Author Interview and Giveaway with Finley J. MacDonald


For the chance to win a free print copy of Angels, Delirium, Liberty by Finley J. MacDonald, please leave a comment on this post with your email address included in the body of the comment. This giveaway will close at 3 PM (EST) on September 12, and is open worldwide.

Finley J. MacDonald was born in SunRiver, MT, one of eight children.  He began writing with the encouragement of John Medicine Wolf author Michael Moon.   At eighteen, MacDonald rode a coal train from Montana to Minnesota.  Afterwards, he attended sheep-shearing school in Butte, MT and subsequently travelled with a shearing crew about the northwest—besides working in feedlots, stockyards, farms, ranches, homes for the disabled and for troubled youth, construction outfits, a book store, coffee shops, butcher blocks, and various others.  He studied English and education at Montana State University-Northern.  He has toured France and Luxembourg on several occasions and once been expelled from Britain.  Since 2006, he has been teaching at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China.

To see my review of MacDonald’s book, Angels, Delirium, Liberty, click here.

Visit Finley J. MacDonald at: Amazon,  Smashwords,  His Blog

Hello! What’s your name?

My name is Finley J. MacDonald.  It’s a name that has been mangled in a myriad of ways.  When I sheared sheep, I was called “fingers” because I kept cutting off the tips of my fingers and because I was   too enthusiastic at the dinner table.

What do you write and why?

Let me answer this circuitously.  Though each child of the gods harbors an inner, creative self, that being tends to get squashed under an overburden of rationalism, judgment, apathy, etc.  The process of creating to me is one of tunneling to the bedrock of self.  Besides breaking through false images of self, a writer is driven to take a club to language, since it offers ready clichés for everything.  Therefore, writing is asking not only, “What is the real emotion here?” but also, “Can I touch real meaning and not the cliché?”

Even the narrative form itself, I feel, is a kind of a cliché.  I recall my English 101 teacher declaring that, since Adam and Eve, every work of fiction has been written according to an identical format; he drew a peak and labeled the parts crisis, rising action, and resolution. Someday, I thought, I would like to break that mold!  Later, I found that Native American stories emphasize cycles rather than a rising line of action.  I would like to imagine that I borrowed mythic power from them when I tried to write my novel by means of interrelated vignettes.

Do you read the same genre that you write? Why or why not?

For some reason or other, I recently made a list of some of the books I have read, and it’s pretty eclectic.  I used to devour European and Russian novels.  Now I read globalism studies, history, ecology, Zen, and politics.  Aren’t we here to raise our consciousness?  I read French symbolist poetry and have an obsession with the Chinese poet Haizi.  I also like to peruse new age and occult.  Right now, I’m reading The Red and the Black by Stendhal.

What is the title you are promoting right now?

Angels, Delirium, Liberty, my first novel.

What is it about?

That question is always tough for me to answer—in part because I don’t want to spoil it for the reader.  It’s about C., also called “Clerk”.  Though I don’t want to spill too many details, I’ll mention his mother.  Certain aspects of the relationship between C. and his mother are almost a secret, both in the story and from the inattentive reader.  If you pick them up, I hope you feel enthralled!  All of the flashbacks, misfortunes, asides, and hallucinations are meant to float down layer by layer to produce a deepening image.  The world in which C. exists is quite like ours in terms of its objects.  However, the mood is deflated, post-revolutionary, découragé.  Instances border on emotional horror.  The journey is meant to be an Orphic one, a descent into a land of shadows, but by the end, you should see the light beginning to shine through.  That’s a healing process, by the way, not a pessimistic one.

What makes this book different from others in your genre?

Everything.  For starters, it isn’t chronological.  The narrative voice is unusual, like a camera taking in one object at time.  You’ve got to ask yourself, why?  The book doesn’t lead you.  You’ve got to figure out for yourself what the story is whispering to you.

What’s the story behind the story?

I had finished writing The House of Violence, which took me about six years to complete, in Missoula Montana.  I was creatively depleted, working at a butcher block, getting the last pieces into place before moving to Changchun, China.  I would get up and write for a couple of hours before my ten hours at the meat department. Out of those poems, I developed a character called “Clerk”.  When I first started teaching in China, my flat was about fifteen stories up.  I looked out upon that scene, and I began writing the chapter about C. and his wife.  The winters here are wicked, which helped me in describing the frigid, urban landscape.

What is your goal as an author?

That’s a great question!  Although I believe that design follows intention, I don’t think I’ve ever articulated my goals.   I am tempted to prevaricate here, as I have lost some of my idealism.  Let me put it this way.  Years ago, after college, when I was working in a coffee shop, I knew a visual artist named Michael.  Michael would spend a week fretting with his muse and then another week drawing an eye.  He was visionary and sincere.  However, I’ll wager that he is still drawing those painstaking eyes, mainly for himself.  That doesn’t satisfy me.  The artistic life is a Darwinian landscape, a narrow trail across the Kalahari, with bones showing in the grass.  Let’s say my goal right now is to finish that eye today, start on the nose tomorrow, and show you the whole body by the end of the week.

Are you working on anything new? Give us a preview of what’s to come!

I just finished my rough draft yesterday!  It only took me four months this time.  This post-apocalyptic story takes place in the future, on an island off the coast of the former China.  Flower-Skin Island grew out of expanding communes, with reinvented forms of religion and customs within a larger epoch of re-industrialization.  The island nation is a strict matriarchy, against whose tenets our protagonist runs afoul.  In captivity, he earns micro-points, saving them up for a furlough. Everything changes when he goes to see the oracle.

Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?

Too many!  I admire Antoine de Saint Exupery who took a pen and paper into his cockpit, and while flying, described clouds!  For poetry, I love every burning line of The Duino Elegies, by Rainer Maria Rilke.  For nonfiction, I like Small is Beautiful and Man’s Search for Meaning.

Where can readers find you and your work?

Angels, Delirium, Liberty is available in print and Kindle at Amazon and also as an ebook at Smashwords.  I’m waiting on cover art for the new issue of The House of Violence.  If you haven’t tried indiebound.org, you might use this as a tool for supporting independent bookstores and independent authors of your choice.  My blog is at deliriumliberty.wordpress.com

What’s your view on the self-publishing/traditional publishing thing? Ideally, which one would you prefer and why?

Self-publishing is a great deal of work—but a more ethical choice.  I wouldn’t mind supporting a small press, but I try not to support corporate persons.  My friend from the Book of Faces, Marcus Speh, says online writing is “Occupy literature before anyone thought of occupying anything anywhere.”  The same can of course be said of self publishing.  It’s also refreshing to have readers more directly involved in the choice of what is to be read.  That being said, the path is a bit intimidating, because it is so unpredictable, and there is so much to learn.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Follow your bliss.”—Joseph Campbell

What is the most important advice you have for aspiring authors?

I was blocked for years.  Writing Down the Bones taught me to still my critical voice.  You can say, “I’m just going to allow myself to write anything.”  You put the pen to paper and do three or five hundred words.  If you write a sentence fragment, keep your pen moving and clean it up some other time.   The Artist’s Way says that we are all created equal and that we shouldn’t deify those further along the path.  I think writers should take up photography.  I find that it refreshes my spirit and sharpens my eye.

Is there anything else you’d like to say before we finish up?

Think of your favorite book.  The reason that book exists and is available to you is because someone was willing to support the author, monetarily or otherwise.  As a reader of indie fiction, you are in a relationship with indie writers.  If you support someone, you are a partner in his or her continuing creations.  If you are a deadbeat, well, that has an effect too.  I would also like to thank Writer’s Block Party for so much hard work and kindness toward independent authors!

Awesome, thanks for allowing me to interview you!

Please take a moment to visit Finley at:

Amazon,  Smashwords,  His Blog

Or check out my personal review of his book here.

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About Lisa Taylor

Hello! I'm an author, and in my time as an author I've realized that there are thousands of authors out there that just don't get the attention they deserve. So I'm hosting this "Writer's Block Party" so you can get to know the people that create the stories we all love!
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7 Responses to Author Interview and Giveaway with Finley J. MacDonald

  1. I think this interview is great. Very interesting reading it. I am interesting in knowing exactly how new authors can become involved here and how to get an interview on Writer’s Block Party.
    http://www.quietwalk@usa.com

    Here is my review of the Fin’s book, “Angels, Delirium, Liberty”:

    Words, like strokes of an artist’s paint brush, paint colorful, detailed pictures of characters and scenes. With just a few stokes the reader can see fat jowls moving and smoke rings floating upward, hear bells ringing and the cry of a baby, smell the mustiness of the air or a whiff of perfume. Every scene is carefully crafted. The characters are an odd assortment of individuals who engage in lively conversation and whose activities are sometimes menial and sometimes quite unusual. And through it all, even though each chapter seems not to relate to the one before, it is as though a brick wall is being carefully built, one brick upon another, adding more detail and more understanding of the personalities, the backgrounds, the neuroses, and the subsequent thoughts and actions of each character. Back and forth between the man, C, who seems to be plodding through his life, and Clerk, who barely escapes with his life, the reader goes – connecting dots that are not in a row, but instead form an elegant pattern that is not complete until the end of the book.

    • Lisa Taylor says:

      QuietWalk: If you’d like to be featured on Writer’s Block Party, hover your mouse over the “Contact Me” Tab in the top menu, and then click “Want to be featured?” Fill out the form with your details and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

      I assume since you have reviewed “Angels, Delirium, Liberty” that you were not looking to enter the giveaway? If I’m wrong, please let me know.

      Lisa

      • Hi Lisa,
        Thanks for your reply. I have edited an outstanding book that I believe deserves attention, “Princes and Priests” by Angela MacDonald. I am currently editing the second book in this series.
        I read the great interview done with Fin and thought this would be perfect for Ang. With your permission, I will pass this information on to her, although she may be aware of it now, as she is the one who sent me the link.

        You are correct: I have “Angels, Delirium, Liberty” and do not need to enter the giveaway.

        Thanks for what you are doing to promote new authors.
        Carol

      • Lisa Taylor says:

        No problem, Carol, please feel free to spread the info around to anyone you’d like.

      • Thanks, Lisa.
        Perhaps you could tell me if you do a review of the book first, and do you need the hard copy or a digital version. How much do you charge to do a review? If the review is not necessary, then Ang could go ahead with the interview. Is that correct? Anyway, I’ll tell her to get in contact with you as soon as she can. She lives off the grid and her internet is a bit sketchy, so sometimes she cannot get on, but hopefully she will be in contact with you in the near future. Since I am helping her get her book promoted, it is good for me to be aware of the avenues she can pursue. I do appreciate your prompt reply and will plan to stay in touch with you, also.
        Thanks,
        Carol

      • Lisa Taylor says:

        Carol, I’m not actually open to reviews right now because I’m so backed up on my reading, but a review isn’t necessary to be interviewed or featured in another way (There are quite a few options on the “Want to be featured?” Page). Most people who are featured at Writer’s Block Party haven’t been reviewed here first, so anyone looking for some promotion on their book is free to contact me.

        Lisa

      • Lisa, thanks for the reply. Ang can look into “Want to be featured” and take advantage of that now. Perhaps “Princes and Priests” could be added to your waiting list.

        Thanks,
        Carol

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