One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. In the Finals I’m taking part in the competition as one of the judges in Fantasy Book Review‘s team. As I did with our group’s authors, I decided to offer a spot to the Finalists too to be featured on my blog. You can check out all of our content during Phase 1, and everything that’s happening during the Finals on my SPFBO 4 page!
Megan Crewe lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and son. She’s been making up stories about magic and spirits and other what ifs since before she knew how to write words on paper. These days the stories are just a lot longer. Her YA novels include the paranormal GIVE UP THE GHOST, post-apocalyptic the Fallen World series, the sci-fi Earth & Sky trilogy, the contemporary fantasy A MORTAL SONG, the supernatural thriller BEAST, and the urban fantasy Conspiracy of Magic series.
Welcome to the Asylum! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
I’m Canadian and currently staring down a lot of snow outside my window (so that fire sounds very nice!), from a house I share with my husband, our son, and two cats. I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid (though hopefully they’ve matured some along the way). And my favorite thing to do other than writing is exploring the world—I’ve visited about a dozen countries other than my own across three continents, with a long list I’m hoping to make it to someday.
Say, you can live in the fantasy house/lair of your dreams. What would it look like?
A brick Victorian in excellent condition, with original moldings and hardwood, as well as a turret. Must contain a large personal library with built-in shelves. Also several bedrooms for my family plus office space plus having people stay over for mini writing retreats. Oh, and a big grassy yard with a lilac tree. This would all magically be in the middle of Toronto so I still have access to all my favorite restaurants, museums, etc., of course.
What is your favorite fantasy creature and why?
Probably dragons. There’s so much possible variation in their appearance and temperament, but you pretty much would never want to mess with one, and flight + fire-breathing is a pretty awesome combination.
Why did you decide to become an author and how did you end up choosing self-publishing?
I didn’t so much decide to become an author as I discovered I am one. As I mentioned above, I’ve been writing since I was a kid. My brain loves generating stories, and it gets very cranky with me if I’m not writing them down. And since I’m making up all these characters and conflicts anyway, it’s a lot more fun if I can share them with readers.
I actually started out in the traditional publishing world and have branched out into indie publishing as my tastes in writing have diverged from what that market is looking for. I love that self-publishing is such a viable option now, compared to many years ago when I was first querying agents and so on. I’m hugely grateful for everything I learned going through the traditional publishing process, and I’d like to place more books with publishers in future, but the freedom and self-determination of self-publishing has opened up so many avenues to me.
Which author would you say is your greatest influence as a writer?
If I look at the authors I was reading in my formative years and what I’m writing now, it was probably a tie between Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Monica Hughes. Snyder wrote these wonderful character-based stories with hints of magic that seeped through in a way I’ve always admired, and I think it’s because of how much I loved her books that I try to ground my own fantastical stories with a dollop of realism. And Hughes wrote YA speculative fiction all over the map: high fantasy, dystopian science fiction, space fantasy, and so on. She was my first major example of a writer who could dabble in all sorts of areas of SFF and pull off all of them well.
If you could go back in time and offer any advice to a younger Megan prior to releasing Ruthless Magic what would it be?
I’d probably just tell myself not to stress too much about the rank or how it seemed to be doing in the early days. I’m incredibly happy with how well the book has done, but it’s been more of a slow and steady build than a big splash.
What SPFBO means to you? What do you hope to gain (fame and wealth aside)? What are your experiences so far?
Honestly, I entered SPFBO mainly thinking, ”Why not?” It couldn’t hurt anything to put my book in the ring, but I didn’t for a second expect to become a finalist, given that the competition tends to skew both toward high fantasy (over urban) and adult (over YA). I hoped if the blog that got it liked it at least reasonably well, I’d get a few more readers I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Being picked as a finalist was a total shock and has been amazing so far. I’m seeing comments from many readers who’ve given the series a try because of SPFBO, and that’s really always my primary goal—to get my books into as many hands as possible. I know that a lot of readers are hesitant to give self-published books a try, and it’s wonderful that this contest helps bridge that gap.
What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?
My biggest source of inspiration has always been other stories. I’ll be reading a book or watching a movie or TV show, and some little dynamic or development that the writer(s) didn’t spend much time on or handled in a different way than I’d have liked will jump out at me and beg to be spun off into a larger story from another angle. Every book I’ve written, I could tell you a moment of inspiration having to do with other stories that sparked the initial idea.
In the case of Ruthless Magic, it was actually a private joke. I was looking at recent deal listings that all used the ”TITLE meets TITLE” type pitch and asked myself what the most absurdly ambitious combination would be. ”HARRY POTTER meets THE HUNGER GAMES,” I decided, and laughed to myself for about five seconds before the gears in my head started spinning, pointing out all the ways that blend could be exciting to write.
How do you relax after a long writing/research session? Do you have any hobbies (writing not included :P)?
I noodle around on the internet a lot. 😉 I love absorbing stories in all sorts of ways, from books to film to music. That and family takes up most of my non-writing time!
What was the most exotic place you’ve visited? Did it inspire any of your work? How that experience affected you personally?
I kind of balk at the word ”exotic” because everywhere is familiar and ”normal” to the people who live there. What I often find most fascinating about other countries is seeing the ways they aren’t so different from my own beneath the surface details! Probably the country I’ve been to that felt the most different was Turkey, where we saw some incredible and unique landscapes, architecture, etc. I do have a book that incorporated bits of that setting, but I’m not sure it’ll ever see the light of day—it’s shelved at the moment.
In general, I think traveling to places with different cultures and environments has helped broaden my perspective so that I can approach every situation I encounter with a more open mind and more sense of possibility.
Which character of your book do you identify with the most and why? Who would you like to live with in an asylum?
In Ruthless Magic, I’d say I identify the most with Finn. I haven’t come from an extremely privileged background like he did, but when writing his struggle with the limitations of his magical talent, I drew quite heavily on my own frustrations when I haven’t been able to get a story to come out as well as I imagined it. The pain of wanting so badly to do better and not being able to figure out how is very familiar to me.
In an asylum, though, I’d definitely want Rocío as my roommate. She’s cool under pressure and powerful enough to protect us from any aggressive inmates. 😉
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the good or the bad ones?
I read some. I’m the kind of person who hates not knowing what’s going on, so it’s hard for me to just ignore them. Usually I read quite a few when a book first comes out and then after I’ve seen several responses, I feel like I’ve gotten the gist of things and only glance at them occasionally.
The good ones are great for keeping my spirits up, especially the ones where the reader clearly got the things that were most important to me about a story. The bad ones I’ve developed a pretty thick skin to. Sometimes one will point out something I want to keep in mind for future books, but a lot of the time it’s clear it’s simply a matter of the book not being to that reader’s tastes.
Are there any books that have been/ are being released in 2019 that you are excited to read?
Heh, I’m still trying to catch up on my extensive to-read pile from previous years. Being the parent of a young kid has severely cut into my reading time. 😉 I’m definitely excited for the final Attolia book, Return of the Thief—it’s one of my favorite series of all time!
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?
Only one? That seems like a cruel and unusual punishment. If I’m allowed omnibuses, I’ll take the complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (I don’t need any of the books after the third, it’s okay). If I can only have one individual book, I think I’d have to go with The Last Unicorn.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
Thanks for having me stop by!
If you’d like to get in contact with Megan Crewe, you can find her on social media:
Ruthless Magic, book 1 of Conspiracy of Magic has made to the SPFBO Finals thanks to the Fantasy Faction team. Get her book by clicking on the cover!