Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Meet YA Author Claudia Cangilla McAdam

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes fellow Colorado author Claudia Cangilla McAdam and her YA novel Awakening. Claudia also writes children's and MG stories.

First, a bit about Claudia:

When I was ten, I wrote my first poem, got great support from my mom and dad (as if they’d say anything that wasn’t positive—I was blessed with great parents!) and received encouragement from my school teacher. I was hooked. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and I focused my education on doing just that. In fact, I was published before I graduated from college with my degree in English.

I have been writing professionally in the decades since then and have penned scores of articles, stories, and poetry for children's publications as well as magazines and newspapers geared to teens and adults. I have written hundreds of reading comprehension passages for assessment tests, and I have authored fourteen published books (with two more coming out this year), including several picture books, a YA work of Biblical historical fiction, and a middle-grade mystery novel.

I live with my husband in Colorado in a home with a stunning view of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains—a soothing scene to contemplate while I write and a source of much inspiration.

Why did you pick to write books for children/MG/YA?

I write for children because I guess I’m a kid at heart in that I have an endless curiosity about a wide range of subjects, and I love exploring those subjects and presenting them to kids at a level they can understand. The beauty of the written word has always captivated me, and it’s the combination of the sound of language and the sweeping sensation of story that enthralled me as a young reader and motivates me as an author.

Because I grew up steeped in Nancy Drew mysteries, it was only natural that I would try my hand at a mystery geared for preteens, and the result is my MG novel, Riddle at the Rodeo.

I never thought I’d write YA, but through my studies of Sacred Scripture (I have a master’s degree in Theology), a work of Biblical historical fiction just seemed to write itself, and my novel, Awakening, resulted.

What types of books do you like to read?

I really enjoy contemporary fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction that sings.  And because I have an interest in theology and scripture, I read a lot of books geared to increasing my understanding of those subjects and improving my relationship with God. I enjoy reading children’s/MG/YA as well—so important to do, as a writer of such. I just wish I had time to read everything that appeals to me. Reading is addictive for me, and if I have any desire to cook, eat, wear clean clothes, etc., I have to force myself away from a good book. Generally, I save my reading for vacations, and I’m one person who doesn’t mind a plane delay of any length, as long as I have something engaging to read.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

In addition to reading, I love to travel and to spend time with my family, which includes my two married sons and their spouses and kids and my large extended family, where I’m the oldest of eight siblings.

Tell us about Awakening and how the story came to be.

Awakening is YA Biblical historical fiction. I never deliberately set out to write Awakening, but three very interesting experiences came together: 1) I kept waking up in the middle of pitch black nights believing that I was waking up a dozen years in the past. I thought I had just dreamed the past 12 years, but that I was really living in our former house and that my sons were still in elementary school. In reality, I was living in my current home, and my sons were in college.  This happened repeatedly, and I kept wondering if I really woke up in the past, what would I do differently, knowing what I know now? 2) I was a Scripture student at the time marveling at all the wonderful Biblical insights I’d never before learned. 3) During Lent each year, I was captivated by the figures that populated the Stations of the Cross services I attended weekly.

Before I knew it, I was jotting down the story of a young modern-day teenage girl who doubts the concept of sacrifice, having lost her father and brother when they died saving someone she deems unworthy. She doesn’t understand why anyone would die for someone else—and that includes Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. When she takes ill and falls asleep, she awakens in first-century Jerusalem on the Wednesday before the crucifixion. She realizes that she knows what no one else does: Jesus is going to die. She sets about trying to stop the crucifixion, and in the process, she rediscovers her faith.

The curious thing is, once I started to write the book, I never again experienced those middle-of-the-night awakenings that made me feel I was out of place and somewhere else in time.

Here's a peek at Awakening:

“I hate you!” I slammed the door into the jamb with a boom, and it shivered the walls down the hall and into the living room and dining room. The china in the cabinet tinkled against glass shelves. The grandfather clock in the entry groaned a gong, even though it was still ten minutes before the hour.

In my bedroom, the knickknacks on the bookshelf tottered and rattled. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the trophy on the top shelf wobble and teeter side to side, like a drunk staggering along a line. I stretched out my arm, but too late. It somersaulted to the floor. The golden, pony-tailed soccer girl, her leg outstretched with ball balanced against her arch, landed upside-down on the floor. Her head and foot snapped off, and the rest of her body broke free from the trophy’s pedestal.

“Ouch!” I said, rubbing the back of my head, as if the injury had been to me and not to the figurine that was supposed to represent me. I picked up the pieces. The “MVP” plaque had popped off the fake-marble base. “Most Vocal Person,” I said, changing the real meaning of the abbreviation. “Why can’t I just keep my big mouth shut?” I dumped the mess onto my desk.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
My other books include the picture book (both print and eBook), The Christmas Tree Cried, the Story of the White House Christmas Tree. When this book came out, then-First Lady Laura Bush requested an autographed copy, and I was invited to the White House on three separate occasions. I have also authored three other picture books that feature the Colorado nature photography of John Fielder: Do You See What I See?, Maria’s Mysterious Mission, and A, B, See Colorado  an Alphabet Book of the Centennial State. Then there’s the MG mystery, Riddle at the Rodeo, an homage to the beloved Nancy Drew books of my childhood. I also have a set of nonfiction books that educators and parents use for character development, entitled Portraits of Character.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Fall of 2015 should see the publication of my two newest picture books: Kristoph and the First Christmas Tree (Paraclete Press) and The Mermaid’s Gift (Pelican Publishing). I have also completed my second YA Biblical historical fiction, entitled Beckoning, and at present, I’m searching for the right publishing home for it. My next big project will be to write the treatment and screenplay for Awakening.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Of course, I could say what other authors say is key: read, read, read. But I’d also tell would-be authors that getting a book published isn’t the end of the process. It’s actually the beginning of the next phase of being an author: marketing. Are you prepared to do interviews, school and club visits, book presentations, etc.? Those things take a lot of time to arrange and carry out, but they can be worthwhile in getting you and your books noticed. Many writers are introverts, and it’s hard for them to get “out there,” but for those who push through that, the visibility can do wonders for not only your own self-esteem, but for the success of your books as well.

Anything else you want readers to know?

For anyone who wants to take a look inside my books, there are book trailers that can be viewed on YouTube for:

A, B, See Colorado
The Christmas Tree Cried

Also, I put a lot of effort into creating supplemental material for many of my books, including book club notes, discussion and activities guides, resource information, teacher aids, etc., all of which are available free of charge by download on the resources page of my web site

Additionally, with respect to Awakening, I make free author visits to show a PowerPoint presentation and discuss this book with school classes, adult book clubs, and homeschooling families—both locally and across the country—and to speak at special events and at religious retreats. Awakening has been published in Polish and German, as well as English. 

Where can readers find you and your books?

The best place to connect with me is at my web site, www.ClaudiaMcAdam.com. All my books are detailed there, and they are available through their respective publishers, at bookstores, and at online retailers such as Amazon (that’s the most complete list) and Barnes & Noble. Awakening’s publisher gives great discounts for sales of sets of books to clubs or classes.


  1. I enjoyed reading this interview, especially the advice for authors.


    1. Thanks, Catherine. I hope this information proves to be valuable in your own career.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

    2. It doesn't matter WHEN you know you want to be a writer; what's important is that when you discover this passion, you WRITE.

  3. Wow! How blessed the you knew what you wanted to do when you were so young! If only it was so easy for everyone. :-) YA Biblical historical fiction?? That sounds very intriguing. Thanks for sharing your interview with us in the Kid Lit Blog Hop, Cheryl!

    1. It doesn't matter WHEN you know you want to be a writer; what's important is that when you discover this passion, you WRITE.

  4. What an interesting concept for a middle grade book! My kids are not that interested in religion so this would be a great way to get them to learn about the bible. Thanks so much for sharing at the Kid Lit Blog Hop!