The Madness behind the Passion by Jamie McLachlan


Unlike a lot of authors I meet, I didn’t always know that I wanted to become a writer. Instead of writing stories that received high praise from my elementary teachers, I was just a kid with a wild imagination who spent an exorbitant amount of time day-dreaming. It was only during my first years in university that I woke up one day and said to myself, “I have a lot of stories in my head that I would love to share with others.” So, I began to write.

But, with most passions, there is a sort of madness that follows.

There are various hurdles you’ll experience during the writing process. Writer’s block is one of these obstacles that you’ll encounter, sometimes creeping up on you by surprise. There’s also self-doubt, which some suffer more so than others. Let’s not forget motivation. Are there stories half-finished and collecting dust beneath various other files on your computer? These are all hitches in a writer’s life that most face.

Then, there’s the editing stage—a dreaded game of ‘I Spy’. You’ve finally completed a wonderful masterpiece, something you’ve poured a lot of energy into, only to realize that your manuscript is a worn deck that is in dire need of polishing before anyone can step foot onto it. At this point, it’s beneficial to step away from your novel for a while, acquire beta-readers, and perhaps even seek out an editor. Afterwards, you can approach your novel with fresh eyes, watching out for grammar, repetitive words or phrases, plot inconsistencies or holes, and removing any extraneous scenes.

Once your manuscript is deemed complete and polished, you then have to wade through the publishing world. It’s confusing and, often times, a stressful compilation of cover letters, query letters, synopsises, series outlines, and, if you’re on Twitter, pitch events. In addition, you spend hours researching agents and publishers, only to discover that the majority of the latter doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Or perhaps you decide to forgo the traditional route and self-publish instead. Even if this is the case, it’s still in your best interest to do a lot of research.

I had completed two different manuscripts, and had even gone so far as to write the second book in both trilogies. Yet after sending out multiple queries, the only responses I received were rejections. Both novels had their complications, yet I couldn’t understand why I was reading other published works with similar problems. I kept asking myself, “What am I doing wrong?”

Well, for starters, the first book I wrote wasn’t well-written and the characters were one-dimensional. I also made the mistake of sending out a mass query letter, which was also poorly written, to several agents and publishers without personalizing each.

The second novel was too long. I’ve found that, generally, agents and publishers won’t consider manuscripts over 100,000 words. But that wasn’t my only problem with the book. I wish I could say that all 115,000 words were gold, but, unfortunately, there were large sections that were superfluous to the story. The narrative was also written in multiple viewpoints and was often redundant. One agent regretfully informed me that the beginning just didn’t pull her into the story as much as she wished and would have to pass on my manuscript.

Both experiences had left me disheartened, so I took a break from writing for a little while. But even though I had decided to set my writing aside, the ideas continued to flow. Soon, my mind was brimming with scenes and characters that were dying to get out onto the page. After outlining the novel’s plot, I began writing again and wrote the first draft of Mind of the Phoenix in three weeks.

Such is the madness of a writer’s passion.

Mind of the Phoenix was conceived in response to the abundance of dystopia novels crowding the shelves of bookstores. In these books, I often found that the revolutions were glorified and the cause often a noble one. So I had wondered, “What if beneath those honourable intentions is someone who isn’t virtuous and commits amoral acts?”

In those three weeks, the novel took me to dark places, where I was forced to place my main character in uncomfortable situations. For the first time, I found myself plotting deaths as the novel acquired elements of a mystery/thriller. But, throughout it all, I was riding a wave of ecstasy as my vision poured out of me and began to take form.

So why do I write, you ask?

Because—despite all the anxieties, complications, and rejections—I couldn’t imagine a life where I locked all my ideas and characters behind a door in my mind to never think of again.



Jamie McLachlan is a graduate from Grant MacEwan University with a major in English and a minor in Philosophy. She decided to put her day dreaming to good use by weaving tales of speculative fiction. Avid reader and lover of all things creative, she lives in Canada with her family.







Novel blurb

Moira is a powerful empath, a psychic graced with the ability to read emotions and memories. Her skill is as much a curse as a gift, for in the harshly stratified city of Braxton empaths are slaves. Clever and beautiful, Moira has learned to rely on no one but herself. Determined to escape life as a concubine, she kills her master, and is imprisoned for the crime.

This could be the end for Moira, but the government has need of her skills. A mysterious serial killer known as the Phoenix has been planting suggestions in his victims’ minds that drive them to murder and suicide. To gain her freedom, Moira partners with Keenan Edwards, a handsome young detective, to stop the killer.

Hunting the Phoenix will bring Moira on a more dangerous road than she imagined, forcing her to confront dark minds, twisted moralities, and her growing feelings for the detective.


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