This week we’re getting to know Mae McKinnon, the delightful author of the Seven of Stars books, The Damsel And The Dragon and Academia Draconia. If you’re a fan of Patricia C. Wrede’s The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, then you’ll love Mae McKinnon’s books.
As a child, Linandra spent many hours slaying monsters and having adventures.
So, when faced with a future containing little in the way of excitement (but plenty of cereals) she gathered up her courage and set out into the world.
It soon turned out that becoming a dashing hero – or any hero at all – wasn’t as easy as the stories made it out to be; if someone’s garden was, say, infested with weedrats, they sought to hire a mercenary, not a waif off the streets.
Now on a journey going nowhere, when Lin comes upon an old barn, all she’s really looking for is respite from the cold. But this is a place which holds more secrets than it does hay and Linandra soon finds herself dragged into the lives of wizards, cleaning-ladies and other, even stranger, folk. Much to her chagrin, this also includes Setharrion, who is trying very hard not to let his own past catch up with him.
She’d spent years looking for a second chance. Now it had found her. Only, it wasn’t like anything she’d ever imagined…
She was, however, very grateful that it didn’t eat her.
Mae is a creature of contradiction: The type of person who loves to discover new things, and faraway places, but worries about sticking her nose into the shop she’s walked past every day for years and years and who can be as much a starry eyed idealist as the most bitter of cynics, about the same thing, at the same time. If you think this is exhausting – you’re right.
There’s absolutely nothing contradictory about her love of reading or writing though – and she happily does both as much as she can (it’s true what they say, there never IS enough bookshelf space). Somewhere along the line, this will, probably, involve dragons 🙂
Incidentally, she also wishes she could type as fast as her imagination runs and that someone really should come up with a reliable way to train muses and characters to stick with the story and don’t go chrono-hopping, explore strange new alternate realities or, even worse, insists on bringing home plot-bunnies.
1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.
Starting with the most difficult questions I see. Ah, yes – introductions, right. Ahem.
Hi there *waves* I’m Mae, Author & MuseWrangler (although that should probably be MuseStrangler on a bad day). I’m the restless type of person who moves (just moved to Malta in October) a lot, homes, cities and even countries. I have more interests than time and would happily volunteer to emigrate to Mars.
Currently I’m working on High Fyelds 1 & 2, the next two books set in my fictional universe “Seven of Stars.” They’ll be focusing more on equines (rather than dragons, like the previous two) and follows Erina as she crashes into a place that doesn’t exist; where electronics don’t work and a world into which magic is slowly seeping back.
You can think of it as a kind of The Black Stallion meets Star Trek, but with magic.
You As A Reader
2. When did you first fall in love with books?
Way beyond how far my memory stretches back. I’ve seen photos of me propped up, less than a year old or so, with one of those square little booklets with pictures on one side and a brief sentence on the other; a simplistic version of the more common fairytales. It’s a pretty safe bet I couldn’t actually “read” them, but they seem to have left a lasting impression lol. Not only do I still love books – I still love fairytales too.
3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?
Gosh, there’s no way I could pick just one. For starters, I’m positively useless with titles and names, secondly, I don’t often play favourites. I remember really loving The Silber Brumby by Elyne Mitchell though. Still do for that matter.
4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?
You know, I have no idea. I mean, every book you read changes you a little (whether you want it to or not apparently) just through the fact of you reading it. But it was probably Malady of Magics by Craig Shaw Gardner that firmly cemented my love of comic fantasy. Couldn’t write comic fantasy to save my life (I’ve tried, and no, you really don’t want to know) but it always lifts my spirits reading that sub-genre.
5. What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?
Ah, finally an easy question. Thank you. The last one I read was Caller the third book in the Naiad Chronicles by Elizabeth-Rose Best aka @InukiBooks. Not only is it a great series filled with beasties and characters you grow to love (and hate lol), adventure, tea and cats it’s one I enjoy re-reading too.
Favourites isn’t really a thing for me (have I mentioned that already? Can’t remember) but one that has stuck with me for a long time is The Fifth Continent by Terry Pratchett.
6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?
I’d love to sit down and have a long good chat with Terry Pratchett about writing. His writing process seem to have been as crazy as my own lol so it’d have been great fun to compare notes on the insanity of being writers.
You As A Writer
7. When did you first know you were a writer?
Not sure I’ll ever feel like a Real Writer. Every time I’m writing a story, thinking about one, finishing it (or not finishing it) or even publishing it, doubt is always there about that.
8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?
Haven’t the foggiest. But it’s a pretty safe guess it was written in crayons and VERY badly spelled.
9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?
The most difficult? Convincing the Muse to cooperate (anyone know if you can trade them in for a new model somewhere?) and not getting disheartened along the way (easier said than done when that old self-doubt sets in).
The best part? Holding that first book in my hands the first time and knowing people actually liked it. It’s little moments like that make all the stress and worry worth it.
10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?
Not sure if help is quite the right word, but it has stuck with me ever since. So, in my first year at university – or it could have been the second, it doesn’t matter – anyway, we got handed this list of rules to writing (most writers have probably encountered versions of that list somewhere along the way, you know, the type that goes a) don’t do X or b) always do Y by “insert famous author no one has ever heard of”) and the very last rule went something like this:
“If you think it makes the story better, ignore any of the above rules.”
It was a good way of showing that there really isn’t one “best” way to go about writing and what one person will love, another will detest.
11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.
Constantly expanding on my fictional universe. I mean, I have a lot of the stories tucked up in my imagination, but I can’t share the dratted things until I actually write them down.
Besides High Fyelds 1 & 2, which I mentioned earlier, there’s a few other stories started (but finishing the two above kind of got in the way of scribbling any further on them until those two are done) but I’m really wanting to try my hand at doing a “choose your own adventure” book (but without the dice). I loved those years and years ago – though I always did roll epic fails whenever I came upon a battle lol.
Fun Stuff About You
12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?
Well, I used to paint – until RSI forced me to choose between painting or writing and I’ll give you one guess as to what I chose. Actually, there’s a lot of *used to* when it comes to my interests. Everything from pottery and astronomy to horse riding and goodness knows what else. I haven’t stopped being interested, I just have no time.
Anime is pretty high on the list of things I do take time to enjoy though.
13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?
Quantum Mechanics is something I’ve always been interested in but am about as likely to understand as planet Earth is to discover stable interstellar travel in my lifetime. Actually, maybe I should just opt for being an expert in the latter instead 😉
14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?
I’d go back to New Zealand, no doubt about it. For a fantasy writer it’s a truly magical place – the geography and geology alone are to die for – and the single week I spent there didn’t nearly do it enough justice. You really need a couple of months at least to take it in.
But if I had to pick somewhere I *haven’t* been – I’d visit Japan.
15. How can people connect with you?
The place I tend to lurk around for writer related stuff is Twitter @mae_mckinnon but if you’re more interested in reading up on a lot of information, you can head over to the website instead; www.Dragonquillpublishing.com – though I’m having some hosting issues at the moment so it’s being a bit unreliable (silly technogremlins)
16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Anyone that tries to tell you that writing and publishing books is an easy, stress-free and/or lazy thing to do because you don’t actually do any work have either a) never done it or is b) lying through their teeth.
If anything, it’s more like voluntarily sticking your head in the washing-machine of the universe and hoping you didn’t forget to remove the metaphorical red socks from the whites before pressing start.
Thanks for letting us get to know you a bit more. I’m loving getting to know Linandra too and watching her grow!
Intrigued by Mae’s books? You can find both of them on Amazon.