Today we travel to Markfield, England to chat with Chris Callaghan about how sprinkling a bit of humor, becoming an accidental author, being hospitalized in France, learning shorthand and typing, being an aviation nut, Charles Dickens, Downs Syndrome, and India come together as part of Chris’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Chris Callaghan and I write as Chris Calder. I am probably the oldest author you will interview — put another way, I ‘m gifted with more Life Experience than most. I live in Markfield, a village close to Leicester, in England. Another fact: I really do not take myself too seriously.
In which genre do you write?
Usually light thrillers. “Light” because I don’t do gratuitous gore, also I like to sprinkle a bit of humor into my stories. And sometimes subtle (I hope) comments or observations. An example: In Celeste Three is Missing, there are two FBI agents who appear as agents Spencer and Marks. In the text they are referred to as Marks and Spencer. As a US citizen you may not have heard of them; Marks and Spencer is an upmarket store chain here.
How many published books do you have?
Four to date, three thrillers, the fourth not. It is called My Brother’s Keeper and is about a Catholic priest who has been ordered to help other priests with problems. But he has problems of his own.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I’ve always loved writing but became an author by accident. Already retired and living in France I was diagnosed with Cancer. After surgery I was recovering in hospital but because my French language skills were poor at the time, I was unable to communicate with the people around me. Frustrating! So I picked up a pen and drafted the bones of a story based loosely upon my experiences whilst owner of a small engineering business. It was called PAYBACK and was published a year later. There have been four more books since. No longer retired, I have just changed professions.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
The humor thing — perhaps gently teasing the reader who has to be ‘tuned in’ to spot it.
What would you choose as your mascot and why?
A very tame tiger. As a child at a hill school in India I was twice privileged to see tigers in the wild. Wonderful creatures, sadly they no longer inhabit that part of India. They were wiped out by poachers many years ago.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
A shambles. Desktop pc and keyboard in my bedroom. At age sixteen I was sent, kicking and screaming, to a place that taught shorthand and typing. My mother had to be obeyed! That was in 1954, many years before the internet was conceived. Thanks, Mum, you were right!
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
I have been an aviation nut all my life and had been following the progress of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic craft since its inception. It is likely that in the near future something similar will be taking wealthy joy-riders around the world. That thought led to a ‘what if’ moment. What if the space plane disappeared? How? Why? Who would be on board?
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
Writing (love it) and marketing (hate!) keep me from getting under the feet of my long-suffering wife. Now elderly, I am content to keep writing and to stay alive. She reads two or three books every week and is an invaluable, wonderful help to me in my writing. I like to say that we have a marriage made in heaven: she reads, I write; she cooks, I eat.
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author from the past, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Charles Dickens, who through his writing did more to combat social injustice and child exploitation of his time than any philanthropist or politician. I would tell him what a mess the world is in now and ask how he would fix it, so that I could pass his wisdom on to our politicians.
What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
Our youngest (of seven children) is called Christian. He was born with Downs Syndrome, dislocated hips and no right heel. All the fixable stuff was done early; he is one of five residents in a wonderful, well managed care home and he is always happy. Here’s the thing: Christian is now 33 and every time he has needed anything it appeared, somehow. Here’s just one example: when he was 17 and due to leave his special needs residential school, we were already too old to manage his daily needs. Unable to find him a suitable home, we had begun to despair. The only available places were in mixed mental and geriatric care homes — not suitable at all. Then we had a phone call, totally out of the blue, to tell us that our local authority was constructing a care facility suitable for five young adults just a few minutes’ walk from the house we lived in at the time. And that’s where he has lived happily ever since. We have never needed to wonder how his special needs will be met. As they say, “Go figure”.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?
I know the story well enough to deal with any questions on the book. But now that you mention it, I would relax beforehand by listening to Faure’s Requiem, preferably the Sanctus. Divine, literally.
What do you miss about being a kid?
Unquestionably, the carefree life. Ironic that I appreciate now, something that at the time I did not realize I had. C’est la vie!
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
1.) I was born in India just before WW2, raised there in relative comfort and lived through the Partition of that country in 1947.
2.) I can still read and write Hindi passably well, a language based on Sanskrit.
3.) All my life I have had an almost telepathic relationship with my pet animals. Spooky, and inexplicable.
At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?
Write, dammit. Don’t wait until you are in your seventies; by then it’s almost too late.
Where can readers find an extract from the manuscript of your book?
If you are considering buying a book by an author whose work you are not familiar with, there is no better way to assess it than to read an actual extract from the manuscript, even if the book comes highly recommended. As an author who is also a reader I prefer always to do that if I can, to get a feel for the story and for the author’s style. You can find a short extract here, or visit my website, https://www.chriscalder.com.
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
Of course everything happens for a reason. The best example I can give you is my answer to your earlier question about the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to me. The moral: Learn to appreciate truly what you have been gifted. The secret of life is acceptance.
It was great to have you be a part of MTA, Chris. It certainly seems as if you’ve had an interesting life so far! I adore what you shared about your son. Just beautiful. Wishing you all the best and here’s to much success! – Camilla
The sensational Celeste Three, the world’s first earth-orbit passenger-carrying plane, takes off with six passengers on a routine flight from its base in Arizona, the only place it can land on its return. The craft disappears without trace. On board is Viktor Karenkov, billionaire oil magnate who has used his wealth to evade prosecution for a murder he committed years earlier.
Gregory Topozian, the murdered man’s friend, has been waiting for a chance to bring Karenkov to justice. With dogged determination and considerable ingenuity, he conceives an audacious plan. Getting the craft down in total secrecy is key. And someone has to pay the huge costs involved.
Where to find the book:
Connect with Chris:
Twitter handle: @CalderAuthor
Author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/chriscalder
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