This week’s author interview spotlights RA McCandless — . Author of the urban fantasy/action adventure novel, Tears of Heaven.
Thanks for joining us, RA.
WCP: Tears of Heaven is your first book, but certainly not the first story Wild Child has published. I know you are a big fantasy fan. What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?
RA: That’s right. I published one or two short stories through Wild Child in the early days. Epublishing was still in its infancy, and no one really knew where it was going to go or what could be accomplished.
I think I was in fifth grade and I was given “The Hobbit” as a gift. It opened the castle gates of fantasy to me. Suddenly, there was a whole world of swords and magic and fantastical creatures. But more than that, there was emotional content that I could relate to: joy, fear, adventure, excitement, friendship. So it was our world, but better.
WCP: Do you believe in magic? For instance, do you write fantasy because you wish there is magic in the world? Or because you believe there is magic, even if we can’t see it or even understand it?
RA: I love magic in all its forms, and there are all kinds of magic in this world. There’s the way the light of the sun hits the falling rain and turns into a rainbow. There’s the beauty of the mountains, the deserts and the forests. There’s the pure, untouched joy of a child’s laughter that reaches straight into your heart and makes you smile. Fantasy takes that magic and makes it more tangible, but it’s definitely all around us right now.
WCP: Del, the heroine, is a Nephilim, which is a hybrid of angels and humans. She is also a bit of a rebel, although not outwardly. What is it about Del that inspired you to bring her to life?
RA: Del’s strength is what appealed to me most. Not just her physical ability or how she can handle herself in a fight, but her actual mental/spiritual strength. Everyone has messes in their past. Mistakes we made, or times when events conspired against us. We get burned, we scar and we try to move on. Sometimes, they come back to haunt us, or we dwell on them and play the “what if” game. With an immortal character, that becomes amplified by at least an order of magnitude. So it takes a person of even greater character to deal with a past on that scale. Del can be a mess in her downtime, when she’s not in her element. But that fact that she’s come so far is what suggests a well of strength.
WCP: How would Del change the world if she could?
RA: Del doesn’t really like people. She can handle them (or reject them) one-on-one, but as a species, she typically finds they are panicky, insane, fearful creatures who operate under the philosophy of, “Why make small problems when you can create a nuclear holocaust?” At her heart, Del is really a marshmallow. She’s got a sweet and soft center, but people definitely annoy her. So fewer people, with smaller agendas and bigger tolerance would probably be her remedy for most everything.
WCP: What music does Del listen to? Is she into The Beatles, Rolling Stone, Fifty Cent, etc.?
RA: Even though Del has lived through every musical age, and she has very eclectic tastes, she tends to keep up with most modern music. She really goes for the artists who have a bluesy, sultry sadness to their voices, and she likes to keep away from the mainstream: Arcade Fire, Nina Simone, Mazzy Star, Madeliene Peyroux, Christina Perri, Bitter::Sweet, and Toad the Wet Sprocket are some of her favorites.
WCP: Of all the books you’ve read, besides your own, which fantasy character would you be if you could?
RA: Please, please, please can I be Matrim Cauthon from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series? He’s a classic archetype, rogue and trickster. He has a vicious sarcastic streak, a way with weapons, and several lifetimes’ worth of soldiering memories stuffed into his head. He also has the Dark One’s own luck, which sometimes benefits him, and sometimes lands him in deeper, and hotter, water.
WCP: Are you working on anything else?
RA: Absolutely. I’m working on a historical fantasy about Tomoe Gozen, a female samurai acclaimed to be more than a match for any warrior of her time. No one is quite certain what happened to her after her daimyo was defeated, which I thought was a great place for a fictional account. Keeping in mind the historical information that we know, I’ve been working to craft a tale of adventure, duty, honor and even some romance. The book is called The Second Cut, and follows Tomoe Gozen as she tries to fulfill her last duty.
WCP: Now for some fun questions:
Bali or Alaska?
RA: Oh, definitely give me Alaska. A cozy cabin, a warm fire, plenty of books, and some beautiful trails for running. I’d be a happy, happy man.
WCP: Is there one talent you wished you had (besides writing)?
RA: I wouldn’t mind an eidetic (photographic) memory. It would definitely be nice when I’m doing research on a novel. I typically take copious notes that I reference often. Perfect recall of conversations or reading would be very ideal as an author.
WCP: Chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal raisin?
RA: My sons will disown me if I don’t say chocolate chip.
WCP: Angel, devil, demon, ghost, or human?
RA: I’d go human. Even though the benefits are pretty exciting, the constraints seem detrimental. The human potential is only bound by imagination.
WCP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
RA: I have to give a huge shout out to my editor and mentor S.R. Howen. I always knew that I wanted to work with someone who would make my writing stronger, and teach me to be a better author. I couldn’t have imagined a better person than Shawn to do that. If I’ve had any success, a good part of it belongs to her. And if I could give any advice to new writers, it would be to get a good editor . . . but she’s mine!
You can read more about RA and his works at his website/blog.
Wild Child Books by RA McCandless:
Tears of Heaven