Interview with H.A. Callum (Author of “Whispers In The Alders”)

Leigh Holland’s Interview with H. A. Callum

Today I’m delighted to interview the author of “Whispers In The Alders”, H.A. Callum. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for my author spotlight!

Hi Leigh! It’s great to be here, and thanks for the invite!

Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.

Let’s just talk about the book. Just kidding! All joking aside, I like to think that I’m a pretty down to earth guy, but intense at times. I have an amazing family who are all very supportive of me as a writer – especially my wife. Spouses of writers certainly understand what it’s like to live with us, and the crazy hours we keep. But outside of writing, I love to read, and most importantly spend time with my wife and daughters.

Leigh: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Letting go. I don’t want to say the writing was easy, but accepting that it was done – final – no more edits – and sending it out into the world was the hardest part. I could have spent months editing and revising, but after five major revisions I had to put it out there. So yeah, knowing when to say when was the most difficult part of getting Whispers in the Alders on the path to publication.

Leigh: What was an early experience where you learned that words have power?

Not to get too personal, but books became an escape for me at a young age. I was always reading. In books I could find answers, or a correlation to what was going on in my life. The ability for a writer to connect on a personal level with the reader was very apparent to me early on, and I think this has shaped who I am as a writer and how I choose to reveal a story to my readers.

Leigh: Do you read much? If so, who are your favorite authors?

I love to read! I hate limiting myself though, and I have so many authors that should be on this list. My favorites are Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, John Updike, Harper Lee, Philip Roth, and Maile Meloy. British Literature has always been a favorite of mine, and I couldn’t imagine a library without Virginia Woolf and Thomas Hardy. There are so many greats though – far too many to mention. Who did I miss? I know I’m going to catch flack for this!

Leigh: What famous person, living or not, would you like to meet and why?

That’s hard to pin down – there are so many people I could name. I tend to gravitate towards those who choose to remain outspoken rather than seek the safety of silence. Our nation’s short history has a long list of names – from the Revolution through the Civil Rights Movement. Their work is still ongoing, and without their sacrifices, where would we be today?

I was very fortunate as an undergrad at Penn State to have had an English professor who was a founding member of the Toni Morrison Society. Her class was amazing, and of course we covered several of Toni Morrison’s works. I’ve always admired Morrison’s work, especially her style of story-telling. Few authors can weave tragedy and beauty so closely. The darkest depths of humanity are felt in some of her works, yet as a reader, I always felt the pull toward the positive side of the human experience after reading her novels. If I ever have the opportunity, I would be honored to meet Toni Morrison to talk just a little about writing, but more so to be in the presence of a person whose humanity I’ve come to adore.

Leigh: Was it difficult writing from the perspective of someone of the opposite sex?

Of course it was! And it was something from the beginning that I took very seriously, and took great care to do my part to get it right. I knew Whispers in the Alders had to be told from the female perspective early on. My biggest fear was not coming across as appropriating the female perspective from a male point of view. I think (hope) I succeeded there with Aubrey. I spent many hours reading works written from the female teenage perspective, just to try and get Aubrey’s voice down. So far, readers seem to be connecting with her, and that’s a positive sign.

Leigh: Do you write full-time or part-time? How is your writing schedule structured?

Part-time, but of course some days I put in eight or more hours writing, editing, and submitting. My writing schedule is structured between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., give or take an hour on either side of that range. I think my Twitter feed is a testament to that! Family is always first, so once the kids are asleep off I go. And I know I’m not the only one doing this. Writing is a passion, and well worth the sacrifices made in its pursuit.

Leigh: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Just write. I see people throwing word counts out on Twitter and Facebook all the time. But is that quality? So, for aspiring authors, just be consistent in writing every day. Every single day. Word count doesn’t mean much if you’re not writing, right? Go at your own pace and see that project through, whether it’s a piece of short fiction, a poem, or a novel.

It is important to network though. I have an awesome base of supporters on social media, they are my online writers group. We motivate each other. Likewise, I also belong to a local writers group where I can workshop with other writers. If you’re an aspiring author you must be around other writers and you must workshop. It’s the best way to get critical feedback and learn to accept criticism. That criticism will also thicken your skin and serve you well when it comes time to query. For me, querying wasn’t a negative process because I had learned to accept real criticism long before I started the process. Agents and publishers sometimes offer that same level of criticism when you query. Workshopping gets writers to the point of welcoming criticism of their work.

Leigh: What hobbies do you have? What do you do to relax?

When I’m not reading, I love watching movies. I’m also a runner, although not as fast as I once was! Running always recharges the battery and improves mood, helping to keep me centered. Oh, and it’s summer time – so I know I’ll be out tending the grill!

Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and your work?




Amazon Author Page:


Once again, Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

Leigh, I can’t thank you enough for having me here today! It’s been a real pleasure, and I look forward to catching up with you and your readers more on social media!


Whispers in the Alders by H. A. Callum

whispers in the Alders
Powerfully Moving!

Whispers In The Alders by H. A. Callum, Kindle Edition, May 26th 2017, Genre: Coming of Age, LGBT Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers. Note: I received an ARC copy in exchange for my honest review.

by Leigh Holland

Whispers In The Alders is an emotionally evocative coming of age tale. H. A. Callum has proven himself to be a powerful storyteller. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading this book. As the story progressed, I began forming expectations, yet those were dashed as the unexpected occurred at each major point in the tale. Despite this, I was delighted and moved by this gem of a story.

Written in first person style, we relive the journey of tortured teen Aubrey Worthington, the only child of the man brought in to eventually lay everyone off and shut down the town’s factory. Most of the town despises Aubrey and her family. A functional alcoholic from a wealthy family, her mother is cold and distant. She wishes deep down she’d never become pregnant with Aubrey or been coerced into marrying Aubrey’s father. Aubrey’s father never would’ve landed his high status job had he not been married to Aubrey’s mother. He is a workaholic, more concerned with appearances than reality. Aubrey’s worst fear is falling prey to the cycle of broken dreams prevalent in the town and being trapped in Alder’s Ferry with her uncaring parents for the rest of her life. Aubrey’s life changes when she discovers the Alder Stand behind her new home and the boy Tommy who makes it his sanctuary. Neither of these children deserve the abuse they receive from the families who are supposed to love and support them. While most people could never imagine some of the things they must endure, these horrible events don’t turn them into jaded, hateful people. Tommy and Aubrey have each other to lean on and confide in. Their friendship is a beautiful expression of love, the “honest affection” they’d been “missing all their lives”. Although I hoped for the best for these characters, world-shattering events conspired against one of them in the end.

My favorite thing about this book is the way Callum gives each character, no matter how minor, a unique voice. The characters are complex. When Mrs. K does wrong, we wonder if we would’ve made the same choices. She’s not evil, merely frail and human. Although the tale begins with quite a bit of narration, once past this point the story’s pace picks up considerably and remains steady throughout. While character-driven, this novel provides numerous plot complications and a mystery for the reader to enjoy. Strongly moving, it tugs on the heartstrings.

I relished reading Whispers In The Alders. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys moving, coming of age stories. This book is now available on Amazon at Whispers In The Alders.