Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Q & A with Morven-May MacCallum

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1.     Did you always dream of being a writer?

As a child, books absolutely captivated me. I was always coming up with stories full of adventure and I could never see another career which held so much wonder to me.

2.     How did your writing career develop?

I was very unwell for a long time with Lyme disease and as I started to recover I felt more and more that I needed to write about this illness. So many people have Lyme disease but it’s very misunderstood and few people understand what it is like to live with it. I felt that this novel was the one I needed to publish and I’m delighted to say that it will be released on the 31st of May. I really hope that the book can help raise awareness for Lyme disease and can help to prevent other people from contracting it.
3.     Your debut novel is called Finding Joy, what is it about?

The story follows a young woman as she battles an increasingly debilitating illness, which has left her housebound and often bedbound. The main character, Joyce, is diagnosed with ME/CFS but when she and her family start questioning this diagnosis, Joyce is told her illness is inside her head. The story shows her fight to be correctly diagnosed and treated for an illness which is slowly killing her and destroying those around her. I decided to tell the story from three different points of view because I wanted to show the ripple effect this devastating illness has on all the people close to the person who is sick.

4.     What was your inspiration for the book?

My inspiration for the book came from all the stories I had heard and read from people who have had their lives destroyed by Lyme disease and have had their loved ones die from it.

5.     Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

The Lyme disease is really the main character of the story, even though it doesn’t get much one to one conversation with the reader. It’s the puppet master that ties all the characters together and it’s the thing that each of the characters revolve around.

Joyce, who has Lyme disease, has her life devoured by this illness. She becomes so ill that she has to drop out of school, her university applications have to be cancelled because it becomes clear that she will not be able to attend any form of education. As her illness takes over her life, she becomes increasingly isolated as her friends move on without her.

Aunt Beth is Joyce’s aunt and is Joyce’s only parent figure. Aunt Beth really struggles to cope with Joyce’s illness as she doesn’t know how to help her once very independent niece. Aunt Beth’s life is put on hold and all of her plans for the future have to be set aside as she has to look after Joyce. She craves freedom yet she’s as trapped by this illness as Joyce is. 

Logan is Joyce’s closest friend but even at that, he fails to notice or realise how severely ill she is. He inadvertently pushes her to do things she’s not well enough to do and he learns the hard way what the consequences for Joyce are.

6.     The book is part of a series. Can you tell us about the rest of the series?

Currently, the book’s not part of a series but I have a few ideas in my mind for a follow-on book – so you never know!

7.     Where and when do you write your stories?

Because of my illness, I have to write when I’m feeling able to - which can be frustrating at times. I mostly sit at my desk to write, with a very large cup of tea!

8.     What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

I’m still recovering from the Lyme disease which means I’m a bit restricted about what I can do but I really enjoy being able to take my dog for a walk and spending time with my friends.

9.     If you could switch places with a character from a book, who would it be and why?

Aww, that’s a really hard question. I actually can’t decide, there are so many characters who have lives that I think would be fascinating to experience.

10.  What books have influenced your life most?

The thing I find so wonderful about books is that every book has something to teach you. Even if you hated the book, the reasoning behind why you dislike it can teach and influence you and your writing.

11.  What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment, I’m not really working on anything other than promoting my current novel ‘Finding Joy’. I’m feeling the withdrawal from writing though, so I think I might explore the ideas I have for a possible sequel.

12.  What do you enjoy most about writing?

I find the whole process fascinating but I think there is nothing better than sitting down to write and finding the world around you just disappearing. It feels like only minutes have passed but when you look up, it’s to discover that it’s been hours, it’s dark outside, your stomachs grumbling and people are in a panic because you’ve not even noticed your phone ringing!

13.  Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.

Sir Arthur Colon Doyle, Winston Churchill and Emily Pankhurst… each have very interesting and different books to their name and I think that combination of guests would create some interesting conversation!

14.  How do your own experiences influence your writing?

I think the Lyme disease has given me a huge insight into how and why people act the way that they do, it’s made me questions every aspect of my life and I try my best to apply that when I’m writing.

15.  Coffee or tea? Predominantly tea.

16.  Paperback or e-reader? Paperback, nothing can beat it… except maybe a hardback.

17.  Mountains or the sea? Can I have both?

18.  Summer or winter?

Haha, that’s the good thing about living in the Highlands of Scotland… you can have both on the same day.

19.  Sweet or salty? Sweet I think.

About the author

I live in the Highlands of Scotland, which is a beautiful place to live. When I was a teenager I contracted Lyme disease and now, as a young adult, (and with my health vastly improved) I have decided to publish my debut novel, Finding Joy. I hope to use the novel to raise awareness for the illness.

Twitter - @MorvenMay
Facebook - @morvenmay
Website –

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