Darby 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
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.
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.
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:
You can also find out more about the author on her author page.
Find Darby’s books at: