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Author Interview – Verna McKinnon

January 29, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

verna

What inspired your latest novel?

The Bardess of Rhulon began with the idea of a female Dwarf heroine. There are very few Dwarven heroines in fantasy tales, which makes my story unique. Usually, fantasy dwarf stories are all about manly, dwarves, armored with battle-axes, downing buckets of ale as they braid their long beards. I wanted to expand on a fantasy story where Dwarven culture was more developed and rounded. Then when I had her name, Rose Greenleaf, the story began to unfold.            

bardness

How did you come up with the title?

That was tough, because for the few years as I drafted my novel and made changes, I just called it Rose Greenleaf. When Prince Culain Ironheart, who employs her as his official bard, he calls her Bardess. In my Dwarven society, this was an ancient title for female bards, which is rare now. Her Rose’s world, a proper young girl marries, has babies, bakes pies, and stays home. Rose is incapable of this. This drives her mother nuts. Her nature is wild and her talent as a bard is impressive. Since Rose is from the country of Rhulon, I finally titled my novel, The Bardess of Rhulon.     

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Love your children, but let them grow and become the person they want to be. For women everywhere, you must also rise to become the person you want to be. I love creating tales with interesting heroines. That is my brand and my purpose as an author…to create tales where heroines rule. We need heroines now, more than ever.

 

How much of the book is realistic?

Well, this is a fantasy set in a secondary world. There is magic and magical creatures. What is realistic is the viewpoint of my society structures, customs, and everyday issues. I incorporated themes that people of this world can relate to-arranged marriages, family problems, slavers who kidnap innocents and the law (my rangers) who infiltrate and save people, prejudice, mother and daughter conflict, political issues, and religious strife when faith becomes fanatical. The list goes on. That is what makes my tale realistic-when you add in the real things every society experiences. It is also about learning who you are and who you should try to be.

bards

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I wish I knew these people, but they spring from my imagination in full bloom. If I could escape to a world with magic, I would already be there!

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

Website: http://vernamckinnon.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/verna.mckinnon

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VernaBard2015

Blog: http://vernamckinnon.blogspot.com/

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

This will be a trilogy. I know how Rose Greenleaf’s adventures and how her tale ends. The tentative titles for the next two books are The Rhapsodé Curse and The Sun Blade.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

So hard, so hard….I love them all. Rose Greenleaf, Belenus Ayecroft, her old bard teacher, Red Meg Sparrow, Skullcap Axton, and Prince Culain Ironheart. I even have a fondness for the sly changeling, Crimson, and Beleth, the Goblin Queen.

I must admit Rose Greenleaf is my favorite. She is everything we should be! She is brave, honest, determined, and talented. She takes risks to achieve her dreams. It brings her some regret, but also maturity. She is not a princess in a tower awaiting rescue. Rose fought for everything based on her own merits and talent against all odds. A Dwarven maiden with an old lute and singing skill braved a journey of adventure and danger.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I’m a fantasy girl. I do some science fiction, and have a novel planned (with a heroine lead of course). As a reader, I love reading fantasy of all kinds, science fiction, and even mystery. My writing talent is for fantasy.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

I plan a lot for my novels. From creating basic story, characters, world, races, politics, and religion. All of my novels have a compendium. It is very detailed. Rose’s compendium is 40 pages long, with details on world, cultures, characters, everything. I do not do chapter outlines. I just know where I want to go.

What is your best marketing tip?

I wish I had more knowledge to share. I am still stumbling, finding ways to make it work. Use social media wisely. Make sure you research any media promotions, but it can help a little. Use Canvas to create your own ads for Twitter and FB. Pray a lot.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

It can be both, but it is a long learning process.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Creating new characters and stories!

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My husband, Rick Hipps, is my best mentor/supporter.

Where is your favorite writing space?

My writing desk at home with all my inspirational images and books.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

Some of my favorites are sadly gone. David Eddings, Tanith Lee, Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard. They created fantastic images and rich characters in their tales. I am reading new talents now, so I hope to have new ones to look up to soon.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Ireland. I am of Irish heritage and drawn there.

Do you see writing as a career?

If I ever make enough money at it, I’ll let you know.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Chocolate!!! Cookies are good writing companions. Which is why I have to do extra cardio. And lots of coffee or tea.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

Shopping and adding to my book collection.

Bio:

Verna McKinnon is a writer of fantasy and lover of all things joyous and geeky. She writes obsessively and drinks coffee. Fantasy author of heroines. She is the author of fantasy novels The Bardess of Rhulon, Gate of Souls & Tree of Bones. Fantasy is her genre of choice. You can read her blog and updates, plus some of her previously published short stories at her website http://vernamckinnon.com. Follow Verna on Twitter & Facebook for the latest on her life as a poor, published, but proud indie fantasy author.  

 

Interview with Verna McKinnon…

August 8, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Tenacious – definition: characterized by keeping a firm hold on : highly retentive

Please welcome Verna McKinnon, an author of fantasy and science fiction.

Verna McKinnon

a)      What do you enjoy most about writing? Creating new worlds and telling stories.  I have always had an active imagination.  I like to create stories I want to read.

b)     What age did you start writing stories/poems?  I use to make up stories as a kid.  I was always interested in writing, but too shy to admit it for a long time. 

c)      Has your genre changed or stayed the same?  Fantasy and Science Fiction has always been my main genre.  I am a proud Nerd Princess.

d)     What genre are you currently reading? Fantasy & Science Fiction.  I’m so easy.

e)      Do you read for pleasure or research or both?  Both.  I love researching cultures, history, and mythology.  I am a secret academic from that perspective.  As an author of fantasy and science fiction, it is invaluable to create worlds and cultures in my stories.   You want to develop something tactile and fully dimensional for the reader.

TheTwilightZone

f)       Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? As an adult-my husband, Rick Hipps, who is also a great writer.  As a kid-Star Trek-and many other attempts at science fiction on TV when I was a kid.  I love imagination and where it can take you-I also loved Twilight Zone & Outer Limits.  Plus it was the only place where women had more to do than bake pies.   I was a little kid but they held more interest for me than other things, and it gave me an interest to read the literature on my own. 

g)      Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? Wow.  That’s tough.  I have many I love-even my bad guys like Koll the Sorcerer or Obsydia the Bloodstone Queen.  But Belwyn the owl from my Gate of Souls novel is a favorite.  He is the bedrock that takes care of Runa, Mellypip, and Cathal.  Belwyn is a thousand year old owl familiar with a sharp wit and sharper beak-he takes care of everyone and brooks no nonsense.  His dialogue is some of the best.  He has a dry wit and does not believe in false morality.  He has faced down a heap of evil and tragedy in his life, yet he is the caretaker of the group. 

h)      Where is your favorite writing space?  My study at home with all my little creative pictures and things around me.  Also I love the Seattle coffee shops.  If you give me caffeine and sugar, I am pretty happy.

i)        Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants writer?  I must admit I start out as a seat of the pants writer on some levels.  I was that way with my first novel.  All in my head and I just wrote.  I am better now.  I get an idea and I go with it.  I have scraps of paper and notebooks I fill with the idea for a book.  My initial writing is chaotic with the new idea.  Then when I have written some bits and feel it can grow into a real novel, I begin to format my world/story bible and detailed characters, religion, cultures. 

j)       What inspires your ideas/stories?  Anything.  I am crazy that way.  I play a lot of “what if”

k)     Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?  Alas, I am alone in Seattle.  I want to belong to one again.  Anyone want to adopt me? 

Gate of Souls

l)        Do you have a book published? Gate of Souls, A Familiar’s Tale Book 1.  It is published though Aberrant Dreams Publishing.  I am available in hardback, softback, and Kindle.  You can find me online at Amazon.com, Booksamillion.com, Barnesandnoble.com, & Aberrant Dreams website.  It is a 4 book series and the next book, Tree of Bones, will be out when the cover art is done and we do galleys.

m)   If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? There are so many I admire.  Sadly so many of my favorites, like David Eddings, Roger Zelazny and Ray Bradbury, are gone.  I do love classic fantasy literature so unless we can summon Robert E Howard from the grave, one of my living writing idols is Tanith Lee.  Her “Tales of the Flat Earth” and “Birthgrave” series rock.   

n)     Where can readers find you and your blog?  www.vernamckinnon.com.  That is my website and my blog is there too.  You can read me pontificate on the process of being a forlorn Princess of Heroic Fantasy.  I also will welcome anyone who wants to be a follower on my blog-no weird cult stuff, just writing wisdom and some humor.

owlhead3

 o)      Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?  Yes-I am working on two novels now.  The 3rd in my Familiar’s Tale series, Fires of Rapiveshta, (this one has lots of dragons) and Bard Maiden of Rhulon, a new heroic fantasy novel with a female heroine, Rose Greenleaf, a Dwarven Bard who flees an unwanted marriage in her home of Rhulon for adventure with the tall folk in the southern kingdom of Tirangel.  Well, she gets her adventure-a little more than she can handle too!  

Thank you Verna for a wonderful interview.

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