As I am slowly starting to unwind after a rather hectic year, I have the pleasure of interviewing author John McFarland – my last interview for 2014 (and for a while).
John McFarland is the author of a new Young Reader novel about Bigfoot, called Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom. Illustrated by Brenna Vaughan, it’s the story of a spoiled second grader who gets lost in the woods and is rescued by a middle-aged Bigfoot mom suffering from empty-nest syndrome. The two have many adventures, avoiding a hungry mountain lion, a sweets-loving crypto-zoologist, hunters and other sasquatches as Annette devises a plan to get the boy safely back to his family. New Babel Books has recently published the novel and will produce two sequels over the next couple of years.
Without further ado, let’s meet the talented John McFarland.
Welcome John to my blogging corner.
John, could you tell us a little about yourself and your writing journey? Did you always want to be a writer?
I have wanted to write since I was at least 9 when I tried to write a novel about Hercules. I wrote poetry and short stories and plays through my teens and early twenties. I had early success by publishing in National Lampoon and The Twilight Zone Magazine. I have been anthologized with Mark Twain, Stephen King and H. P. Lovecraft.
You have recently released, Annette: A Big Hairy Mom published by New Babel Books. Could you tell us the inspiration behind this book?
Another childhood interest of mine was Bigfoot. I ran hot and cold on the subject over the years, but after my first novel, The Black Garden was published, I met my illustrator, Brenna Vaughan, and wanted to think of something I could write that she could illustrate. Bigfoot seemed perfect.
Is there a message that you especially wanted to impart to your target readers?
Yes, I want young readers to understand their connection to other living things and feel compassion and empathy for them. That’s the most basic take-away.
Do you have a favourite character in this story? If so, why?
I like Wesley because he is so obnoxious, clueless and completely lacking in self-awareness.
Did you suffer from writer’s block or encounter any other obstacles during the writing process of your book?
Not with this book. I have never had so much fun writing anything. I couldn’t wait to work on it each day!
I believe two sequels are planned for the next couple of years. Are you able to give us any hints about the story lines or any ‘inside’ information?
Here’s a hint: The next book is called Annette: A Big, Hairy Grandma! Annette discovers she is a grandma, but on her way to see the new baby, she is captured by Wesley and his hypochondriac partner. A rival crew of evil crypto-zoologists (all former modern dancers) plot to take Annette from Wesley. Evan Nestor and his dad have to figure a way to rescue their sasquatch friend. And in the third book, Annette and Evan Nestor meet Ogopogo, the Lake Ogenagen Monster. This all depends on sales of this first book. Sales have to warrant the sequels!
Have you written in any other genre?
Yes, in mainstream fiction and horror. The Black Garden is an historical horror story and I have a horror short story and a mainstream one appearing in anthologies next year.
Some writers have a preferred writing schedule. Do you?
I write in the early mornings and weekends, usually.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
Yes, I have a old desk in my study overlooking the street. I love to sit there and write.
What is your greatest joy in writing?
When people love the story. Nothing has been more rewarding than visits I have made to schools to talk about Annette with first through to third graders. Their excitement and love of the story is incredibly gratifying. One class drew me 30 pictures of Annette. Other young writers told me I had inspired them. It’s wonderful.
Is there one person you can think of who has played a significant part in your writing career? If so, can you elaborate?
I would say a high school and a college English teacher, the work of Poe, Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, Shakespeare, Keats, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor and many more.
Aside from the sequels, are you working on any other projects?
Several short stories and a ghost story. I really want to write a good ghost story.
What words best describe you?
Funny, curious, hopeful.
Do you have any tips for writers about the writing process or the path to publishing?
Surround yourself with other writers, you need objective opinions. Write regularly, and READ.
Where can we buy your books? Amazon.com.
And John, just to finish up, could you please complete the following:
At school I was … Class clown but sort of anonymous.
When I was a child I wanted to be …A millionaire playboy writer/artist.
I relax by …Movies, dinner with friends.
Where can we find more information?
Email: John S. McFarland
Thanks John for your inspiring story. We wish you every success with Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom and the sequels.
Please note: This is my last interview for 2014. Unfortunately, due to personal commitments I won’t be interviewing regularly. Any interviews in 2015 will be by invitation only. Thanks for your understanding.
Helen Ross interviews John McFarland 18 December 2014 Copyright 2014