Monday, August 31, 2020

C.M. McGuire

When C.M. McGuire was a child, she drove her family crazy with her nonstop stories. Lucky for them, she eventually learned to write and gave their ears a rest. This love of stories led her to college where she pursued history (semi-nonfictional storytelling), anthropology (where stories come from) and theater (attention-seeking storytelling). When she isn't writing, she's painting, crocheting, gardening, baking, and teaching the next generation to love stories as much as she does.

McGuire's new novel is Ironspark.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I remember years ago, while working at my local RenFair, I saw a friend wearing an iron nail around her neck. She told me it came from folklore, as a way to protect children from the Fae. Not long after that, I came up with the idea for the Ironspark novel, so it was inevitable that iron would play a big role in the story to develop, since most of the story is Bryn trying to protect her family and her town from the Unseelie Fae.

Actually, Ironspark wasn’t even the title I had in mind. Originally, the novel was simply called Bryn because of my protagonist. Then, I wanted to call it Autumn of Iron, until it was pointed out that Noun + Prepositional Phrase titles in YA were a little tired for the time being. It was sitting in a cupcake shop drinking a latte and discussing the dilemma with friends that one suggested Ironspark as a title.

What's in a name?

Ironspark came about as the result of a very emotional time in my life. I was working in my final season at my local RenFair, which was stressful to the point of minor medical issues. I was preparing to go away to college and live alone for the first time, racking up huge debt by attending a college my parents thought financially irresponsible. So, at that time, I wanted to hold on to whatever made me happy.

One of my fellow castmembers at the fair played a barbarian named Bryn. I loved her character deeply and, when I looked up the nature-based origins of the name, it gave me a sense of certainty. Bryn would be my protagonist as a sturdy (if uneven) heroine.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

I think teenaged me would enjoy the novel, if quietly. Honestly, I’d probably be pretty surprised by my having openly queer characters in starring roles. I was in my mid-twenties before I realized that I couldn’t censor myself and expect to write anything genuine.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised by violence. I was a fan of “whump” fanfiction since its early Stargate SG1 days, and it was inevitable it would find its way into my own writing.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings are my bane. I have to rewrite them over and over. Endings, on the other hand, are almost always more or less what I had in mind with minor tweaking. Maybe it says something that Ironspark is the first book whose beginning hardly changed, and it’s my first published novel.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Absolutely. I think we all have to find some amount of ourselves in each of our characters, even if it’s very small. I could go on and on about the specifics of what bit of myself I put into each character, but that would mean risking spoilers.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Music is easily my biggest influence. A lot of my brainstorming comes from listening to songs I love or the radio while I’m on a road trip. Florence and the Machine in particular was a huge inspiration for Ironspark.
Follow C.M. McGuire on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Ironspark.

My Book, The Movie: Ironspark.

--Marshal Zeringue