Friday, February 1, 2013

Interview with YA author Makayla Yokley

Today's guest is YA novelist Makayla Yokley. She's touring her novel, The Ruby Curse.

Makayla will award a free digital copy of The Ruby Curse via Smashwords to one commenter at every stop. For a chance to win, leave an e-mail address with your comment below. For more chances to win, visit other tour stops and comment there.

Makayla Yokley is a college student who lives in Kansas with her somewhat evil cat named Cujo. She likes to write fiction of all genres. Currently she is majoring in Liberal Arts.

Welcome, Makayla. Please tell us about your current release.
The Ruby Curse is a steampunk/fantasy novel about Violet Seymour, an escaped convict who is a link in an ancient bloodline of Heroes. When mages start disappearing across the steam-and-clockwork powered land of Arcova, Violet is enlisted to help find them. It’s either that or she goes back to jail. But what is the price of freedom when death stalks those who dare look for the mages?

What inspired you to write this book?
Fairy Tales. I wanted the Violet Chronicles to have all the necessary elements that makes stories into fairy tales. Within the story itself I’ve made some of the characters reflections of their fairy tale selves, but made some changes to fit my setting. Not all of the characters are fairy tale characters, but quite a few of them are.

Along with being filled with fairy tale characters, the “Violet Chronicles” is also filled with the themes and motifs one might find in a fairy tale if you look deeply enough at them. I can’t be very specific without ruining it, unfortunately!

The Ruby Curse specifically, though, was sort of my twist on a Russian fairy tale whose name I can’t find anymore. In its very early stages it started out as a Tolkien-esque fantasy that just wasn’t clicking right in my head. I scrapped the idea and decided to recycle it later and turn it into a steampunk/fantasy. Ethan and Aurora are the only ones who retained most of their qualities from the first idea, though they’ve been altered somewhat to fit the new world of course.

The next thing I knew was the smell of piss and rotting wood.
A dull throb pulsated in the back of my head, moving to the front in an almost wave-like motion. Through the haze I tried to remember where I was and how I had gotten there. The last thing I could recall was being bashed on the head and little black dots peppering my vision, stealing the world away into darkness. If I tried to remember more, a shock of pain erupted without warning until I was subdued once again.
There are no questions here in the kingdom of concussion.
I remember I was doing something bad. Hardly anything to get in a tizzy about when it’s me doing it, but being able to remember anything at all was an accomplishment. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t really matter. I was still in a place where the floor— or at least what I assumed was the floor— was warm and metallic against my back.
A gob of blood sat idle under my tongue. I tried not to swallow it but some things were easier said than done. Just when I was sure I had no other choice, I tilted my head askew and spat it out. I could feel the warm, sticky wetness trailing out of the corner of my mouth and streaking across my cheek. I could still taste the bitter, coppery sensation on my tongue.
 Somewhere in the darkness that condensed the entire world into a tiny, limited space, a disembodied voice floated up and pierced through the dizzy haze.
“Oi! Look there! She’s awake!”
It was a man. I was certain of that much. His voice was rough, irritable, and had an accent that at first seemed very strange to me, but I soon recognized it as the kind of vocal slur usually found in the south. The important thing was, though, he was undeniably Arcovan.
“Hey! Hey you! You ain’t dead?”
Another man joined in and his accent matched the other man’s to the syllable. But his voice was lighter and gave the impression of being off balance.
“Clearly!” the deeper-voiced man said. “If she is dead then she’s a zombie, and that’s rubbish. Don’t be stupid!”
“Oi! Who you callin’ stupid?” the lighter-pitched man asked.
“This bloody stupid fool right ‘ere!”
The sounds of their voices faded away into obscurity, depriving me of certain bits and pieces of the conversation until I could no longer follow what they were going on about. Through the pain I willed my eyes to open. The edges of things blurred together into a great unintelligible mass that hung around me like a soupy haze.
But then things started to take shape. Artificial light from the gas lamps outside streamed in through the thick black bars that made up the window at the very top of the room. Fat copper pipes ran every which way on the ceiling. A puff of white steam shot out of a loose valve and settled down on my face in little wet speckles.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently I’m working on the second book in the Violet Chronicles, Briar Light. It’s slow goings but it’s going none the less. It’s definitely going to be one the fans like (or at least I hope so!) because we get to look deeper into the backgrounds of the characters and, to me, that’s always fun.

Other than that I don’t have anything that’s far enough along in its progress to be worth mentioning. Most of what I have are little side projects that may or may not ever make it out of my piggy flash drive. We’ll just have to see!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Truthfully, I’m still coming to terms with it. That sounds bad but all this time I’ve always considered it as something I just DO, like breathing or walking. It’s been a part of me and what I do for so long that I don’t think I’ll ever have that “ah-ha” moment where it becomes a concrete thing. It’ll always just be something I do compulsively. If I didn’t do it I don’t think I’d know what to do with myself. Sometimes I open my Word program and start typing on whatever project that happens to be occupying my mind at the time without ever realizing I did anything.

Now that I’m thinking about it I don’t think I’d have it any other way. It’s like finding yourself in a truly good relationship. It’s comfortable. It’s home.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t think you’d call me a “Full-Time” writer, exactly. When I’m not writing I go to school and work in my college’s library, but whenever I find some downtime I usually write in a notebook I have stored in my backpack. I never like to leave home without it because I never know when I’m going to get time enough to work, but I’m always glad I have it even when I end up not being able to use it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes I seem to write better while listening to songs from old Disney musicals like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Pocahontas”, “Hercules”, movies like that. I can’t explain it, but something about them helps get the creative juices flowing. My muse must be a Tinkerbell-esque creature!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve wanted to be everything from a writer to a chocolatier (Like Willy Wonka!). I entertained the idea of being a pirate for like a day and a half, for about forty-five minutes I wanted to be a game designer, I wanted to be a painter and an actress— actress lasted the longest, I think. I remember wanting to be a lawyer when I was little but there was way too much legal jargon involved. Even now I’m letting my mind dance around being something else, but I’m always going to come back to this because it allows me the freedom to do all those things without being diagnosed with anything!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that I hope that, if they end up sticking with me all through this crazy ride, they will be prepared to see me throwing my hat into several genres. I’m not the kind of person who can build a nest in a certain genre and be able to sit there comfortably. I’ve always got an urge to try new ideas and new things, so sitting still in one niche is somewhat impossible.

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Thanks, Makayla. 

Readers, don't forget to leave an e-mail address with a comment if you want a chance to win a copy of the book.

1 comment:

bn100 said...

How fun you listen to Disney music.