Open Book Society owner Dawn, has a nice and fun chat with James John Loftus author of Celtic Blood where they discuss the inspiration behind this book’s story such as MacBeth influence and others, how he came to develop his characters, his future plans and more. enjoy!
Dawn: What inspired you to write Celtic Blood? and what kind of research was necessary?
J.J.L.: Celtic Blood was inspired really by the following, influences, bear with me, I’ve thought about this recently, and there are a few. The first was, an episode of Lost In Space. Lost In Space if you are not familiar with it is a 60’s low budget, space, show, a family, the Robinson’s, with Doctor Smith, and a robot, are cast into space. Produced at the same time as Star Trek but if you ask me, Star Trek worked, watching the series once, after that, it’s boring. Lost In Space, is superb by comparison. Anyway, in this particular episode which I always look out for, so I can watch it again – so far, every other episode is on. In the particularly influential episode, Will, the young boy, befriends a Scottish ghost. The ghost lives in a castle. A Scottish ghost, you expect that. There’s mist, creeping vines shrouding the ramparts and bagpipes. All very eerie. I was young and just mesmerized.
Influence 2. I began reading Nigel Tranter. In one of his many books there is a mention of the Story Of Clan MacKay, the reference interested me and I wanted to know more. After some research I thought this would make a good novel, and I wish someone would write it. And someone did!
Lastly, the play MacBeth. The film version by Roman Polanski, was a really big influence. The three witches in scene One, Act One, casting a spell. It spoke to me like the most vivid nightmare but one I didn’t want to end.
All these above-mentioned events occurred when I was very young, about six, Lost In Space, to a young teen. Watch out what your kids watch on tv, who knows what they’ll come up with, even if its in their late 40’s.
For many years i was of the opinion that I had substantial Scottish ancestry and therefore was interested in Scottish history. I am in fact, very Irish. I began reading the Scottish author Nigel Tranter. The history of Scotland is a fascinating blood soaked and dramatic one. As it was a personal interest, I educated myself on the subject. When I thought I’ll write a novel i thought my intense reading of Scots history might be useful, write what you know. However I spent many enjoyable hours researching, sourcing books in libraries, buying books, reading off the internet, and, having seances talking to long dead Scottish heroes and heroines – just joking!
Dawn: Your character development was off the charts. How do you develop each character? And are any of your characters based on you or anyone you know?
J.J.L.: My character development is based on characters in Roman Polanski’s MacBeth, the language and view of the world. The central characters of Morgund and Seward are based on me, Morgund, and my best mate, Seward. I was a young amateur boxer who was mentored by my mate Toby, who was in the Australian side, and a natural. However, i was never as inadequate as Morgund. I was tough, could take a punch, and could punch a bit. But these qualities aside I was just a slugger though I beat a local champion. Toby and i became mates and when I sparred him, I could not hit him, he was just too good. So we trained together and I learned the art of boxing. I will always be thankful for his friendship and teaching me this valuable and fascinating art. I could go on and on about the different, character development, a lifetime of observation. One is based on John Lennon! (Sorry, joking!)
Dawn: What was the process in getting your book published?
J.J.L.: Getting my book published was quite simple. Being a regular Amazon book buyer I saw an article, saying you can publish your self-published book for free on CreateSpace. CreateSpace are really fantastic. Without them i would never have been published. i have been knocked back many, many times. I was often told there is no market for a book like this. You input your book data on CreateSpace, design your own cover and when your book is ready order copies, at cost price. You can sell them for a higher price. It really is very simple and makes it inclusive for those other, like me, who the mainstream publishers deem unworthy.
Dawn: What can we expect from you in the future? Are you currently working on any projects?
J.J.L.: I have just finished my second novel again hopefully published by CreateSpace. Kadachi Man is semi autobiographical. I once wrote a poor film script. I think every writer has done this. I was devastated when told by a producer how boring it was. She also returned it covered in tomato sauce hand-prints, you call tomatoe sauce ketchup. When I mentioned this insult I was told my script was only worth wrapping up fish and chips in. Thereafter i decided to write about the most over-the-top extreme characters and situation I had ever been involved in.
That’s how Kadachi Man was born. A Kadachi Man, the spelling varies, is an Australian Aboriginal black magic sorcerer. In far north west Queensland in the 1980’s these men were not myth they were real. I was in my early twenties and a cop in far outback Queensland. Before a significant corruption inquiry,into the Queensland Police force, many cops were a law to themselves and many were the acts of rampant excess, dangerous, evil.
Some of these acts committed by my friends who were dangerous, charismatic personalities.
I wrote a film script which a major producer optioned. However it never got made because it was written by a white fella, me, and according to the Aboriginal artistic power-brokers in Canberra where the money would come from, it, reinforced negative stereotypes, and misappropriated Aboriginal Cultural Themes. So it ended.
But I always thought it was a great story with significant truths and an account of unbelievable mischief by the agents of the government, in this case, gone quite mad. So I have re-written it as a novel. If you liked the characters in Celtic Blood, Kadachi Man, is also very character driven. These people fascinated me. And what happened is unbelievable but it did, I was there.
Also I have thought of a sequel to Celtic Blood, perhaps, next year.
Dawn: If you could spend time with any author (alive or dead) who would it be and why? What would you expect to gain from that experience?
J.J.L.:If I could meet any writer, I would meet one of the ancients who wrote the Greek Tragedies, any of them, it doesn’t matter who. They are experts of the study of humanity, and story structure, and dialogue. Apart from the stimulating conversations, these men who reveal truths might gives me the answer in how to find some further truths, myself. I suppose though, I’d have to learn Greek first.
Thanks Dawn, I hope this has helped. It is an honor to respond to your thought-provoking questions.
A big thanks to author James John Loftus for a very fun, charismatic and refreshing interview. Until next time!