L.G. McCary is an old-school Whovian (Fourth Doctor is her Doctor) and a lifelong Trekkie. She has a bachelor’s in psychology which means she knows enough to mess with readers’ heads but not enough to diagnose their problems. She globe-trots as the wife of an Army chaplain, homeschooling four rambunctious kids along the way.
She writes supernatural and science fiction with intense emotional cores, complex characters, and intricate theological themes. If you’ve read her novel That Pale Host, then you know that to be true.
L.G. (Laura) graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us. Here’s what she has to say!
1) What is the inspiration behind That Pale Host?
I had a terrifying nightmare, and like any normal person, I got up, wrote it down, and turned it into a novel. I’ve dealt with postpartum depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress with three of my four children. All the fears and struggles I’d had as a new mom seemed to spill out into the story. Charlotte, David, and Rylie were real from the very first page, including their names, and Tori appeared soon after. I’m still amazed at how fast the full storyline came together, even though it took eight years to execute and refine.
2) What are the underlying themes readers are likely to see?
One of the big themes is the sovereignty of God, though it may not be obvious until the end. Christians make a lot of ugly mistakes, but we believe in a God who redeems. I’ve seen how God has used hard circumstances to refine my faith and character, even though I hated it at the time. In Japan, there is an art called kintsugi where broken ceramics and porcelain are mended with gold lacquer. The pot or cup is rendered more valuable because of its broken places, not in spite of them. I hope readers see God’s hand carefully mending Charlotte’s cracks with gold just like He has mended mine.
3) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
My mom would tell you I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil! I decided in middle school that I wanted to write books, but I figured it would be a hobby because even as a young teenager, I knew most authors couldn’t make a living on writing. In college I planned to become a professor of psychology and write novels on the weekends. Then after college I took a temporary job working at a department store and had a lot of time on my hands between customers. I filled half a notebook with scenes and notes, and one day while waiting for a customer, I realized I wanted to be an author first and an academic second, if at all.
But I have to give the real credit to my husband. His encouragement is the reason I believed I could actually be an author. Every successful writer has a relentless cheerleader behind them, and he’s mine.
4) Do you type or handwrite your first draft?
Both! I keep a Moleskin notebook in my purse at all times to write scenes as they come, and when I am fighting writer’s block, hand writing usually knocks it out. But I also write a ton on my computer because I type a lot faster than I write by hand.
5) What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Here’s where I’m weird: editing. I love refining each chapter. I could fiddle with my prose for decades if allowed.
6) Is there an aspect of writing you struggle with?
The first draft. I am a perfectionist, and I have a hard time putting ideas on the page. I want it to be right the first time, and it rarely is.
7) Describe your daily writing routine.
I don’t have one. Ha! I’m a homeschooling mama of four, and my days are so different that I never know how much time I’ll have to write. That’s why I keep a notebook with me. Even if I can’t write for very long, I know I can get my thoughts on paper for later. When all the stars align, I escape to the library or Barnes and Noble to write for a few hours on Saturdays.
8) Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?
That Pale Host is probably most heavily influenced by Frank Peretti and Billy Coffey. I discovered Coffey near the end of writing the book and can see how his lyrical style influenced some of the editing. I’ve read almost everything Peretti has ever written, so you will probably notice similarities in my supernatural elements. I also love Madeleine L’Engle, Flannery O’Connor, and Ted Chiang, and I’m drawn to beautiful prose no matter the genre.
9) What’s the last novel you read and enjoyed?
When the English Fall by David Williams. It’s a post-apocalyptic Amish novel with a simple but beautiful writing style. It’s a heartbreaking but powerful story, and I’ve been telling everyone I know to read it.
10) What’s the last book you read on writing?
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is my go-to. I’m currently working through Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle. She gives you a lot to chew on, so it’s taking me a while!
11) What are you working on now?
What little time I have for writing is poured into a story about a pastor’s wife in rural Oklahoma being stalked by supernatural entities. I have ideas for novels about mermaids in the Gulf of Mexico, green men on Mars, and whimsical potion sellers, but my heart keeps tugging me back to that little broken church. But if you want some bite-sized fiction sooner than later, I have a short story called “Breathe the Sea” in the Fantasea anthology coming August 8, 2022!
12) Is there anything else you want to share with readers or fellow writers?
For readers, if you’ve struggled with depression or anxiety or PTSD, I hope you feel seen and understood after reading That Pale Host. If you haven’t been through those things, I hope the book gives you sympathy and compassion toward the people in your life who have. Christians struggle with mental health issues, too. It doesn’t mean you’re less holy or have weak faith.
For fellow writers, it’s easy to think that once your first book is published everything will get easier. Sorry to burst your bubble: it doesn’t. Writing will probably get harder in many ways! Be careful to examine your heart to see if you’re making an idol of being an author before you get that first royalty check. We must root our value in the God who gave us our talents, not the talent itself. Only when you find your worth in Christ alone will you be brave enough to write world-changing stories. This is a lesson I’ve been muddling through for months now, so I’m preaching to myself as much as to other writers.
A big THANK YOU to Laura for taking the time to answer these questions!
You can read my review of That Pale Host here.