Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Author Interview: Wendy Raven McNair

Yesterday, I posted my review of the fabulous YA fantasy, ASLEEP by Wendy Raven McNair. Today, I'm pleased to say that Ms. McNair took the time to do a Q&A with GJR.

GJR: What made you decide to gear the ASLEEP trilogy towards young adults?

WRM: My teen daughter loves fantasy stories so I knew from the beginning ASLEEP would be a fantasy tale with a teen girl as the lead character. As an African American teen girl, my daughter couldn’t find any age appropriate fantasy stories with that kind of lead character. I wanted her to have that experience so it was very important that I create a character she could identify with in that particular way.

GJR: Did you know at the onset of writing ASLEEP that this was going to be a trilogy?

WRM: Yes! From the moment I conceived the story, I envisioned it as a trilogy, with each book written as a stand-alone story so that readers would have a complete story (with a beginning, middle, and end) in each novel. However, each book deals with a different theme. The subject of ASLEEP, book 1, is discovery; Adisa discovers the super world. In AWAKE, book 2, forgiveness is explored; Adisa comes to terms with her own personal history. And ASCEND, book 3, focuses on trust; Adisa steps into her destiny. Each book stands on its own but also contributes to telling a significant part of Adisa’s journey.

GJR: Micah is very different. Do you find it difficult to write Micah’s character or do you enjoy doing so?

WRM: I love this question! Micah was a challenge that I enjoyed writing. There were two major reasons why I found Micah challenging. First, since Adisa is the narrator, we’re presented with only part of Micah’s story, the part that Adisa knows. There’s so much more to Micah than what Adisa reveals in her limited view of him but ASLEEP is her story so it’s focused on her experiences. The second challenge was showing Micah’s transformation from being robot-like and distant to being a more natural and caring individual. Micah’s story is so much broader than what’s revealed in this trilogy, that I’m actually planning to write a story from his perspective which will definitely be a more shocking read. I’m sure it’ll be extremely challenging but I’m looking forward to it.

GJR: Adisa is a tumultuous teen but she is a strong heroine and very likable. How do you maintain that balance in your writing?

WRM: Maintaining the balance comes by showing Adisa’s negative and positive traits. I like Adisa too and I believe it’s because she embodies the spirit of “girl.” In some ways, she’s naïve but she’s smart and determined, she fights for what she believes in and is passionate in her relationships including family, friends, and boyfriend. She’s also brave, facing up to overwhelming circumstances even though she often feels out of her depths. But despite her many great qualities, she focuses on her faults and can be very negative about herself. I believe these contradictions make her an interesting and likable character because girls all over have experienced these traits and can identify with them.

GJR: I love that you have reading guides for your books on your website! Was that your idea?

WRM: Yes. Readers love to discuss stories and by creating a reading guide, I give readers insights into what I believe are some interesting parts in the book. Plus it provokes readers to think about aspects of the story they may not have considered before and this opens the story up even more which can be fascinating.

GJR: Do you have book plans for what comes after the ASLEEP trilogy? Will you continue with YA or return to writing more fiction for adults like your first novel GIANT SLAYERS?

WRM: Right now, I’m considering a trilogy from Micah’s perspective. So much of his story was left untold because the ASLEEP trilogy focuses on Adisa’s experiences. I’m also considering a graphic novel featuring Micah’s little brother, Jason. So it’s safe to say I’ll be working on YA titles for quite a while.

GJR: Who are your favorite authors to read? Why?

WRM: I shy away from picking favorites because I learn from all authors whether it’s something positive or negative. My advice would be to read the authors you love but also try to add some variety. It makes you appreciate your favorite authors even more and it may also introduce you to new authors that you love as well.

GJR: What are you currently reading?

WRM: Currently, I’m interested in transmedia which is storytelling through several different mediums. For example parts of a single story are told through a book, film, video game, the Internet, etc., in order to create a complete story. One such story I want to check out is the Cathy’s Book series.

GJR: What authors have influenced you?

WRM: The authors who have inspired me include the fearless writers Octavia Butler and Alice Walker however they are not YA authors. I feel encouraged and uplifted by their work.

GJR: If you could pick one superpower, what would it be? Why?

WRM: That’s easy, flight! I’ve always wanted to fly, since I was a small child. I believe it’s because it represents freedom. What could be more liberating than defying gravity?

I want to thank Ms. McNair for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. Now not only am I anxiously awaiting the next installment in the adventures of Adisa, I am gidy with anticipation over the possibility of more from Micha's point of view.

Quick! Go read ASLEEP so you can be ready for when AWAKE comes out later this year!



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