Today I have the honor of interviewing McKenzie McCann from The UbiquitousPerspective. McKenzie is the author of Tread Lightly, her debut YA Fantasy novel.
Here is a brief description:
“2000 years ago, St. Patrick and his Catholics chased Norah's people out of Ireland. They landed on the island of Hy-Brasil and have lived in isolated peace ever since.
The occasional shipwrecked outsider is no surprise to the island, and as the chief medic's daughter, Norah is prepared to care for these strange, ship-wrecked outsiders. But Oliver is a bit different, and he's brought something with him that's about to place the secrecy of the island in terrible danger.”
After reading two chapters of this novel, I was hooked. She has created a magical world populated by interesting characters, and Norah is a very likeable and strong heroine.
My Interview with McKenzie:
Could you tell us more about Tread Lightly and what inspired the story?
You know, this story went on quite a journey before its publication. The root of this tale is based on two things: the St. Patrick's Day massacre and the island of Hy-Brasil. When I found out that St. Patrick's Day is the celebration of bringing Christianity to Ireland, and St. Patrick murdered all of the Celtics in the process, I thought to myself, did any of the Celtics escape? Where would they have gone? Hy-Brasil is sometimes also called 'the other Atlantis,' and is rumored to be not too far from the U.K.
That was when it began formulating in my mind. The Celtics would have gotten on boats and gone out into the ocean, landing on a nearby island. While secluded from the rest of the world, their magic would have flourished into something seriously powerful.. To make matters even more perfect, Hy-Brasil's first documented sighting was in 1325, long after the massacre. I didn't have a real plot until I was offered a contract for the idea. More on that later.
What do you love most about writing?
That's such a difficult question! I love the creative freedom I have while writing. I love trying to improve the craft. I love watching characters and worlds come to life. One thing I love most? I suppose the fact that it exists. When you think about it, writing is a pretty bizarre concept. It's a miracle we even invented it.
Do you have a favorite author at the moment?
Well, my ultimate favorite author is Maggie Estep. My favorite author of the moment is probably Kurt Vonnegut. I read Slaughterhouse-Five last September and now buy every Vonnegut book I see. (I love you, eBay.) He was a witty, witty man. When I read Cat's Cradle, I had one of those, "how did I ever live without this book in my life?" moments.
What are your other hobbies or interests?
I've had an outright love affair with the camp world since I was eight years old. The 'camp world' is hard to explain to people who didn't grow up going to summer camp, but it's that. It's the culture behind summer camp, Boy Scout camp, Girl Scout camp, Outdoor School, etc. I do Girl Scouts and Outdoor School. Most distant acquaintances know two things about me: I write, and I go to camp. I'll finally be on staff this summer. Only an intern, but I've waiting for this for years.
A lot of people have trouble editing stories; can you describe your revision process?
Well, since Tread Lightly is a serial novel, my process is quite different than usual. I look it over once for glaring errors, then it's off with beta readers in a snap. Once I get comments from readers, I edit it up, then pass it along to my editor. My editor, Lucas Beechinor, and I toss it back and forth for about a week, then it comes out. I've been averaging five drafts a chapter thus far.
Can you tell us about how you became published with Spirehouse?
Pure dumb luck. That's how. I'm part of a group called The Pacific Northwest YA Authors. A member of that group, Cheri Lasota, published her novel with SpireHouse. That's how I heard of the company. Last February, my best friend came up with an idea I thought SpireHouse might be interested in. I sent Cheri an email asking for her opinion, and she forwarded it to Lucas. I never imagined she'd do that, although now I couldn't be more grateful.
The next week, I was absolutely shocked to get an email from Lucas himself, saying he was passing on the idea because he didn't want to get involved with copyright, but that he would read any fantasy/sci-fi either myself or my best friend had written. I pitched him my Tread Lightly idea, even though I completely admitted to it being more of a background than a story. His response? A high fantasy novel was just the thing he'd been looking for, and we got to talking about plot. Basically, it's about what happens when an outsider, a coimoch, shipwrecks on Hy-Brasil and scares the island to death because he brings a map with Hy-Brasil printed on it. How do they know we're here? Is this why he's here now? What is he hiding from us? By the way, I'm falling in love with him.
I went from pitch to published in about two months. How did it happen? A lot of luck. Now, hopefully the next step of that luck is selling a million chapters. I can dream, right?
Do you have any tips for emerging writers?
Put yourself out there long enough until a little luck comes your way. Even before SpireHouse, I believed that the key to being a successful writer was plain old luck. It sounds a bit depressing at first, but there are ways you can increase your luck. Starting a blog, networking with writers and readers, write a darn good story, these are all ways to get lucky. Maybe an agent or editor will see you on Twitter, or you'll become friends with someone who makes the Amazon Top Seller list, and maybe you'll write a query letter so darn good it'll be spared from the depths of the slush pile. A little luck goes a long way, especially in publishing.
Amazon (first chapter of Tread Lightly): http://www.amazon.com/Tread-
SpireHouse (first chapter): http://spirehousebooks.com/
McKenzie's Blog: http://mrhmccann.blogspot.com/
Tread Lightly Giveaway: http://mrhmccann.blogspot.com/