May Dawney hit the lesfic scene earlier this year with her Ylva published debut Survival Instincts, and has since gone it alone with her series, The Veil Chronicles. The first book in that series, Wild Magic, has been out since April, and is currently free on Amazon until the end of today. Wild Magic tells the story of Ania Zaleska, who lives a perfectly ordinary—albeit floundering—life in Poland’s second-biggest city until the day she explodes. She’s dug from the rubble of her apartment building by shadow mage Noah Otieno, whose job it becomes to get Ania’s wild magic under control.
Noah is affiliated with the Society for Psychical Defense but she has kept herself away from magical politics as much as possible. Now she is in charge of potentially the most powerful magical weapon on either side of the war, she must decide how she can best keep her safe—especially when their magic brings them together in ways only wild magic can.
Check out her Q&A with Erin Hodgson from Write Hand Woman NZ below:
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Social media. Facebook groups can be such a time sink!
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
That she’s fine, and that while she could have done a lot of things differently, things happen when and how they happen. She did good. Perhaps I’d tell her to believe in herself a bit quicker. It would’ve made her life a little easier going forward to know that she has the skills she needs.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
In every way. I was lucky to have an amazing editor and mentor in Sandra Gerth (Jae) and a wonderful publishing house in Ylva Publishing. They taught me so much about not only the process of publishing, but also on how and what to write. Everything from reader expectations to proper comma placement came up and it’ll shape how and what I write forever, I’m sure.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I think this might not be money I spent but money I did not earn. I pretty much quit my job the second Survival Instincts finished its editing. I knew without a doubt that writing was what I wanted to do with my life, so I jumped in head first. I kept a small part-time job and took the occasional assignment to cover bills until I started earning enough with writing to cover them. I ate a lot of dry (grainless) pasta! Ha! But the freedom that leap gave me was worth all the income I no longer had.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I Jekyll and Hyde on this. I’m either a soaring eagle and the words soar, I get massive word counts in a day, and the world is mine to do with as I please…or I’m a sloth. I try to minimize the sloth days, but you know, those buggers creep up on you!
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Two in editing, two in writing. Oh how I wish for more hours in the day! 😉
How many hours a day do you write?
As many as I can fit in! Anywhere from four to ten on an eagle day, but on sloth days, I’ll be lucky to get one or two.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I tend to pick the most commonplace names for my characters that seem to fit them. I don’t like exotic names because they draw focus away from the story. “Claire” just reads easier than “Krystabelle” Nothing wrong with “Krystabelle,” but it takes some time to decipher. Its my firm belief that readers should be reminded of the fact that they are reading a book, not living the story, as little as possible.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Not on purpose, but because I tend to plunge readers in the middle of my stories, there are many things in them that get interpreted differently by different people. I love hearing those theories!
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Plot holes! I plot out all my stories, make sure the timelines work, set up each character’s arc before I start to write and inevitably, I will end up with a hole the size of Alaska somewhere that I did not see coming until I am on the edge of it and go “Oh. Damn.” Then it takes a week, minimum, to fix it. So frustrating! But that is also what makes the process of writing so much fun. You always surprise yourself as well. Always.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Because of the plot hole issue and sloth days, about a month. For the first draft. I’m working on minimizing the risk of plot holes and sloth days to get that number down!