Caleb James

CALEB JAMES is an author and practicing psychiatrist. He writes both fiction and non-fiction and has published books in multiple genres and under different names. He lives in Connecticut with his partner. Editor Liz Fitzgerald Interviews Caleb James, the author of HAFFLING Liz: To start, your real name isn't Caleb James, it's Charles Atkins, why did you decide to use a pen name? Caleb: Yes, totally true. The major reason for going with a pen name is that HAFFLING is in a different genre from all my other books. It's YA−although definitely for adults, as well. But I don't want someone who really likes HAFFLING to reach for one of my dark psychological thrillers, like THE PRODIGY or CADAVER'S BALL and be disappointed, because they are nothing like HAFFLING. Liz: So, how many pen names do you use? Caleb: At present I write under three names. Charles Atkins, which I use for adult mysteries and thrillers, Charles Atkins, MD, which I use for my medical and clinical books, like THE BIPOLAR DISORDER ANSWER BOOK, and now Caleb James for YA. I've also ghost written where my name doesn't appear at all. Liz: On to HAFFLING. Have you thought about writing a prequel? And what do you think about prequels? Caleb: Not before you asked, but it's an interesting question. In general, writers need to know a lot about their characters' histories so in a sense a prequel for Alex, Alice and their mother already exists. It's the story of how things fell apart for this family. It would be Marilyn's first trip to the Unsee, her seduction by Cedric and the horrible circumstances that drew Alex and Alice into the McGuire's house of horrors. It would also lay down the origins of Alex's fairy, Nimby and why Marilyn and the Nevus family are so important to the scheming of mad Queen May. Liz: It sounds like a pretty dark story. Caleb: Yes, but Alex is a hero in the true sense. He saves his sister, kills the man who molested her and is responsible for bringing to light decades of wrongdoing. So while dark, this unwritten prequel contains the story arc of a pretty good novel. Even the side themes of this much-younger Alex figuring out how to reunite his family and coming to terms with being gay...and to having an annoying bare-breasted fairy on his shoulder. Liz: I love that about Alex and HAFFLING, yes, he's gay, but it's not exclusively a gay novel. Caleb: Right, and that's the way I wanted it. Like in the beginning where Alex is laying down the crap-fest that's his life. His being gay is just a part of who he is, and frankly the thought of having time for a romance doesn't even register. Liz: Clearly that doesn't last long. I love the way the relationship between Alex and Jerod comes about, and how you stretched things to where we don't even get a kiss till halfway through the novel. Caleb: Timing romantic storylines requires finesse. You never want to make things too easy for your lovers, because it's the tension−Does he like me? Is he even gay?−that keeps the reader turning the pages. Obviously there are lots of ways to do this, such as boy gets boy, boy loses boy through some conflict or misunderstanding, and boy gets boy again through the resolution of the conflict or misunderstanding. Liz: So when's the next one coming out? Caleb: The sequel is currently swimming in my head, but Charles Atkins, MD and Charles Atkins each have a book to get back to their respective publishers, so the sequel to HAFFLING, which has the working title of EXILE, will likely have to wait till the winter. Liz: Any hints what it will be about? Caleb: Hmmm. I hate to talk about things not yet written, it's the one place I have a bit of superstition about writing, that if you talk about things they lose their momentum and their juice. But I'll give you this, just as HAFFLING speaks to the magic of love, so too will EXILE take the reader through a journey about the absolute transformative power of love.

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