Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Meet Kay MacLeod. Author Interview

1- How did the writing bug bite you? How long are you writing?
I’ve always loved reading and I think that there’s something inside every reader that wishes they could write a book of their own. Even in primary school I was inventing characters and worlds, then I moved on to drawing them and making family trees or timelines.
In my teens, I had my first taste of sharing my creations, a load of my friends and I started playing Dungeons and Dragons (the pen and paper kind with no computers!) and I fell in love with the role of Dungeon Master right away. I was the one that came up with the stories and built the world, and people enjoyed what I was doing. I think this was the first step in me believing that my ideas were interesting and shareable.
It still took me a good number of years to get around to writing anything, even though I had more plans than ever. The final push came when I was in church one day and the speaker was talking about passion, she said we should do something with what we have inside of us, no matter what it is. It takes me time to make decisions but once I have my mind set on something, I go for it- ten months after hearing this I had the first draft of Heirs of Power completed and never looked back!
I started writing around the end of 2014 and I don’t think I can ever stop, some days not even for food or sleep.
2- How long did it take to create your fantasy world? Did it morph into a land all at once, or did it grow as your book developed?
I purposely spent a month before I even began writing just to plan, this included working on my characters and plot as well though. In a fantasy world, anything can happen but it still has to feel realistic inside itself, I like to work out things like how populations support themselves and how people get around, adding little snippets within the context of the plot make the world come alive to readers too. And I try to give each settlement its own feel so they don’t get mixed up in reader’s minds.
The world that The Constellation Saga is set in isn’t wildly different from ours so it didn’t take me as long as some other projects will that I have lined up, one of the main things is designing the landscape so you know what is where and how long it takes to get there- I have many badly-drawn maps laying around, but it works for me!
Everything came together pretty easily from the start but I’m always happy to add to my stories and settings if I come up with other ideas as I go.
3- Do you write full-time or do you have another career?
I have another job, I haven’t been writing long enough to support myself full-time with it yet but I’m aiming to get there. I’ve never had a job that I would really call ‘a career’ because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, now I’ve finally found my calling!
4- Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books? Did they influence your style?
This is always such a hard question! There are so many great books out there. I’ll leave out the big authors you’ve all heard of and mention a couple I adore that are not so well-known.
The Matthew Swift books by Kate Griffin are a fantastic urban fantasy series that really hooked me, they aren’t like anything else I’ve ever read. The magic system is so imaginative and the point of view character is…more than just himself, I won’t spoil it for you ;)
Another series I love is Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt, it’s ten books long and keeps you gripped to the end. The characters are all well-rounded and realistic people, anything can happen (don’t hold onto your favourite characters too tightly) and there are so many cool powers- literally everyone has them, it’s awesome.
I don’t know if any other authors have influenced how I write but I know that the books I enjoy most are the ones with unpredictable storylines and characters that have strengths and weaknesses and quirks. I guess I like a story to feel real, rather than engineered with perfect protagonists and baddies that are evil ‘just because’. Well, real but with magic, of course. The things I’ve read have helped me to know what I do and don’t want from a novel, so they influence me that way.
5- How do you research a fantasy world?
By spending a lot of time there! I have a forty-minute walk to work so I have a good opportunity to hang out with my characters and do some world crafting. Because it is a fantasy world I don’t stick too closely to historical accuracy or worry about little details like if a certain fabric or terminology was used during that time period, it’s not Earth so there’s bound to be differences and if I want bunny slippers in a medieval-ish world, I’ll have them!
I do aim to make the settings believable and I do that by thinking about the wider picture instead of the point where the action is happening. Some novels can leave you with the feeling that the place you are in was made just for the plot, but I like to design an area that works for the people that you never meet but who spend their whole lives there, and then fit my story into it.
6- What are you working on now?
I’m about three-quarters of the way through the second book of The Constellation Saga, The Mage-Lord’s Legacy. I’m really enjoying writing this series and I just can’t wait to get it out there!
7- Where do you see your career in five years?
This series will be finished, I’m planning for it to be four books long. And I should have a book or two of my next one done by then too. I’m hoping that after I have a full series out I’ll be earning enough to be able to drop a few hours at my full-time job so I have more time for writing and I’ll be able to publish more frequently.
8- If you could tell your middle-school self something- what would it be?
One day you will be an author. When you say that’s what you want to do and people laugh or tell you it isn’t a proper career, just do it anyway. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results and even the little first steps will feel more incredible than you’ve ever dreamed.
9- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. Don’t aspire to write, don’t wait or make excuses. Sure, you may not be great when you start but, like anything, it’s a learning process- so get practicing! Think about your favourite books and how they made you feel… you get to do that for someone else, how amazing is that?
10- What has been the biggest challenge in writing?
In actually writing, I have a pretty good flow with plot, characters or dialogue, then I get to what I call ‘a middle bit’- a place between two interesting things that I definitely know what I’m doing in, and I just can’t link them! It drives me crazy. It usually doesn’t need that much to shift it forward but I spend so much unnecessary time trying to figure it out, any advice would be helpful!
There are plenty of much bigger challenges outside of writing though, finishing the book is the easy bit, there’s still redrafting, editing, marketing, cover design and loads of other things to do. It’s all made easier with the help of other people though, I’d definitely recommend getting alongside some other authors and having some kind of support network. Come and have a chat with me sometime!

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.
Mmm, time to put the kettle on…

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