DARBY KARCHUT Author of Finn Finnegan
Hi Sara! (I love your name, by the way!) Thank you so much for having me. And hi everyone! *waves from Colorado*
GG: Your novel Finn Finnegan is steeped in magic and myth. How much of it did you base on actual folklore and how much did you create…being an O’Connor this interests me immensely. J
DK: Oh, I love this question. The foundation of the entire Adventures of Finn MacCullen series is based on actual mythology and legends from Celtic mythology. For example, Finn is based on a story cycle, The Boyhoods Deeds of Fionn mac Cumhail. Hence his name, Finn MacCullen. And the Tuatha De Danaan are semi-magic beings supposedly descended from the war goddess Danu. They invaded Ireland during Bronze Age, pushing out the Fir Bolg, but were later pushed out by the invading humans. In the back of the book, I have a whole section of author notes that delve more deeply into all this. Certainly, I have added some “made up” parts as well, but always kept them true to the spirit of the mythology I am using.
GG: It must have been quite a research undertaking to compile and create this imaginative world. How much knowledge about the folklore did you have before you tackled writing this book?
DK: My undergraduate degree is in cultural anthropology. For over thirty years, I have read extensively about world mythologies, with an emphasis on Neolithic and Bronze/Iron Age cultures. It was all just for my own edification, but it certainly was useful when I started writing Finn Finnegan. Who knew all that geek stuff would come in handy!
Plus, I teach social studies at a junior high school, so I’m not only surrounded by history and geography all day, I am also surrounded by students the same age as my protagonist. My ears are filled with teen talk and teen behavior all the time (possible because my students never stop talking – yeah, I’m looking at you, 5th period-right-before-lunch), so capturing the teen voice comes pretty easy.
GG: At Gliterary Girl, we write a lot about keeping ones creative juices flowing freely and finding inspiration to keep going even when we encounter blocks. What elements did you find the most difficult?
DK: What I find the most difficult in writing is the first draft. No matter how strong my outline and plot notes, writing the first draft is awful. It’s like trying to hang up your clothes in a pitch black closet. But once the first draft is finished, then my absolute favorite part of writing, the revising, begins. I never, ever depend on inspiration to keep me going, however. I treat writing as my profession and just like any profession, one has deadlines to meet. BICHOK (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard) is the name of the game.
GG: Are there any tools you use during your writing process (music, night out, family time) that drive your motivation when you hit a slump?
KK: Most of the time, I muscle through those slumps, which almost always happens during the first draft. Since it is the first draft, I allow myself to just write slop if I am stuck. Get something down on paper – you can always polish it later. But if I’m really, really stuck, I go for a run or a bike ride. Some of my best solutions have come to me while I’m anaerobic.
GG: Do you have any advice for new authors looking to get their work published? Any complications or warning blocks you could issue as well as inspirational anecdotes?
DK: Read a lot in the genre you are writing, but also read a lot outside of your genre. Read all the time. It is the best way to learn to write. Also, write the book you want to read. I love stories about masters/apprentices or fathers/sons, so that’s what I write.
I remember sitting in my very first writers conference on writing and being told if I wanted to be published that (1) boy books don’t sell and (2) never have an adult figure as a main character in your YA or middle grade novel.
GG: I know asking for a favorite author is too broad a question and I would never expect anyone to choose just one, but is there any writer or writers that you admire and considered inspiring while writing Finn Finnegan?
DK: Actually, the inscription inside of Finnegan reads “Dedicated to the memory of Lloyd Alexander. 1924-2007.” He was the author of the Prydain Chronicles and one of my all-time favorite authors. I used to play The Book of Three during recess with my friends.
GG: And finally, we want to know a little about you. Family, dogs, friends, favorite food…anything.
DK: I live in Colorado with my husband, where we spend as much time out of doors as possible. We both love to run, hike, bike, and ski. Sometimes, all in the same week. As I mentioned earlier, I teach junior high school social studies. That, plus writing, fills every waking moment. I am basically sleep deprived for nine months of the year.
Geek facts about me: I read Latin. I never watch television, except Supernatural. I am active in the stock market. I used to show Arabian horses, both English and Western.
GG: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and we look forward to seeing much more of you in the future.
Why, thank you for having me. I had so much fun answering your questions! Bye, everyone!
Darby Karchut, award-winning author of GRIFFIN RISING and GRIFFIN’S FIRE (Twilight Times Books), and FINN FINNEGAN (Spencer Hill Press, March 2013) and GIDEON’S SPEAR (Spencer Hill Press, February 2014)
For more information and to purchase the book, I have included links to Amazon and Goodreads.