Tuesday, May 13, 2014
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Mary Fan
1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
I was a classic bookworm as a kid, always lost in some story or another, and I soon started making up stories of my own. I'd build elaborate plots and worlds in my head for my own enjoyment - even edit them and replay them in my head to get them just right! Then one day, it occurred to me that I could write all this down...
I didn't start writing seriously until about three years ago, though. But once I started, I couldn't stop! Too many stories to tell...
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
I loved reading sci-fi and fantasy, and I was inspired by the authors' abilities to weave new worlds. Michael Crichton was one author I read a lot of. Also the Harry Potter series, of course. And plenty of classics too - Les Miserables, Gone with the Wind, Jane Eyre...
These days, I read mostly commercial sci-fi and fantasy, since I'm a sucker for fanastical settings. I also like thrillers - as long as it has an engaging plot, I'm there!
3. What was the inspiration behind your novella The Firedragon?
The idea for The Firedragon came together from a lot of elements drawn from the real world. The dystopian world it's set in was inspired by the Arab Spring protests in early 2011, when the common people, tired of seeing their nation's riches go to a select few, stood up and said, "enough." But these authoritarian governments had started out as the good guys who brought order and peace to their nations, and so I began to think what would happen if I took this concept and carried it to its most extreme outcome. What if the heroes oftoday became the dictators of tomorrow?
I was also inspired by propaganda campaigns I observed, particularly surrounding the Olympic Games. Nations would rally their people behind their champions to show off national pride, but also, in some places, to distract them from the real problems. Other ideas came from fantastical thoughts I had swirling around in my head - of monsters and the supernatural. And from all this, The Firedragon was born.
4. Why choose a young girl as your heroine?
Because I wanted to show that girls can be both tough and human. There are plenty of female action figures these days, but so many of them are cartoonish and one-dimensional. They're strong and that's all they are. Aurelia is a skilled fighter, but she's also human. The fact is, she's a girl barely into her teens who was raised for one purpose: killing monsters. So she's a little stunted in other areas, particularly when it comes to social skills. But just because she has trouble communicating doesn't mean she doesn't care.
5. How did you come up with the fictional monsters in your story?
Honestly, I just searched my nightmares. Some monsters are based on mythology, like skinwalkers, but for the most part, I just thought, "What creatures scare me the most?" And then I wrote them down.
6. Will we see Aurelia again in the future?
Yes! In fact, The Firedragon novella is the prequel to a feature-length book I have under contract with Glass House Press, Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, which is scheduled to come out in Spring 2015.
I actually wrote Edge of Evil first, with Flynn, of course, being the main character - a teenage boy who rebels against the totalitarian government I'd set up. Aurelia is his companion on these adventures - although I certainly wouldn't call her a sidekick! She joins the effort to resist the Triumvirate and leads Flynn on several dangerous missions. And then, she discovers that there's something not quite right about the freedom effort...
7. Why make the story mortal-versus-magician? That's an unusual yet powerful face-off!
In a way, I'm turning the usual dynamic you see in fiction on it's head. Most stories about modern day witches and whatnot have the magical as a minority fearful of discovery. But think about it - they have great powers! Wouldn't at least some of them become ambitious and use their power to take over the world?
So that's the history of the Enchanters in the Firedragon/Flynn Nightsider universe. For generations, the Enchanters did the traditional fight-monsters-in-secret thing, and were mostly the stuff of legends. Then The Lord of the Underworld released hordes of monsters, and the Enchanters had to come out of hiding to save the world. But of course, the ambitious ones weren't about to go back into hiding - they took advantage of their hero status to become rulers. And that's how the Triumvirate was born.
8. Were Aurelia or Connor based on real people?
Aurelia's physical appearance is based on my kid sister, and so is her nickname, "Firedragon," actually. It started out as an inside joke. I had an idea for a new series, and my sister told me to make a character who looked like her so that if it were ever adapted into a movie, she could demand the role! Meanwhile, her school friends gave her the nickname "Firedragon" for some reason - apparently it had something to do with her hair getting natural red highlights out of the blue. And I thought that would be a cool nickname for the fighter character I had in mind, so I took that too.
Her personality isn't based on any particular person, though. Neither is Connor's. Their personalities came out as I developed their roles - what kind of person would do these things I have them doing? And why?
9. If you were in Aurelia's shoes, what would you do against monsters?
I'd probably be monster chow in a second! I'd run for my life and call for back-up. And if I had anything silver on me, I'd swing with everything I had if they got too close!
10. Why decide to set this in the not-so-distant fictional future of Manhattan?
Because who doesn't like to destroy New York in post-apocalyptic stories?
Actually, it was a setting choice. I wanted to show that this story takes place in our world after civilization as we know it fell. The most effective way to do that was to show New York, one of the US's most powerful cities, as an abandoned husk of concrete.
11. What author (dead or alive) would you love to collaborate with?
Rick Riordan! He and I seem to have a similar thing for spunky teens against evil monsters. I think we could have a blast!
12. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
Hopefully, making enough money selling books to pay the rent and write full time! Isn't that what we all dream of?
I can say realistically that by 2024, I will have at least 15 books and novellas under my name - all sci-fi/fantasy in the young adult or new adult age groups. Because I've got three series on the go at the moment, and I always finish what I start. With a little bit of luck, maybe one of them will become famous...
13. Can you tell the readers a little more about your other works?
Sure! In addition to the Flynn Nightsider series, I also have a YA high fantasy under contract with Glass House Press, Fated Stars. Fated Stars takes place in a fairytale-type land of magic and enchantment. It's a classic tale of good and evil, with the terrestrial creatures fighting the rise of an ancient dark power. But it's also about love, betrayal, fallen grace, and redemption. The main characters are an air nymph who must leave the safe world she knows, a wayward prince whose search for purpose leads down dark paths, a spunky girl who dreams of inventing great things, and a young mermaid queen struggling to keep her kingdom united.
Separately, I have two books out with Red Adept Publishing: the first two installments of the Jane Colt space opera series, titled Artificial Absolutes (Book 1) and Synthetic Illusions (Book 2). Jane is a young woman living in a futuristic interstellar civilization who stumbles upon conspiracies surrounding artificial intelligence. It's an action-packed adventure through space and cyberspace, but also a personal story for Jane, since what she learns endangers the people she loves. I'm currently working on Book 3.
14. Would you like to see anything you've written as a TV show or film?
Of course, who wouldn't? I'd love if any of my works made it onto film. I can see the Jane Colt books as a movie series starring Chloe Bennet from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (hint hint, Hollywood!). And there's enough material in the Flynn books for a TV series...
15. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
Thanks for having me! Here are my three things:
1) I'm a classically trained singer who enjoys operatic coloratura runs
2) I almost always wear dresses and skirts, and I hate jeans
3) I'll eat pretty much anything. When traveling, the more bizarre the local food, the better!
Find Mary Fan online via:
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