The Evernight has been defeated and the sun has returned, thanks to Larabelle Fox and her friends Joe and Double Eight. White Witches have their souls back and Mrs Hester is no more. It should be a time of celebration and relief.
But a new threat is emerging from the mists of the Veil, the dangerous forest that surrounds the Silver Kingdom’s southern lands. Mysterious killings are taking place, and Double Eight is the suspect. Lara and Joe journey to Lake End to discover what’s really happening, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the secret police . . .
I am thrilled to share an exclusive interview with Ross Mackenzie as a part of the publication day blog tour with Andersen Press.
1. You have such a unique, imaginative approach to witches and magic. What inspired your ideas?
Thank you! I think imagining magic is in our blood as human beings. Cultures all over the world have their own stories, their own magic, and this makes it very difficult to come up with something that hasn’t been done on some level before! But it also gives us a great, varied library of stories and ideas to build upon. So, I think part of what inspires my ideas is reading really great stories and letting them fire my imagination. And part of it is asking questions about things. What if? That’s my favourite question. “WHAT IF the witches in my book were like gunslingers from the Old West? WHAT IF they loaded their spells into revolver chambers on their wands and fired them?” WHAT IF can take you anywhere.
2. You have created some fantastic villains. How do you come up with them?
I’m so happy that you like the villains! Antagonists are so important in any story, because without them we usually don’t have much of a story to begin with! Without darkness, there can be no light, that sort of thing. Often, I come up with the bad guys in my book by simply wondering what sort of person might enjoy making my main character’s life a misery! But, more importantly, the villains in my stories must always, ALWAYS believe that their actions, however awful, are justified. If a villain truly believes that they are on the right side, it makes them all the more frightening.
3. What messages are you hoping to communicate to your readers through the Evernight stories?
It’s a great question, but, honestly, I never set out to write a book with a message in mind. I only ever concentrate on telling the best story I can, and then, maybe, a message or a theme might appear later on as a biproduct of the storytelling process. With the Evernight books, I’ve had people tell me that they see messages in those pages about friendship and bravery and fitting in – and I think that’s great! But really, as an author I like to put my stories out there and let the reader decide what message to take out of it.
4. This is such an exciting sequel to Evernight! Will there be a third book in the series? What are you writing next?
I’m working on something new. It’s top secret for now, but I can tell you that it’s not an Evernight story. It is a fantasy though – a sort of dark fairy tale. I really want to tell you more but I’m stopping it there!
5. What types of books did you enjoy when you were growing up? Did any of them influence your writing now?
I loved, and still love, all sorts of books, but I do have a soft spot for great fantasy writing. Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett… the list goes on and on, and every time I read a book I love, I guess it influences my writing, because it makes me want to be a better writer. The book that started it all for me, though, was The Witches by Roald Dahl. Our Primary Five teacher read it to our class when I was nine, and it’s the book that turned me into a reader – and made me want to be a writer. I still reread it from time to time.
6. What advice would you give to young people who want to write fantasy stories?
I would say that the most important thing you can do when you are writing any story is to try to create characters that your readers are going to care about. If your readers don’t care about your characters, then they won’t care about your story. So, characters are the most important thing. With fantasy, you should work out what the magic in your story can and cannot do – and make sure that there are limits, because if magic can just solve everything, then there really isn’t much of a story at all! Finally, I’d say that you should really try to finish the stories that you are working on. It’s really easy to run out of steam and give up and begin something new and exciting and fresh, but finishing your stories gives you confidence and belief. Once you do it once or twice, you know you can do it again. Good luck!
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