An Interview with Darby Karchut

Darby KarchutBW - authorDarby Karchut is the author of the Spencer Hill Middle Grade series THE ADVENTURES OF FINN MacCULLEN. We tied her down recently and made her give us the scoop on what it’s like to be a writer.

SHPMG: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

DK:Unlike a lot of writers, I never once thought about penning anything, much less a book, until I was fifty years old. It was either write a novel or run a marathon. You know – that whole mid-life crisis thing. (Why, yes. I am planning on living until I’m a hundred years old.)

While I do run cross country a lot (as well as mountain biking, skiing, and mountaineering), the marathon seemed like too much of a commitment, so, I went with the book thing. I know. I KNOW! What was I thinking?

Five years later, I’m wrapping up my 14th book. And, until last spring, I also taught social studies at a junior high school here in Colorado Springs, where I live with my husband. Nope, no kids.

What do I write? Mostly middle grade adventure fantasy, young adult urban fantasy, and under the pen name of Darby Kaye, urban fantasy for adults.

SHPMG: For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you

Finn Finnegan by Darby Karchut

Finn Finnegan by Darby Karchut, the first in the series

write? What can readers expect from THE ADVENTUERS OF FINN MacCULLEN series?

DK: Based on Celtic mythology, but set in a suburban neighborhood in modern-day Colorado, this series is a coming-of-age tale full of adventure and monster hunting. But the heart and soul of the series is the father and son relationship forged between apprentice monster-hunter, Finn MacCullen, and his gruff, but affectionate master, the Knight, Gideon Lir. Readers of the series will find both young teen and adult heroes and heroines to cheer for.

 

SHPMG: What character did you love or hate the most while writing?

DK: Gideon Lir. The guy is a blend of chivalrous Knight, fierce Celtic warrior, and a father figure to his apprentice. True, he’s not perfect – he’s got a bit o’ the famous Irish temper. But, when push gets knocked on its tush by shove, Gideon Lir is the guy I would want at my back in any situation. Since the series is told from the viewpoints of dual protagonists (Finn and Gideon), watching both of them grow as characters is a delight.

Gideon's Spear by Darby Karchut

Gideon’s Spear by Darby Karchut

SHPMG: What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome it?

DK: The first draft. Oh, how I detest the first draft. I’ve tried elaborate plotting. I’ve tried just winging it. I’ve tried everything in between. But, the first draft is a bloodletting for me. I think it’s because Demon Failure sits on my shoulder the entire time, whispering in my ear that all my other novels were a fluke, and that I really don’t have what it takes to finish a book.

But writing a book is a lot like running uphill. You put your head down and concentrate on a steady stride; a pace you can maintain the entire distance. Telling yourself that the only way to reach the top is one step after another. One word after another. Sure, sometimes, you have to slow down, or even walk, but you keep going. And then, finally, you reach the top of the hill. The end of the book.

 

Repeat for the next hill/book. And the next.

SHPMG: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?

DK: Keep reading. Reading is what first got me into writing, and reading is still something I do a few hours each evening before bed. I read everything, but I read in my genre the most. Reading great middle grade books is one of the best ways to improve my craft. And while I may give up writing some day, I will never give up reading.

SHPMG: What are your passions when you’re not writing?houndatthegate-web

As I mentioned before, I love the Colorado lifestyle – running, skiing, biking, hiking, backpacking, climbing, and I have recently gotten into stand up paddle boarding and yoga. (Not at the same time. Yet.) I also read a lot. I used to knit. Gave it up. Don’t know why.

Oh, wait, I do know why.

I started writing…

Darby loves visiting with readerly and writerly folks. You can stalk her at:

Her Website

Her Blog

Friend her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter

or Goodreads!

You can also find out more about the author on her author page.

Find Darby’s books at:

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and at independent bookstore everywhere.

 

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Happy Book Birthday to Little Miss Evil!

LittleMissEvil-finalcoverforwebHappy Book Birthday to Little Miss Evil!

This month’s release is Little Miss Evil,  by Bryce Leung and Kristy Shen.

ISBN: 978-1939392091

When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption “EVIL GENIUS” underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you.

Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him.

What’s a NOVA you ask? It’s a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona’s dad built it, it’s caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting.
And that’s why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who’d mess with a girl who can throw fireballs?
Apparently, these guys.
Big mistake.

You can purchase Little Miss Evil from :Amazon, B&N,  and any fine bookseller near you!

Get to know the author by visiting their author page.

 

 

 

 

Happy Book Birthday to The Hound at the Gate!

houndatthegate-webHappy Book Birthday to The Hound at the Gate!

This month’s release is The Hound At the Gate,  by Darby Karchut.

ISBN: 978-1939392480–paperback,ebook

The Sequel to Gideon’s Spear

 

 

Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.

Especially for one young apprentice.

At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.

While he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.

It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that his blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan.

Don’t miss the first book in the series, Finn Finnegan!

Get to know the author by visiting her author page.

Interested in purchasing The Hound at the Gate? Order the book on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM or from your local Indie store!

 

 

 

Congratulations to Darby Karchut!

Gideon'sSPearfinalcoverflat (2)Congratulations to our author Darby Karchut!

Her novel, Gideon’s Spear, sequel to Finn Finnegan, just took home a 2014 International Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Award  in the Children-Preteen category. We are so proud of you!

To check out Darby’s story behind the story of Finn and his adventures click here.

And don’t forget to check out the third book in the series, The Hound at the Gate.houndatthegate-web

 

The Story behind the Story: Our author Darby Karchut and the inspiration behind the Adventures of Finn MacCullen

Authors are thieves. We pinch ideas from whatever source we can, and certainly, without remorse. Except we call it inspiration. Influenced by. A variation on a theme. Sure. Okay. I’ll go with that. For, in truth, there really is nothing new under the sun. (I totally pilfered that.)

 

While it is quite obvious that the Adventures of Finn MacCullen series is based on Celtic mythology, some readers may also notice how much of the hero’s journey is reflected in the books as well. Like so many writers, especially writers of fantasy, I have been influenced by Joseph Campbell’s pivotal work, The Hero’s Journey. It was the part where the hero meets up with his mentor, and who travels alongside, teaching and instructing his young protégé, that has always fired my imagination. Obi-Wan Kenobi and young Luke Skywalker; Professor Dumbledore and Harry Potter; Ranger Halt and Will; Gandalf and just about everyone in the Fellowship are all great examples.

 

 

I decided in my Adventures of Finn MacCullen series to focus on young Finn’s apprenticeship under the tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. You see, I have often thought that this was such an important phase in the hero’s journey; the relationship that will shape so much of the protagonist’s personality. Which was a blast to write, as I could explore not only Finn’s coming-of-age, but also the developing “father/son” relationship between the two.

 

Taking the basic concept of the hero’s journey, I overlaid some of the characters and stories from Celtic mythology, a culture I have long been fascinated with. That fascination was fueled by a trip to Ireland in 2011. What follows is a brief listing that I have included in the Author’s Notes in the back of each book:

 

Finnegan MacCullen: My protagonist is based loosely on the Irish legend of Finn McCool or Fionn mac Cumhail. This story cycle, called The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn mac Cumhail, follows the adventures of Finn as he grows from boy to legendary warrior.

 

Lir: The warrior-father from The Children of Lir story cycle. All I really took from that cycle was the name Lir. However, Gideon’s name is a nod to the legendary Welsh figure Gwydion. That character was a warrior, but also a bit of a trickster. I took that trait and gave Gideon a sarcastic bent.

 

Mac Roth: A friend and strong right arm to one of the early kings of Ireland. A fitting name for Gideon’s old friend and avuncular figure to Finn.

 

Scáthach: A formidable warrior and instructor of the young heroes. She trained many a famous figure from Celtic mythology, including the legendary warrior, Cúchulainne. “Cu-Chulainne,” by the way, means “The Hound of Culain.” He is often referred to as the Achilles of Celtic mythology.

 

Rath: A fortified ringfort. Ruins of raths can still be found scattered throughout Ireland. And, yes, is another word for Ruler or King.

 

warp spasm: This, too is a part of Celtic lore. This battle frenzy gave warriors extra strength and speed and helped them ignore injuries until after the conflict.

 

torc: A neck ring made from strands of metal twisted together. Most are open-ended at the front and were worn as a sign of nobility and high social status. Many examples of these have been found in European Bronze Age graves and burial sites.

 

deadnettle: A plant used as a curative tea amongst various peoples in northern Europe and the British isles.

 

Amandán: Mythical Irish and Scottish figures which are said to reside in fairy mounds. They are feared because it is believed their touch (called the fairy stroke or poc sidhe) is said to cause paralysis or death.

 

The Song of the Tuatha De Danaan: The words that open all the books, and that are recited throughout, are a portion of the famous early Irish “Song of Amergin.” This translation is from the article “Echoes of Antiquity in the Early Irish ‘Song of Amergin’” by Lloyd D. Graham, 2010.

Learn more about Darby by visiting her author page.