Thursday, 5 June 2014

James McDonald , author of "Bound and Hagged"

Today I'd like welcome James McDonald , author of "Bound and Hagged" to the Thursday interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!

Jim has spent over 25 years working in technology which has allowed him to travel around much of the world.  Now somewhat settled down in the Carolinas, he is using a lifelong interest in history, mythology, anthropology, the hard sciences and B movies to bring his own versions of folklore to life. When not clacking away at a laptop either for the job that pays the bills or drawing the odd ideas from his head to paper to disturb and amuse the readers, he can be found playing with hot glass or running around in a kilt promoting Celtic culture with his wife and three dogs pretending not to know him.

OK - HERE WE GO !!  

No.1  Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
As a general rule, the answer will tend to be yes.  But with a caveat. When you look at the laws here in the US, a lot of it is about intent.  If an act is committed with the intent of saving a life or doing good, you can argue around a lot of issues. That being said, you still have to be ready to accept the consequences sometimes, even if you did the wrong thing for the right reasons. Would I speed through a red light because I was transporting someone that was hurt?  Done it. My caveat is this.  It depends on why they are in peril.  We all do foolish things.  And I have friends that will not EVER let you forget them.  Sometimes, you have to reap what you sow.  And the penalty is not for the person who got in trouble in the first place, but the people that have to live with the implications.  Some people, you just cannot save in the long run.  If that is what got them there, I may love them dearly, but I am more apt to pull out a lounge chair and watch.
If you cannot do anything else in life, be a warning to others.

No.2  What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
To me, being alive is where most people are.  We get up in the mornings, go to work, clean house, watch a little TV, and eat a few times during the day before going to sleep.  We all go through times of going through the motions of getting to the next mile marker, the next step in the day, the next click on the keyboard.  It is an indelicate way of keeping the biomechanical machine running and playing its role in the world.
Living is understanding that role, and going the next step to appreciate the world around us.  To really live means stepping out of your comfort zone, and stretching yourself.  I think really living is the process of growth that helps us understand the spiritual side of the machine.  It is the want and desire for knowledge and experience, and the ability to appreciate it.  I think it can be as simple as telling a bad joke to the barista, or diving a coral reef.  It is finding your joy and happiness, and hopefully sharing some of it with others.

No.3  What motivates you to write?
I write for myself.  The process of writing is very cathartic for me.  It lets me process the world around me, and all of the useless trivia stored in my head.  I have been fortunate to travel and have many experiences throughout my life, so far.  When I see or hear certain things, my mind can wander to build the larger world around that experience.  Sometimes the only way to get that out of my head is to put it to paper (metaphorically). The act of writing is very freeing.  The ability to build worlds and the people that inhabit them for me stimulates my creativity in other directions as well, and makes me more adaptable in the other areas of my life. 

No.4  Why do humans want children?
If you ask my parents, it was to cut the grass and to embarrass on occasion.  The wife and I were not so fortunate to pop out any kids, but we have 3 of the four footed variety.  Even so, I think the process of creating, influencing, and building a small person, helps not only the child grow, but everyone around the child grows with their experiences.  There is joy in watching a child walk for the first time, or figure out how something works.  Not so much for the screaming kid on the airplane though. So instead, we occasionally get to play with the nieces and nephews, and friends kids.  Spin them up, give them candy, and hand them back.

No.5  What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "Bound and Hagged" ?
Scope creep.  The book started out as a lone book.  When I started storyboarding it out, it was a lot to cram into one book.  Or even three.  Solution?  A series.  Even so, I know where it is going, and how it will end.  I think the hardest part of that may be the last time I put some of these characters to paper.  Or by then, I may be happy to do it.

No.6  What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far? 
Learn to laugh at yourself.  If you don’t others are more than happy enough to do it for you.  It means you can take things less seriously.  That way when the real problems come up, you are better able to deal with them.  Otherwise, enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

No.7  How did you come up with the title "Bound and Hagged" ?
So book one is called ‘Bound and Hagged’ and the series is called ‘Home Summonings’.  Originally, the book was ‘Home Summonings,’ but it sort of sums up the whole picture. The story is a bit of dark humor wrapped around a pretty bizarre world.  But to Grayson, the main character, he has been raised in it, and really doesn’t know any better.  One person’s normal is someone else’s neurosis.  To capture the style of humor, I went with small twists on the language.  Book 2 is ‘Mistrials and Tribulations’ and book 3 is ‘Unbound and Determined’.  I am working with titles on the later books, but the next two volumes should be out this year. I was looking for something that would feel familiar, if not a little off, and that is the style I was going for. Oddly enough, so far all of the titles have come to me in the shower.

No.8  How do you handle personal criticism?
You cannot make everybody happy.  I am writing to make me happy.  I do not expect everyone will fall over and love me or my work.  I just hope the people that do really enjoy it, and that the ones who don’t can find something they like.  If people want to criticize the work, hopefully it is in a way I can consider.  It may not change what I do, but at least I can be aware of how others perceive my product. If people want to make it personal and criticize me, my opinions, or the obnoxious t-shirt I was wearing, I can only do one thing.  Smile, and pat you on the head.  I don’t want to waste the energy on trolls.  Besides, if someone really pushes me, I can kill them off in the next book in really embarrassing ways.  

No.9  Why should people read your book? 
Sick humor. 

In all seriousness, I hope the people that read the book take it as it was intended.  I touch on some fairly dark subjects, but hopefully give people a little something to think about, and different way of looking at them.  I find most people take life way too seriously and miss the point.  People are afraid of losing, of people not liking them, of failure.  Unfortunately, that is part of life.  You cannot appreciate good without bad, friends without enemies, yin without yang.  This story is what happens if you think you have nothing to lose, and you find out you were wrong.  Everyone has something and someone to live for, and fight for.  And even then, sometimes winning just means living until the next problem.
And you are never alone, unless you make it that way.

No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
That is actually one of the themes I play with in the series.  I hope it is because God was bored and lonely, and decided to play craps.  I could perceive an idea where our universe is just one of an infinite number of petri dishes, and every one is stacked and loaded with little iotas of consciousness.  And every one of those experiments he (used in the generic, gender free sense) has going is adding to that collective being.  
To me, the biggest question, to paraphrase, is; Are the dice loaded?
 My thanks to everyone who took the time to read through this little trip though my view on the world.

Thanks Jim for taking the time to answer my questions & the best of luck with your new book! 

Check out his new book "Bound and Hagged" on

Greyson Forrester was born and raised to be a powerful wizard. Then it all came crashing down when friends and family were killed when he was a teenager and he got the blame. His powers bound and banished from his home, he was given seven years to figure out what happened and to try and clear his name. The clock has almost run out and he is chasing dead end leads when an old friend calls in a marker. Two girls have been kidnapped, and the few powers he has left to him have made him one of the best trackers in the supernatural world. With his reputation following him, Greyson has made some interesting friends and influential enemies on this side of the veil, and beyond. And they all seem to have their hands in this case. Or tentacles.

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Twitter: @JimMacAuth
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