Disclaimer: As a YA author, I try to cater this blog and our posts to that kind of audience. And even though Cara McKinnon is a romance writer and the material may be a little mature for YA readers, her experiences as an author and her knowledge about the craft of writing can offer some really valuable insight. I want this blog to be about WRITING and learning about the world publishing, regardless of the genre. So hopefully you will find lots of great information in the following interview! Xo - Andi
Interview With Cara McKinnon
How did you come up with your story?
I like to say that I didn’t come up with this story. The story came to me. I had done research and made an outline for a completely different novel, but when I started writing, what came out was something completely different. Etta Mae Cook stepped from the passenger car onto the platform at Waterloo Station and stumbled.
That’s still the first line of the book. I didn’t know who this woman was or why she was in London, but by the time I got to the end of the first chapter, I was hooked on her tale. So the answer is – I honestly do not know! Depending on how you view these things, you could say that she created herself in my head. Or that I’ve read so many fantasy and historical fiction books that it was only a matter of time before those coalesced into my own story.
But I will never know for sure!
What are some of your kookiest writing practices?
I don’t like to write anywhere but at my desktop computer. I tried to write on my laptop for a while, and I can do it (it can be fun to change up the scenery and go to a coffee shop), but I am most comfortable when sitting at my desk, on a full-size keyboard, with music playing and my story up on my big monitor. I’m pretty boring, I guess. I don’t really do anything else that’s weird. I do have a very comfortable memory-foam foot pillow that sits under my desk that I like to put my feet on when I write. Is that kooky?
"Butt in chair" is the only trick I know that is universally applicable. There are all sorts of things that work for me – like turning off my inner editor, NaNoWriMo-style, outlining before I write to give myself a framework when the middle starts to sag, or making sure I have lots of research materials easily available – but the writing process is different for everyone. The only real trick is sitting down and making yourself write. Your version of “what makes me write” is probably going to be different than mine. But it will be just as effective, because it’s tailored to you.
Here’s a tip that is also universally applicable. Find really intelligent people to read your work who will give you good feedback and make your story better!
Book/authors that have heavily influenced you as a writer?
I write fantasy because my dad started me off right as a child with The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I then devoured everything that was even remotely fantasy-like in the library at school and the local public library. But it wasn’t until sixth grade that I read Robin McKinley and realized that girls could have adventures and slay dragons, too. McKinley remains one of my favorite writers. But she’s been joined by others, such as: Kate Elliott, Sharon Shinn, Guy Gavriel Kay, Garth Nix, Anne McCaffrey, Ursula LeGuin, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Diana Gabaldon, Patricia Wrede, Maria V. Snyder, Patricia McKillip, and my all-time favorite author, Martha Wells.
You’ll note there are lots of ladies on that list. I think I gravitate toward female writers because they don’t ignore women in their stories. And the men on this list are all ones that give a decent amount of page-time to women, too. Often in genre fiction, the focus is on the men, and women are there for support or to motivate the hero to action. I’ll still read those books, but they’ll never be numbered among my favorites. I’m more interested in balanced stories that show all sorts of different people and recognize that everyone has a tale worth reading.
If you want to find out more about Cara and what she writes, visit her online at caramckinnon.com.
Cara McKinnon writes fantasy romances because her heart pumps equal parts magic and passion. Her love of history caused her to set her books in an alternate Victorian era, with surprisingly few changes from the real world. She lives on the East Coast of the US with her husband, two kids, and an oversized lapdog named Jake.
Images available at - https://caramckinnon.com/essential-magic-shareables/