Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Thanks for speaking with me! I’m excited to share with your readers about my writing! My name Caldric Blackwell, and I’m twenty-nine.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I am originally from Silicon Valley but have lived in New Orleans and all over California. I’m currently in southern California.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I grew up in California with three siblings. I studied English and psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara – which is, as far as I know, one of only a few public universities with a beach in the United States. After getting my bachelor’s degree, I worked for a few years before pursuing a graduate degree in medicine.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

My newest project, a middle grade fantasy novel, titled “The Sacred Artifact,” was recently released! This is the second and final book in the Young Alchemist series. The first book, “The Missing Alchemist,”follows alchemy student Craig Pike and his friend, an archer named Audrey Clife, on a quest to rescue a kidnapped alchemist. “The Sacred Artifact”revolves around Craig and his teacher’squest to uncover the secrets of a mysterious artifact. Their journey takes them across mysterious lands with nefarious characters, ultimately leading them to the birthplace of alchemy where they meet a wise, ancient alchemist.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Growing up, I was always a huge reader, devouring anything I could get my hands on. My dad would buy copies of the Hardy Boysbooks at the thrift store, and I’d try to finish them in a night. However, it wasn’t until I started studying English at university that I decided to try writing.I was drawn to the creativity of the process and wanted to give it a shot. My firstprojects were short stories for adults, which never ended up being published. Eventually, I was drawn to the whimsical nature of children’s literature, particularly the middle grade fantasy genre.

The first book I published, titled the “The Enchanted River Race,” is an early chapter book about a team of children who compete in a magical river race. The next book I publishedis a children’s picture book, titled “The Boy Who Couldn’t Cry Wolf,” which tells the story of a shy werewolf, named Byron, who is embarassed about his inability to howl. My most recent project, which I mentioned earlier, is the middle grade Young Alchemist series, comprised of “The Missing Alchemist” and “The Sacred Artifact.”

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a great question! I’m not sure. I was always more focused on finishing what I was working on, rather than what I called myself as I worked on it. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say I was a “writer”when my first book, “The Enchanted River Race,” was published.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your book?

The idea for my middle grade fantasy series began with a simple premise. The premise wasan alchemy student who is put in a position where he must rise to the occasion. Although I only had the premise, the story felt like it belonged in the middle grade fantasy genre because of how I intended to write the book. I toyed with a couple of different ideas, eventually finding one I liked, and the premise developed into the first book in the series, “The Missing Alchemist.” The more I wrote the more I liked the idea of having an inexperienced student – who has a fair amount of self-doubt – being forced to overcome his uncertainty. I feel this lets readers experience the same newness of the experience as the protagonistwho is just as much figuring things out as the reader is.

With “The Sacred Artifact,” the second and final book in the Young Alchemist series, I wanted to continue with the theme of the first book – the protagonist, Craig Pike, getting into situations where he must think on his feet. But because the groundwork for the world was laid out in the first book, “The Sacred Artifact” gets to delve more deeply into backstories of the characters and the history of alchemy. Although it’s a middle grade fantasy novel and can’t have Tolkien-level depth with its lore, readers will get a thorough exploration of the origins of alchemy (the version in the Young Alchemist world), including a first-hand look at where it began!

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

I didn’t have a working title while working on the manuscript. I would just jot down ideas as I wrote. By the time I finished editing, it was clear the book should be called “The Sacred Artifact.” The artifact is such a central part of the plot it made sense to have it in the title.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

I don’t strive to emulate a specific style or use certain techniques. My main goal is to improve as a writer. I want my writing to be effective and immersive, regardless of the style. The thing that was most challenging with the Young Alchemist series is maintaining a balance between complexity and simplicity. As a middle grade fantasy series, the audience is typically middle school age. I had to make the plot complex enough to keep the readers interested yet not overwhelm them with details. It’s a tough line to walk, but I think I was able to achieve my goal.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

“The Sacred Artifact” is firmly in the middle grade fantasy genre with lots of magical elements, such as alchemy. I can safely say that none of the book’s fantasy portion is based on my own experiences, but I certainly drew inspiration for some of the characters from people I knew in real life.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

Because the Young Alchemist series is set in a fictional world, I didn’t have to reference any real-world places or do any research. That said, I certainly drew inspiration from real-world places. For instance, there’s a place in the book that was inspired by my time in New Orleans!

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

Donna Murillo did the covers for both books in my middle grade fantasy series. I think she really captures the sense of adventure in the novels, and she was great to work with. We went back and forth via email a bit, going over what I wanted, and she did a tremendous job of using her creativity and style to bring my vision to life.

 Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I don’t think there is a singular message. I think different people will get different things from the book. Some people might just use the fantasy-filled story as an escape. Other readers might relate to a character and find a sense of comfort in knowing that there are other people like them. Maybe some people will read “The Sacred Artifact” and decide to write a story of their own! Even if readers just read my book and think it’s a fun way to pass the time, that’s a good outcome for me. In terms of there being a moral to the story,there isn’t an overt one, but there are a number of themes. One of the main themes is the importance of believing in yourself.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

In terms of new authors, I really like Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. I think she does a great job of writing relatable characters. My favorite author is Ernest Hemingway. Although he obviously never wrote in the middle grade fantasy genre, he was just so effective with language … this transcends genre. It’s always inspiring to read his work.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

I have a circle of friends who have always been supportive of my writing. It’d be disingenuous to say one entity stood out – they have all been equally supportive.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I don’t make enough money from my writing for it to be a sole source of income. That’d be nice, but it’s not my goal. My goals are to continue writing what I love and to continue to improve in my writing.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Nothing comes to mind. I am happy with how it turned out!

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

There isn’t a specific lesson that stands out; however, I learned a lot about the middle grade fantasy genre as a whole. The more time I spend writing in the genre the more I learn to write characters, plots, etc that work well within the genre.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Honestly, I’m not sure. The actors would have to be in the “tween” age range, and I can’t name a single actor in that age range.

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

For people looking to write their first novel in the middle grade fantasy genre, I would say to remember the audience in terms of the language, plot, characters, etc. And be persistent. Writing is a skill that takes years to hone, so be patient with it!

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I would tell potential readers that, if you’re looking for an action-packed middle grade fantasy series, check out my Young Alchemist series. For fans of the series, I’d thank them for reading my work and please let me know what they think of it! I love feedback from readers.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I am currently reading “Keepers of the Labyrinth” by Erin E. Moulton. I picked it up the other day and am already halfway through it. I love the premise!

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

I remember reading the “Spot” picture books when I was younger. I also remember reading all of the Boxcar Children books. I don’t remember a specific “first book,” however.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

I’m a huge comedy fan. I laugh from stand-up comedy, funny movies, or just hanging out with people who have a good sense of humor. I can’t think of a specific thing that makes me cry, but I feel like I have a similar cry threshold to most people.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

There isn’t one person I’m set on. I’d love to meet any of the leaders of the ancient world, though. Any would do! Just seems like such a different experience being alive back then, especially as a ruler.

Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

Absolutely! When I’m not working on my next middle grade fantasy novel, I play lots of music! I play guitar, bass, and keyboard as much as I can. I recently got a KorgVolca synthesizer and have been enjoying learning how to play it. I also am active with outdoor activities, such as gardening and hiking.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I am quite eclectic with my taste in TV shows and movies. I’ll watch anything from comedy to action to documentaries to drama and everything in between! A few of my favorite movies are “The Life Aquatic,” “Garden State,” and the Lord of the Rings series. My favorite TV show is “Breaking Bad.” Walter White is such a multidimensional character!

Fiona: Favorite foods, colors,  music?

I have a wide range of likes when it comes to foods, colors, and music. If I had to pick, my favorite food is sushi, but that’d change depending on what day you ask me. In terms of colors, I like black, yellow, blue, and green. For music, I like blues, rock, EDM, pop, and jazz. My favorite guitarists are John Mayer and Jimi Hendrix.

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Probably do more with music. I’m a creative person, and I need a creative outlet. It’s hard for me to not have a way to exercise my creativity.

Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

I would want to spend time with my loved ones. It’d probably be a sad occasion, knowing there is only 24 hours left to live, but spending time with my family and friends would be my choice.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

That’s a tough question. I’d want some kind words that capture who I was as a person … and something humorous. I’d let my family and friends craft it.

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

I do! For people wanting to learn more about my middle grade fantasy series and other reading, they can check out my website: https://caldricblackwell.com. I am also on social media!

Links Buy “The Sacred Artifact” Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Artifact-Young-Alchemist-Book-ebook/dp/B07NC1NQG9/

Buy “The Sacred Artifact” in paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Artifact-Young-Alchemist/dp/1733547614