In The Seeker, David and Anne meet while working as seasonal employees at Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park. He comes from the Montana high county where he is at home with totem animals, magic and mountain climbing. She comes from the Florida Panhandle where she is at home with botany, beaches and coastal swamps. Their intense summer romance leads them to believe they’ll be lovers forever. Typically, the realities of college life in separate towns get in the way. Then, when David’s intuition tells him Anne is in danger, he uses ancient magic to rescue her. However, cheating fate brings consequences and misunderstandings that threaten to drive them apart.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
The story was inspired by my work as a summer employee in Glacier National Park as well as my love of both the Rocky Mountains and the Florida Gulf Coast where I grew up. To my Florida friends, my going to Montana for summer work and Colorado for summer school was tantamount to traveling to another planet. The worlds are so different. So, I wondered whether two people from such diverse regions could maintain a relationship once the summer was fading away into the past.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
David Ward is very much like me. We both love climbing mountains, following our intuition, and consorting with totem animals. In the upcoming second and third books of the trilogy, my experiences are somewhat similar to David’s aboard a Vietnam-era aircraft carrier in The Sailor, and my work as a college journalism instructor leads to David’s teaching work in The Betrayed.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
David’s grandparents, the medicine woman Katoya, and the sheep rancher Jayee, are very influential in his life. Katoya teaches in magic. Jayee teaches him logic and the practical work labor-intensive jobs. Katoya and Jayee come from different worlds, having married for reasons of necessity, so they’re at odds with each other about almost everything. I had fun writing about their love/hate relationship and how it impacted their grandson. Yet, I don’t let them steal the show from protagonist David Ward, a mountain climber who really would refer working on the railroad to going to college, and Anne who is a very earth-centered, environmentally conscious young woman who doesn’t like what we’re doing to the planet.
Why will readers relate to your characters?
Whether it’s during college, summer work, or a vacation trip, many people meet at faraway places, fall in love, and then have trouble maintaining their relationship once they go back home. Summer jobs and vacations at exotic locations are often somewhat insular worlds, so couples find special places, groups of friends, and a schedule of work time and off-time that supports their relationship. Later, all of that falls away even though people say they’ll write often. We have all experienced this one way or another.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
I have a general idea, but never know what’s going to happen until it happens. I let the characters and situations drive the story. When I finish a chapter, hours or days will go by before I know how to begin the next chapter.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)
I try to accentuate the magic and fantasy in my books by contrasting them with very realistic descriptions of locales and jobs. I haven’t been in either Montana or north Florida for years, so I had to look up the specifics of trees, flowers, and seasonal changes. For the Jayee character, I had to learn about sheep ranching. Some of my research comes through correspondence with experts. Most of it comes through books and websites.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
I see the characters in the same way I meet and get to know real people. I discover what they look like and what they care about rather than making lists of traits or physical characteristics. I learned Jayee was a profane, utilitarian man, and so naturally he acts like one rather than sounding anything like David or David’s newspaperman father. Anne went through a rough childhood, so she has a certain vulnerability that makes her seem more fragile than she really is.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
Definitely not, mainly because rituals of any kind get in the way of a naturally evolving story and because staying on track is the last thing I want to do. There is no track. As hikers say when they leave the trail and explore new places, the whole process is bushwhacking.
Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?
Writing The Seeker, as well as the two books that will follow it in the Garden of Heaven Trilogy, has given me a chance to come to terms with things that happened in Glacier, in the Navy and while I was a college teacher. For example, I came within moments of going to Sweden rather than getting drafted for the Vietnam War. There was a girl. There was an invitation. In many ways, I regretted my decision for years. The book allowed me to re-think all that and decide that even though many things are bittersweet, I made the choices I needed to make.
What are you working on right now?
I’m finishing up edits and proofing for The Sailor and The Betrayed, while keeping up with book review writing and an occasion paranormal short story.
Have you written any other books?
I’ve been two other contemporary fantasies, The Sun Singer and Sarabande, and the satire, Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.
Where can people learn more about your books?
I hope folks will visit me on my website at http://www.malcolmrcampbell.com as well as on my Facebook author’s page at https://www.facebook.com/Malcolm.R.Campbell.Author