Interview with L.G. McCary: That Pale Host
Updated: Apr 30
When did you start writing in general, and what made you first want to be a writer?
My mom would say I’ve been writing stories ever since I could hold a pencil. I've always had a vivid imagination and loved to read, and whenever a story disappointed me, I would rewrite it in my head. I first attempted a full-length novel in middle school, and I minored in creative writing in college, writing part of a thriller novel for class. My first post-college job gave me a lot of down time where I could write notes and snippets of scenes, and that's when I decided I wanted to write books for a living.
What inspired your plot for That Pale Host?
Years ago, I had a horrible nightmare while I was visiting my family and couldn't stop thinking about it. I can't reveal much about the nightmare without spoilers, but it morphed quickly from a short story to a novella to a full-length novel. I got up at four in the morning and wrote down the first chapter, last chapter, and what became chapter forty on my mom's computer and emailed it to myself. Charlotte, David and Rylie came to me fully-formed, names and all. The characters were so real from the second I touched the keyboard that I knew this story was something special.
Are there any authors in particular that you get writing inspiration from?
I love Billy Coffey's work, especially When Mockingbirds Sing and In the Heart of the Dark Wood. I also admire Ted Chiang's spare but vivid prose, especially "The Merchant and the Alchemist" and "Liking What You See: A Documentary." My writing is inevitably influenced by the writers I loved as a child: Frank Peretti, Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. I think Peretti's influence shows up the most in That Pale Host.
How long did it take you to work on That Pale Host, from start to publication day?
Eight years. Yes, that's a really long time! I got the idea for the book in the summer of 2013 and started working on it a few months later. Between 2013 and 2021, I had three children and moved six times (thank you, U.S. Army). The last move was in July 2021, right before the cover reveal.
Who is your cover designer?
The fabulous Cammie Larsen! I can't praise her incredible talents enough. I'm still amazed she found a cover model who looks almost exactly like the character of Charlotte that I see in my head.
Without giving spoilers, what was the hardest scene for you to write in That Pale Host, and why?
I reworked the ending countless times, but I think one of the hardest scenes to write was an early fight between Charlotte and David. It hurt to see them so angry with each other. I wanted to grab Charlotte by the shoulders and shake her.
Did you cry writing any of the scenes?
Chapter three. It was actually fun to write that chapter until I had my daughter. I cried every time I edited that scene after her birth, and I still can't read it without tearing up. I also cried through most of the story after chapter thirty-seven. I put a lot of my own experiences with bullying, anxiety, depression, and toxic churches into this story. It's a hard book for many reasons, but I hope the ending shows God's fierce mercy and how He redeems our mistakes.
Have you gotten any backlash for writing a spookier book?
Everyone who has talked to me about the book has appreciated that it addresses scary topics and likes the spookiness, but I do have a few friends who refuse to read it at all because they don't like scary books. It's not for everyone, and that's okay.
Are you working on any new books at the moment?
I'm writing a YA sci-fi series about mermaids in the Gulf of Mexico that I will submit to a new publisher in the spring. If you think mermaids should be more like sharks than fairy tales and want to read about hunting giant squid and surviving oil spills, that series will be for you! I also submitted a Twilight Zone-esque short story to a mermaid anthology for next year and should have several other short stories and flash fiction to tell readers about in the spring.
Where can people find you, your writing, and your book?
Check out my author website: www.lgmccary.com
As for my book, my publisher changed hands recently, and I decided to seek a literary agent and new publisher for That Pale Host and future projects. I hope to have good news about that soon. The best way to find out what's happening is to sign up for my email list! I'm active on Instagram and Facebook, but my email list has perks, like a secret spooky snowman story for the Christmas season. Come join my menagerie of minions!