The Craft of Writing — February 2022
THE CRAFT OF WRITING — FEBRUARY 2022
The Mad River Magic Series with Dr. Steve Hooley
I’m excited to continue this year’s CRAFT OF WRITING blog where we’re focusing entirely on mystery, suspense, thriller, and fantasy novels.
My guest today is Dr. Steve Hooley. Steve is a retired physician who has written the Mad River Magic YA Fantasy Series and has agreed to share his journey with us. So grab your magic wands, hop in your barrel cart, and get ready for a wild ride into fantasy land!
You can find the series at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KS3DVVY?
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Steve Hooley is a physician/writer. He has published seven short stories in four anthologies, his father’s memoirs, and is currently working on a middle-grade fantasy series, Mad River Magic.
Steve lives with his wife, Cindy, in rural western Ohio. They have five children and seven grandchildren. When not writing or practicing medicine, he likes to do woodturning and care for his enchanted forest.
Flying barrel carts, magic wands, and YA fantasy today on the Craft of Writing blog. Click To Tweet
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Welcome Steve Hooley, and thank you for joining us!
Thank you for the invitation.
A physician’s life doesn’t sound like it would leave a lot of time for writing. Can you tell us why you decided to write?
I became interested in high school, but set aside the humanities for science and math in college, so that I could pursue medicine. When my father was 89 (with severe dementia), and our family was planning a 90th birthday celebration for him, I edited a memoir he had written years before and never published. I gave him a box of his books on his birthday. Even though he didn’t understand, the look on his face gave me the desire to get into writing again. I took a correspondence course, began going to writers’ conferences, and reading everything I could get my hands on. Until retirement about a year ago, I wrote on Wednesdays and weekends. Now, I am excited to be able to writer every day.
What inspired you to write a YA fantasy series? Did you know it would be a series from the start?
About four years ago, I became frustrated with the direction children’s literature was going. I had six grandchildren at that point (seven now, and another one on the way) and I wanted them to have some clean and wholesome literature to read when they became middle-grade and teen-young adult. I also wanted to give them something that would last generations. I call it leaving a legacy.
I did plan for a series from the beginning. (See below.)
You have some very interesting characters in Mad River Magic. How did you create them?
The main characters are based on the seven cousins (my grandchildren), and it has been fun watching them grow up and see what kind of personalities they are developing. The main character, Bolt, is the “red-headed daredevil on crutches.” I noticed that many of the fantasy series gave the main character a handicap. I gave Bolt Becker Muscular Dystrophy, a form with late onset and possible sparing of the shoulder muscles. This allowed him to function on crutches and provided a need for magic flying barrel carts. Other recurring characters are allies who embody wisdom, knowledge, healing, etc. The really strange characters that are unique to each book are “created” according to the need of the theme and plot – the stranger and more unusual the better.
How do you incorporate your knowledge of medicine into your books?
Each book is set in a biological/anatomical system. For example, the first book is set in the conscience (abstract), the second on a giant DNA molecule, the third in the skeleton, the fourth in the cardiovascular system, and the 5th (not yet published) in the skin. The system is picked according to the theme of the book.
Do you have plans for future Mad River Magic books?
Yes. #5 is in editing and beta reading. I plan for another five or six. The next one will probably be set in the muscular system, with a theme of the dangers of sedentary (pandemic) lack of activity and exercise.
I know you’re interested in honing your craft. What resources do you use to become a better writer?
I read craft of writing books along with fiction. I’ve attended many conferences, and will probably resume going when the pandemic craziness has settled. I am fortunate to be associated with some very talented fellow bloggers at The Kill Zone blog, and learn a lot from them. I follow some writers’ blogs and newsletters. And I’m always on the lookout for new resources.
What advice would you give an aspiring author of YA Fantasy?
I would encourage them to read several of the successful series, ex. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, etc. Look for some of the most popular books on writing specifically for YA, and for Fantasy. Then look for general fiction writing classics. Start with James Scott Bell’s books on craft. And maybe follow a craft blog, like the Kill Zone, where they can interact and ask questions.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
My author page is here
My website is SteveHooleyWriter.com
And I write a blog at The Kill Zone every other Saturday.
Thank you, Steve, for being with us today.
Thank you for the invitation. It was a pleasure!Flying barrel carts, magic wands, and YA fantasy today on the Craft of Writing blog. Click To Tweet