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Author Spotlight: Mallory McCartney

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

Welcome to the eighth post in my Author Spotlight series! Every month, I showcase an indie author and interview them to find out more about their writing life.

This month, the author in the spotlight is Mallory McCartney! Mal and I met when I edited the third book in her Black Dawn series, Kingdom of Broken Iron. You can pre-order the book now; it comes out in early 2022! Now we bond over our pets and our love of fall and Halloween. Mal has an adorable family of fur-babies—or maybe not-so-fur-babies since two of them are Sphynx cats. Her photos of them make my day!

Bio: Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband, their three dachshunds Link, Lola, and Leonard, and two Sphynx cats, Luna and Legolas. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found daydreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

Q: What made you want to be a writer?

A: Thanks for having me! 😊 I have always been an avid reader and lover of books. In public school I would volunteer at the library during recess just to get more time in around them. It was really in grade eight that I knew I wanted to pursue a career as an author. And it was also in grade eight that I wrote the first draft of what would later be The Black Dawn Series, named “Kiero.”

Q: How do you choose your characters’ names?

A: It depends on the book, really. With the Black Dawn Series, Brokk, Emory, and Adair were already with me since the grade eight draft. Brokk and Adair I chose off a baby names list, but Emory I got from a book about trees, specifically the Emory Oak.

For the rest of the characters' names, I chose from a baby names list too, except for Marquis and Azarius, which my husband came up with.

Q: Have any of your characters surprised you? If so, how?

A: Oh my goodness, absolutely. Adair, Emory, and Brokk specifically. I feel of course the characters have grown as I have as a writer. Writing this series, I knew vaguely where I wanted to go with it, but each book has been an adventure. Adair has surprised me with his past, and how he became the villain, and has surprised me even more as I continue to write, but I can’t say much about that right now 😊. Emory surprised me with her tenacity; even when her decisions are frustrating, she will fight tooth and nail for what she thinks is her right path or decision. And Brokk, poor Brokk. My little rebel whose destiny turned into something so much more, but I’ve loved writing him into the leader he is growing into.

Q: Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g., lighting a candle before you write, meditating before you write, going for a walk to get ideas)

A: I love writing in my notebook before I sit down to write on the computer. Sometimes I don’t sit at my computer until I write a couple chapters in my notebook. It feels more natural for me that way. I also cannot write without music; it is a must. Ninety percent of the time the music I write to is broadway musicals or metal.

Q: How much research do you do, and how long do you spend on research for one book?

A: So far with the Black Dawn Series, I have researched Irish and Scottish mythology a bit, and have made it into something that’s my own. An example is the Oilean; I really wanted to play with faerie rings and loved the idea of it being a portal. You will see this in Heir of Lies first, that the Oilean can’t open a portal without the ring, and the sacrifice of magic, or a person, to go with it. It was this that really brought the theme for the whole series in which Kiero’s magic system is one born from sacrifice.

I don’t spend a lot of time on research in writing fantasy since the world is one I created, but as I continue my career, each book demands it own needs.

Q: Do you have any specific authors or books that you've learned from on your writing journey?

A: There are so many wonderful authors in this community! At the start of my writing career, author Candace Robinson and I became fast friends and have been ever since! Candace has always been there if I’ve had a question and we bounce ideas off one another for different marketing techniques that have worked (and not) for us.

I’ve also learned a ton from my lovely editors in finding my voice and style of writing! (Thanks Brenna, Em, and Rae!) 😊

Q: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

A: I think publishing my first book really helped mature my writing process, through the process of realizing what words I overused or to learn different ways to use descriptions. I love that in the craft of writing you can always learn more and grow more as an author with each book you write and publish.

Q: What’s your number one tip for tackling imposter syndrome?

A: My tip would be to not get frustrated with yourself, and to take a breather if need be from writing. I’ve had imposter syndrome many times, often when I start writing a new book. I have a moment of “can I actually do it?”

And I can, and I have prior. Don’t focus on your goal for word count, or how long it may take, or how much work it is. Focus on the passion you have for writing and scene by scene, sentence by sentence, it will happen and come together.

Q: What is your go-to snack and/or drink while writing?

A: For my go-to drink, I would say it is tied between coffee and water. I probably drink too much of each. As for a snack, I usually don’t eat while I write but I will never say no to All Dressed chips in between chapters.

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: I’m really excited to say I am finishing the first draft of The Cursed Throne, the last book in my epic fantasy Black Dawn series. After that I have my first standalone horror novel planned, as well as the start of a new dark epic fantasy and a standalone urban fantasy!

If you'd like to follow Mallory on her writing journey or find out more about her stories, this is where you can find her:

Twitter: @MalMcCartney


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