I’m so psyched to extend my previous InternView with Fiona McLaren into a full on author interview. I have had the honor of critiquing a bit of Fiona’s work and every time I turn a page my jaw drops. Her writing skills truly inspired me to be a better writer. They are unlike any other. The fabulous super-agent Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary Agency, represents Fiona. Fiona’s novels THE SUM OF IT and OVERTOUN BRIDGE are currently on submission.
SO, here we go with some author-like Q&A.
1. What are your top three favorite novels?
The Tales and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by Robert Hogg, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and The Dark Material series by Phillip Pulman.
2. Are you a one-genre writer? Or do you genre hop?
I do tend to genre hope. I like YA dark genres mostly – gothic horror, dark contemporary, urban fantasy – but I also like to work on some lighter MG – adventure, light sci-fi, fantasy.
3. How many MS’s do you currently have on submission? Any new MS’s on sub? Can you throw out an example of a stellar elevator pitch?
I have two Mss on submissions right now. A dark YA contemporary thriller, and a YA Gothic horor. I have several fulls out with major publishers on the thriller, and the Gothic horror is going out on sub this week, so fingers crossed!
A stellar elevator pitch? Agh. Lol. I can give mine, but I don’t know if it’s stellar or not!! Here it is for the Gothic Horror:
OVERTOUN BRIDGE is The Picture of Dorian Gray meets the Labyrinth. When seventeen-year-old Dillan Cross’s friend is sucked through the stonework of Overtoun Bridge and into a terrifying labyrinth run by Jack the Ripper, Dillan must decide whether to go after her. When he does, he discovers he has more than serial killers to deal with, because there is man called Gideon who aims to steal the souls of those who have crossed over and it is up to Dillan to stop him, or he won’t get home.
4. Do you approach writing each manuscripts differently? Or do you set a pretty set schedule you’re your daily writing?
I never schedule and each manuscript has its own process. I just let it come out any way it wants too.
5. How many works in progress do you tackle at a time?
I always have a lot of projects on the boil. But then I’ll have a “main baby” and that gets the lion’s share of my time.
6. What’s helped you the most with developing your writing voice?
Taking risks in my writing. Once I started taking risks and doing it my way, I found my voice. I learned all the writing rules so that I could choose when to break one for my own purposes. Knowing the rules is very, very important!
7. Do you have any advice you’d like to offer a writer staring at their first manuscript?
Focus your character motivations. Really keep in mind what it is that your character wants and make the reader want that for them too. You can get away with a lot of mistakes if the character/reader connection is there. It’s vital.
Fiona, thank you so much for subjecting yourself to TWO rounds of interview questions! I love your advice about focusing your characters’ motivations. And, it’s nice to meet someone else who approaches each manuscript differently! I rotate between writing on the fly and outlining. Each manuscript calls for a different approach!