Sunday, February 8, 2015

Six with Charlotte McConaghy

Imagine you have written a novel during high school and just for fun you submit the manuscript to a publisher after self-publishing it, and they buy it. Wow, that is what dreams are made of, and that was the beginning of Charlotte McConaghy’s writing career only a few short years ago.
Her latest novel, Avery, the first in a romance fantasy series has just been released. So, knowing what curious creatures my wonderful readers are, I invited Charlotte to my blog as part of her blog tour to share some insight into her books and writing process. She also shares some fantastic advice on writing, with which I highly agree.
Make sure you check out Avery, available now and visit some of Charlotte’s other blog tour spots. A few are even running competitions.

    Charlotte grew up with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. At fourteen, her English teacher told her that the short story she'd submitted was wildly romantic but somewhat clich├ęd, so she decided to prove him wrong – and write a novel. Thus began her foray into epic fantasy, with sweeping romances and heroic adventures, and as much juicy drama as she could possibly squeeze in.

    Her first novel, Arrival, was published at age seventeen, followed by Descent when she was twenty, launching The Strangers of Paragor series, which is adventure fantasy for teenagers.
    Soon she started her first adult fantasy novel, Avery, the prologue of which came to her in a very vivid dream. This novel didn't come together fully until she had finished a degree in screenwriting at the Australian Film, Television & Radio School in Sydney, and then all at once it seemed to fall into place. Avery will be the first book in a new series called The Chronicles of Kaya.
    Charlotte currently lives in Sydney, studying a Masters in Screenwriting, which allows her to explore different aspects of her writing and indulge in her passion for film and television. She will, however, always be a novelist at heart, still unable to get her nose out of the books. (Reprinted from Random House Australia website)

Now lets speak with Charlotte. I'm the one in red writing. 

1.   Charlotte, congratulations on your great writing success. Your first novel, Arrival, was published when you were seventeen. Can you tell us how that came about, when we hear so many stories of authors struggling for years to gain a publishing deal?

That one was a bit of a fluke, I think. I’d written that book throughout high school, and then for fun my mum helped me to get it self-published, as I never thought it would get commercially published. Once we’d done that, I sent it to Black Dog Books, which was a Melbourne publisher, and they picked it up, as well as the second in the series, which was a huge surprise. And though those books are out of print now, it really helped to get my adult novels read by larger commercial publishers like Random House and Pan Macmillan, who I’m with now.

2.     Now the traditional question but one I always think is the most interesting to know: What was the inspiration behind your latest book Avery, and how long did it take to write?
I had an incredibly vivid dream one night, about a man being killed in a stone fortress, and about the woman who loved him being bound to die because of it. I woke up and realised it could be a great prologue for a novel, and so the concept of people dying in pairs came to me. I then wrote a first draft of Avery in a few months, and let it sit for a while as I thought about it. I studied screenwriting in that time, and as I started to learn about story principles and craft skills, I worked out what was missing from the original draft and how to strengthen it. By the time I wrote a new draft it was a couple of years after the first, and when I sent it to Random House they picked it up, which was awesome.

3.     What is your writing routine, daily, and over the life of writing the book?
I’m a night owl, so I do most of my writing through the afternoon, evening and late into the night. When I’m working on a novel (which most of the time I am) I try to work full time – every day – for a solid two or three months until I feel I have a first draft of the story. After that, depending on when the novel is due for submission to the publisher, it’s really good to let it sit for a few weeks or months so that you can get some perspective on what it needs. Then it goes to the publisher, and the editing starts, which means I do another draft with the feedback from the editor to help me. And lastly the proofreading, then it’s released. Between books I also write screenplays, which doesn’t take up as much time but is just as challenging, if not more so. 

4.     Your advice for young writers, some who may be just like you were and still studying at high school and, in fact, all writers?
My biggest piece of advice is always the same: write as much as humanly possible. Practice, practice, practice. Each time you write, you’re developing your skills and your voice. Don’t angst over one project for years – finish things and start new things as much as you can. Read constantly – this helps you to establish your taste in writing, and inspire you to be better yourself. Write with passion about things you love – this will come through to your readers and it will make it easier for them to connect emotionally with your work. Lastly, be determined and don’t give up if you happen to get rejections.

5.     Name your three favourite novels and how they have inspired you?
Wow tough question. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor inspires me to see the magic in the mundane, and to write as richly and passionately as I can. Her love stories make me want to write about love, over and over again. The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan really challenges me to think deeply about the thoughts and feelings of my characters, and how I can describe them with depth and insight. His prose is quite astonishing. And lastly, The Princess Bride by William Goldman inspires me to believe in fairytale love and adventure, whilst also trying to find ways to be amusing within those stories.

6.     What’s up next for you?
I’m currently writing Isadora, which is the third and last book in the Chronicles of Kaya series (the sequels to Avery). I need to get this book done by the end of the month for a publication this year. I’m also currently editing a book called Melancholy, which is the sequel to Fury, and part of my dystopian sci-fi series. I’ve been working on a couple of feature films, and a television project. And after I’ve done all of those the world will be my oyster! I’m looking forward to coming up with an entirely new idea for a novel, or even a new series of novels.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit here, Charlotte. Congratulations on your writing success. You are quite the inspiration. Good luck with Avery and your future books.
Thanks so much for having me, Susan, and great to meet you! It’s been a pleasure to chat J

Avery Blog Tour
AVERY is a sweeping fantasy from 26-year-old Australian author Charlotte McConaghy.
AVERY – the first book in The Chronicles of Kaya series – is a novel about loss and identity, and finding the courage to love against all odds. Charlotte has created a vivid and unique world of magic, mystery and, most importantly, twisted and lovable characters. Among the century-long wars and deadly sibling rivalries, AVERY is at its heart two beautiful and captivating love stories.
Over the coming weeks Charlotte will be stopping by a number of fantastic Australian book blogs to talk about the book and answer some great questions.

Be sure to follow her stops along the way and join the conversation using the #Avery hashtag!


• Thursday 29 January 2015: Aussie Author Challenge – Interview and Giveaway 
• Saturday 31 January 2015: Book Muster Down Under – Sneak peek 
• Thursday 5 February 2015: Speculating on SpecFic – Review 
• Friday 6 February 2015: Book'd Out – Review 
• Monday 9 February 2015: An Adventure in Words – Review 
• Thursday 12 February 2015: Inside my Words – Review 
• Friday 13 February 2015: Words Read and Written – Review and interview 
• Monday 16 February 2015: Stephanie Gunn blog – Review 
• Tuesday 17 February 2015: A Word Shaker – Review 
• Thursday 19 February 2015: Inside My Words – Interview 
• Tuesday 24 February 2015: Thoughts by Joy – Review 
• Thursday 26 February 2015: The Rest Is Still Unwritten – Review  
• Friday 27 February 2015: The Rest Is Still Unwritten – Interview 

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