A while back I beta read and then reviewed Mira Monroe's book Magick and I as well decided to interview her because I am curious about a lot of things about her book and about being an indie author. She is a very nice person and agreed to this. Thank you, Mira! ^^
1. For how long have you been a reader? Do you remember the first book you read?
Since middle school, but I was not a vivacious reader until after college and when I got my first Kindle – crazy love there! That Kindle was always with me. To be able to sample books and get immediate gratification with buying and reading – forget about it. My first novel I read in Middle School on my own was The Wizard of Oz. I remember my mother and I talking and how she said it was different than the movie we’d watch every year. After I finished, I immediately read, The Return to Oz and I loved it. What an adventure and it played like a movie in my head, maybe that started my love for series…
2. Do you remember when your fist attempt at writing was?
Middle school. I remember the teacher was doing an exercise in which the entire class was contributing to one story. We had chosen a spooky tale and I kept giving descriptions and my teacher took notice and said, it was no wonder I had been in top scores for my prose. I remember feeling such pride and eagerness to continue. I wasn’t someone who had folders of stories, I liked to journal and do well on my assignments. It wasn’t until college when I took a creative writing course, that I made the statement – One day I will write a book!
3. When you started writing Magick, did you know that you’d get to see it published?
Yes. I had a few starts and fails prior to Magick with other story ideas for several years while I was honing my writing skills. On this journey with Magick it was all about follow through and I was determined to make it happen, even if it wasn’t perfect. I hired a writing coach to push me through it and it helped me immensely.
4. What is the feeling to hold your book in your hands?
Admittedly it’s so satisfying. The culmination of it all physically there, your hard work and commitment. However, it wasn’t like the feeling when I finished my draft when I was heading into my final chapters – you couldn’t keep me from smiling. The book was truly the golden statue, the prize of all prizes, holding the polished piece in my hands, was the cherry on top.
5. What was the hardest thing to do in the publishing process?
Waiting is the hardest part. Immediately when you have a finished product you want to GO! But, you have an editor to review and the back and forth, then you need a publishing plan – the right day for release, marketing. It’s a killer, but once that button is pushed, ta da – bliss!
6. How hard was it to find beta readers? How much of them agreed to read your book? Was it hard to read what they didn’t like?
Beta readers for my genre can be tough to find. I was lucky I have some good friends who are YA readers like me, that I reached out to – but I needed people I didn’t know personally as well. I lucked out that one group I’m active in had an area for interested as beta readers. I reached out to several who seemed to read similar stories to Magick and as luck would have it, they were interested and gave varied feedback. I have a fairly tough skin, so I didn’t take the feedback as a personal affront to me but where I missed the mark in making something clear. I want to please the readers and not short change them so I worked at it. Sometimes the toughest critique is the best when in comes from a place of character and plot – I improved and the story was better, I saw it immediately.
7. How did you come up with the idea? Did it show itself to you all of a sudden or was it a following process? What did you know first: the beginning, the middle, the end or all of it?
I don't really remember the moment of the plot lightbulb - but I did play around with one concept of a teenager learning she came from a royal heritage that was Wiccan. I hadn’t read a good witch/Wiccan book in awhile and I wanted it. I also knew I wanted to address the question of what is expected of you versus what you want or didn’t know you wanted. Then it was the fun game of ‘what if this…then this…’ and that is how the ball got rolling. I knew exactly how I wanted it to end from the beginning, it was how to start it and the journey in-between that took some work for this first book. Then as I finished my skeleton outline – I had ideas how it would continue and in my vision a series was born. Although the series has now evolved from this finished book and surprised me some on the twists, but I love that.
8. How many times did you edit before sending it to the betas and how many times did you edit after their feedback?
Not enough – HA! I had only my edits and I did this in parallel while it was with my editor. I didn’t want focus on the grammar, I wanted a review of character and plot – I did get notes that my grammar did stump my beta readers in places; so next time I will have a more thorough edit before sending out for beta readers.
9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an indie author?
This maybe a better question to ask me in a few years… however, I would say the immediate advantage is you are in charge of your creative freedom. There isn’t a company deciding what you can and can’t write. I like that freedom. The disadvantage is all the work behind the scenes to support your writing – that literarily is not writing. Marketing can be overwhelming along with other process-driven aspects of getting your book in front of readers. I’ve been told not to expect much from this first book, so I try to manage my investment and time in order to move forward with book two – but I do catch myself getting off track. Indie author exposes you to many aspects of the publishing world that are both…
10. Have you ever lost something you wrote due to some Internet or computer problem? How did you cope with it?
Yes. I was a crying mess early one morning when I had completed two rewrite scenes that had me up til early morning. I couldn’t find it anywhere and my husband was stumped too. I was defeated, then I picked myself up and went to work to get it all down again. Those times are tough, but you just gotta move forward. It was close enough to when I wrote it that it flowed right out of me. Was it better? Maybe not but it got done.
11. How do you deal with a writing slump?
I do one of two things. I allow the slump and take a break or I push through it. I’ve allowed myself some time between writing the next book but as the end of the year approaches, I will push myself to get it done. No excuses – now that I’ve done it once, I know what I need to do and feel more confident. Writing is work and in the end, you put in the work.
12. What do you do if an idea strikes at 3 a.m. or while you are in the shower or anywhere and anytime that you cannot take notes?
I’m a technology freak, almost to paralysis but I have a decent system now. I record myself in dictation software on my phone. I can pull it into transcription or listen to it and then I don’t lose my idea. Sometimes I just sit on an idea, mentally and ponder it for a while. I remember reading something from Stephen King where he said he didn’t jot down sudden ideas, because if they were good enough they would still be there later. While I do agree on a higher level, there are some brilliant sparks of light that burn fast and bright and I like having the option to capture those when I can, there are many that I just delete and toss too.
13. Did you plan this ending or did it change with story’s development?
My writing coach was one who really pushed me to outline at a high level. When I’d get off track from my outline, into the woods, I’d get nervous but I also liked the freedom of doing that – but in the end, I would wind my way back or at least walking closer to the road. My high-level outline for this story stayed as I had planned, however, it was my editor who pointed out that my story was a complete one – that I had no hook to move onward into my series plan. That is when I took the opening for book two and sliced it into the end of this book. So far, it seems to be a smart move, although now a few readers have made it known I better get book 2 out soon – happy to have that pressure! J
14. How many times did you read Magick?
Too many times to count! Well over a dozen times and I’ve been re-reading sections to ensure consistency and fluidity as I write book 2. I’ve been keeping better records of world building and such that I’m more efficient going forward.
15. Who is your favourite character? Or who are they?
It’s probably expected but I love Willow the main character, she’s a strong character and not a victim of circumstance. I really like strong female characters. However, my second favorite character is Cross because his back story surprises me and he's loyal to a fault.
16. Are there any differences between the original idea that you came up with and the end result?
In my original outline, I had another character that was going to die and as I did my rewrite, prior to beta readers I changed it for many reasons. The first was it would have been too devastating and I didn’t think that Willow would have ended in the character that I wanted her to be. Therefore, I traded one character for another and the path was one that leads Willow to who she is now. This is where I learned more about the plot and its effects of character traits for the reaction and growth. Sometimes it’s hard to kill off characters, but you have to put it in perspective of whose story you're writing about and where that will lead them.
17. What inspires you?
So many things inspire me it’s hard to widdle down to a concise answer. I think overall it’s the emotion of a scene and situation. An accomplishment of others. When it's genuine and sincere it’s inspiring. I’m lucky that I don’t have to look very far, my family, friends and colleagues inspire me all the time.
18. Is there anything you don’t like in the final edition of Magick? What would you like to change? Why?
I wish I would have spent more time on the Guardians, but at the same time it isn’t their story it’s Willows so I’m okay that I didn’t. It would have slowed down the momentum when they are introduced.
19. Which is your favourite moment in the book?
It’s hard to answer so I’ll give two. I can’t help but love, is Willow’s acceptance and transformation. It’s big for me because it sets the path forward on the next journey Willow will go on. Chapter two, Emily’s introduction and in the school parking lot. So very much like my teen and it makes me smile every time I read it. She’s one of my favourite characters, look out she’s awesome and fierce.
20. How many books have you planned?
For The Unwanted Series, only 3 books right now. I’m writing the draft of book 2, Reign and have a skeleton outline for book 3 – which is different because it carries the adventure forward but switches gears to Rhydian’s point of view rather than Willow. We’ll see if I stay that course but for now – it makes sense in my head.
21. Which is your preferred POV to write in? (The character’s or 3rd person?)
It’s easier to write in 1st person for me to be honest. I enjoy the complete picture from one character the full ride of their emotional growth; however, as a reader, I love knowing it all seeing all characters’ insight in 3rd person. My next story, I do plan to dive into 3rd person.
22. What are you currently reading?
I just finished, The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn – really great read. I’ve just started Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Loving the concept so far because I find it unique and interesting. I’m fairly active on Goodreads – you can usually find me adding books to my To Read list and updating what I’m reading. I’m a reader who enjoys writing. J
23. Which are some of your favourite books?
I really enjoy young adult and romance fantasy/paranormal books right now. I tend to go in cycles, where I want mysteries or sci-fi. I enjoy non-fiction as well, depends on my mood and what I’m pondering at the moment. There have been books that I couldn’t get into and put down, then a few months later I’m absorbed into it.
24. What advice would you give to future writers?
READ. I’m always amazed at a writer who wants to break into a genre and asks if a plot has been done before. I usually scratch my head, because I immediately think of stories out there. Also, reading improves your writing and you figure out styles you enjoy and like. How can a writer craft a story in a genre they know nothing about? Lastly, don’t be stuck in one genre open up to others, mix and match – it’s worth it.
25. What do you find the hardest to do in writing a book?
Follow through. We all make up so many excuses in order not to finish. You have to recognize that pattern and bust through it whether it be, an inner critic, other personal commitments, a new project you assign yourself, etc…
26. Who are some of your favourite authors?
This list could go on forever – so I’ll stick to some of my favorite YA indie authors like myself, that I enjoy; Rachel E Carter, Jennifer Armentrout, K.E. Ganshert, Sara Larson, Glenn Soucy and Janelle Gabay.
27. How much time did it take you to write Magick? How much time did it take to arrange for everything else like editing, making a cover and all of the things I am leaving out?
My first draft for Magick took me just over 3 months. I gave myself a 2-month break because I wasn’t thrilled with the wrap up ending and my professional life was busy and changing. My second rewrite took me 3 weeks and was basically the last ½ of my book – I was uber excited! I had the finish line – I scheduled time every evening and my husband was great support of picking up the routine. The professional edit took some time it was a 2 round activity and I decided in parallel to have beta readers from a plot/character review. I finalized the book cover during the edit time. The end piece of polishing took a good 3 months more because I was new and I dabbled with it. Then it went to an internal formatter, more edits to polish – so overall a 10-month process.
28. What do you do for a living?
I have worked in the clinical research industry for well over twenty years. I’m a contractor and work for clients to manage their clinical trials in various types of services from project management and clinical trial/operational management. Being a contractor is new to me this year, it’s a balancing act because this industry can be very demanding.
29. Would you describe the publishing process you had to go through?
As a self-publisher, I made the decision to have both an eBook and Print book through Amazon. They have an excellent system to do this and it fit my needs best. I do look to open this up to iBooks and other e-formats in the future.
30. Do you have any future ideas you’d like to work one besides The Unwanted series?
I have several and one that I plan to start during the Christmas holidays. I look for it to be my ‘in between’ project as I finish up The Unwanted Series. I really love the idea of my new project, it’s a twist on a familiar tale and something I’ve always enjoyed.