My fellow Fearless Fifteener, the adorably sweet Laurie McKay, has a spectacular MG debut due to hit the shelves on February 3rd, and I sort of, kind of, (okay, totally) hijacked her for an interview. :)
The story is called THE LAST DRAGON CHARMER #1: VILLAIN KEEPER and it sounds phenomenal:
All his life, Prince Caden has dreamed of being sent on a quest to slay a dragon. But before he has the chance, he is ripped from his home in the Winterlands of Razzon and finds himself in Asheville, North Carolina—a land with no magic and no dragons. But a prince must always complete his quest. And the longer Caden is in Asheville, the more he realizes there is magic in this strange land after all. More important, there may just be dragons here, too. But what if Caden’s destiny isn’t to slay a dragon, like he's always believed?
Fans of Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil and Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories will be transported by this first book in an epic new series for middle grade readers about a brave young prince’s quest to find answers, honor, friendship—and what it really means to be a hero.
Add it to your Goodreads.
What drew you into your genre?
- One day – poof – I realized the books I loved most where middle grade and young adult. Suddenly, it hit me that I should write in those age groups. I like books with some magic, some fantasy, some supernatural aspect to them. In middle grade and young adult, there is so much room those and also for humor. And my current book – VILLAIN KEEPER – just seemed like a perfect fit for middle grade.
What is your writing process like?
- Usually, I have an idea for a scenario and character. Next, I stare at the computer screen and write a sentence. Then I rewrite it twenty or thirty times. Finally, I force out a hundred words. Then a hundred more. And so on. After a few weeks, there’s progress. Since I do so much staring at my laptop screen, I’m always amazed at the result. Periodically through the draft I get feedback from my beta reader and my critique partner – or, as I call them – my mom and my sister. Also, after I written a few thousand words, I try – and try is the important word here - to outline. And I’m getting better at it. I’d like to one day be able to outline before I start to type!
Is there anything in particular that gets you in the writing zone?
- Coffee, a Diet Coke – I double up on the caffeine – and a table at a local coffee or sandwich shop.
Do you ever get writer's block? Any tips to get past it?
- Sometimes. I went to the NC Writers Network conference a few years ago and a writer gave this basic advice: Write even when you don’t feel inspired. Just get words on paper. Most times, you’ll find they’re just as good as when you feel like your fingers are flying over the keys and the ideas are pouring out. That’s what I do. If I get stuck, I make myself write anyway. After a while, ideas start flowing again.
What inspired you to write THE LAST DRAGON CHARMER?
- In most portal fantasies, real world kids are transported to magical worlds. Often, at the beginning or the end, there is a glimpse the fantasy in the real world. You know, when the girl sees the fairy outside her classroom window, or Dorothy still has on her ruby slippers at the end of the movie. Those are my favorite parts! They inspired me to write a reverse portal fantasy. Instead of the real kids being transported to the fantasy world, the fantasy kids - a young prince and sorceress – get stranded in modern-day Asheville, NC.
Can you tell us a little bit about your hero/heroine?
- Caden – the eighth-born prince – is determined, loyal, and still sees the world in black and white. He wants nothing more than to be accepted by his older (half) brothers, become an Elite Paladin like them, and make his father proud. To do that, he has to slay a dragon. That becomes more difficult once he’s stranded in Asheville, NC, with the fledgling sorceress Brynne.
- Caden is loosely based on the typical “Prince Charming” that defeats the evil sorceress and rescues the princess. He has the gift of speech which allows him to speak any language and also sometimes charm those around him. Brynne is loosely based on the evil sorceress except she’s not wicked and is his closest ally.
Laurie McKay lives in Durham, NC, with her family and two elderly dogs. She earned her bachelor's degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master's degree in biological oceanography from North Carolina State University. She's taught at the Chesapeake Bay Governor's School for Marine and Environmental Science and in the North Carolina community college system. When she's not dodging students and prepping lab activities, she's sitting at a local coffee shop and daydreaming about all things fantastical and science fiction.