M.P. McVey is an up and coming fantasy and science fiction author. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.
My name is Michael McVey. I write fantasy and sci-fi books and stories under the name M.P. McVey. I live in Columbus, Ohio with my ever-patient girlfriend Laura, and our two cats; a one-eyed cat with a deviated septum named Stanley and an ornery kitten we call Gandalf, the mostly grey.
When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote a couple of short stories during my early years in elementary school. Of course, they were part of school work, but I remember loving the creativity that it involved—writing stories in made up places with strange twists and even stranger characters. It was very empowering for a young kid. Then in the eighth grade I had a teacher named Mr. Evans that told me that I had a ‘way with words’ and encouraged me to write more, which I did.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Some people get pretty creative with how they refer to themselves, whether it be writer, author, novelist, scribe, poet, or playwright. My friend Joe and I (Joe did the wonderful artwork for my cover) often joke about being wordsmiths, because of how diligent we are with our word placement. But as far as being considered a “professional writer”? I’m not sure if I’m there yet, but I’ve considered myself a storyteller for many years.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Plod On, Sleepless Giant is a contemporary fantasy that was released this past February 2015 by Mount Air Publishing. It takes place in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, but tells a story that delves deep into our world. At the center of Earth lives Temelephas, an ancient elephant chained to his wooden wheel. He was created to remember nothing and to feel nothing … only to walk and turn our globe. But over time he changes and begins to remember things and experiences emotions that he is entirely unfamiliar with. And as it happens, he momentarily stops his walk and the earth ceases in its turning and chaos ensues on the surface above. From that point on we see how the humans in the story—and the powers that be—choose to carry on, and how they set out to fix the wrongs that had been done.
What inspired you to write this book?
The funny thing about ideas is how they sometimes just appear out of nowhere. The idea for Plod On, Sleepless Giant actually came to me in a dream. I was moving through dark caverns, the light of flickering flames bouncing off of the curving walls. There was a loud, thundering noise and the ground shook, but I kept moving toward the noise. I found myself in a large cave, and the noise was terrible. There in the middle of the cave was an ancient elephant chained to a large, wooden wheel. I remember the elephant—whom I would later name Temelephas—very clearly, in my dream he was so ancient and slow, and appeared to be chiseled out of granite. It was at that moment that I knew he was the reason for the turning of our world. When I woke I was very anxious and I quickly wrote the idea down on a scrap piece of paper; just the idea of an ancient elephant and his wheel. It would take me a few months to even conceive of the story that would build around him.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Yeah, I’d say I have my own style. It really is the fingerprint of the writer, the only trace of evidence we leave at the crime scene. I think my style is more about a rhythm to the words than anything else. I like to write flowery prose at times, but I also like to write something pretty straight forward from time to time, like a punch to the face. But the rhythm of the words, that’s where my stamp lies.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
The title came last, I had simply been referring to it as Temelephas throughout the whole writing process. I think the title was more of a plea that I felt would be heard by my ancient elephant … a plea from the world for him to press forward, as we all must at some times—no matter how terrible things may seem. Temelephas doesn’t sleep, you see … in fact, he’s pretty interested in the idea of it—especially the part about dreaming.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I try not to be too preachy when it comes to things like that, but I suppose that we can’t really help it. All writers are telling you something, whether they know it or not, but I never set out to tell anything more than a story. I really enjoy it when readers tell me the messages they take away from the book … little pieces of wisdom that they carried away from the page. I can’t help but feel pride in that … that words I wrote somehow sparked an idea in another person’s head, and maybe it will be passed on from one person to another. A string of ideas that may trace back to one little section from a book I wrote. So they ask, “Did you mean this?” or “I love how you said that”, and I smile at them. Maybe it meant that and perhaps this … I’m glad that people read my words so carefully.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your life?
Everything we write is somewhat based on something in our lives, right? I have characters in my book that are directly based on people I know, some are even named after them. The little blonde girl named Addison on page 114 is actually based on my niece of the same name. I remember the page so specifically, because she loves it when I read that little part to her. But all of the main characters are completely fictional, though they may be fragments of myself. I think the views and attitudes of each character, however, they may vary, come from me a bit. I seem to have left a little of me inside each of them.
What authors have influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
This is a great question. I think W.P. Kinsella has influenced my life the most. He is a very talented author that has had many struggles through his life; he has had to hold many jobs as he came up as a writer, never finding success easily. I like to see people become successful that had to work hard for what they have. It reminds me that the road that lays before me as a writer is a hard and long road, but that the destination is worth the hardships.
If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?
I would have to say Kinsella for that as well. I wrote to him once, having heard of his accident(he had been hit by a car and the injuries he sustained had affected his ability to write), I wanted to wish him well. I told him about my own writing and asked him what advice he might pass along. It took him nearly three months to respond, but he did. It was a very friendly email and he spoke to me about his accident a bit and the frustrations he felt over his inability to focus on his writing. He told me to read and read and read, which is the best advice for any would be writer.
Who designed the cover for your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
My best friend Joe Reisinger did the artwork for the cover. He’s also a talented writer, when he finds the time. I knew I wanted him to do the cover when I first started writing the book. He has such a great imagination, and he and I pretty much saw the cover the same way in our minds.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just as Mr. Kinsella said … read, read, and read some more. Anyone can come up with an idea for a story, it’s in how you tell the story that makes it a good one. We only learn the skill of storytelling from hearing and reading stories. So read until you feel your eyes may fall out of your skulls, and read to your little ones if you have them.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Most importantly, thank you for reading my book. I know the world is a busy place and free time is a commodity that we have very little of, so thank you for spending even a bit of it with me.
Plod On, Sleepless Giant
Cover Artist:Joe Reisinger (he has no links, sadly … but he can be contacted through me)
BARNES & NOBLE