Author Interview: MJ Mallon

1.Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?

If you model a character after someone you know that works well because you know their idiosyncrasies, their personality quirks, …But, equally there is something refreshing about creating characters from strangers  seen in the street, at cafes, etc. I  make them who I want them to be! Both methods work well. But, it is important to find something interesting and unusual about that person that would work well in the story.

2. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?

Writing tends to do a bit of both! When I get in the mood… when my muse strikes it is really energising. But… sometimes it can be hard work too.  Not so much in terms of the imaginative aspect of stories more to do with their flow and construction. I find that harder. Plotting has never been my favourite. I prefer to write from the flow of my imagination. So restructuring stories and deciding on their chapter placement can exhaust me.

3. Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing?

I don’t have any pets. Therefore only imaginary pets get in the way of my writing! They become unwitting characters in my writing. So, in the fantasy YA Curse of Time series – Bloodstone and Golden Healer, you’ll find a mysterious black cat called Shadow, and a  ridiculously naughty dog, Toby.

 4. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

A fair few now. Two YA fantasy novels in my Curse of Time series: Bloodstone, (which was my debut and therefore will always be my favourite, and Golden Healer – Bloodstone’s sequel which I love too.) Several poetry/short fiction books: Mr. Sagittarius Poetry and Prose, Lockdown Innit, Do What You Love, The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet. And various anthologies… either as a contributor, (horror and ghost stories,)- or as in the case of This Is Lockdown, – as the initiator of. This is Lockdown was a positive and therapeutic way to connect with other authors and to cope with the initial stages of covid. I was also asked to contribute to Alex Pearl’s non fiction title: 100 Ways To Write A Book.

5. How many hours a day do you write?

It varies depending on where I am and what my other commitments are. There isn’t a magical number. At the moment, I am in the process of changing my lifestyle, with plans to move abroad to Portugal. Also, I spend time in Edinburgh with family. Plus there are so many distractions… social media, marketing, etc, etc,  which takes a huge chunk of my time. So not enough, I squeeze writing in when I can!

6. How much research did you need to do for your book?

As there is crystal wielding magic in my YA fantasy series I researched the properties of crystals, places, or unusual phenomena that are mentioned in my books, such as ghost stories, shadow beings, the corpus christi clock, (Cambridge, UK.)

7.What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

For me the characters come first as they should be the focal point of the story. Without engaging characters telling their unique story, the narrative will fall flat and just be a sequence of uninteresting events.

8. What inspired the idea for your book?

In the Curse of Time series  there were two sculptural inspirations: the world famous Corpus Christi Chronophage clock on Kings Parade, Cambridge and Anya Gallaccio’s magnificent crystal grotto in Juniper Artland, near Edinburgh. And my poetry/short fiction is often inspired by the beauty and wonder of nature, flowers, trees and magic!

9.What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?

I find beginnings hard… where to start? Conversely, endings are easy! And in my Curse of Time series the sequel was incredibly hard. It’s a balancing act to feed in enough information about the first book and introduce new ideas too. You must remember all the tiny details you’ve written in the first book, and introduce them in such a way that readers who haven’t read book one can still understand and enjoy book two.

10. What part of the book was the most fun to write?

All of it! Oh, if I have to pinpoint specifics I’d say In Bloodstone my favourite parts are the painting scenes.  In one scene, the main character Amelina paints with her magical paint set and the creature Eruterac comes alive like a Halloween apparition. And in Golden Healer, I love it when the rollercoaster of time breaks through the earth’s crust and groans to life in the melancholy meadow. Perhaps this speaks of my own fears, as I am terrified of rollercoasters and this cruel ride is the most wicked nightmare.

All my links in a convenient place:

Author Blog:

Next Chapter Publishing – YA Fantasy Series, The Curse of Time

Kyrosmagica Publishing

Do What You Love (Poetry and Flash Fiction)

The Hedge Witch And The Musical Poet (Poetry and Flash Fiction)

Mr. Sagittarius Poetry and Prose

Anthology – This Is Lockdown, (poetry, diaries and flash fiction – kindle)

Poetry during Lockdown – Lockdown Innit

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