Karma and Mayhem, both interesting guests, come to visit the Clan Elves


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Catherine E. McLean, author of Karma and Mayhem, a paranormal-fantasy-romance e-novel that was just released by Soul Mate Publishing (www.soulmatepublishing.com). I live on a farm in rural Western Pennsylvania with my husband. Our only child, a daughter, is grown and lives out of state. She and my husband are my first readers, and they also happen to be avid readers.

What’s your education, and is it relevant to your writing?

I wrote my first short story in third grade, but writing was never more than something I did as a hobby. Yet, writing played a role in the jobs I held, first as a secretary, then as a freelance journalist. All of those on-the-job skills made it easy to transition to becoming an author who sells articles and short stories.
When I first began writing novels, I was told that “writers are self-taught,” and if I truly wanted to became a “selling” storyteller and not just a writer who wrote, I needed to learn the devices and techniques of fiction and storytelling. After studying (not just reading) a few hundred how-to books, I developed a knack for spotting and explaining how the various aspects of fiction worked, the choices available in usage, and the pros and cons. After a discussion at one of my Pennwriters’ meetings (my local writer’s group), I was asked to give a series of mini-workshops on various techniques. The next thing I knew, I was giving in-person workshops, college enrichment program writing workshops, and then conference workshops. In 2009, I gave my first online workshop and have done one or two every year since.
Do I have a degree? No. Do I want one? No. What I quest for is the knowledge because I truly believe craft enhances talent. What I’ve learned, and continue to learn, means I have far more choices in writing and storytelling.

Tell us a little about your novel Karma and Mayhem. Is it your first?

Karma and Mayhem is not my first novel, but it is my first published novel. I’m a producing writer who can do, from start to finish, two 100,000 word novels a year.
Okay, so I seem to have a revolving door to the basement of my mind where my muse plays. That “kid” constantly gives me story sparkers or dumps of the text for short story and novel openings. In other words, I’m always working on something.
For the curious, the story sparker for Karma and Mayhem came in May of 2005 and was a line of a poem about what happened in the Valley of Rathe, which Janay, an ex-peacekeeper and the story’s heroine, survived. (She quotes the poem in Karma and Mayhem.) I didn’t actually begin working on the story until that winter.
I will also confess that the hero, Tienan, had me baffled when I first got the story dump because his name didn’t feel right to me. On a very simplistic level, it’s the conscious mind that must translate what the storytelling subconscious sends up. Unfortunately, the two don’t actually talk to each other in the same way, so its understandable that messages get garbled now and then.
Anyway, the first name came out as Aydin, and my instinct revolted at that and the next five names. None felt or sounded right, nor did the name meanings fit the character I knew this man, this hero, to be. Then one morning a few weeks later, I woke and the very first thought that popped into my mind was Tienan. My second thought was: What kind of name is Tienan? I looked it up in my baby name books and found Tienan was a real name and it meant “crowned.” In that instant, I knew–and felt deep down–that Tienan was the correct name, the one my subconscious had been trying to get my conscious mind to divulge.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

I lean toward two genres. The first is romance (fantasy, contemporary, historical, regency, futuristic, time-travel, etc.–not necessarily in that order). The second is good, old-fashioned science fiction known as Space Opera (which has, sadly, fallen out of vogue).
I’m also an eclectic reader. If a story interests me, I’ll read it. Some of my favorite authors are: Jane Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, Justine Davis, Catherine Asaro, Isaac Asimov, Margaret Moore, David Webber, John Ringo, Laura Kinsale, Louis L’Amour, Arthur C. Clarke, Elizabeth Moon, Larry Niven, Heinlein, J. K. Rowling, and Ann Bishop.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? Does it inspire you?

I actually need peace and quite to write so I can hear the vocal inflections and voices of the characters as their story plays out like a movie in my mind. Perhaps this way of drafting a story evolved from my many years of taking dictation as a secretary. However, it does require concentration. So, no music, no distractions.
Unfortunately, I can’t convince the house cat to let herself out or to fill her feed dish.

What’s your favorite thing about Karma and Mayhem? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

The stand-out element was with the initial idea and figuring out how a man could have two souls and, in particular, how a soul could have a soul.
The second stand-out moment came after the book was contracted. I knew I needed some “raffle” item related to the story to give when doing workshops and for the book launch party. I couldn’t give away a katana (too expensive, not to mention lethal) nor could I give away a replica of a twice blessed dirk because they didn’t exist.
A few weeks ago, on the way home from grocery shopping, it occurred to me that I could give away the Choke-berry Shalamiz, the “blood of ages,” Tienan used to “baptize” Janay (in chapter ten). Trouble was, shalamiz wasn’t a real drink, and just how did one concoct something like it?
I called a chef I know. On October 1, I had a recipe for the Choke-berry Shalamiz thick enough to coat a spoon or glass (like it did in the book). As a bonus, a little change to the amount of ingredients and leaving out the thickening agent resulted in a tart-sweet, fizzy, and very bloody looking beverage. Both are non-alcoholic.
I gave away the dual recipe as the grand prize at my October 10, online book launch party for Karma and Mayhem. Thus only three people have that recipe—the chef and I (who created it) and one lucky winner.

What are you writing now or what’s next for you? Will you be making personal appearances where our readers can find you?

Right now I’m polishing Jewels of the Sky, a science-fiction adventure with a female protagonist, that ties in with the December, 2012, Mayan “End of Days.” This novel is contracted as a print-on-demand book due out soon. I’ve also got a project bible half done for a sequel to Karma and Mayhem (featuring Rowen, Tienan’s brother).
I’m also now scheduling workshops, as well as doing guest blog appearances and interviews. Currently I have an in-person workshop at my local library, Oct.24, on “Characters, Clues, and Creativity.” This is for readers and writers. I’ll be doing a repeat session, again at the library, on November 3.
On October 30, I’ll be blogging at my regular spot at Soul Mate Publishing’s author’s blog (my blog there is “Catherine’s Cup of Tea”). I’ll also be taking part in SMP’s November 14 Blog-a-Thon.
And on November 17, I’ll be at the Grove City library, doing “Questing for a Story.”
A schedule of my appearances, blogging, interviews, and workshops can be found at either www.CatherineEmclean.com (for readers) or www.WritersCheatSheets.com (for writers).


While investigating a series of murders, warlock Tienan De’Argossi encounters Janay–a lovely, dirk-wielding, down-on-her-luck ex-peacekeeper who talks to archangels.  When she rescues his brother from demons, Tienan figures he owes her.  So, other than she’s plainspoken and gutsy, what’s the harm in having her as a house guest? 

Links for Catherine are:

www.CatherineEmclean.com (for readers)
www.WritersCheatSheets.com (for writers)
Linked-In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/catherine-e-mclean/7/70b/372
Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002397950738
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/CatherineMcLea7


  1. Lyndi

    So glad you could join us, Catherine!

  2. Hi Catherine,
    You sound very excited. Glad so many positives are happening in your writing life. Congratulations on your new release. I know your worked really hard for it. Wish you lots of sales.:)

  3. Lyndi–Thank you for doing this interview. You have a terrific website.

    Kathy–Many thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your good wishes.

  4. cathy m.

    you sure do keep busy. maybe my work schedule will let up and i’ll get to see you at SV Pennwriters.

  5. Rita Meacham

    My dear, blood is sacred.

  6. You are indeed a very productive writer, Catherine. I’m also self-teaching me who to become a professional writer. You encourage me to keep going and your book sounds most appealing and interesting.

  7. Thanks for sharing insight on your writing process!