Thank you very much for having me on your blog, Kelly! The Earl’s Childe is a sequel to my first novel, The Kelpie, and it follows the adventures of Heather MacArthur, a modern day 11-year-old girl, as she tries to navigate her new position as Faerie Liaison for her family and the fey who also happen to share her family’s castle property.
1) Is there a character you identify with most?
Heather flows the most naturally from me; that’s why I feel I ended up writing this series in first person, her voice. I was a precocious girl who didn’t quite fit in, and who wanted that reason for not fitting in to be because I was “something special,” and I think a lot of people—particularly fans of SF and fantasy—can identify with that. We don’t fit in with “normal” society, and what better reason than we have a special quest or destiny that some “normal” person just couldn’t handle?
That said, there is a special place in my heart for Heather’s dad, Michael, because he’s rooted in several friends of mine, some of whom are bipolar and parents. You don’t get to see that much in books, and these are amazing people who I want others to understand and love, even when they have their difficult times.
Also any scene with Ehrwnmyr “Ermie”, the kelpie, pretty much wrote itself because he’s such a freaking diva.
2) Is it easier to write the second book in the series or the first?
The Earl’s Childe was definitely easier to write, though I had even more research involved in that. With the first book, there was so much to set up in the world building and in Heather’s huge family, that I thought I needed to include it all—though I really didn’t. There was a ton of cutting and reorganizing to do with The Kelpie.
Though, I’m currently working on a third book of adventures with Heather & Co., The Banesíth, and that seems to be coming even harder than The Kelpie. So, hey, each book has its own personality?
3) What was the inspiration behind the series?
I actually had the story of Heather’s parents in my head before Heather was “born,” which is why her family is so dang complicated. But, at some point, I had this picture of the first child of both Aimee and Michael being something special and interacting with something magickal (because I can’t seem to write stuff that magick doesn’t happen), and Heather and her adventures were born. I think the likely reason that her first encounter was with a kelpie—an evil faery horse that eats children—was because I was a very active volunteer with the Bay State Equine Rescue (www.baystaterescue.org) while this story was gestating, where I got to work with several amazing, powerful, beautiful, and truly terrifying horses who had suffered abuse and were recovering physically, psychologically, and emotionally. If you’ve never seen a furious horse throwing around it’s muscle-bound power, you can’t imagine how frightening it is. Even worse when you’re on the other end of that lead rope!
While I’m not as active with BSER as I was—I now have my own adopted rescue horse to love and nurture—I still help them out by donating a portion of all proceeds from any of my MacArthur novels to them.
4) What are you reading right now?
I read many books at once, actually. I just got What If? by xkcd’s Randall Munroe in the mail, and I’m going through that question-by-question. I’m re-reading my DragonLance novels because I’m in a kender-mood due to both my DMs (Dungeon Masters for the non-gamers) being open to me playing that race. I’m also getting acquainted with the D&D 5th edition rules. I also just picked up Jessica Brawner’s Charisma +1, The Guide to Convention Etiquette for Gamers and the Socially Awkward, because I was just at DragonCon (upon the time of answering these questions). I’ve received a few previews to beta read from some of my other favorite authors that I shouldn’t talk about yet but are awesome! And then I’ve got all the manuscripts I’m editing, which totally counts as reading, too.
5) If you could make any book mandatory, what would it be?
Ack! All the Books! Reading fiction, in general, ought to be mandatory, but I’ve gotten to know so many people through my work as a writer, journalist, and editor, that I can’t really recommend one fiction book that is a One Size Fits All. The closest I’d come would be Black Beauty, which I hope would show how powerful both kindness and abuse can be to all things. If not that (because we live in a world where boys are convinced they are not the audience for a girly horse book written by a woman), then Charlotte’s Web, which has a similar message.
6) What are your five favorite books? You can do authors if it’s easier.
More off the top of my head than if I spent hours debating, which I totally could do…
A Swiftly Tilting Planet – Madeleine L’Engle
The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle
American Gods or The Sandman series – Neil Gaiman
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. LeGuin
The whole War of the Lance series of DragonLance novels – Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (because the whole series ought to be binged as if it were one book… it’s not much shorter, all together, than Lord of the Rings or so…right?)
7) What books are you excited for in 2015?
All the Things written by Darby Karchut. :) (She’s got a few new ones and some re-releases.)
All the (other) things I know about coming from SHP, particularly my authors, like Kelly Hashway, Kimberly Miller, Jennifer Carson, and Jared Agard! (Go look all of them up!)
Mr. Neil Gaiman has a new short story collection coming out in 2015, too, which I can hardly wait for.
There are bunches more, but there are also a bunch I’m excited for in 2014 and 2016, and some release dates are blurring together, so before I get anyone else’s hopes up, I’ll just say Lots!