Author Interview: H. A. Callum 2.0
If you’re a fan of H. A. Callum’s then you know the last interview just left us wanting to know more about this wonderful, supportive writer and his new book, Whispers in the Alders. I’m thrilled to bring you the second installment, H. A. Callum 2.0. Enjoy!
Welcome back, H.A. I know you’re busy with the release of your first novel, so I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.
Hi, Donna! The pleasure’s all mine. I greatly appreciate the time you’ve taken away from your own writing for this interview.
Shame on them! Hopefully we’ll get them to go back and read the first to avoid any spoilers! Since there has been more publicity (just a little!) since the first interview, we can give away a bit more as the story of Whispers in the Alders is slowly revealing itself leading up to its release. Whispers in the Alders is more than just the collision of two worlds when Aubrey and Tommy first meet. It reflects society, where we’ve been as a nation socially, where we are now, and how two people can change their places in that social structure, regardless of the emotional cost to them. Whispers in the Alders is a beautiful story about how two misbegotten kids find their escape in the alder stand, and by getting lost in the pages of a book. How many of us can relate to that? I know I can.
I haven’t finished Whispers in the Alders yet, but I’m well on my way. I would have to agree. The characters and storyline have drawn me in from the beginning just by being relatable.
My stories often evolve from a spark or a glimmer of thought leading down a rabbit hole. What was the spark or glimmer of thought that inspired Whispers in the Alders?
The story behind Whispers in the Alders constantly pulled at me until it was given its rightful place on the page, staring back at me, ready to be told to conclusion. Variations of it played out in my imagination for years. Finally, late one night, I found the inspiration and courage to give this story its due. I hope that, as an author, I’ve done justice to Aubrey and Tommy’s story.
Speaking of Aubrey and Tommy, what can you tell us about the stars of the show? Who are Aubrey and Tommy? No spoilers, please.
They are an odd pairing, and it’s hard to say who they are without risking spoilers, because so much of the story is driven by their personalities and their relationship. Aubrey is the daughter of privileged parents, her childhood spent touring the country via countless relocations caused by her father’s corporate position. She’s the new girl in school every year, and her father’s reputation always ushers in her arrival. Finding friends is never easy for Aubrey in the towns that become part of her vagabond childhood. She backs up Tommy, who is the shy, free-spirited boy that spent his days hiding behind a book. He’s also from Alder Ferry’s lower economic class, and the shame of that is apparent in his first encounters with Aubrey.
Most of your fans only have two questions for you, where can we purchase your book? And is it available for pre-order?
Finally! I thought you would never ask! The kindle edition is available now for pre-order on Amazon at: http://a.co/egUo7XR. On release day, it will also be available on B&N, iTunes, Kobo, 24 Symbols, and many other online stores.
Many folks love eBooks, but for those who don’t, will there be a paperback or hardcover release coming in the future? If so, when can we expect to see it?
Yes! Paperback will be available for order on May 26th through all online retailers. As of now we are also working to place the paperback in select independent bookstores in the Philadelphia metro region. I also make personal deliveries for signed copies (wink).
I know what I’d do on release day for my book, but what will you be up to May 26th while the rest of us are reading Whispers in the Alders? Any fun festivities planned for the days leading up to and after the release?
I decided against the traditional launch party. In the end, I want to celebrate the release of Whispers in the Alders finally getting into the hands of readers. May 26th is going to be a busy day for me on social media promoting the book, and I plan to cap the day off with a dinner date with my wife whose support has been incredible. The writer’s life takes its toll on everyone whether or not we notice it.
Which isn’t to say there will not be any events! For as much time that goes into writing a novel, why sell its release short?
That sounds like a wonderful way to spend your release day! If I lived closer, I’d say, “Drop off the kids and have a fabulous time!” I’m sure you both deserve the celebration.
I intend to live vicariously through all my friends who get published, so what’s it been like realizing your dream? From words on a page to a novel?
Phenomenal, and challenging! It’s remarkable getting Whispers in the Alders out there, and finally holding the finished book in my hands is a priceless experience. There’s nothing that would stop me from doing this all over again, exactly as it has played out. To quote a line from Whispers in the Alders, “This is why we write.”
“…exactly as it has played out.” Are you sure? Nothing you’d do differently the second time around?
Honestly, no. Some of the best memories I have writing Whispers in the Alders are the many late nights my infant daughter spent snuggled against my chest. She’ll never remember those nights, but I’ll never forget them.
What a beautiful memory! Thank you for sharing it with us.
I asked a mutual friend, C. M. Turner, if there were any questions she’d like you to answer. She gave me one, and I have to agree I’d like to know the answer as well. Is H. A. Callum a planner or a pantser? Do you have the story worked out before pen touches paper? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants and see where the story takes you?
Yes – to both! I’m a planner, but not one who is afraid to let the story dictate the direction it needs to follow with some guidance. Whispers in the Alders had a drastically different ending when I started. Very different. After workshopping a draft of the first chapter at my writer’s group, I decided to outline the first several chapters. It gave the initial guidance I needed as a writer to stay on track, especially with the advice I received from experienced members of my writers group. I still outline in this way: the first several chapters, then outline each chapter prior to writing. As things change, so does the outline.
Writing is a process, and I’ve learned from experience that preparation never fails the writer. I will always be a student of writing, and I know it shows with each new story or poem I commit to paper.
I’m sure C. M. Turner will be just as surprised by that answer as I was.
Now that Whispers in the Alders is on its way to fame, what projects will you be focusing on? Any new books in the works?
Why yes, of course! My next novel is – nearly outlined – since you asked! I’ve begun drafting, and it’s a contemporary literary work. Partially inspired by recent events, it has also inspired a poem which is now out on submission, titled “Snow Ghost: Whitefish, Montana.”
You have a gift with words, my friend. Is there any chance of a poetry book in the future? Or a collection of short stories and flash fiction?
Aww … thank you! How did you know to ask?!?! I have multiple poems and short stories out on submission. Look for them in the next few months. I am considering a poetry collection as well, especially with the overwhelming and positive response to the poetry that I’ve posted on www.hacallum.com. Here’s another hint: Whispers in the Alders features new poetry as well.
After reading your poetry, you’d have to be daft to not put out a poetry collection. You have a gift with words and imagery.
When I’m not writing, I’m drawn to other creative projects. Do you find yourself drawn to other creative forms? If so, which ones?
Let’s just say that other mediums and I don’t get along very well! Running is a great outlet for me to recharge and get the creative juices flowing again. When I have time, cooking is a great way to express my artistic talents. But I think the best thing for me is being around my daughters and letting my imagination walk with theirs. That is what births creativity. Somewhere along the line most of us lose that, and without it we lose inspiration. My advice – stay in tune with your imagination, and never place boundaries on your imagination or the imagination of a child.
I couldn’t agree more. I draw so much from my children. They look at the world in a way many adults have forgotten.
My family and friends can’t wait for me to finally finish a book. How do your family and friends feel about having a published author in their midst?
They are full of love and pride. Everyone knows it’s an accomplishment, and really, how many people even attempt to write a book, let alone send it out to the world to be scrutinized? But here’s the thing: I don’t talk about it unless asked, and I refuse to be “that guy” turning every family event into a book signing. My family’s been great and I adore them for recognizing this milestone. The look in their eyes has said it all. What more could a writer ask for?
Researching for this interview, I read a blog post on your website about the querying process. I know it is the moment I most dread. Any advice for those of us filled with dread?
Don’t dread it. Just do it right – research agents and publishers that are open to submissions in your genre and follow their submission guidelines. You have nothing to fear if you do these two simple things. I spent many evenings querying, and trust me, it takes time. Two or three well-crafted and personalized queries in an evening is huge if you are balancing your writing life with family and work. Keep it personalized to whom you are submitting and professional in tone, then send it off and wait. I read the complaints from other writers about querying, and honestly – not to say that it was easy – for me it was a pleasant experience. I was surprised how many agents and publishers actually took the time to respond to my queries, and some even offered advice – which I considered in my edits and rewrites. In the end, publishing is about people and I hope that my work querying Whispers in the Alders, if anything, worked to develop my future relationships with agents and publishers. Next stop is to attend some of the many writer’s conferences offered in New York City and Philadelphia, pitch my work, and get to know the amazing people involved in the world of books and publishing. The people I’ve met along the way, and the friendships made, are a large part of what has made the publication of Whispers in the Alders so special.
I’m always amazed with the writing community, and Donna, you’ve been a shining example of how we as writers work to support not only our own works, but each other. Thank you again for supporting the upcoming release of Whispers in the Alders!
It’s not easy being a writer, worried if you’re any good and finding the time to get it done. The least we can do for one another is be supportive through the process. I’m honored to have been able to help in any way. Thank you, again, for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you much success with the release of Whispers in the Alders and in the future.
To find out more about H. A. Callum: