Hello everyone, today I would like to introduce you to a long time friend and fellow author Malcolm R. Campbell.
Malcolm and I first cyber-met as members of Shelagh Watkins Published Authors Forum. We were both contributors to Shelagh’s Forever Friends anthology and in more recent years we’ve both been part of the Vanilla Heart Publishing group.
Malcolm, thank you so much for joining me in the Potpourri Parlor today.
Tell us about your favorite character from your books.
Sarabande, who appears in “The Sun Singer” as well as in “Sarabande,” is a good natured young woman who is confronted by a lot of stress and hardship. I like her ability to persevere and to be a survivor. If I were to write about her in a later novel as a middle-aged woman, she would be the beautiful one with the well-lived-in face and the kind of age lines that show depth of character and wisdom.
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I dream of traveling to mountains. Perhaps this is due to the fact I saw a lot of mountains as a kid when my parents drove from place to place, or maybe it began because my father climbed mountains during his college years and had plenty of stories to tell about them. When I was in college, I worked as a seasonal employee at Glacier National Park and climbed mountains during my off-work hours. When I was a summer session student at the University of Colorado, I took part in their weekend mountain climbing program. I never got a chance to climb the world’s major mountains such as Everest or K2, but the main character in my novel “The Seeker” went and did it for me.
Does travel play in the writing of your books?
I am always conscious of place settings in my stories. In part, this is because I “anchor” my fantasy with real life detail about the characters’ surroundings. Sometimes I also describe the travel itself whether it occurs on a magical horse than can fly or on an old passenger train run by the Illinois Central Railroad. Actually, before I started writing fiction, my dream was to travel around the world writing articles for “National Geographic.”
Tell us about your current release.
My latest novel, “The Sailor,” follows “The Seeker” in my Garden of Heaven Trilogy. While this is contemporary fantasy, I used my experiences aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War to make protagonist David Ward’s experiences as realistic as possible. The book is set during that era, so what I saw and felt played into the book a great deal. David finds, however, that the slings and arrows of off-ship family and other relationships can often be more disturbing than the war itself.
Tell us about your next release.
My next release, “The Betrayed,” is the final book in the Garden of Heaven Trilogy. David has now left the navy and is teaching at a small college that has a lot of corruption going on. This gives us two warring factions, those loyal to the school administration and those (like David) who want to see the school focus on education rather than money laundering. I made David an English teacher even though I was a journalism teacher when I worked at a small college. It was interesting to me as a faculty member to see that small colleges have unique cultures that are just as distinct as the unique cultures on board a navy ship. Unlike David’s experiences, I fortunately didn’t have anyone trying to kill me.
Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?
While many people have been supportive, two people had the most influence. The first was my father who was a journalist. author and college journalism professor. He was a very prolific author of textbooks and articles, so our household was one in which the typewriter was a constant background sound. He encouraged me, but never pushed. I also had a very good college writing professor, the Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Shaara (“The Killer Angels” which became the movie “Gettysburg”) who taught at Florida State University. Our classes met at his house one night a week, and within that atmosphere, I probably learned more about writing and writers than I did anywhere else.
Do you read more fiction or more non-fiction?
I read a lot more fiction than nonfiction except when I’m researching a book. Fortunately, a lot of today’s book research can be done on line, unlike the old days when one had to wait for months for specialized books and other reference materials to arrive at one’s local library via interlibrary loan. My father had walls filled with books, so naturally I have walls filled with books. I read a wide variety of genres, but have especially liked “The Night Circus,” “The Shadow of the Wind,” and “The Tiger’s Wife.”
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
Well actually, I wanted to work for the Great Northern Railway (now part of the BNSF) because I liked jobs that allowed me to do repetitive tasks while thinking about other things. The ability to live within one’s imagination is one of the strong points for a lot of people who take assembly line jobs in factories. Back in those days, the Great Northern ran passenger trains between Seattle and St. Paul and I always thought there would be nothing better than sitting in a locomotive on the head end of either “The Western Star” or “The Empire Builder.” I never ran either train, of course, but my protagonist David Ward gets to run “The Western Star” a few miles on his way to boot camp. It’s a gift from his railroad man grandfather. Once again, my character is getting to do what I wanted to do.
Can you tell us where to find more information on you?
Is there a place where readers can reach you?
When will one of your books be made into a movie?
As soon as I find what I did with Clint Eastwood’s phone number.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Some say fantasy is escapist reading. Don’t ever believe it. Even with other worlds and magic, fantasy brings great plots and great characters that often help readers find their own ways through their own problems when they try out the protagonist’s solutions.