Today, I'd like to welcome RS McCoy, author of Sparks. I read her novel last week, and I couldn't put it down! And since I'm not great at introductions, we'll just start with the interview!
Sparks is a fascinating story about children with special abilities or ‘sparks.’ Where did you come up with that idea?
I guess I can’t really take credit for the idea! Growing up, my dad always told us to find the job we were made for. We would know we were in the right position when we loved going to work, had an aptitude for the tasks and could solve problems and challenges with ease. I guess I’ve always had the idea that different people were born with different skills that helped them fit their particular roles in the world.
Sparks is a great commentary on how government and politics can corrupt even well intentioned of individuals. Was that a theme you chose or one that came out while you wrote?
I knew from the get go that I wanted politics to play a role. Personally, having elements of political conflict, religious tension and other social pressures add a layer of complexity and intrigue, as well as better reflect actual societies. A population free of those issues would be a true fantasy!
Which character is most like you?
Hmmm. Good question! I guess I have to go with Khea. On the exterior, I am a sweet-as-pie looking southern mom, a teacher and a wife. In reality, I enjoy many aspects of art outside the mainstream, including sexuality, language and violence in the books I read and write. People often expect less of me than I am capable, just like they do to Khea in Sparks.
And very different from the question before, who is your favorite character?
I definitely love Avis, and loved writing him. In my mind’s eye, he is tall, dark and handsome in an untraditional way. He is wounded, complex and deeply caring, and writing him was a great challenge but also really rewarding!
Which part of this novel was hardest to write? Easiest?
The ending was definitely the easiest. I was on such a roll from the first half of the book that it sort of jumped out of my fingers and managed to be something I am immensely proud of. For some reason, Chapter Two was my Achilles heel. It just would not work! No matter how many authors critiqued it and no matter how many times the editor combed through it, everyone ripped it to shreds over and over again. Eventually, I just had to make my peace with it and move on.
How do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser, and where do you start?
I like to think I utilize a happy mix of planning and winging it. For the most part, I start off with an outline of the story. Characters are hashed out, chapters are loosely structured and I get a general idea of where things will go. Then I start at the first chapter, and choose the details as I go. Since I already have the big picture, filling in the details goes pretty smoothly. My hope is that the characters come out truer and the dialogue more natural but the story still completes an arc.
Why did you choose self-publishing over traditional publishing? What was the greatest challenge you faced with self-publishing?
I chose self-publishing because I wanted to have control over my product. Writing started as an outlet for personal crisis, so I wasn’t willing to let someone - like a publisher - challenge my ideas. The greatest challenge was realizing how much I had to learn. Ignorance is truly bliss, and realizing how ignorant I was of the publishing world was a splash of cold water to the face. Since the beginning, I like to think I’ve embraced the learning and research aspect of this job. Slowly but surely, I’m getting there!
What are your writing goals for the future?
Now that I’ve had a taste for writing and publishing, I think I’d ultimately like to pursue it as a career. That seems crazy, even to me! My husband moves around for his job every few years, so working from home just makes sense. I hope to be able to support my family on income from writing. I’d also like to see one of my books as #1 on Amazon, just to say I did it!
Any advice for those still working toward publishing?
Research! The internet is a wealth of information, including what to do, what not to do, and thousands of tales from other first timers. Find out what worked and what didn’t, and make sure those things don’t happen to you! No one knows everything and has all the secrets, but familiarizing yourself with the industry can only help you!
RS McCoy didn’t ever plan on being a writer. With a career teaching high school science, writing is the last thing she expected. But life never goes the way you think it will. While battling cancer, she picked up her laptop and let the words flow out. One year later, her first published fantasy novel has been released on Amazon and her second novel is in the works. She is a wife, mother of one with another on the way, a scientist, baker, gardener, and life-long science fiction and fantasy addict.
"Everyone in the world has a spark, a light inside that guides them, keeps them alive.”
Myxini School for Children specializes in training young men and women who have powerful sparks. Strikers are taught to manipulate fire. Trackers learn to find animals in the most formidable terrains. Handlers are instructed in communication with large predators. But forty years have passed since the last time they had a Reader – a student with the ability to read minds.
When Lark Davies enrolls at Myxini, he knows there aren’t many like him, but he doesn’t realize just how rare his abilities really are. He thinks nothing of being asked to keep his spark a secret; after all, he can barely control it. Thoughts and emotions flood unbidden into his mind until he can scarcely walk or hold a conversation. But just when he needs it most, his ability fails him.
Larks meets Khea, a small frightened girl who mysteriously insights his protective nature. He has no explanation for the curious strength of their relationship, and it doesn’t help that she is one of the few people in the world whose thoughts can’t be read. As he struggles to get to the root of their unique bond, Lark begins to unravel more power than even his mentor expected, but in the process makes himself a target to political leaders eager to take control.