Author Interview: Michaela MacColl (and giveaway!)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Michaela MacColl:

Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University. She earned degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. What happened that helped them to be great? Michaela has two daughters so she's hoping to identify those moments firsthand. She and her family live in Connecticut, but she will travel at the drop of hat to do local research. So far her travels have taken her to London and Florence and Amherst, Massachussetts. A trip to Shanghai, China is in the works. Prisoners in the Palace (Chronicle, October 2010) is her first book.
  • When did you first start writing?
I started to write when my kids were about 3 and 5 years old.  We were traveling in Italy and I was looking for stories to tell my kids about the places we were visiting.  I began researching Renaissance life.  I found so many stories.  I still want to come back to that original set of stories.
  • What were your influences to write this novel, Prisoners in the Palace?
I grew up reading Jean Plaidy's book about royal women.  Plaidy was a pen name for the romantic suspense novelist Victoria Holt- so she knew how to weave a story.  When I began writing Prisoners, I went back to my Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Thackeray.  In fact, Vanity Fair's Becky Sharp was a major influence for my main character, Liza Hastings.
  • Where do you like writing?  Where do you like reading?
I enjoy writing longhand in beautiful places outside.  Sometimes I go to the beach or even better, a wide shaded porch at the town marina.  I love the sound of the boat's clinking.  My absolute favorite place to read is in this amazing comfortable chair in front of my fireplace.
  • If you were describe your novel, in three words, what would it be?
Romance, Intrigue and Princesses!
  • If Prisoners in the Palace became a movie, who would you want to star as Liza?  And as Princess Victoria?
Unfortunately, I'm not super familiar with actresses young enough to play my characters.  But I could see Natalie Portman as Victoria and a younger Reese Witherspoon to play Liza.
  • Who was your favorite character to write about?
I'm not supposed to have favorites, but I do admit to having a special feeling for Inside Boy Jones.  He's based on a real character- Victoria had her own stalker!  I so enjoyed learning about Flash Patter, a thief's language.  He was the perfect bridge for my main character, Liza, between her cloistered life in Kensington Palace and the gritty streets of London.
  • Why did you choose to write a YA novel?  Why not a book for adults?
It never occurred to me to write for adults.  I just wanted to share my stories with teenagers.  It doesn't hurt that my children are 12 and 14 now.  I have a built-in audience!
Also as I've gotten more entrenched in the Middle Grade and Young Adult writing community, I've discovered that these writers are seriously nice people.  They are almost universally friendly and generous.  I suspect it's because we all care deeply about our readers' welfare.  I don't think the same can be said for adult writers.  Adult writers don't assume the responsibility for young people that we do.
  • What is your favorite book and why?
My favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in TimeI think it's just perfect.  More recently, I found Wednesday Wars to be a wonderful novel!
  • Are you working on anything now?  Can you tell us about it?
I just finished the edits on my second novel for Chronicle Books.  It's about Beryl Markham, the aviator who wrote West Into the Night.  She grew up in colonial Africa on a remote farm in the highlands above Nairobi.  She hunted warthogs and leopards and was mauled by a lion.  She became one of the first female commercial pilots in the world and flew over uncharted Africa.  In 1936, she was the first to fly from England to North America.  She crashed but lived to tell the tale.  You can't make this stuff up!
  • What advice would you give to the aspiring authors out there?
I take classes with Patricia Reilly Giff.  Her advice is the best I've heard.  Write everyday.  Writing is a craft, it can be learned.  Keep writing but then submit, you can't get published if your work is in a drawer!

I hope you loved the interview with Michaela MacColl.  Want more of her awesome-ness?  Visit her on goodreads.  Or, better yet go to her website!  Plus, don't forget to read my review of Prisoners in the Palace.  And if you like that then go buy the book HERE.

Prisoners in the Palace Giveaway!  (CLOSED)
Simply can't wait to read this book- well, we know a way you can win one!  Michaela MacColl was so nice when I contacted her that she even said she has an extra copy of Prisoners in the Palace just waiting to be shipped out to one of you.  That's right, our first giveaway- I know you're excited as I am.  Just pay special attention to our Policy and the rules below.
  •  Contest is open to anyone with a US mailing address.
  • Contest ends on 2.25.11
  • Winner will be chosen by on 2.26.11
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to email or a new winner will be chosen.
  • Only one winner per household!
Now, on to the fun!  All you have to do is fill out the form!

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  1. One of my favorite YA books was also A Wrinkle in Time! Awesome interview, I can't wait to read this book. :)

  2. I've heard lots of good things about this book--thanks for the contest!

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