The Book Beacon is proud to be a part of the 2016 Debut Authors Bash by yaReads! Dozens of first time authors are able to share the news about their published work. Today, author Claire Fayers stops by for an interview and is giving away one signed copy of her book! But first: check out her incredible book, The Voyage to Magical North and my review of the fantasy adventure:
Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past–if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.
When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she’ll find her place in the world. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.
Win a copy of The Voyage to the Magical North, signed by author Claire Fayers!
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What a wonderful adventure – I promise you have never read anything like it. You may have read stories about magic, pirates, princes, frenemies, sea monsters, and impossible odds, but you have never seen these elements combined like they are in this book.
I highly recommend it to middle grade readers and their parents – would be a great book to read together. I know boys will especially enjoy the action, surprises, magic, and all the gross details of life on a pirate ship.
I loved the coming of age of Brine and Peter – they are both victims of circumstance… but they both take advantage of new opportunities as they arise: but these opportunities (and the people that offer them) are not as they seem.
The author mentions a sequel in the interview below, and I cannot wait to return to this world and all that inhabits it!! Kudos to Claire Fayers for crafting such an incredible world full of magic and adventure!
My first attempt at novel-writing was a very dark and serious YA which, thankfully, is still hidden on my computer somewhere. After that, I wanted to write something fun. So I made a list of everything I liked reading about and it included pirates, magic, sea monsters and lots of sword-fighting. Voyage to Magical North is my attempt to fit them all into one story.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
Books were an escape for me when I was a child. I loved adventure books with heroes who’d travel all over the world. Then, when I was a little older I discovered Greek myth, especially great tales such as Perseus and Jason and the Golden Fleece. They were the ultimate escape – epic adventures in a world full of larger-than-life characters, exotic locations and strange monsters. I was soon making up my own versions, though it took me many years before I dared to write anything down.
What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?
The advantage of a fantasy world is that you need to do very little research. The disadvantage is that everything has to fit together and make sense just as if you’re writing about the real world. I had most fun with spellcasting, which I didn’t think about until my editor asked me how magic worked in my world.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Flamboyance, panache and heart-stopping genius. No, seriously, I think it’s just over-the-top silliness and people getting hit with tentacles.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Getting the end right – it took several tries to work out what my evil villain’s evil plan actually was.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Marfak West, my evil villain. He’s clever, sarcastic and has an answer to everything. He was the best fun to write.
Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.
Starshell – a very rare shell-like substance that absorbs and stores magic. No one knows what it is, but magicians need it for spell-casting.
Spellshapes – Magicians cast spells by drawing shapes in the air. Each spell has a distinct shape which must be memorised and reproduced perfectly. These are called spellshapes.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?
Pirates don’t go round marauding and stealing treasure. They might like to think they do but really they are sea-merchants with swords and an over-inflated sense of adventure.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Classic adventure stories from authors such as Jules Verne and H Rider Haggard were a major influence. The kind of stories that have non-stop action, exploration and fights and characters who stay in your mind for ever afterwards. And also writers such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde who played with the idea of stories and brought in a great sense of humour. I didn’t set out to copy any of them but these were the books I loved, so when I sat down to write my list of things I liked reading about (see question 1) a lot of the list came from these authors.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
It’s hard to say because I’ve learned so much over so long. But I’d say, if you’re starting to write, don’t hold back. Be yourself on the page, as big and as bold as you dare and don’t care about what anyone else might think. The first draft is just for you. Have fun with it.
Least useful is all the small rules – don’t use adverbs, don’t say ‘very’, don’t use exclamations etc. Yes, you need to use words correctly if you’re writing a story but these rules take your focus off the story and onto individual words. Worry about these things right at the end, if at all.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I wrote Voyage to Magical North whilst working and I’d get up early so I could write for three hours before going to work. I’m now lucky enough to be writing full-time. I love having the extra time, although it is much easier to waste time when you have more of it. I tried creating spreadsheets full of targets and deadlines but I was spending more time making spreadsheets than doing the writing. The answer, I’ve found, is to start straight away in the morning and always finish up the day knowing where I’m going to start the next day so I can get going again.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
That’s a difficult question because there are so many brilliant books out there. I’m just going to quote from the back cover. A legendary ship, an epic rivalry, a race to treasure untold. And tentacles. Lots of tentacles.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I’m part of the sweet sixteens – a group of YA and MG authors who are debuting this year – and I’ve been reading a lot of their books. There’s a great mix – books that have moved me to tears, laughter and anger, and left me caring deeply for some unforgettable characters.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m currently working on a sequel to Voyage to Magical North in which my heroes will battle dinosaurs and magicians on a forgotten island. I’ve also just started work on a very different historical fantasy which I’m ridiculously excited about.