Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Colm McElwain.

Colm was born and educated in Monaghan, Ireland. He has a BA Hons in PE and enjoys reading books, watching films and playing sport. He has always loved storytelling, whether through the medium of literature or film.

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is his first novel and brings a very fulfilling creative experience spanning a number of years to an end.

Click here to visit the official website of the book.


Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m 30 years old and from a place called Monaghan in Ireland. I’m currently undertaking a one year Professional diploma in Physical Education at the University of Limerick. I returned to university in September to complete this final year. All going well I will be a fully qualified physical education teacher next May. Writing, however, is where my passion lies and like any other author I would love to write books for a living.

What kind of books do you read and who are your favourite authors?

I love reading all kinds of books, but fantasy would be my favourite genre. I grew up on the Roald Dahl books and loved the way he combined light and dark moments into his stories. Charles Dickens, J.M Barrie and C.S. Lewis are just a few of my favourite authors. I also like Stephen King books.

Have your favourite authors and books been an influence on your writing style?

Absolutely. You have to read lots of different books to be inspired. Certain books are classics for a very good reason and it would be foolish to ignore them. The aim then is to write a better book. There has to be a balance. James Clyde had to have all the classic elements of popular children’s books and yet be totally different at the same time. Simply rehashing a character or a story won’t work but, in my opinion, good stories all have a common theme.

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra is your debut book. What inspired you to write it?

I saw it as a unique experience, something very different and challenging. I believe children’s literature is one of the most popular genres in writing. Some of the most iconic and popular books ever written are children’s fantasy books and I thought, if good enough, my book could join that list.

How long did you spend working on James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra?

It took six years in total. It was very important I took my time. I wanted to shoot for the stars with the book. I wanted to write a great children’s book and that was always going to take time. I started in the summer of 2005 and the book was in print in November 2011. The story changed and developed all the time and it was a long time before I was happy with it. Hard work is the key component to writing a book. It was a very rewarding experience, but certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Did you have to do any research?

Not a great deal. I read lots of books in the same genre, but other than that, my imagination came up with everything. That’s what drew me to the fantasy genre. All the answers were in my own head. It was my story and it didn’t require me to research history books or anything like that.

Was it difficult to write about a fictional fantasy realm or did ideas come easily to you?

Alternative worlds and fictional fantasy realms have been done many times before, so I had to bring something different and unique to my world. It was so much fun writing about Orchestra. In fact, I had more problems writing the first part of the story which is set in this world. When James and his friends enter Orchestra the story flowed very naturally and I enjoyed the adventure just as much as anybody!

There are several characters in your book. Are any of the characters based on real people?

Children ask me this question a lot and the answer is no. I didn’t think it work if I based my characters on real people. They all had to be their own individuals with their own personalities and mannerisms. I can see James in my mind’s eye and he isn’t me when I was his age or anybody else I know. I had to invent them all. I did, however, picture the scary Man in Black as looking something like Hercule Poirot and wanted my hero to be a cross between Indiana Jones and Superman.

Will you write a sequel to James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra?

I really hope so! It’s up to the public and how the book is received. It took six years to write and it might just take the same length of time to make the book a success. That’s the reality. Success doesn’t happen overnight and I will be promoting James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra for many years to come. I do have a plot in mind for a second book but I’m so busy promoting this one that I don’t get much time to write. That said if I never write another book I’ll always be proud of this one.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

I’d like to thank Risingshadow for the interview and the opportunity to talk about James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra. It’s a great resource for science fiction and fantasy fans and I hope you keep up the good work!

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