Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Necromancing the Stone with Lish McBride
Congrats to Van Pham for winning a copy of Necromancing the Stone. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting!
With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is getting used to his new life. Okay, so he hadn’t exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf sort-of-girlfriend, but things are going fine, right?
Well . . . not really. He’s pretty tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for one thing, and he can’t help but feel that his new house hates him. His best friend is a werebear, someone is threatening his sister, and while Sam realizes that he himself has a lot of power at his fingertips, he’s not exactly sure how to use it. Which, he has to admit, is a bit disconcerting.
But when everything starts falling apart, he decides it’s time to step up and take control. His attempts to do so just bring up more questions, though, the most important of which is more than a little alarming: Is Douglas really dead?
Cindy: It is an absolute pleasure to welcome back Lish Mcbride to the Inkpot! I was looking over ourlast interview and giveaway together and it was almost exactly two years ago. At that time, we hadn't met yet. Hoorah that we got the chance at Comic Con in San Diego as well as in Portland!
You had mentioned Necromancing the Stone in passing in our last interview together, and talked about the consequences of all that happened in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. I am a huge fan of the follow up consequences books. Because although we write fantasy and fantasy worlds--it doesn't mean that our heroes aren't affected by the magic or power they wield, or the often grim choices they are forced to make. How was it for you writing this sequel--where some tough situations and emotions come into play?
Lish: Writing sequels...sucks. No, actually, that's not true. I'm writing a sequel right now and it's fine. NTS fell directly into "second book syndrome." Which means that it fought me every step of the way. Everyone told me that the second book is always the hardest, and man, they weren't kidding. It was definitely an uphill battle. That being said, there's a lot in it that I like. New characters (Taco, Minion, Sexy Gary, etc.) and we get to know a few other characters a lot more. There's certainly a few heart-wrenching moments that were hard for me to write, but they needed to be there. I got a little misty myself at times. I always try to balance it out with some happy thoughts, though. So, you know, there's some battle gnomes, too.
HMC,N had a lot in it about choices that we make and dealing with the hand that life deals you, and it's not like that ever stops in life. Sam has to just keep on dealing, and since he drags his very human friends with him, they have to deal, too. Sure, it's nice to learn that magic is real and all that, but it's dangerous, and for people like Frank, it's certainly going to be a life-changer. It would feel weird to not examine that in the book.
Cindy: Loved the battle gnomes! And I really appreciated the way you handled choices in both these novels. One of the interesting and refreshing things about your novels is that you write from the villain's point of view. That isn't often seen in young adult fantasy at all. Did you enjoy writing from his perspective?
Lish: Define "enjoy?" Douglas is one of those characters were it's definitely more like channeling than crafting something. Which is kind of terrifying. I mean, Douglas's pieces aren't even edited very much. Little tweaks, but usually nothing like the massive overhauls the Sam chapters take. It's weird to discover that the one character that's easiest for you to write is a violent sociopath. It certainly shouldn't come naturally to me. Yikes.
But there's something kind of honest and straight forward about Douglas's narrative. He makes no excuses for himself. He knows that he's a monster, he just doesn't care. He wants what he wants and you better get out of his way. Last week I stopped by a high school to chat with a group of teens and one of them asked me about Douglas's chapters in NTS. He wanted to know why I showed the reader what I did--why I made you feel bad for Douglas. The question made me really happy. Evil doesn't come from nowhere. It grows. It's nourished. I wanted the reader to mourn who Douglas could have become so that you could also see why James loves him. It was nice to know that it worked for that reader.
Cindy: Totally with you on that one. We all start somewhere, and no one is all good or all bad. This is why I love to write gray characters. I'm always fascinated by themes that arise in our stories. To me, Necromancing has a strong focus on family, loyalty, and friendship. Did these arise by chance, or were they deliberate choices when you began writing?
Lish: Yes and no. I never, ever, approach a story with that sort of thing in mind. I don't want it to come off all "After School Special." No heavy handed morals and what not. That kind of thing can kill a story. When I was Sam's age, though, those kinds of things were important to me. My family is a hodge-podge of blood relatives, step-whatevers, family friends, my friends, and whatever strays we could pick up. It's a mess. I love it. Family, to me, is about the one you build for yourself, not just the one you're given. My teen years were rough (who's aren't, right?) and the family I built kept me going. And I'm still friends with that group. (In fact, many of them are thanked in my acknowledgements.) They act as beta readers, babysitters, writing buddies, moral support, you name it. I am where I am because of my amazing, loyal, kickass friends and family. Sam's support system is roughly modeled on my own and it only made sense for it to be that way.
Cindy: I love that response. I think the idea of family is whom you choose to have and build really comes across in these books--of finding your own place. Do you have a favorite character from this series? And what are you working on now, Lish?
Lish: Hm. It's hard to pick. Sam is so nice. Brid is tough and brave. Ramon is funny and loyal. Ashley is a snarky jerk (I have soft spot for snarky jerks as I tend to be one.). Frank is sweet. Brooke is the Den Mother. James is fussy. Taco is adorable and I love Sexy Gary so much I just had my friend Vlad design a sticker of him. I've spent so much time with them that it would be hard to pick.
Right now I'm editing my next book and writing the follow up to that. They're not Sam books, but they are set in the same world. They follow Ava, a firebug, who can start fires with her mind. She's forced to work for a mob-style organization as an assassin. It doesn't sound funny, but I promise it's along similar lines as the Sam books. There are biker were-bunnies, for example. All first person so far, though, which feels weird to me now because I've been working on the Sam books for so long. No title as of yet (they rejected mine) and as far as I know the first one is slated for Spring 2014.
Cindy: Gosh, Ava the firebug sounds so RAD. =D I cannot wait to read this and interview you in the future! Finally, since I've already asked the pastry questions--what is one of your favorite snacks while writing?
Lish: Whatever won't make my hands sticky. I want my snack to not get in the way of me working, but not enough to actually give up the actual snacking. So at this point it's whatever isn't sticky that someone else makes for me.
Cindy: So practical! And it makes sense. But it discounts Cheetos for me, which is heartbreaking for obvious reasons. Lish, thank you so much for taking the time in your busy schedule to talk with us here!!
To learn more about Lish and her books, visit her website: lishmcbride.com
I will be giving away a copy of Necromancing the Stone to one lucky winner! +1 Simply comment in this post to enter. +1 entry if you are a follower of our blog. +1 if you tweet or fb status, etc, with a link to this post and mention of book giveaway. For a total of +3 entries. I will pick a winner on Wednesday, 3/27 and post winner name at the top of this entry. Good luck! (Open to US mailing addresses.)
Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Her first published short story is featured in Diverse Energies, a multicultural YA dystopian anthology from Tu Books (October 2012). Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at www.cindypon.com.