Author Caiseal Mor is here to chat with me about his new
historical fantasy, King of the Blind.
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Caiseal Mor is an Australian sci-fi and fantasy novelist, artist
and musician. Ancient Celtic Folklore has been a major inspiration for his
thirteen published Fantasy novels. Mór also composes and records music, having
produced seventeen albums since 1995. He is well known for his self-designed
book and album covers and his intricate artworks in both traditional and
digital mediums. Since 2013 he has been developing a distinctive graphic art
style and creating digital sculptures in 3D.
bit about your current release.
others, eighteen year old Turlough O’Carolan was struck down. He was one of the
lucky ones to survive. However, the sickness cost him his eyesight. Within two
years of being blinded he’d learned to play the harp and taken to the road as a
travelling musician. In time he’d be considered the greatest of all the Irish
harpers. His music is still played all around the world today.
To the end of his days he always maintained that Otherworldly beings, known in
Ireland as the Shee, had granted him the gift of music and were responsible for
at least some of his compositions. This is a story from a time when the veil
between the worlds was thinner and belief in the mystical “Good People”, was
What inspired you to write this book?
been a huge fan of the music of Turlough O’Carolan since I was a boy. My mother
had an old 78 record of some of Carolan’s music played on the Irish harp and it
fascinated me. In my twenties I was travelling through Ireland listening to
stories from traditional storytellers. I heard a few tales about O’Carolan and
just started collecting them. I never really intended to write a novel about
him. I was just interested in his music, his life and that period of Irish
Excerpt from King of the Blind
long experience of travelling the roads Turlough had learned the trick of
sleeping soundly in the saddle. It was late afternoon about an hour before
sunset when he suddenly awoke from a deep and restful slumber. He shuddered so
violently he almost lost his balance and slipped off the horse.
he called. ‘There’s trouble up ahead.’
you hear it?
I hear voices raised and threats of harm.’
stepped in front of the mare to stop her. He cocked his head but he couldn’t
the road like ahead?’
a sharp bend just there.’
the pistols,’ Carolan advised. ‘I have a terrible feeling about this.’
sure it’s nothing.’
as I say!’
rolled his eyes, sure his master was letting his imagination get the better of
him. But to make him happy he went to the saddlebag, rummaged about and pulled
out the pistols Squire Jones had loaned him. Quickly, he primed the pans from
the little powder flask, closed the frizzens and stuck weapons in his belt.
Then with shaking hands he carefully concealed the pistols under his coat.
not to tremble so much,’ Carolan told him. ‘They’ll think you’re frightened.’
nobody on the road ahead, master.’
why are you shaking so much?’
haven’t had a drink for three days,’ Hugh countered. ‘It’s not fear that’s got
me shaking. It’s the Dee-Tees. I need a whiskey to steady my nerves.’
are you talking about? What’s the Dee-Tees anyway?’
Delany explained it to me,’ Hugh explained, as he led the mare on. ‘If a man
drinks every day his body gets used to the stuff, so much so that when he’s
forced to stop for a few days he’ll get desperately ill yearning for the companionship of the spirit, as the good
doctor called it.’
know that feeling well enough,’ Carolan replied.
Dee-Tees is short for delirium tremens,’ Hugh continued. ‘It’ll make your heart
beat wildly. A man’s hands will start to shake. Fevers and sweats follow. He’ll
act out of character and may take foolish risks. Such a man can become easily
I believe you are now,’ Turlough pointed out beginning to lose patience with
the discussion. ‘We’ve all been there. I didn’t know there was a word for it.
Stop it now. You’re making me thirsty and you need to ready yourself for the
there’s more,’ Hugh went on. ‘A man suffering this malady will see and hear
things that others cannot.’
was silent but the servant could tell by the way the harper frowned that he was
considering the information carefully.
men go completely mad. Some men die. And there’s no cure for it.’
a drink,’ Turlough pointed out.
suppose so,’ Hugh agreed. ‘I hadn’t thought of it that way.’
your mind on the job at hand,’ the harper snapped, ‘Enough of this talk. You’ve
got me worried my life is at risk whenever I go through a bout of sobriety. If
you can’t stop shaking at least try to control yourself. There’s trouble on the
road ahead and we have to keep our wits about us.’
you working on next?
Right now, I’m working on writing and illustrating a Sci-Fi graphic novel called
“Veil of the Gods”. Chapter One is already out on Kindle and Chapter Two is
about to be published.
When did you first consider yourself a
didn’t really consider myself a writer until my fourth novel was published and
nominated for an award at the WorldCon in 1999. There I met Terry Pratchett (
we shared a publicist ) and it sort of hit home that I was an author. I’d never
actually planned to be a writer. It just happened by accident. Random House and
Simon and Schuster published my novels originally, but now the rights have
reverted to me.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
write full time. At the moment I’m working on a graphic novel series that I’m
illustrating as well as writing. It’s called “Veil of the Gods”. Chapter One is
already in Kindle. I’m just finishing Chapter Two. So yes, writing is my FULL
time job. I love my work. It’s easy for me to get lost in it. I’m very lucky to
have a couple of people who drag me out into the sunshine now and then so I
don’t die of vitamin D deficiency.
I originally wrote King of the Blind
in 1997. It took three months. I worked 12 hours a day with one hour for lunch,
one hour for siesta and one hour for walking by the ocean near where I lived at
the time in Sydney, Australia. Each week I’d take a day off, though if inspired
I prefer to keep working. Sometimes ten or twelve days would go by without a
break. I was living alone so it wasn’t so difficult to finish the novel quite
quickly. I don’t plan very much. I tend to just look over my notes and start
writing a novel. I rarely ever start at the beginning of the story. The ending
is much more important, in my opinion.
King of the Blind was originally
called Carolan’s Concerto and it was a much shorter novel. Recently I restored
all the parts my editor at the time didn’t approve of. Now it’s a kind of extended
“Director’s Cut” of the original.
What would you say is your interesting
have a very obsessive routine I follow before I start work. My desk has to be
just right and if I’m writing on the laptop rather than a desktop computer I
have to be surrounded by a few lucky charms. I’ve often got two projects on at
once and I shift between two computers. One will be rendering scenes for the
graphic novel and the other is where I do the writing.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Normal. I was diagnosed as autistic when I was 7 years old. In those days
the rate was 1 in 100 000 people with autism. Now, it’s 1 in 100. So, I was
considered very unusual. I wasn’t allowed to do the things other kids could do,
like sport, swimming or field trips. I was stuck indoors a lot. The only thing
I really aspired to was climbing the mango tree in our front garden. I did this
whenever I could slip away undetected. That was my only real ambition,
especially in mango season. I still love the mangoes from the very top
branches. They’re the sweetest.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
novel is really about the awesome power of gratitude. It’s about focusing on
the opportunities in life rather than the setbacks. Indeed, I personally don’t
believe in setbacks. As far as I’m concerned there are only opportunities. My
work is quite unique I think because it’s based on a mixture of history and
myth. For example, a great deal is known about Turlough O’Carolan but there’s a
lot more said about him in traditional stories. Unravelling fact from fiction
was a challenge when I was researching him. In the end King of the Blind became a story about storytelling.
Thank you for being a guest on my blog!