The author Marie Mackay kindly gifted me an ARC of her debut fantasy novel, ‘A World Through Sapphire Eyes.’ I loved it… as you can probably tell by the 5/5 I gave it for my review.
So I was incredibly excited when Marie agreed to do an interview with me. Let’s get started!
1. Let’s start with three facts about you!
I enlisted my husband to help me answer this question, so he contributed the first fact:
- I sometimes get so involved with my writing that I would 100% starve if my husband didn’t feed me.
- I have a beautiful bengal kitty who is my baby (and can yowl just as much as one)
- I am a pusheen addict, for anyone who has seen my instagram, I have years worth of pusheen subscription box goodies that I always try to take my book pictures with
2. What’s your favourite book and why?
Right now my favorite book is A House of Earth and Blood, the protagonist is my favorite female protagonist of all time, and the friendship in that book just had me since page one. Of all time, my favorite book is probably any of the Brandon Sanderson Mistborn series, I just loved all of them so much, I am a huge fan of fast paced fantasy! (The Wheel of Time is hard on those heels though) But the full series may be cheating.
3. Where did you get your inspiration for your novel, A World Through Sapphire Eyes?
First, and more than anything else, I absolutely loved Avatar the Last Airbender growing up, I wanted to explore it, but as a hard magic system rather than a soft magic system. (I rewatch the series yearly) The world building was inspired also by Shannon Hale’s books (The Goose Girl and Enna Burning), Harry Potter, and Brandon Sanderson.
4. What was your process for building the world and political structures in your novel?
Man, this is a tough question! For politics it’s quite easy. I absolutely love learning about politics in real life. One of the podcast apps once listed me over a period of a few months having listened to 20+ hours of podcasts a week, and those were all political podcasts. I find that sort of thing super interesting!
As for other world building, I have been working on this world since I was 11 years old, I have previously mentioned my inspirations, however I love to do my own research. I once stayed up for two days straight watching a continuous stream of videos on youtube about all elements in the periodic table, believing that it may help me develop the elemental magic in the world. It did, though my body didn’t thank me for it. (Also, I am super excited for book 2 for this reason, it will explore some really fun elements and powers!)
As a writer I am definitely a world builder and planner, but that usually works out quite well for me. I often take time from writing to let the story ‘simmer’ for a while. It’s a perfect moment for extensive world building. It doesn’t throw me off too much, as once I get back to writing I can usually get a draft done very quickly.
5. You designed the gorgeous cover to your book yourself – how did the vision come to life?
Oh! This is just one of my favorite parts of my novel release. I never envisioned myself being able to design my own cover, but I do have a history in graphic design (short time in university) and 10+ of self teaching digital-art via incredible free online resources. I have drawn for as long as I can remember and it’s always been hand in hand with my writing.
I started messing around with a cover design for my beta copies of the book. At first I made a lackluster version, but once I started in ernest, there was no turning back. It was when I held the first beta copy in my hand that I knew I wanted to get to the finish, from the cover all the way to the formatting.
Something else to note was that the ice texture of the book was a photo taken by my sister, Katy. She saw the cover in process (I was using stock ice photos) and offered to send me some of the photos she had taken during winter in Cranbrooke, BC while she was taking nursing. The pictures were beautiful and it was one of those that I landed on for the final book design.
6. Do you think your job as a nurse influences your writing in anyway?
Very much so, I love my work as a nurse and I think that the interactions I have and the difficulties I face all contribute to my direction as an author. My job helps me keep grounded and keep on track with the values I want to project into the pages. This comes from both my interactions with the diverse people I meet, and the crazy situations they are sometimes in, and also from the struggles I face when working the wards.
7. What are you working on next? Will we be lucky enough to get a sequel to A World Through Sapphire Eyes?
100% yes! As I answer this I am already 10k words into the novel (with another 30K words of alternative storylines that I can extract from to apply to the book as well!) I have gone through a lot of changes in life and in work since I wrote the first book, and so I am so fuelled to write this novel, I feel it’s been sitting there and waiting for me for a long time. There are lots of things I discover about myself through my writing, and I know book two is going to be packed with journeys that mean a lot to me.
The reviews from ARC readers are already making my writing stronger. This book is a projected trilogy, with a follow up series planned. I also have 2 prequels that have been drafted multiple times at about 60K each.
Also on a funny note, I wrote an early draft of AWTSE years ago, and when I finished it I began on the sequel then too. I recently rediscovered that sequel and found it half way done at 116K words. Unfortunately, most of the plotlines have changed so much from that original draft that it’s mostly unusable! That’s okay though, those 116K words all helped me get where I am now, and I think it still holds some character growth gems I can extract from.
Marie’s book is out on July 1st 2020! To buy a copy yourself:
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08BKRKVT9/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08BKRKVT9/