Saturday, November 15, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: A Hole in the Ice by McCallum J. Morgan

Happy Saturday! McCallum Morgan, author of the recently released A Hole in the Ice, stopped by today to talk about his book, his life, and other random things. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did! But first, here's some more info about A Hole in the Ice, in case you're not familiar with it!

About the Book

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Title: A Hole in the Ice
Author: McCallum J. Morgan
Publication Date: September 20, 2014

Synopsis: In a world similar to our own during the 1800s and early 1900s, two political factions seek an object that could be the key to ultimate power. This object, a supernatural compass, falls into the hands of sixteen-year-old Parsifal. When Sir Oaktree comes to retrieve it, Parsifal accidentally kills him with it (or so he believes).

Parsifal sets off across the globe on his uncle’s “scientific” expedition, hoping to escape. But the expedition itself is inextricably tied to the compass he tries to keep secret. Balder Balfra and Lady Vasille (whom Parsifal is drawn to despite her apparent involvement with his uncle) are also travelling on this expedition, but whose side are they on? And which side is the right one?

About the Author

As a child, McCallum always wanted to write a book. He scribbled in notebooks, drew pictures, and lived largely in a world of make-believe. Into this fertile field a seed was planted. Notebooks began to fill and they didn’t stop. It was a soaring waltz with words among the silvery clouds and he loved it. He was thirteen.
McCallum discovered the Institute of Children’s Literature and enrolled in their writing course, Writing for Children and Teenagers. For their second, advanced, course, he rewrote those bursting notebooks. Now McCallum is eighteen and working on the sequel, and enjoying every minute of it knowing that finally, it’s real. It’s not just a pile of notebooks anymore, it’s ‘A Hole in the Ice.’

McCallum still draws and occasionally attacks an unfortunate piece of fabric with a sewing machine. He may be spotted around his home town of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, sporting his collection of bizarre clothing items, singing ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in French, or at the bakery near his home, drinking a caramel macchiato. His day job is log home finishing. He lives with his parents in a house perched on the hillside twenty miles south of the Canadian border and takes his tea with milk and sugar in a cup and saucer.

The Interview!

What inspired you to write A Hole in the Ice
Okay, here we go: I was reading The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman and I was imagining it set in an older time (and it is, sort of, being an alternate world that’s a touch steampunk). Anyway, I was disappointed that it wasn’t quite as old fashioned as I’d thought (Love the book anyway) so my brother and I played a game of make-believe set in a world that was a cross between Pride and Prejudice and The Golden Compass. The main characters' names and the basic storyline come from that. I started writing it down before we’d even finished the game. I must have decided it was time to really try this writing thing. I’d started a few novels previously (I was around twelve or thirteen at the time) but nothing had ever come of them and I was very superstitious in my approach, calling it a TAB(which stood for Triple A and B or AAAB which meant Attempt At A Book (I know, I’m crazy)) rather than a book. Gotta confound the Fates somehow. I credit Phillip Pullman’s inspiring work along with a healthy helping of serendipity for the success of my TAB. But I got the idea of the Weather Casters one day while staring at a painting of a ship that has hung in our living room for ages. I started doodling, sketching out their function and method in a little cartoon which included the mermaids. I don’t know if that was before or after the game, but either way, it got grafted into the game somewhere along the way.

Growing up, what were some of your favorite books? 
I really loved The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper and I devoured the Lemony Snicket books. The Chronicles of Narnia were a favorite too, although maybe from watching the old BBC film versions.

If you could spend the day with any author, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
Well I wish I could somehow console Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, bring her chocolates or something. When I read The Last Man I felt so sorry for her because I could tell she was drawing on her own experience for the lonely depressed feel of the book (her children died in the same way that the main character’s children die in the book). Otherwise I’d like to meet Kenneth Oppel, just because his Airborn books were so stinking awesome.

What book(s) is currently on your nightstand?
Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve, and When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket. I actually have a huge stack of books and papers on the floor next to my bed, a couple French dictionaries, a Field Guide to Little People (Nancy Arrowsmith and George Moorse), and one of my favorites, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, to name a few.

How does a typical writing day usually go for you?
I am tragically unorganized. I don’t have writing days, I have writing moments, some are ‘knuckle down and write it NOW’ moments and some are those magical moments when my muse hits me over the head with something. For the former I sit and agonize over my keyboard or notebook, sometimes for days on end, before I finally get the ink flowing. The latter…well they’re like lightning strikes. I’ve been so busy lately I’ve almost forgotten what having a writing schedule is like (I don’t know that I’ve ever had one, but it seems like I used to be more organized. It’s not good, it’s gotta change).

Do you have a favorite mermaid story (besides your own, of course!)?
I haven’t read many mermaid stories but I’ve read lots of water spirit legends like the Drac and Asrai. I love the imagery of the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian Legend. I also like how in The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen the mermaid just wants a soul because she doesn’t have one.

What is your favorite costume that you’ve made?
Possibly my most ambitious project: Sweeney Todd. It consists of a pair of stirrup trousers and a waistcoat, both of a dark grey and black fabric. But I also made a purple suit coat (I was thinking Joker maybe) and I wore it over my Sweeney Todd to a costume party recently. I was the Mad Hatter. My brother is a wizard with cereal boxes and a glue gun so he made the hat and covered it with the same purple as the suit coat.

Are you currently working on any new projects? I’m up to my ears. I have an Institute of Children’s Literature assignment (story or nonfiction article—I’m leaning towards story) and a story I was writing for my M’Habla’s short story blog and several novel ideas including a full plot and chapter outline of a circus novel I’m planning to write for NaNoWriMo. And, of course, the sequel to A Hole in the Ice.

How would you describe A Hole in the Ice in 140 characters or less?
It’s about desire for power, first love, supernatural beings, guilt, and friendship/family in a steampunk regency world.

What was the last book you read and loved? Metropolis by Thea Von Harbou. I watched the 1927 silent film and had to read the book. Her language is so poetic and full of symbolism.

Do you currently have a guilty pleasure TV show?
Um, I don’t get television (gasp!) but I do have an addiction to Tim Burton movies and old Christopher Lee horror films.

If you could go anywhere in time or space, where/when would you like to go? 
That’s a hard one. I’ll have to say ancient Greece because I’ve always been infatuated with Greek myths. Like really bad. But I could just as easily say 19th century England (or France. France is on the top of my foreign countries to visit list). Hmm…19th century England is sounding better, but it just depends on my mood. Obviously the 19th century won out when I wrote a novel.

Thanks so much again to McCallum for taking the time to stop by!

--Ashley & Paul

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