the future is based on luck. Someone smart once said, Planning is priceless, plans are worthless. And you are never so motivated to make good wings the first time as when you really need them.

  1. I'll never go skydiving again
I jumped in tandem, which let me do the jumping out of a plane. I did so smiling, of course. But then the guy on my back started spinning us. Had I known he was going to do that, I would have told him I get motion sick quite easily and ate a pungent lunch.

I actually might do it again, as the floating down was pretty close to flying.

  1. Often tired, rarely sleepy
For those of you who know the difference between tired and sleepy, I'll bet you can guess why. If you don't know the difference, let me know.

  1. Not all my teeth are my own
Baseballs and rocks are not the same. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

  1. I'm never wrong for long
I love to find out I am wrong. I know you know the feeling when you find out you have been wrong. It's a terrible feeling. At least for me, I hate it with the intensity of being spun around while sharp things poke me in the kidneys at 250 miles per hour.

But then, I just change. I admit I was wrong (and am right about that), and agree with the correction (right again). So, in the end, I get to be right twice.

  1. Being right isn't winning
However, I don't see being right as all that great. I want to be on the side of truth, of course, I just don't see how it's about me. When I'm right and can prove it, that's just plain using my eyeballs. Otherwise, I just have an unprovable opinion, which isn't being right. If someone else can't see the facts, it doesn't make me better, it's just kind of sad for them. If I have an opinion, it's not better or more true than the next person's to anyone but me.

  1.  You know more about me than you think you do
Some psychiatrists say that the characters in your dreams are all you. Yes, they say you are both the one running away and the monster chasing you. I think it is similar in writing. I don't really see it, but I'll bet someone close to me can point out how I am a bit like every character in my books, even the worst of the lot. I just hope I have some of the best of their traits, and it will all even out.

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