Monday, February 20, 2012

New YA Novel--Awakenings

Here's a special treat, an interview with fellow author and newly published Mabel Cowie. Her first book in a new series, Awakenings, is available through Amazon. It takes place in her native Scotland, where she grew up wandering among the hills. She even spent time where some of the Harry Potter series was filmed--you know that hill down to Hagrid's hut? She's been there. So cool. To get her book, click on the cover page of it, below.
Product Details



Your novel Awakenings, the first in a series, is set in Scotland, where you grew up. What is it about this setting that you most wished to convey to readers? 


Scotland is a captivatingly beautiful place, with inspiration around every corner.  It would be difficult as a writer or artist not to have your creativity piqued.Hidden around every nook, cranny and bend there is some ancient ruin or old castle just waiting to be explored. It’s also a country steeped in folklore, mystery and the supernatural, all of which I could use to draw readers in.

The setting for Awakenings is a small rural glen on the west coast of Scotland. I tried to create an idyllic village nestled in the glen, almost hidden from the world. A great many small Scottish villages are still like this, where everyone knows each other by their first name and lives a quiet, ‘tomorrow will do’ lifestyle. Growing up in Scotland, that part of my culture was one of the things I cherished the most. I wanted to get across the appeal of a laid back attitude combined with the unspoiled and timeless countryside. These things seem to be slowly fading from my country.

My dad was an amateur historian and would take us off on adventures all the time, searching the ruins of places like Skara Brae. He once took us to Dunvegan castle on the island of Skye, where we spent hours (and I first saw the Fairy Flag of the McLeods, which is in the book). There was a portrait on the wall from the 16th century and it really resembled me; it alarmed me a bit, to be honest. Dad took this opportunity to start his own story about the picture, adding a few hauntings here and there. I tried to contain my anxiety but was glad when we got out of the castle. Of course, he had bought a book from the castle with that portrait in it and started reading it at night in the caravan. I didn’t sleep for three nights. My childhood was great.



The loss of history is certainly one element I can see working in your novel, and your father's storytelling is another. What do you hope to do to readers with your own storytelling? Who do you envision your readers to be, and what do you hope they come away with when the book (series) is finished?

Of course, I want to provide an escape from our own reality, which we all need at times.  I’ve also developed a diversity of characters that I hope the readers can identify with. For example, Isla is a young ward in the laird’s care. I thought her bubbly personality would appeal to the tween girls that I originally wrote the books for, but I’m finding that a great deal of adult women are also enjoying Isla, and the entire story.

Developing the characters over the course of the trilogy is something that I really enjoy, and I love the progressive discovery for both myself and the character. I would hope that the reader becomes attached to these characters and cares about what happens to them. For Arran in particular, the process of finding out who she is and becoming all she was created for is a journey filled with adventure and risk, love and friendship.

One of the things that’s disappointed me in recent novels written for young teenagers is that they seem to have a great deal of sexual content.  I wanted to write something that was both clean and fun, that they can identify with and enjoy, without being bombarded with what our current society sees as acceptable.  I want them to look inside themselves and find the strengths and qualities that they have to offer the world.
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The novel is a story all in itself, of course, but many of its mysteries remain unanswered in the first installment (as they should be to keep the drama going). Since this is the first book in a series, how many books to you intend for the entire series? Can you give us some hints as to how each book will build upon the last (without spoiling anything)?

There will definitely be three books, possibly four, depending on how much my wonderful editor excises from the third book J  The mystery certainly deepens; it isn’t as simple as it appears in Book One. There are new creatures introduced, including the comical wood nebs and the more threatening ater, who are mentioned at the very end of Book One and become a real menace to the lives of those in Ormiscaig.
I personally enjoy reading books where the main character doesn’t seem wimpy, vulnerable, or frankly pathetic. So, I intentionally created a strong heroine in Arran, who gains a greater depth of understanding regarding who she is and of her role in both worlds. Arran has a clear sense of self, and never loses sight of her background, which also keeps her both teachable and grounded. I’ve always felt in writing this story that young readers need a heroine they can identify with, that also has traits that their parents wouldn’t mind them trying to emulate.
I’ve also tried to take the reader to different parts of Scotland, as well as integrate more folklore and history. We get to see these scenes largely through the kings, some of whom have the ability to move through time. Finally, readers of Book One were introduced to a potential villain. For those of you who crave a good, complex villain, you will not be disappointed with the next two parts.

5 comments:

  1. Very nice interview... Love meeting new writers.

    Lou

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  2. Sounds very interesting and appeals to me as I write chn's historical fiction.

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  3. I love that the setting is Scotland! That's the place I've most wanted to travel to in the world. The book sounds fabulous!

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  4. Having read the book, it will not disappoint. I really think it appeals to all ages who love a good story & interesting characters.

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