SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR: M A L C O L M C A M P B E L L
Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your occupation outside of writing?
I usually tell people I was raised by hyenas or alligators. It doesn’t surprise them because they think that most writers grew up under strange circumstances or else belong in an institution. Years ago, I worked at an
facility for the developmentally disabled. Though I was there for only a year, that job impacted me greatly because it showed me the hidden potential within everyone, often within people who had been written off by society. Had the circumstances been different, I would have gone back to school for a degree in psychology. My muse, I guess, knew better, and made sure that other than that job and three years as a college journalism instructor, my occupation never strayed outside of writing. I worked for many years as a technical writer in the computer industry. Illinois
Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
Definitely an introvert, though most people don’t realize this because I have a dual personality. I’m easily content spending most of my time with wine, music and a book (whether I’m writing it or reading it). But there’s a dark side to my personality that likes stirring things up and taking a trickster’s view of the world. People see the trickster more often than the writer because they think writers are crazy and that tricksters are less threatening.
Do you have any pets?
My wife Lesa and I have four indoor cats. The poufy orange kitty is simply named “OK” or “
Orange Kitty.” The calico is named Katy, the black and white is named , and the grey and white is named Marlow. Duncan is the only male in the bunch. Duncan
What are your favorite books to read?
I like books written by authors who push the envelope while remaining accessible and/or who do remarkable things with language. While many call his prose purple, I’m a fan of Pat Conroy’s novels, specially “The Prince of Tides.” Magical realism, stream of consciousness, and transcendent themes are very addictive, so the introvert side of me enjoys Virginia Woolf, Sunetra Gupta, Isabelle Allende and Carlos Ruiz Zafon while the trickster side of me likes Italo Calvino and Douglas Adams.
Where is the most unique place you have traveled?
Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Working as a manager of one of the group homes for the developmentally disabled within the
mental health system. Illinois
How many books have you written and how many of those are published?
I’ve blocked out the numerous manuscripts that ended up going in the trash can. Three have been published, “
Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Jock Stewart and the of Fire.” Missing Sea
Do you have one particular genre that all your books fall under (i.e. suspense, romance, etc.) or do you write in many different genres?
The idea of writing in a genre never occurs to me while I’m working on a book. For me, storytelling is storytelling. “Garden of Heaven” is magical realism, “The Sun Singer” is an adventure with elements of fantasy, and “Jock Stewart and the
of Fire” is a comedy/satire. Or, so I am told. Missing Sea
How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants) ?
I try to plan absolutely nothing. There’s always a basic story that’s been beamed into my head by evil spirits, muses or aliens lurking behind the moon on the mother ship. Once that happens, all I can do is hang on for the ride and see where the whole shebang ends up.
Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive? How did you handle the rejections?
10000000000000000. While the trickster side of me is convinced that rejections are evidence that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, the logical introvert side of my personality wonders whether I fell off the turnip wagon while I was writing the story or submitted the material to the wrong people at the wrong time. We can learn a lot from rejections, including some first-class profanity. Without them, our growth as writers would be much slower.
How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?
Schedule? I think not. First, a schedule doesn’t mesh well with my talent for procrastination. Second, like outlines, rules and neat desks, schedules make me very claustrophobic, and that interferes with what the spirits, muses or aliens are trying to get me to write. Yes, I can call my muse, but things go much smoother when she calls me.
If you have a new release coming out, tell us about it.
: an Odyssey” came out in June. It tells the story of a man whose life was shattered when the woman he believed to be his soul mate left him while he was at war with himself for serving on a Navy ship during the Vietnam War. David and Anne lost each other because they were betrayed, though it took them years to discover that, and by the time they did, Anne couldn’t pull herself away from her focus on revenge. Garden of Heaven
If you have many books already released, tell us which is your favorite and why.
“Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey” is my favorite because it pushes a mixture of magic and transcendent themes up against the realities of a pragmatic, technological world. I see magic everywhere, yet it’s very illusive. We are, I think, so much more than we seem to be, and my passion for exploring such things made the story of David and Anne a very tempting one to tell.
Out of all the books you’ve written and the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite character and why?
There’s too much of me in David Ward in “
: an Odyssey” for him to be my favorite. So, my best answer is Robert Adams in “The Sun Singer,” for he’s going through the rite of passage called “coming of age” or “being a teenager” where he is confronted with the task of figuring out just who he is and what he plans to do with his life. He’s naïve and pure and open to the world. Garden of Heaven
If you could step into the world of anyone else’s novel or meet with any character, which/who would you choose?
Today’s answer, which is different than what I might tell you tomorrow, is Daniel in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “Shadow in the Wind.” When Daniel is old enough, his father takes him to an infinite and ancient archive of books in
Barcelona called “The .” Daniel’s job is to select one book out of the millions and then protect that book for the rest of his life. After he reads the book, the book and its author become intertwined with Daniels destiny. Cemetery of Forgotten Books
If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?
Begin with a good liberal arts education from college and/or life, and develop a sense of wonder about everything from history to science to reading. Then, follow your passions into the kinds of subjects, themes and characters you can’t help but tell stories about.
What's up next for you and your writing?
Right now, I’m working on “Sarabande,” a sequel to “The Sun Singer,” while pondering—with some amount of guile—whether the world is ready for another book about my ass-kicking, old-time reporter Jock Stewart.
Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?
Consider strongly the possibility that my answers to Susan’s questions are at least 37.5% fictional. But it was fun. Thanks for inviting me to Tuesday Talks.
Where can we read more about you and your work?
Page at Vanilla Heart Publishing: http://www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com/Malcolm_Campbell.html