What made you want to write?
My family moved a lot when I was growing up, following my dad from job to job as he pursued advancement. With each move, I was displaced from friends and people I knew. The constant in my life was the stories, told in books and comic books, and on TV. The characters became my friends, and the heightened realities of many of the tales became the safe place to which I could retreat.
I found out that stories I created were ways I could connect to people; folks love a good story. Stories are, I believe, what really make us human. No other creature tells stories except us. Characters had been my friends; stories helped me make more friends.
At another level, I think writing is in my blood. I’m related to a 19th-century U.S. poet, and my Scottish ancestry includes a clan seneschal – someone whose job it was to know and tell all the stories of the clan’s members. I enjoy carrying on those traditions in new ways.
How long have you been writing fiction? Do you write anything else?
I‘ve told stories I’d made up as long as I can remember, but my first formal efforts at writing fiction were in the mid-1990s. I’ve been published in a variety of genres and styles: lots of nonfiction and some skits. Recently I’ve been writing as macromega for giantessfan.com, which publishes comic books.
What is your preferred genre and why?
I love genres that allow the fantastic into the present-day world – magic realism, urban and modern fantasy, and science fiction. Exploring how people cope with impossible situations, and how those situations impact their relationships, their jobs and the rest of their lives – this is where some interesting stories can be found.
While most of my stories aren’t simply romances, there’s usually a romantic plot or subplot in the story somewhere. Passion can drive a story, and can turn it in ways that make the plot more interesting.
What is your muse?
I’m fascinated by myths, legends and fairy tales – stories that have survived because they touch on the deepest part of the soul. Even when my stories don’t directly relate to old stories, they tend to deal with basic themes. The stories that are most worth telling deal with the most fundamental aspects of being human; love, life and death, and status in relationships.
When dealing with such stories, one has to deal with powerful forces, forces that can inflict real harm. Such forces often teeter at the edge of light and darkness, good and evil – and frequently go over that edge. It’s said that you measure a hero or heroine by how powerful an adversary they face. For the story to matter, to have real weight, it needs to face such issues; otherwise, it’s just fluff.
Love is another powerful force. The woman I love has a way of turning up in my characters. It’s usually not a conscious thing, but I recognize her presence after I’ve written awhile. She’s often part of the romantic relationship in the story.
Size change is a theme I use in part because it can touch on all those matters. If people fell in love with each other at one size, what happens if their relationships to each other change? If someone shrinks or grows, or their body’s dimensions change, how does that impact how people perceive them? Does their condition put them or others in danger? If size is power, what happens if that power shifts – and has it shifted the right way? And how does a couple who have undergone or are undergoing size change cope with sex? We take our sizes for granted. They are fundamental to who we are. Change them, and you change how the world sees you, and how you see the world. Ask anyone who’s successfully lost a lot of weight and kept it off.
Along the way, I’ve learned I have an ear for dialects. That inspires me, too. The music of the way people speak in different places has an impact on how they communicate, and that affects stories. Someone in the Appalachian foothills in Ohio will speak differently than someone in the Cleveland area, and someone from northern Indiana will sound different than someone from southern Indiana. Different regions in England have distinctive vocal rhythyms. Liverpudlians have a lilt all their own! The brogues of Scotland and Ireland stem from the same roots, but have branched in very different ways. Understanding that music lets me add depth to characters.
What other interests do you have?
I love genealogy and mythology. I collected comic books for years. I know way too much comic-book and comic-strip trivia. I’m a big fan of M*A*S*H (the TV series) and Doctor Who.
What type of music do you like?
I love female voices and tight harmonies. Celtic Woman is a favorite group, as is Wilson Phillips. I adore Alison Krauss’ musicality and have been a fan of Loreena McKennitt for some time. I love Adele and Sara Bareilles. I also love Irish and other Celtic music, so Mumford and Sons are among my favorites
Have you ever had an incredible vacation you will never forget? If so, tell us about it.
It’s tough for me to choose between two trips. Between them, I traveled through most of the U.S. and encountered elements that have inspired me, ranging from a puppet shop on the east coast to multiple rainbows in the New Mexico sky, and a little motel in Colorado with an owner who loved to decorate cakes. There was a house filled with dolls and black walls and floors, and a beautiful lake with an irate goose. I discovered how good beef can be the farther west I went. I learned the joys of Cincinnati-style chili and how different pizza and hot dogs are between New York and Chicago. There was the night that so many deer nested down by our campsite in New Mexico that we lost count as we got past 40, and the thrill of seeing an eagle soar alongside our car for miles. There was the terror of a semi that tried to run us off the road in Texas, and a family obsessed with making sure we knew how many people in the country music industry they knew
What are some of your favorite movies or books?
In movies, anything with the Marx Brothers, Carole Lombard, Buster Keaton or W.C. Fields; classic Universal horror movies; John Wayne westerns; film noire; and lots of animation. Up, Wall-E and The Croods are among the best movies I’ve ever seen. Oddly, for someone who loved comic books, I’m not that into the movie adaptations of them.
In books, I love Agatha Christie, and all of the books in The Cat Who … series. While Brian Jacques was officially writing for children, his ear for dialects and subtlety of character were unparalleled. Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke wrote wonderfully, and I loved “The Werewolf Principle” by Clifford Simak. Richard Matheson’s “The Shrinking Man” (the basis of the movie that added “Incredible” to the title) is a touchstone of the genre. Another favorite writer is far more obscure: an author who wrote under the unlikely pen name of Hi Standard, who penned some amazing slow-growth giantess fiction. My favorite Tolkien story is “Farmer Giles of Ham,” which he wrote to let off steam after finishing The Lord of the Rings; it’s a hilarious take on the genre. C. S. Lewis is another favorite. So is George MacDonald, whose retellings of ancient folk tales inspired both Tolkien and Lewis.
Is there anything else you would like your audience to know about you? What makes you special?
I’ve met few art media I don’t like; although there are many at which I’m not good, I still enjoy others’ work. People don’t appreciate how brilliant a puppeteer Jim Henson was, or the true artistry he produced. And I love watching good dancers, in almost any style of dance. I’m a klutz, but I adore the visual poetry of a body moving to precisely accomplish a look and a flow of motion.
What is your next book and when do you expect it to be published?
Eve’s Thieves will be published by Midnight Frost Books, and is set for release this fall. It’s a tale of a group of crime victims, but what’s been stolen from them is what they view as fundamental elements of themselves. They’re going to get back what they’ve lost and stop the thieves, whatever the price … and there is a price …
Thank you Mac, I certainly enjoyed this interesting interview. We are all looking forward to your upcoming book, Eve's Thieves.
Welcome to our house,
Celeste and Patricia