In case you missed it, I posted a review for Caleb Posten’s The Mouth of the Mine on Wednesday! His book will officially be published on August 13th (next week!).
I had the great opportunity to sit down with Caleb and ask him questions about his writing journey and the inspiration behind this novel. I am excited to get to share that with you.
Caleb Posten was intrigued by fantasy and fictional stories with two standing out as pivotal reads in his childhood – The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and the Hank the Cowdog series by John R. Erickson.
The Wind in the Willows had a big impact on Posten’s life and allowed his curiosity to foster. He was drawn to the talking animals that interacted with each other and dealt with real issues. He also talked about how a story like this has stood the test of time and is considered a classic.
With Hank the Cowdog, Posten was thrown into a world of adventure and intrigue where adults saw only a country dog. It was Hank that led Caleb to write his first book when he was seven or eight.
As he grew, he was led to new books by family members. He never lost his enjoyment for knowing where stories come from and the importance they have to adults and children. He continued to write off an on, until about two years ago when Caleb began pursuing writing as a profession.
His debut novel, The Mouth of the Mine, started as two separate story ideas: one about an enchanted piece of land and one about a kid meeting a time-traveling miner in the mountains. Without knowing how these stories worked by themselves, Caleb realized that they worked really well when he brought them together.
The Mouth of the Mine is the third book written by Caleb Posten, the first to be published. As he sat down to begin his first novel he was armed with a pencil and a notebook, where he proceeded to handwrite the next 65,000 words.
After then typing his second book, he felt comfortable beginning The Mouth of the Mine on the computer and typed it as well. As the first draft began to unfold, he was more than willing to make errors. His focus was getting the idea on the page in the first draft as uniform as possible. Going through the book in the upcoming drafts allowed things to become clearer and more refined because he had taken creative liberties to explore his story in the first draft.
Caleb continues to work at a full time job so writing often changes with his schedule and his work load. However, he shoots to write between 2,000 to 4,000 words a day when in the middle of a novel. After he finishes a draft, he likes to let it sit for 6-8 weeks before going back in for another round. This time allows him to clear his mind and think about the story, but also allows him to approach it with the fresh eyes of a reader and editor.
Short Stories: In-between writing novels, Caleb occasionally enjoys writing short stories. These are still hand written and he expresses that there is a “particular freedom with handwriting that I enjoy” during this process.
The Research: Much of the research that went into writing The Mouth of the Mine was supplemental to Posten’s life experiences. The book takes place in the Jackson, Teton area of Wyoming. With his knowledge of the area, he was able to focus on specific aspects of the mining adventures that happened historically. Although most of those expeditions were determined as failures, they provided great maps of the area and drew people in.
Posten also researched methods for mining gold in the mountains. As many Wyoming kids know the basics of panning for gold, Posten wanted to focus on identifying more details about mining that he could mix with Cyrus’s techniques and ingenuity in his own mine.
“Research has the ability to make a story great or really boring,” Caleb says. He wanted to leave his readers with enough knowledge to understand certain processes related to mining and Wyoming living, but not take away from the reader’s own imagination.
As a kid, Caleb grew up in Wyoming where he hunted, hiked, camped, and did as many outdoor activities as he could with his family but also by himself. Although he isn’t currently living there, he finds it easy to write about Wyoming because of these experiences.
“I can take some things and blow them out of proportion and know that it is still somewhat correct.”
It was his goal to bring elements of the outdoor culture and ruggedness of Wyoming to his readers.
His experiences in the outdoors carries him a long way in his writing, but it is not the only thing that has inspired him. “Beyond reading and writing, music has always inspired me.” Posten enjoys anything from “calm easy folk music to heavy metal” and he likes that “music contains a story – a true story or a story from the heart or imagination.” This in turn inspires Caleb’s own imagination and inspires him in his writing (or when he is pursuing other hobbies like playing music and brewing beer).
Reading has always been an important part of Caleb’s life. He told me that he has always been drawn to fantasy: dark, satirical, authors like Terry Pratchett and Terry Brooks. He loved Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia because they challenged him but drew him closer to wanting to be a writer.
As an adult, he enjoys really complete and complex books like Stephen King’s IT, which presents its own challenges as a writer because of its length.
Fantasy resonates because of the complexity and the worlds that authors create with description but also the lack of description. The authors give their readers room to imagine.
“I believe readers are intelligent and have their own imagination. What I enjoy is being able to imagine things for myself. I want to give that to them.”Caleb Posten
Caleb Posten is eager to share his first novel with readers but does not plan on stopping there. He is busy working on editing the first two books that he wrote.
He recently finished writing his next novel and has just dived back in to work on the second draft.
His Advice: I asked Caleb what his advice would be to other emerging writers. He said that when he began writing, imitation helped him a lot. He found writers that he really enjoyed and imitated, and while those stories ultimately got trashed, he was able to create his own style and techniques from those experiences.
“It has always been important that I ultimately write for myself.” He described writing a story that he liked because without that personal enjoyment, it was difficult to get to the end of a story (which is not always healthy as a writer).
“Be confident in yourself and your writing. Learn about the industry that you want to enter.”
If you haven’t already, go check out The Mouth of the Mine on Amazon and preorder it now. Caleb Posten also asked that I mention a kindle deal that will be released shortly after publication!
He is happy to hear from his readers on his website (www.postenwrites.com) and he hopes that you enjoy his debut novel!
Happy reading and writing!