Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Interview with Caiseal Mor, KING OF THE BLIND

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
King of the Blind is a story about the life changing power of gratitude. It’s actually two stories rolled into one. It’s the tale of the great 17th century Irish Harper Turlough O’Carolan told by his former manservant Hugh Connor. O’Carolan was the son of a blacksmith who took up the harp in his late teens and became renowned as Ireland’s Chief Musician and national composer. His life was very hard but he rose to the challenges placed before him and was universally loved during his lifetime. King of the Blind is based on historical records as well as folk tales I’ve been collecting for more than 30 years. O’Carolan often spoke about his encounters with the Good People ( a.k.a. the Faeries ). He claimed these mystical beings had given him his most beautiful tunes.

Do you have a favorite character?
Well, the storyteller, Red Hugh Connor, is my favourite character. He spends his days telling tales. He’s very much like me, except that I don’t drink. In fact, he’s probably the closest character to me that I’ve ever written. Mischievous, gift of the gab and a generous host all rolled into one. I also have an Irish temper and a desire to control my immediate environment, though I’d never go so far as to manipulate people the way he does. I just don’t have that in me. I love stories so Hugh has a pretty good life from my point of view.
King of the Blind is the first part of a story centred on Red Hugh, the storyteller.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
King of the Blind was first published by Random House and Simon and Schuster in 1998 as Carolan’s Concerto. It was my fifth published novel. I have completely rewritten the original, restoring scenes that my agent and editor at the time felt needed to be cut, and creating new scenes to flesh out the story a bit. I think of King of the Blind as a kind of Director’s Cut.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
To be honest, I never really thought I’d be a writer. I failed English at high-school and was told I’d never be a great communicator. The whole author thing happened completely by chance and I just sort of ran with it. Many years ago, I had a market stall selling my artworks. Through that business I met a literary agent who asked me to write eight chapters of a novel. I took three weeks to write those eight chapters. She was so impressed she sent them to the major publishers. Before I knew what had hit me I had a three-book deal with Random House. It was all agreed on the strength of those unfinished eight chapters. My first novel, “The Circle and The Cross” was a bestseller. I’ll be re-publishing it next month. I’ve had 18 books published. I still don’t think of myself as a writer. I’m more of a storyteller who struck it lucky.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
I’ve managed to have all the rights for my novels and books returned to me. I don’t have any publishing contracts. Instead I’ve decided to self-publish for the moment, at least. I like the independence it gives me. I’m self-publishing a graphic novels series at the moment called Veil of the Gods. Everything was created by me. Artwork, layout, typefaces and story. I love being at the coal face, creating a beautiful book. It’s the creative experience that means most to me. I’m not really concerned whether my work is popular or not. I just love creating. So, being an Indie author suits me perfectly.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Right from the first novel I had published in 1995 I’ve been the creator of the cover designs. Every novel I had published featured my cover. I didn’t know how rare this was until I spoke with other authors. The creation of a cover is integral to the writing of the novel as far as I’m concerned. It’s all part of the process.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?

I like to write reclining, either on a sofa or in bed with a laptop. I find that sitting at a desk creates too many distractions. I also like to write in the dark so I draw the curtains during the day. I get a lot more done when I don’t have any sense of time passing. I average twelve to fifteen hours day when I’m writing. I usually work in silence, but with King of the Blind I had a mixtape of Turlough O’Carolan’s amazing music and other Baroque pieces from the era on continuous loop.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I don’t outline my stories. I know where the story ends and where it begins. That’s all. Often, I don’t even know who all the characters are. In the case of King of the Blind I had historical references to O’Carolan and folk stories to work from. It was just a case of hammering them into a complete tale and fleshing out the characters.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
An editor is absolutely essential. I have an unusual editorial process. I have never written more than one draft. When that’s done I show the manuscript to a few friends and take their advice seriously- though not slavishly. There may be structural changes that have to be made. Some juggling of scenes often occurs. When those things are sorted out I give it to a professional editor. Once I have completed the editor’s notes I feel I’ve got a viable novel on my hands but I re-read everything a few more times to iron out the fine details.

 What’s next for you?
This month I’m putting the finishing touches on the republished version of my first novel, The Circle and The Cross. I’m also working on the second chapter of my graphic novel series- Veil of the Gods. Over the next 12-18 months I’ll be getting the rest of my back catalogue polished up and ready to be republished as well. It’s all very exciting and a lot of fun.


In 1688 a plague of smallpox swept through Ireland. Like many others, eighteen year old Turlough O’Carolan was struck down. He was one of the lucky ones to survive. However, the sickness cost him his eyesight. Within two years of being blinded he’d learned to play the harp and taken to the road as a travelling musician. In time he’d be considered the greatest of all the Irish harpers. His music is still played all around the world today.

To the end of his days he always maintained that Otherworldly beings, known in Ireland as the Shee, had granted him the gift of music and were responsible for at least some of his compositions. This is a story from a time when the veil between the worlds was thinner and belief in the mystical “Good People”, was still strong.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Caiseal Mor is an Australian sci-fi and fantasy novelist, artist and musician. Ancient Celtic Folklore has been a major inspiration for his thirteen published Fantasy novels. Mór also composes and records music, having produced seventeen albums since 1995. He is well known for his self-designed book and album covers and his intricate artworks in both traditional and digital mediums. Since 2013 he has been developing a distinctive graphic art style and creating digital sculptures in 3D.
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