Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of Author Talk, where I get to chat up some truly awesome Indie Authors. Today, I’ll be talking with Kay MacLeod, the author of Heirs of Power. Thanks for stopping by my humble little blog to do this interview. Why don’t you pull up a chair and grab a mug of fresh tea. I believe that’s your preferred drink. Before we get started, how ‘bout you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Confession time, I’m a fantasy addict! For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the concept of magical worlds. I was the kid with dragons doodled around the edge of her school work, the one with her head constantly buried in a book. As a teen, I shunned partying to play Magic the Gathering and DM Dungeons and Dragons games.
Through the years, I’ve always made up stories and took characters on amazing adventures, in the privacy of my own mind. Now I want to share them with other people.
I live with my husband and cat in Nottinghamshire in England. When I’m not writing (or planning something I’m writing) I’m usually working, reading, playing bass for my church’s worship team, playing computer games (World of Warcraft, Dragon Age, Pokemon, Minecraft) or drinking tea. (Thanks Nathan!)
Now that we have the easy stuff out of the way, let the real fun begin. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
1. When did you first realize that you had a knack for story-telling? Was it the first time you got into trouble for spinning an unbelievable yarn just to get out of trouble?
Of course not! I don’t get caught ;)
No? Huh, I would have laid odds that’s what it was.
It’s difficult to pick a first time, I’ve always loved stories, whether that’s reading them, playing games, or making them up. And most nights when I was a kid I entertained myself in my head when I was in bed, creating worlds and characters. I’d draw them in the day and write snippets of their adventures, I’ve still got folders full of art, family trees and random pages of writing from throughout my school days.
2. What was the first thing you wrote about? And when did you write it?
The first real stories I crafted were towards the end of primary school, so I was probably about ten when I started, and I was big into Brian Jacques Redwall series. I created a similar world with a medieval-style setting populated with anthropomorphic animals, but with magic, and giant insects as the antagonists. The main characters were squirrels and they were trying to overcome the divide between greys and reds to fight back against the bugs, and then an albino mage shows up… I may go back to it and do something with it one day, young me put a lot of work into it!
3. In what genres do you prefer to write? Which ones have you published in?
Fantasy and fantasy! I also prefer fantasy games, books, art, and anything else that has a genre :D (I’m a little bit obsessed.)
4. When you start a project, do you have an outline you go by, or is it more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of thing? If you’ve used both methods, which one worked better for you? Me, I’m the pants flying guy myself!
I must plan! I’m so much more productive with my time if I know exactly where I’m heading. And I think fantasy has to be well-designed for it to be immersive, if you don’t know your own world and your character’s capabilities, readers are going to feel lost. I use Evernote for keeping track of my planning, it’s so useful for all those character profiles, dialogue ideas and chapter outlines, and you can add pictures for maps and descriptions. Kudos to you for being able to write on the fly though, I don’t just have a story outline- I do one for every chapter! (Not saying I always stick to it…)
5. Do you have a favorite spot where you prefer to write?
I usually write at my desk, in my nice, comfy chair, no sounds, no distractions. Except when my cat decides to lay over my left arm, he does it so often that sometimes I catch myself only using my right hand to type even when he isn’t there.
6. When is the best time for you to write? Probably when you’re all alone and there’s no one staring over your shoulder, right? Me, too.
I definitely prefer to be on my own. Though I’m fine with my husband being in the office because he will be at his own computer and not staring over my shoulder haha! I can write pretty much any time of the day, but I do get surges of inspiration late at night sometimes and can’t help but keep going until the early hours of the morning.
7. So, where do your marvelous ideas or inspirations come from? Hang on a sec, let me grab a pen, I need some ideas for my next book.
I wish I knew… They just come to me all the time, I was once sat in the back of a car and randomly had an idea for an entire world, I have dreams that have evolved into characters, I sometimes burst out laughing in public because some banter appeared in my head. I spend more time in other worlds than this one, I suppose. If I’ve walked past you without saying hi (I do this a lot), I swear that I’m just oblivious to reality and not ignoring you!
I’ll try not to feel ignored if it ever happens. (But I was really hoping for something I could use in my next book). Oh well, on with the next question.
8. Who would you say is your favorite character that you’ve created? Why?
Anyone that’s read any of my interviews or talked to me about my work will know how crazy I am about Asher Grey. And yes, I love his cool power (he can switch the positions of two objects if he’s touching one and can see the other, including people) and his straight-talking snarky attitude, but I adore that there’s so much more to him. Asher has less magic than most of the other characters, but instead of letting that hold him back, he uses what he has in creative and ingenious ways to get ahead. It’s fun for me as a writer to design clever tricks for him pull off, but I also admire him for his dedication in working to be better than people that are naturally much stronger than him. I think it’s a good lesson for people to know that even if they aren’t the most talented at something at the beginning, with discipline and practice, they can be.
He sounds simply marvellous.
9. And what about your least favorite character? Why them?
I won’t say a name, because it’s a bit of a spoiler if I do, but there was a character that wasn’t ever supposed to be part of the group or even involved after the first chapters that they meet him in. But then I changed a few bits later on in the series and there was a gap where I’d shifted another person’s allegiance. So, this guy got the job, and it’s like he just invited himself along, no planning, no development and suddenly I have to figure out the rest of his story around the structure I already have. He’s a decent guy though, it’s nothing personal ;)
Hm. You know, you really shouldn’t be so rough on him, you created them after all.
10. Sorry about that, I get a little carried away sometimes. Moving on. How long did it take to finish your latest project?
I started planning Heirs of Power from about 16/11/14 for a month and then finished the first draft on approximately 24/09/15 (oh yeah, I track as much as I plan) but I had a month off in the middle because my husband was in a motorcycle accident, he’s fine now though, just with a bionic thumb! After the usual rewrites, beta reading, editing, and learning how to do everything because it was my first book, it was eventually released 31/10/16.
A bionic thumb! That would be awesome.
11. How about a little insight into your main character? Is there anything particularly special about them?
The main character is Kitty Fairlow, she’s been gifted with the spirit of The Archer, and has a magic bow that creates arrows when it’s drawn (no ‘hey, Legolas, where did you get all those arrows from?’ here!) she can see about twice as far as a normal human and her other senses are enhanced too, and she’s got great dexterity and reactions.
Kitty’s not your typical main character, she’s more of a reserved, caring peacemaker and she tries not to cause conflict. I was so used to seeing leads that are in your face and beautiful and sassy, and those guys are great, but I figured it was time for something different. Kitty is a bit awkward and naïve, doesn’t always think things through, and she struggles with being in big groups of people. But she really wants to do her best to protect her world and to help others, even if that means she needs to make sacrifices.
She may be a sweetheart, but Kitty is a lot of fun too, with such opposing personalities, her and Asher bounce off each other brilliantly. Their conversations are easily some of the best bits in the whole book, I love writing their banter.
12. Speaking of easy, what was the hardest thing about writing your latest project?
The writing was the easiest part! It was my first voyage into publishing a book, so I had so much to learn, I know I still do and probably always will, but figuring everything out from scratch seemed like a never-ending task. Luckily, I have some great support around me and had a lot of help and encouragement throughout. I’m hoping the next one will be easier now I sort of know what I’m doing :)
13. Where can the readers of my blog, and I use the plural form very optimistically, pick up a copy of your work? Would you prefer through Amazon, or can they just drop by your house for a signed copy? I’d be happy to give out your address. Really, it’s no problem at all. No? That’s a very emphatic headshake. Oh well, sorry folks. I tried, but Kay wants her address to remain a secret from her loyal fans.
Only because I’m one of those people that writes in her pyjamas, it’s not good when someone comes to your house at 3pm and you’re in bedclothes and your hair’s a mess and they want you to sign a book. Unfortunately, this isn’t a theoretical situation, this happened with one of my neighbours- sorry Mick…
So yeah, Amazon’s good! Here’s the link:
14. Since you won’t give out your address, how about some other kind of personal stuff? Maybe you’d be more at ease telling us who your favorite writer is? And how about your favorite book of all time? Please tell me it’s one of mine! Please, please!!
How am I supposed to pick a favourite? There’s so much good stuff. As you’ve probably noticed, I enjoy fantasy, so I mainly read that. When forced into a decision, I generally say Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of The Apt series is my favourite, but I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld too. Indie-wise, I’d go with Susan Kaye Quinn’s Mindjack series and The Emperor’s Edge books by Lindsay Buroker. I don’t think narrowing it down to four authors is too bad, right?
Hey, I don’t blame you, my favorite book of all time isn’t even one of mine.
15. Do you have a favorite TV show or movie? What is it?
I don’t really watch much TV, if I do it’s something to put on in the background while I’m doing housework or eating. It’s generally comedy, like Impractical Jokers or Futurama. If I’m watching films, it’s on a date night with my husband, we go to see all the superhero movies. To be honest, I’m much more of a gamer. I’d rather get lost in a good RPG than stick the TV on any day!
16. Do you have any book in particular that you would recommend to my followers (more optimism on my part)?
Well, there’s this epic fantasy novel called Heirs of Power… If you’ve already read that, I’d recommend any of the ones from my favourite author question, the two indies always have their first book free, so there’s no reason not to check them out!
17. One last question, if you don’t mind. Or even if you do. It is my blog, after all. If your book were made into a movie, who would you pick to be the cast? And please don’t you dare mention LEO!
But…I have a character called Leo ;) and he would be played by Nick Robinson. Kitty would be Daisy Ridley. And I’m terrible at actors so I’m not sure about the rest haha. I have got pictures of people that I think look like them all on my Constellation Saga Pinterest board, and for all I know they could be well-known actors, go take a look!
Well, I guess I can live with that. Thanks again to Kay for taking the time to join us (me) today. Don’t forget to pick up your copies at:
https://www.amazon.com/Heirs-Power-Constellation-Saga-1/dp/1537258281/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491565455&sr=8-1&keywords=heirs+of+power . And follow her through social media at:
Join me next time when I browbeat…uh…interview, another wonderful Indie writer on Author Talk.