Author Interview | Colm McElwain

Every now and then, I am blessed with the opportunity to communicate with authors directly and more often than not, these interactions, no matter how little it may be, never cease to amaze and inspire me. Recently I read and reviewed Colm McElwain’s James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra. I believe every writer has two stories to tell – one is of the book itself and the other is on their writing journey.

Here’s my recent interview with him! If you have further questions, do give me a buzz and I’ll be sure to let him know. 🙂

1) What and/or who inspired you to write James Clyde? 

A lot of different things really! I was inspired by other popular children’s books and films. This would include Disney films, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Superman, to name just a few.  Sometimes scenes within a film helped me write certain sequences. For example, if I was writing a battle scene I would watch a war or battle sequence and try to describe what was happening. If I was writing a flying sequence I might watch ‘Superman’ and again try to write down what I was watching. Then I would go back to my manuscript and rewrite my sequence until I was happy with it. I really wanted the reader to feel like they were right there with the characters. I must admit that one of the scenes with the children flying was inspired by ‘The Snowman.’ Do you know the scene where the young boy flies into the sky holding the snowman’s hand?  I thought that was a magical moment and tried to capture that sense of wonderment in my opening flying sequence. My story was set at Christmas and it was snowing too!  This helps – the setup is very magical to begin with, so the rest of the story can take off from there. Ideas are everywhere. Some of the sequences in my book would cost a fortune to produce in a film, but the joy of writing means I can write them down for free.

2) What are some of the challenges you face in your writing journey?

In the actual writing, linking all the loose ends together can be tricky.  However, there’s nothing that can’t be overcome. The answers are there.  It might take several rewrites and a lot of hard work and head scratching, but I found the solution always presented itself, eventually. I sometimes encountered problems with the story, but that might happen in draft 2 or 3.  By draft 25 or 30 I would have solved the problem.  It just takes time and effort. Perhaps leaving the story for a while and then coming back to it with a fresh perspective. I’m afraid, writing a book is a long-term project. Everyone is capable of it though. I still do face challenges in promoting my book. I would love to write a sequel one day, but first I want James Clyde’s first adventure to do well. So thank you for reading and reviewing.

3) Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

Well the obvious answer is James, I suppose, but I really do love them all.  I do like James’s story arc.  It feels complete by the end.  However, any good story needs strong bad guys! I had to see things from Gilbert’s point of view, just as much as I did from James’s.  I went with the idea that Gilbert doesn’t actually believe he is evil. He believes he’s doing the right thing.  I felt this would be an interesting angle.  The reader can actually put themselves in Gilbert’s shoes.  He is a man in his 60’s and feels like things have passed him by.  He wants more.  I think in a way everyone can relate to that. The lure and mystic of the diamonds and obtaining power entices him into making bad decisions. His greed also gets the better of him.  Then I also like Kila.  He is obviously a strong character in the story and James needs him in order to survive.  I like the relationship that exists between these two characters.

4) Are you looking into writing a sequel for James Clyde?

Yes I do feel 2017 would be a good year to make a start.  Why not?  I do have a good idea of where the story could progress. I just needed a break after writing, James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra. I worked six years on it and it’s still an on-going process with promotion now the main objective. It’s important to enjoy life, as it’s an adventure too!  So instead of writing about an adventure I decided to live my own for a bit. However, I do intend to give it a shot in 2017.  Hopefully it might happen one day!

5) If you could mention only 3 unique points about the book, what would it be?

Magical diamonds sought by many, faith in miracles and in oneself, and a young boy who will never give up on his grandfather’s wish.


More on the Author 

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Colm was raised and educated in Monaghan, Ireland. He is a business and physical education teacher and likes reading books, watching films and playing sport. He has always loved storytelling, whether through literature or film.  James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is his first novel and brings a very fulfilling creative experience spanning a number of years to an end. Colm’s inspiration for James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra were other great books and films in the children’s fantasy genre. He grew up reading Roald Dahl’s magical books and journeyed to Narnia whenever he read C.S. Lewis’s book series. In film he loved the ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Back to the Future’ movies.  Colm wanted to instill that sense of swashbuckling adventure into his own novel.

Interview – My heyitsbookishme Journey!

Hi readers!

I do hope you’re doing well (and slaying your TBR). Recently, I was given the opportunity to join in Alice’s Welcome to the Neighborhood. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a feature on her blog to introduce new bloggers through guest posts and interviews as well as a few giveaways.

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Alice was kind enough to include me for an interview session so I thought of sharing my heyitsbookishme journey with you too! 🙂


1. Introduce yourself! Where are you from? How long have you been blogging?
Hi there! My name is Sofea Ghani. I’m 22 and I am a Malaysian! I live in Petaling Jaya, Selangor which is really close to our capital city, Kuala Lumpur. I’ve been blogging since May this year, so it’s been around 4 months so far and I’m loving it!

2. What made you want to start book blogging in the first place?
I was excited to connect with more book bloggers in Malaysia and around the world. Additionally, I needed a platform to help me improve my writing and encourage me to be more adventurous in trying out new genres and authors. Blogging turned out to be just the thing!

3. Do you have any bloggers that you look up to? If so, who?
I believe the best people to look up to are those who are closest to me, MyBibliomaniacs family. I feel inspired by the work done by amazing local Malaysian bloggers such as Malie (maliemania.blogspot.com), Kevin (bookevin.wordpress.com), and Atikah (oh-hellobooks.tumblr.com). They inspire me to put more love into my writing and keep pushing forward!

4. What goals do you have for your blog and/or yourself?
My short-term goal is to establish myself as a blogger both locally and internationally. I hope to gain more confidence from publishers and authors to improve my overall review portfolio, and at the same time, inspire others to pursue their passion in book blogging. In the long run, I hope to be the go-to book blogger for my honest reviews, exceptional work and sincere commitment.

5. What sorts of posts do you currently incorporate in your blog? What kinds of posts do you want to see more throughout the whole book community?
My posts are heavily focused on reviews with the exception of a few posts on Book Hauls, Blog Tours and Author Interviews. I believe that we should all focus more on book reviews and book talks as it is so important to encourage further discussions and exchange of ideas to develop our community.

6. What has been your experience with ARCs (advance reading copies)?
I have been receiving physical ARCs from international publishers such as HarperCollins, Faber & Faber and Walker Books. It’s been an incredible journey working with them in providing good books the exposure they deserve. I have also been approached by authors both local and abroad. For a blogger like me with such little experience, I feel very blessed for the trust and confidence they have in me. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to grow as a book blogger.

7. What are your favorite books? What books do you recommend for everyone?
I love books that bring my emotions on a journey. Books that consume me with their elegant writing and incredible storyline. I have a soft spot for contemporary and romance, but on days where I’m feeling more adventurous, I go for fantasy and thriller. I read and review across all genres. My current favourite books are A Court of Thorns and Roses and Me Before You.

8. What advice do you have for new book bloggers?
Be consistent, discipline but have loads of fun! Reviewing books should not be about racing to get more ARCs or gaining popularity. It’s good to have goals but don’t forget that ultimately, what you have in your heart is your love for books. Do your best to share that love and warmth with the world. Once you have that mindset and heart, you will strive and enjoy yourself as a book blogger.


Do you have anything in common with me? If you have any further questions on my blogging journey, do let me know. Thank you again Alice for the feature!

@heyitsbookishme 

Blog Tour – StoryTime: Author Interview | Mary Fan

If you are a fan of Mary Fan you’re in for a treat! Thanks to dear friends from Glass House Press, I was given the opportunity to interview her on her new novella release – Let Me Fly Free.

1) How long does it take you to complete a novella?

It really depends on the novella. If I’m writing in a world I’d previously created, as I was with LET ME FLY FREE, then it goes a lot faster than if I’m starting from scratch. I write pretty quickly once I know what I’m doing, but it takes me a while to get to that point… the plot outlines, the character sketches, the backstory, the world-building. It’s hard to say how long all this pre-work/planning took me for LET ME FLY FREE since I’d developed the world a few years earlier when I was writing the other Fated Stars novella, TELL ME MY NAME, and I had a series arc with all these characters already created. It took me a month or so to get back into the Fated Stars headspace, and then another few weeks to plot out the novella. Once I had all that done, though, the actual writing process only took maybe a week. Then came the edits…

2) Why did you choose to make Let Me Fly Free a novella rather than a novel?

LET ME FLY FREE is a prelude to a fantasy series that will see a great, ancient evil–banished at the beginning of time–returning to destroy the world. The first full-length book in the Fated Stars series is currently with Glass House Press for edits, and it’ll depict the beginnings of this evil’s rise. Elaia has an important role to play in the series, and LET ME FLY FREE is something of an origin story for her–a glimpse into what her world was like before the madness began. Given the amount of material I had for the story, a novella was more appropriate than a full-length novel.

3) I noticed that you take pride in the main character being a heroine – what is the main message you would like to send to your readers on this?

That women and girls are complex, multi-faceted individuals who can shape their own destinies, and the stories we tell about them should reflect that. That there are many ways for them to be strong, to be intelligent, to be wise. That they don’t have to be perfect to be awesome.

4) Are you looking into writing a sequel for Let Me Fly Free?

Since LET ME FLY FREE takes place pretty much right before the main events of the Fated Stars series (which is somewhat hinted at in the novella), I don’t intend to write a direct sequel in the traditional sense of the world. That being said, Elaia will be back in the main Fated Stars series (having been deeply affected by the events of the novella) and will have an important role in shaping the plot–and the fate of the world.

5) If you were given a chance to write the story a little differently, what would you do?

That’s hard to say at this time since I feel like I just finished working on it! I suppose that, in a parallel universe, I’d have liked to have spent a little more time exploring the enchanted forest Elaia calls home, but doing so would have killed the tension of the plot (which pretty much hits the ground running… it would have been odd to take a detour!). Of course, there will be more opportunities for me to show what the enchanted forest is like in the main series 🙂


Do you have a question for Mary Fan? Ask away in the comment section.

Thank you again, Mary Fan!