Thursday, 31 January 2013

2013 YA UK Debut Interview: Skylark by Meagan Spooner

We all like supporting YA and New Adult debut authors, but this year, rather than just read their books, I'll be highlighting them on my blog too, so you can hear about these wonderful authors.

Today I'm interviewing YA author, Meagan Spooner, whose debut YA novel, Skylark, is being published by Corgi in the UK on 7th February 2013. Read on for more:

Skylark by Meagan SpoonerSkylark by Meagan Spooner - Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.

Lark did not expect to become the City’s power supply.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she’s ever known . . . or face a fate more unimaginable than death.
From Goodreads

Meagan SpoonerCan you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a 20-something living in the Washington, D.C. area of the US. I grew up wanting to be an author (see next question!) but I’ve also had a huge variety of other interests that I’ve studied along the way: anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, marine biology, etc. I travel a lot (I’ve been to all seven continents) and I use a lot of what I see in my writing. There are certain things everyone has in common no matter where they come from or where they grew up—those are the kinds of traits I like my characters to have, because it means they’re universal, things everyone can connect with.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

As long as I can remember—since about four years old, at least. That was when I first found out that books were written by people, and didn’t just magically appear (the world of the four year old is pretty magical all around) out of thin air. As I grew older, though, the magic never faded—in fact, it got stronger. To me there’s no magic more exciting than writing down some words, and then having someone half a world away pick them up, read them, and feel what you felt.

How did you come up with the idea for Skylark?

The world of SKYLARK came about first, while I was thinking about the energy crisis we're going through in our own world. I started thinking about alternative forms of energy, and magic popped into my head--that was where the idea came from for machines that run on magic. The rest fell into place as I went along.

If you could describe Skylark in three words, what would they be?

Dark, magical, twisty.

Why will readers like your main character, Lark Ainsley?

Because she’s real. I love strong heroines, but I don’t think strength has to mean physical strength. I don’t think brave is not being afraid. I think that real strength is moving past physical weakness, acting in spite of fear. Lark is wildly unprepared for life beyond the Wall, and she has more than one opportunity to give up and turn back right when life for her has reached a new low. But she always pushes forward, and she learns, and she makes the tough decisions even when it breaks her heart. That’s the kind of strength I admire, and it’s also the kind of strength I aspire to. I know I’m never going to be able to shoot someone dead with a bow and arrow from half a mile away, but I also hope I never want to. But I do hope that someday I have the kind of strength to push through the hard choices and stay loyal to what matters.

What research did you have to do for Skylark? Was there anything you found that surprised you?

SKYLARK is set in an alternate universe where magic, not electricity, powers technology. Lark’s particular story begins in an alternate version of Washington, D.C. – though that’s never explicit in the book. I’ve lived in that area almost my entire life, so for me it was a lot of drawing on experiences from my childhood. I also used tools like Google Maps to plot out how long it might take Lark to walk certain distances, and lists of the local flora and fauna to make sure everything was accurate. I think the key to a believable fantasy world lies in understanding OUR world as much as you can, because you’re already asking a lot of people to believe in magic... if you ask them to believe that there are tigers and kangaroos living in the jungle behind this desert, you’re going to lose people!

Tell us about how you write; do you write in a particular place? Do you have any music playing? Do you have any must-haves with you while writing?

Before I sold SKYLARK and started writing professionally, I used to have to be at my own personal computer, to work at a certain time of day, to have total silence. And I still like those things, but one of the things that changes really fast once you sell a book is that you learn to write ANYWHERE, under any conditions, because you can’t afford to be precious about it. You’ve got to take what you can get to keep up!

What was most surprising to you during the writing process?

How quickly it all happens, once it starts to happen. Yes, publishing moves slowly, but when you look at the big picture, your life can change so, so fast. I went from an aspiring writer who’d never actually finished a novel to author contracted for six books in less than a year. There’s a tendency to want to run as fast as you can and move forward as quickly as you can, but the truth is that it does all happen fast when it happens—so it’s worth taking your time, when you have time, to enjoy the journey.

How does it feel to know your book will soon be in the hands of readers?

SKYLARK is already out in the US, so I’ve had a little taste of what it’s like for readers to pick it up. But the time is approaching when it’s going to start popping up all over the world, and that’s truly amazing to me. The idea that someone whole oceans away from me will be able to just pick up my book and take a look is totally nuts! It’s an extremely surreal experience, but it’s also pretty wonderful. For me, the nervousness faded really fast, and it’s just exciting to me.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thanks so much for having me, Jo! This was a blast. :)

Thank you, Meagan, for such a great interview! How exciting does Skylark sound? I'm intrigued about the magic that powers things, and how Lark becomes a power supply! Oooh! You can find Meagan on her website, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Goodreads, and you can find Skylark on Goodreads and Facebook.

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