Welcome to R.A. McCandless
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been a writer both professionally and personally for nearly three decades. I was born under a wandering star that led me to a degree in Communication and English with a focus on speech and creative writing. I live in Southern California with my wife, and three sons where I read, write, fight with sprinklers and run races year round. My first published novel Tears of Heaven is scheduled for release December 5, 2013.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write in the same genres that I read, urban and heroic fantasy and historic fiction. I’ve dabbled in some science fiction and some steampunk. Tears of Heaven is an urban fantasy about a half-angel who is tasked with fighting demons, but beyond the action it’s also about relationships, about friends and family and lovers and enemies. The worlds we write in aren’t only concerned with the biggest, scariest threat. There are also all the little stresses that fill their minds and have to be dealt with.
I also tend to write about strong female characters. This was never a conscious choice. Some of my earliest (and most immature) writing featured women who were more than just eye-candy, or stereotypes. I was always concerned that my characters be unique to themselves, that one character couldn’t say the same lines that another character spoke. From that grew not just a need to understand each character, but characters who were more realistic. Writing urban or heroic fantasy with female characters means women who are women, but who kick butt too. My next book, The Second Cut, is also about a strong female main character: Tomoe Gozen. She is one of the few, historical, samurai women, and the stories about her make her a match for any man.
Where can readers find your book? The book will be available on Amazon, and is currently available for pre-order from the publisher: http://www.wildchildpublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=77&products_id=441
How long have you been writing and what made you choose the genre in which you write? I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and this year I turned 40. When I was in elementary school, my mom asked me what I wanted to be once, and I said I wanted to write movies. She did tell me that it was hard work, and I didn’t really believe her. She was right though.
I’ve always been interested in fantasy, and so of course the sub-genres as well, including urban. One of the first real books I ever read was “The Hobbit” and it pretty much set me on the path. After I was done with it, I biked down to the local book store and bought the entire Lord of the Rings books. I didn’t know anything about them, but I loved them.
How much research is involved with your world? More and more. The internet has made research both easier and more dangerous. You can get a lot from just searching around your topic. But the best research still remains published books and articles on the subject, and if possible discussions with experts. I love doing this. I often find little tidbits or interesting anecdotes that really add depth and realism to my characters. A good expert can really help though. So long as they understand what you’re trying to do (create a fictional world) and don’t get too bogged down in the details of why it wouldn’t work like that, then they can help a great deal!
Who or what are your inspirations/influences? I like different authors for different things. David Gemmell did some amazing hack-n-slash, I miss him. I really loved Joel Silverberg for his character interactions, and I miss him as well. It’s sad to think that we won’t get any more books from these two genre masters. Patrick Rothfuss is doing some incredible work, and it’s deeper than most readers suspect. I can’t wait for his next book, but more I can’t wait to see where he’s going to go in the future. Bernard Cornwell probably strikes me the most. He is the king of historical fiction. The emperor really. But what I love about him most is the three or five pages of author’s notes at the conclusion. He does his research, states the facts and admits his liberties. His stories are always engrossing.
With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? I love print books the most. I always have and I can’t ever see that changing. But ebooks have also proved amazing to me. My wife is not nearly the avid collector that I am, and after having to move all my books for the third time, I had to agree that it was getting to be a bit much. That’s when I looked into an ereader. I went through the last ten books that I’d bought, and found they were all available in digital format and they cost less per book than the print version. Taking up almost no space and being able to haul an entire library with me suddenly became very appealing.
But I view the print v. digital book debate as similar to the advances in sound recording and storage. At one time, it seemed like LP records were done and done. But now they’re back, for people who like to collect them. I can’t see print books ever truly disappearing.
Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? Not TV, it’s far too distracting. Even the worst TV will still have me paying attention and responding to it. But definitely music. Youtube has been great, with some of their longer playlists. I especially love some of the orchestral themed lists, like epic fantasy or great battles. They’re wonderful background noise while I’m typing away, no matter what kind of scene I’m writing.
Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? Stephen King has a great quote, “’If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” I always have a book that I’m currently reading and I read almost all genres. If the writing is good, I’ll read it. I prefer the fiction genres though, and of course good heroic fantasy is right at the top of the list. I’ve been looking for some stellar steampunk too. I’ve read some good stuff, but nothing that reached out and grabbed me by the throat. I also love pulp fantasy and science fiction. Sometimes reading a cheesy bit of science fiction from the 50s or 60s just hits the spot. It’s like comfort food on a cold, winter’s day.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m incredibly hard to shop for. It’s proven a frustration to any number of friends who have tried to figure out what to get me for my birthday or for Christmas. I have very specific tastes and very specific requirements, so most people have given up. I get a lot of gift cards these days, and socks. Dumbledore said one can never have enough socks, and I agree.
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As R A has a new book about to hit Amazon he has kindly supplied a synposis and excerpt
People think they want to meet an angel, but they really don’t. The awful truth is that meeting an angel is the scariest, most life-altering moment of any mortal’s short existence. Angels have always had their voices raised in songs of praise and their wings dipped in rivers of blood. When the Throne needs a mortal slain, or an army felled, an angel is sent. When a city or nation needs to be leveled, and the ground sown with salt for a thousand years, an angel is the destroyer. Rogues are an order of magnitude worse. An angel was a messenger of destruction, operating under orders from the Throne. Rogues have no direction, no channel for their power. They seek only dominion through the most direct means possible, and that’s where Del comes in. As a half-human, half-angel hybrid, she’s tasked by the Throne to defend humanity against this threat of evil, even if it costs her own life.
The fight was not going well. Del should have brought Marrin. Ahadiel had told her to bring Marrin, but that only made certain that she wouldn’t.
Del gasped as the rogue landed a solid punch into her stomach and ribs. The air whooshed from her lungs. He followed with a stab of his fingers into her right arm. Cold-filled pain suffused her shoulder and caused it to spasm painfully. She spun away, awkwardly. Her right arm felt like it had been shattered, pulverized into pudding, useless as gelatin. The cold-forged iron spike she’d been holding dropped from useless fingers and clattered to the floor. The rogue looked at her with brutal menace in his eyes and flame licking around the lids.
It would have been a good trick.
If only it was a trick.
The flames were all too real.
Fortunately, Del didn’t suffer from the same fears that mortals contended with. A rogue divinity hissing heresy and spouting fire, literal fire, around his eyes would have left a mortal quivering in terror until the Last Judgment.
She’d seen it happen.
“Leave now, little half-breed,” the rogue said. His voice had a sibilance that surrounded her, whispering in both of her ears intimately. “Leave, and I will not kill you. Stay, and I will make your pain a torture. I will see you last for days upon days, and I promise you abuses you could not dream.”
Del said nothing.
“Go, little girl,” the rogue gestured with his right arm, the one where she’d managed to drive a spike through his wrist.
It would have been stupid to engage the rogue, or really any opponent, in conversation. Witty banter was for the movies. Errol Flynn and John Wayne could while away the hours as they faced a bad guy and spouted catchy one-liners.
In the really real world, Del knew better than to take time out of her busy schedule.
She still held a second cold-forged iron spike in her left hand. She wanted to drop it and reach for her last SIG Sauer .45 behind her back. Most melee weapons against a rogue were nearly useless. Unless it was the right weapon. She shifted her grip, stepped into the rogue with speed no mortal could, and stabbed with enough power to lift the rogue off its feet. Rogues might be strong, but the laws of physics were stronger. The foot-long spike punched into the rogue’s left shoulder and only her fist on the weapon stopped it.
The Host takes care of their own.
Even if they have to hire it done.