Wow, life has been so hectic since I last posted. Today marks my third week as a college freshman and I currently have mixed feelings about it. Yes, I am enjoying a lot of my classes (especially the fiction writing one), but being a commuter means it’s much harder for me to connect with people. Hopefully, as the semester moves on, I’ll have a better time with this!
But enough about me.
I am so thrilled to have the lovely Makiia Lucier featured on my blog today! Remember when I announced a few weeks ago that I would be featuring the books and achievements of authors who’ve been kind enough to send me a book, or put up with my fangirling, or have helped me in some way? I am proud to say that Makiia is the first author featured!
I first read her second novel ISLE OF BLOOD AND STONE back in September of 2018! Now it’s September 2019, and Makiia’s sequel SONG OF THE ABYSS recently released (which I adored) and she’s going to YallFest this fall! (I am so excited to be going to that this year...I’ll get to meet Makiia and many other authors!)
Makiia was kind enough to participate in a book/publishing related Q&A session and a fun Q&A. Her bookish achievements and bio is after the Q&A, so make sure to stick around and check that out!
When did you start writing your first book? Did you know then that you wanted to be a published author?
March 2011 (I had to look up the date in my first notebook!). And yes, I knew that if I finished the manuscript for A Death-Struck Year (then titled A Beautiful and Death-Struck Year), I would do my very best to find a publisher for it. It was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers in 2014.
How long did it take for you to find an agent from the time you first started querying?
I really don’t remember (It’s the kind of painful thing you block from your memory, like childbirth!). What I do know about publishing in general is that however long you expect something to take, it will inevitably take tens time longer than you would like. There’s plenty of waiting in this business.
What has been the thing that you’ve enjoyed most about your book’s publishing process?
You really can’t beat seeing your book on a bookstore or library shelf.
Have you written any books since your first book’s release?
I’ve published three so far: A Death-Struck Year, Isle of Blood and Stone, and Song of the Abyss.
Tell the readers a little bit about your book. Is there a character in particular that you relate to?
Sure. Song of the Abyss is a standalone companion to Isle of Blood and Stone, which means they don’t have to be read in any particular order. In Song, men start vanishing at sea without a trace, and seventeen-year-old Reyna, a royal explorer, must travel to a country shrouded in secrets to solve the mystery before it’s too late. Readers can expect a romantic adventure that combines both history and fantasy. It’s also very much a story about friendship and the family one chooses for oneself.
I relate to many of my characters in some small way or another. With Reyna and Levi, I understand very deeply what it feels like to lose a parent. Both parents. And Reyna’s friend, Blaise, wants nothing more than to leave her hometown and study at university, but there’s the problem of costs. How can she possibly afford it? I think many of us can relate to that.
What part of your book did you most enjoy writing?
Finishing a draft has to be the one of the best feelings ever, especially since your brain is just wiped out by then. But also, I really enjoy having the time to play around with ideas, writing longhand, and having unexpected ideas pop up.
What’s some advice you can give to other aspiring YA writers looking to become published?
Besides writing and reading, I think it’s important to keep your eyes on your own work. Everywhere you look, someone is signing a book deal, signing deals for multiple books, while you’re just a chump with a half-finished draft and little else. It’s easy to become discouraged. Keep your head down. Keep writing. Finish your story. For most people, writing a good story takes time and patience and a little faith.
Lastly, some fun questions!
What’s your favorite movie?
Master and Commander with Russel Crowe
Pineapple fried rice.
Top 3 favorite books?
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
Beatles, Green Day
Makiia Lucier is the author of historical fiction and fantasy for young adults. She grew up on the Pacific island of Guam (not too far from the equator), and has degrees in journalism and library science from the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Her debut novel, A Death-Struck Year, was called a “powerful and disturbing reading experience” by Publishers Weekly. It was a finalist for Germany’s top book prize for children, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, as well as Japan’s Sakura Medal, and was named an ABC Best Books for Children Selection by the American Booksellers Association.
PRAISE FOR SONG OF THE ABYSS:
“Reyna ranks with Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games and Dashti from The Book of a Thousand Days as one of those rare characters who feels completely realized in her strengths and depth as well as her limitations…This makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read peopled with satisfyingly complex villains to serve as foils to heroines and heroes who will stand the test of time.” –ALAN Pick, Assembly on Literature for Adolescents
Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s YA author feature! And a big thank you to Makiia for participating.
Be on the lookout for another author feature coming up in a week!