And it’s another guest! 🙂 Yes, I’m finding excuses not to write on the blog – I better write my stories instead! 😀 Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rory Mackay who kindly submitted to my writerly questions!
Where do you live and write from?
I live in a small town in the North East of Scotland called Cullen. It’s right at the sea and is one of the most scenic and picturesque places along the Moray coast. It’s a great place for an artist-hermit. Quiet, beautiful and inspiring.
(ahem… do you have a guest room? Just kidding! Or maybe not…) When did you start writing?
I started young. I first came up with the idea for a big fantasy adventure when I was only about six or seven, precocious child I was! It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I got back to developing my stories. At that time I was kind of imagining it as a movie or series of movies, or maybe even a TV mini-series or something. Who knows, maybe some day it still will be. But, realising it would be far easier to get a book published than a film or TV series commissioned (and when I say ‘easier’, I use the term in the most relative sense — there’s nothing easy about getting a book published!). It was around the time I was 22 that I had developed the story for my first novel to the extent that I felt ready to force myself to sit down and write, write, write.
Funny, I also saw my stories as TV series in the 1980s (when I watched a lot of TV). I even tried to conquer Hollywood, but gave up after 5 years and went back to my first love – prose… What genre(s) do you write?
My books are fantasy, with a touch of science-fiction and elements of philosophy, mythology and mysticism woven into them.
Wow. Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I think there are two types of inspiration. There’s the inspiration we get from external things — other books, stories, films, real life events, people, psychology, sociology and spirituality. Life is full of inspiration in every conceivable way. Then there’s the inspiration that comes from within, from an inner muse I guess you might call it. I think this is the primary source of inspiration. You just ‘feel’ stories, ideas and characters coming to life within you, and your job as a writer is to excavate them.
Yes, I put myself into every story, every scene, every character. Both my novels (“Eladria”, which has just been published, and “The Key of Alanar” which is due next year) feature a strong central protagonist which I poured a lot of myself into, even though both characters are quite different to me. I think writing helps you sharpen your empathy and ability to understand how the human mind works through the filter of different psychologies.
I had a part for myself in every story until the new millennium… now I put a little bit of me in every character, male or female! 😉 Do you have a specific writing routine?
I generally have to write earlier in the day if possible, when my brain is sharper. Sometimes I do a 5 minute writing warm-up exercise to help me get into the creative flow, so the words start flowing. It’s all about the flow, I think. Some days it’s effortless to achieve, other days for whatever reason it’s harder to get into it. While writing “Eladria” I set myself the goal of writing three pages a day. It didn’t matter if they were three awesome pages or three pages of total rubbish, I just had to write, write, write and worry about the quality later.
Excellent method – keep going. Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I find I need a full outline before I start writing. Particularly due to the nature of the books I write. Although quite character-driven, my books nevertheless require tight plotting. With “Eladria” I was juggling multiple elements, different mysteries and threads and I had to be quite clear where and when to place certain twists and revelations in order to give the overall plot and structure of the book the right balance. Once I was happy with the outline, I could just let myself relax and write, without having to worry too much about ending up writing myself into a corner, or coming to the end of the book and realising that the whole plot structure just didn’t work. Of course, there were a number of improvisations happened along the way, including the death of a major character at a key point in the narrative.
I am a slow writer. Like I said, three pages a day! I tried to write as many days a week as I could. It still ended up taking me almost a full year to complete the first draft of “Eladria”. And then another full year to do several successive drafts, and then another year in which I was still going back and changing and refining bits. So it was almost three years of work.
Phew! At least it’s done. I know many writers who never reach The End… Tell us about your latest book
“Eladria” tells the tale of a young princess who becomes a fugitive in her own land following the brutal invasion and occupation of her homeland by a group of religious terrorists. Lost in a hostile and unfamiliar land ravaged by generations of war, Elaria finds herself embroiled in a sinister experiment that threatens to destroy her world and countless others. “Eladria” is a fantasy/sci-fi novel combining action and adventure with elements of mysticism and metaphysics. It’s essentially a story about life, love and redemption; about challenging our prejudices and assumptions, about learning compassion and integrating the darker aspects of our nature in order to reach a place of wholeness and unity.
It’s been published by Cosmic Egg Books and is now available from multiple stores online in paperback and ebook format (links can be found on my website — and I’m also offering signed copies with a free soundtrack CD and bookmark: http://www.dreamlight-fugitive.co.uk/Dreamlight_Fugitive/Eladria.html).
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
I spent 9 years trying to find a traditional publisher. This was prior to the explosion of ebooks and print on demand publishing that have made indie publishing a viable alternative. I eventually found a small to medium publisher to take on my book and I was delighted. While I would have been open to indie publishing (and may be for future releases), I wanted a traditional publisher for my first release to help get my foot in the door. I haven’t had to worry about design, editing, typesetting, distribution, printing and basic marketing, which has been amazing. Of course, I won’t make nearly as much per book sale than if I’d self-published, but obviously for every up-side there’s a down-side. This is life, after all!
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Absolutely! My next novel, “The Key of Alanar” will be published in the next year. It’s already complete, and was written prior to “Eladria”. I also have an idea for another series of books called “The Dreamlight Fugitives”, a quirky fantasy series with a strong sociological and political undertone. I also intend to release a couple of non-fiction books too.
Good, you’re all set, then! 🙂 What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal is to share not just stories and fantastical adventures, but ideas and questions relating to the nature of consciousness, human existence and our purpose in life. According to Joseph Campbell that’s the whole purpose behind myth and storytelling; to help us figure out who we are and find our place in life. To inspire, heal and elevate consciousness. That might sound pretentious to some, but to me it’s the whole purpose of writing. I believe that sharing stories is a great gift, one that benefits both the writer and the reader. Storytelling had huge importance in premodern cultures all across the world and in our dysfunctional, disconnected modern world I believe it’s something we need more than ever.
Best of luck with everything! 🙂
Eladria was released 31 May 2013 by Cosmic Egg Books. Available in paperback and ebook format.
Order from Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eladria-Rory-B-Mackay/dp/1780997906/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369657650&sr=8-1&keywords=eladria