Connie Brentford: Can you tell me who your ideal reader is for the Chronicles of Mara Lantern series?
D. W. Moneypenny: To be honest with you, I didn’t have a particular kind of reader in mind when I wrote Broken Realms. Now, since the book has been completed and has gone through the editing and packaging process, I’ve gotten a lot of opinions about who the “ideal” reader for the book would be. When I was completing the first draft, I started reading a YA fantasy book by Mark Frost called The Paladin Prophecy. That was the first time that it occurred to me that Broken Realms might be a Young Adult book, but I didn’t dwell on it.
A couple of months later, I got the edits back from the developmental editor (Gary Smailes at Bubblecow.net, an absolute genius).One of the first things he mentioned was it struck him as a Young Adult novel and that I should consider making Mara a couple of years younger. I didn’t have a problem with doing that, so I did. Other than that, I didn’t try to “youngify” the book or try to patronize younger readers by writing down to them in any way.
Since the book has been published, I’m not getting the impression that it is gathering an exclusively or even primarily Young Adult readership, whatever that might be.
I guess the short answer would be anyone who enjoys contemporary fantasy would be the ideal reader.
CB: When you wrote the first book and created the character Mara Lantern did you envision it as a series of books from the start?
DWM: Yes, the plan was to produce a series. The combination of alternate realities and the “system of magic” that make up Mara Lantern’s world could not be reasonably recounted in a single book. The plan for now is to write seven full-length books.
CB: What are the major themes in your novel?
DWM: Hmmm. The major theme is acceptance, letting go of skepticism. We have to embrace reality in order to deal with it, even if that reality doesn’t match our expectations. Too nebulous? Mara might say, metaphysical.
CB: Do you read other genres or do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write?
DWM: I’ve never been a genre-specific reader. I read everything from Edgar Rice Burroughs to John Grisham and Dean Koontz. I generally don’t read in the genre in which I’m writing at the moment, so while I’m working on the Mara Lantern series, I’ll most likely read something other than fantasy, unless something compelling pops up.
CB: What would you say was your best day as a writer?
DWM: I was a newspaper reporter and editor for about 15 years, but I think I would be hard pressed to pick a single day from that particular part of my life. In terms of this chapter of my life (writing fiction), it has barely gotten started, but so far I would have to say it was the day that I got my first feedback from my editor. He sent a written report with feedback along with the edits. The specificity of the feedback in terms of how I might go about improving the concepts and the world I was creating in Broken Realms was absolutely wonderful. I never expected to get that level of feedback and it boosted my enthusiasm for the project a great deal at a time that I needed the encouragement.
CB: When did you decide that you were a writer?
DWM: On some level, I think I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. I knew I wanted to go into journalism since before I was in high school, and even back then I talked about writing a book. For me, it has always been there, so there wasn’t a specific moment in time I can point to.
CB: Almost every writer puts a piece of themselves in their book. What part of you is in your book?
DWM: If you read skepticism or sarcasm in something I write, that’s me. There’s some of that in the book, particularly in Mara’s character.
CB: What is one thing that people may not know about you?
DWM: It’s not the writing part of creating fiction I enjoy the most, it’s the imagination part – sitting around dreaming this stuff up. That’s what I like the most, taking a situation or a character and twisting it, just a little, to make it something you can’t wait to tell someone about.