Thursday, 23 April 2015

Author Q & A with M. J. Scott

Today I am incredibly excited to be hosting M J Scott, author of the upcoming fantasy novel 'The Shattered Court.' With a UK release date of April 28th we're counting down the final days until it hits the shelves, but to help tide us over until then M J Scott has been kind enough to answer a few questions about the book and her writing process.

For anyone who hasn’t yet heard about ‘The Shattered Court’ can you tell us a little bit more about it?
The Shattered Court is about Sophie Kendall, who is a royal witch who comes into power during a time when the court she is part of is attacked. Which means because she misses some of the normal rituals witches undergo, her power is unusual. And to some, dangerous.

What inspired you to write this story?
 My stories usually start with a character popping into my head out of nowhere. I can't remember exactly where I was but I suddenly had the image of this heroine who was bored out of her brain having a magic lesson when she didn't actually know if she had magic yet. So that was the seed of the idea.

How has the story evolved from the initial idea to the book readers can now delve into?
When I had the initial idea, I didn't know anything else about the world or who Sophie was. For me,  my world grows as I write scenes and have to stop and figure out the reasons behind the things about the world or the characters that pop into my head as I write and that in turn pushes the story. So it's kind of an iterative process. I try to keep writing forward but I usually have to go back and tweak things as I go. When I started the book, I didn't know a lot of what was going to happen. I vaguely knew what was going to happen between Sophie and Cameron and also what the initial political situation was but the detail comes as I write, so it's always a surprise. I often have an idea for the last scene of the book early on but for this one, I didn't until quite late in the draft. So I'm still learning about the world.

What was the hardest part of writing the novel?
Figuring out the last third or so of the book as I got stuck for a while and had a "this is never going to work" moment.

And the best/most rewarding?
It's always getting to the end and realizing that it did all work out. That and creating a whole world to play in.

Does anything particular stimulate your writing and creativity and do you have any set writing habits?
I try to write every day but don't always. I have a day job so my routine varies depending on whether or not I am having a day job day or not. I definitely need to make time to do other things and get out of the house to feed the creative side of the brain. For me the things that seem to refill the creative well are reading, watching TV and movies, taking pictures, doing crafty things like knitting or watercolors, cooking, listening to music, hanging out with my friends. Things that distract me while the subconscious can work away on the book.

Did you always know you wanted to write / what was the point that you realized this was something you really wanted to pursue?
I always loved books. Total bookworm. One of those kids who had to have books taken away from them and be shooed outside to play. I always wrote stories as a kid and loved English at school. But I grew up in a smallish country town and no one ever said "hey, be a writer as a job". So I pursued another career but in my twenties the urge to write kept coming back and eventually I thought I might as well write them down and see what happens. Turned out I still loved to write so I decided to get serious and try to get published. Which was a long process but I got there in the end.

What books and authors have inspired you?
I read a lot of fantasy and romance and always have with side trips off to history, mystery and sci fi. Most genres really, though not much horror. I get creeped out too easily for too much horror. Some of my favorite authors are Lois McMaster Bujold, Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, Jennifer Crusie, Robin McKinley, Jacqueline Carey, Ilona Andrews, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Kelly Hunter, Kylie Scott and Deanna Raybourn. If you asked me for my top 5 fave books, the list would change a bit but near the top will always be Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, Sunshine by Robin McKinley, Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Cruise and Scout's Progress by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 

Are you able to give us any information on what you’re working on next?
Right now I'm writing one of my Melanie Scott books, which is a contemporary romance, the fifth in my New York Saints series. It's called Playing Fast and will be out next year. Other things are afoot but not that I can talk about just now.

And finally, any advice for inspiring writers out there?

Probably everyone says that but just keep writing. Write the books that you would want to read, in the genres that make you happy. Learn about writing too but most importantly just keep writing and going after your dream.

Thank you so much for stopping by and talking to us! Don't forget to pre-order 'The Shattered Court' in time for its release in the UK on April 28th and you can find M J Scott on twitter too!
Interested in the book? Check out the review I posted here.

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