Last week, Tellest had the good fortune of promoting Fae or Foe, the first book in the Cracklock series by author C A Deegan. The author has had his work featured in wonderful anthologies that tread a darker, moodier path, and he brought his considerable talent into play for his first feature length urban fantasy. Recently, we had the opportunity to question him on his storytelling journey, and I’m sure readers will love to hear about it.
Tellest: Greetings CA! After doing my research, I think I can say with some conviction that you’re carving out some much-needed free time to answer some questions about yourself and your Cracklock series. With so much going on in your world, I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and learn more about what makes you tick.
C A Deegan: Thanks Tellest! Appreciate you taking the time to talk to me; I know that you’re swamped at the moment – seems like everybody wants to get your opinion!
T: It’s become a staple at this point to ask the following question during my interviews: what was it that inspired you to set off on your writing journey? Did you have any authors who sparked an interest in you, or was there possibly an event that drove you to begin writing?
CAD: The funniest thing. I’ve always read, and have been lucky enough to be selected to beta read for a few authors; going over their works before they publish as an extra set of eyes. That’s really what made me start to wonder if I could do it. Then, in early 2019 I met one of my favourite authors, Ricky Fleet (he writes horror, and he’s damn good!) at Comicon. We’d never met before; always corresponded though and it was great to meet him in person. It was something he said when I floated the idea of perhaps writing one myself. “If you don’t have a go, you’ll never know.” I’d had the idea for the Cracklocks in all but name for a number of years, so I dipped my toe in with a couple of shorts that were relatively well received.
It was in May 2019 that I started tentatively drafting the story arc. Then tried to write. It was like ‘the little engine who could’ to be honest. Took a while to get into the swing of it, but I am so pleased I did, because now I can’t stop!
T: Now that you’ve got your own book out there, have you asked or considered asking any of the authors that you beta read for to take a peek at your work as well?
CAD: I did just that. I have a few friends who are authors, and a couple gave me great feedback and pointers on what worked and what didn’t. Invaluable advice comes from battle hardened authors; if you can get it, take it! They’ve trod the same road after all.
T: When it comes to your storytelling and writing, what was the best advice you believe you received, other than “if you don’t have a go”?
CAD: Get a decent cover! It’s the first thing that draws the eye of any casual browser, so it has to be enough to make them think, “What’s that?” It’s the one thing you shouldn’t scrimp on. And then if you can afford it, get a decent editor as well. They will see things that you don’t.
T: You mention on your website that you had originally read about the fae to your daughter when she was younger. Now that your first feature length fantasy is out, what does she think of the new tales you tell?
CAD: She’s pretty thrilled, I think; I don’t speak teenager so well, but fairly sure the grunts were positive, and she’s certainly shared the website about. J She’s not a massive reader, but I picked her brains during Book 1 and 2 for what would work. The book only launched this week and she’s stolen my author copy to read in full now its finally done. And one of the Characters in Book 3, Alice and the Mirror Glass, is very much based on her. Her friends are talking about that!
T: It’s got to be pretty exciting to know definitively that you’re the inspiration for the character in a storybook. Have you already had her friends pleading and begging to be conceptualized in fiction as well?
CAD: Oh yes! As well as friends who had no idea what I was up to with my writing. I’ve had a number of requests to be added; I may well run a competition to add someone in to make it fair. They can have a choice of whether they’re a good or bad guy I think. Who doesn’t want to be the bad guy sometimes!
T: That sounds like an awesome contest to run to try and engage with your audience more, and to maybe sway those people who are on the fence. Or you could wrap it into a Kickstarter and make it a higher pledge level or something along those lines.
CAD: I agree. I’ll be looking into this for Book Five, as I need a few more characters for that. Wonder how people will react to having their names adapted to Fae ones? Guess I’ll find out!
T: While some of the action in your book takes place on Earth, you’ve created your own interpretation of another world in Faery, where the fae hail from. Certainly, there’s a lot of lore and folklore to draw from, but you’ve also made it distinctly your own. What was the process like working to conceptualize such a place?
CAD: Not so tough if I’m honest. I had a smattering of knowledge from those awful books I had to read before, and did quite a lot of research (my bookshelves are crammed with Faery lore books now). It was then a case of finding things that met with what I had in my head and the story arc. My interpretation of Faery (or Tir na Nog if you’d prefer) is different from others, I know, but it’s how I see the place – not unlike our own little realm. I have notebooks with the ideas and descriptions written down (funny how they arrive; not always welcome at 3 am it has to be said!) which I then used to build on. I always knew what the Fae looked like, and I was lucky enough to find Kristy at Midnight Coffee (https://midnightcoffee.co.uk/) who helped me bring them all to life. She’s a damn good illustrator!
T: I will say right here, you’ve got a load of interesting and compelling art on your website. Now that you’ve dipped your toe into the art commission pool, I’m afraid you might be lost to it. Before you know it, you’ll have hundreds of pieces on your website that show off Faery and your characters!
CAD: Too right; I already am! The way the art is working on the site is that I will add it as relevant characters are revealed in the series. I have artwork ready to go when Book 2 drops which will be added and I’ll put it on the social media sites as well. Really pleased with the stuff that’s got to go on; I was itching to post it all at once, but I made myself stop! I do need a bespoke piece doing, so if anyone reading this has any skills in that area, please get in touch; I haven’t found the right artist for that one yet. It’s a particular kind of Fae that I need fleshing out.
T: When you’re building up your commissioned art portfolio, where do you typically go to find new collaborators? Are you on DeviantArt or ArtStation?
CAD: I Google and use Fiverr for some works when Kristy can’t do them. I also have Shutterstock as well. I hadn’t heard of DeviantArt before; just had a look and will be certainly interested in taking a proper look for what I need.
T: The Cracklock series looks to be currently planned out for four books (at least as shown on your website). The world is also big enough to cast out beyond what you might know so far. Do you think you’ll stop at four, or is it a possibility that you’ll extend beyond Dire Sorrows? Any thoughts about spinoffs or prequels?
CAD: Nope! Four is where I am up to now (actually about 15K words off finishing Dire Sorrows). I don’t plan to drag the series out, but there’s at least another two books in that series I need to do to finish the story arc. And as for the spin-offs, definitely. I have drafted most of Elsie’s backstory already, and I want to cover off some of the other characters as well. Also, I have plans for a new series, featuring Tobias – he’s a Cracklock who turned from the ‘dark side’ to help his fellow man. He hunts dark Fae. That series will be darker than the current series I think; certainly what I have sketched out I may have to tweak a little for the market.
T: Faery, Tir na Nog, the Otherworld—it’s usually seen as a kind of glimpse into the faerie realm. But with your series, you get to explore it in greater breadth than most. When you visualize Faery, is it kind of like an overlay of our world, is it a small pocket, or is it greater than most imagine?
CAD: Greater than most imagine, it has to be said. I’ve barely scratched the surface with Faery so far. It’s an entirely different realm (and sub-realms!) altogether, although it does have some commonalities with our own. And a lot of differences (example, the Fae don’t know what a toilet roll is…make you wonder, eh?!). I’ve tried to stay true to general beliefs as much as I can, as I am aware that there are good folk out there with a great deal more knowledge of it than me but I have added my own twist.
T: With a growing world that has many sub-realms, what tools do you use to keep up with all your details? Are you using Scrivener or World Anvil or anything like that?
CAD: I use Word and the full Grammarly Pack to write with. For the details side, I’m pretty old fashioned it has to be said. I’m a “leather bound notebook” type of guy; I have set sections where ideas get jotted down and it’s the easiest way to reference stuff I find. I have electronic files and spreadsheets as well, but my notebooks are the ‘go to’ when I can’t remember a specific detail. I’ve heard good things about Scrivener but never took the leap. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it I think!
T: Your earlier published works include several more frightening tales in some horror anthologies. How did the work on those stories help you to prepare for something like the Cracklock series, which has its own bit of darkness to it?
CAD: I’ve always been a horror fan, and there are elements of that in the Cracklock series. I’ve tried very hard to keep from going too hard core into horror with the books, as I knew what I wanted it to look like. I think (hope!) I’ve got the balance right. Doing short stories is a great way to flex your writing skills, and for me was very rewarding. It was in one of those shorts, ‘Bluebells’ that Tobias popped in to say hello. From completely out of nowhere, I suddenly knew what he looked like, how he acted and most of his past; guess he must have been lurking in my subconscious for quite a while. He doesn’t debut in the current series until Book 4, but I have everything I need for his development.
T: When characters and situations show up for you, do you think you’re helping to unearth them, as though they were always there, and are using you as an instrument to have their stories told? Or in your case, are you the creator, and you’ve willed them into being?
CAD: Great question! The truth is, I don’t know. Writers all fall somewhere along the line of Plotter to Pantser I think it’s fair to say, and I am no different. I have the story plotted out, but ideas come to me as I write and in they go. All part of the journey; I get my ideas mainly whilst I’m out walking the dog. I would love to think though that they were always there waiting to be put onto the page…I’m an old romantic at heart!
T: You’ve been writing and publishing for a while now. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their storytelling journey?
CAD: The advice that I got – “If you don’t have a go, you’ll never know.” Just write! Have the confidence to do it, get it down and see what you’ve got. You’ll look at it and think ‘trash’. Every writer does. But don’t stop. Fix the bits you don’t like, and have another look. You’ll think ‘Yeah, this is alright.’ Then you’ll agonise about getting someone else to read it, but do that – a friend or family member and ask their opinion. But pick the right person; Great Aunt Elsie (blatant plug!) isn’t going to want to read your erotic space romp, and your mates ten year old isn’t the best target audience for your serial killer scribbles.
While you’re doing all this writing and editing, try and stick a little bit of money away. Regardless of which way you go, you’re going to have to think about more editing, and whether you do this yourself with willing beta readers, software or employ someone, it will cost a little, though there are ways of minimising it. This is all part of the journey, and I’m happy to share the good and bad decisions that I made if anybody wants to know!
Finally, don’t worry too much about how you will publish at first. You need something good to publish after all. You will have a choice to make about this eventually – traditional publishing, self-publishing or a hybrid publisher. Those are journeys of their own.
Summing up, believe in yourself. Not everyone has the guts to do what you’re doing, although more people than you think would like to try it.
T: And now that we’ve seen one side of the coin, let’s look to the other. What challenges did you face when you started this journey—whether it was on the writing side, or the marketing side. What were some of those bad decisions you think you made?
CAD: Marketing; that’s my bugbear. I did originally want to go down the traditional route of having the book published, but I got fed up of never receiving replies back when you spend a long time writing to agents and publishers. Those guys are really busy. My main mistake was not pre-marketing. I was wary of this, as I hadn’t set up any of the social media or website, because I didn’t have the content. I am going to try and fix this for the next few books; seeing if people want to be ARC readers (advance reader copies) in return for fair reviews (get in touch if you do!). That is the main mistake I made I think; starting marketing from the get-go. I think I did everything else okay; I edited using both judgement and software, got it beta read, fixed it again then got it properly line edited. Got a professional cover done. It was certainly a learning curve!
T: CA, I want to thank you once again for taking the time to work with me while you’re working on other projects. I know your time is valuable, so I really appreciate you sharing it.
If someone reading this article wanted to know where they could find out more about you and your books, where would it be?
CAD: It was a pleasure to talk with you Tellest; many thanks for taking the time yourself. Anybody who wants to find out more about the Cracklock Series and Faery itself should head on over to www.thecracklocksaga.com where there’s plenty to see. We’re on Facebook (TheCracklockSaga), Twitter (@CracklockSaga) and the books themselves are on Amazon at
You can access them from the Cracklock Saga website if you want. I’d invite anyone interested to become a Lockhead at the site for news of giveaways and prizes plus updates on the Cracklock World. And please do follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more of the same. See you there, Fae Friends…
I’d like to once again thank C A Deegan for joining me in discussing his books, his writing process, and his ongoing storytelling journey. It is always a gift to be able to look into the mind of someone who creates adventures for other people to participate in. In Deegan’s case, he’s creating a host of them, and he’s got more on the way, right around the corner. With all that in mind, the first book in The Cracklock Saga is here, ready to be enjoyed. Check out Book 1: Fae or Foe?: The Cracklock Saga on Amazon today!
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