Monday, 23 February 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview with Anna McKerrow - Crow Moon - Quercus

I would really like to thank Anna McKerrow for taking the time out to write such heartfelt responses to my mixed bag of questions. I hope that they will inspire you and make you inquisitive enough to read a copy of Crow Moon, which will be published by Quercus.

Tell us a little bit about Crow Moon? 
Devon and Cornwall have separated from the rest of the UK and become the Greenworld, an eco-pagan community run by witches. The rest of the country is the Redworld, where crime, corruption and pollution have taken over, and the world is fighting a final war for fuel. Danny, the main character, is a Greenworld kid who thinks the pagan stuff’s all a bit boring until events conspire to draw him into a growing conflict between the witch-led villages and the outlying lawless gangs that live between the green and redworlds. There’s some romance in there too, and lots of magic. Crow Moon is the first book in a trilogy.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? 
Danny’s a kid that’s grown up in a closed community – a good society that reveres the land and natural ways of life, but still one that’s heavy on the propaganda. So he thinks he’s a player but he’s pretty naïve. He’s the son of the village witch but he’s not particularly on-message with the magical ethos of the Greenworld, so he describes his surroundings with a tongue-in-cheek satirical viewpoint. He tells us what we need to know about his environment but we question it a bit along with him. Also, he’s not a stereotypical hero character because he keeps getting rescued by girls. Although his is the point of view narration, the action in the story is driven mostly by a cast of strong female characters.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s a pro-environmental message in Crow Moon that develops throughout the trilogy, specifically connected to fuel. Danny might point out some of the Greenworld’s flaws and make fun of it a bit, but they’ve basically got the right idea: living off the land, only consuming what you need, respecting nature. 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I have a general idea when I start, but basically just power along and see what I’ve got after a first draft. I find that just letting myself write freely means I come up with much better ideas than planning too hard. Then when I look at the crazy draft I problem-solve it until it makes sense. 

Do you see writing as a career?
It has been my career, one way or another, for a while now, and I hope it continues! I’ve worked for a literature charity for 7 years, taught creative writing for 8 and I’ve been a writer for a long time. This is my first novel but I’ve published four books of poetry before now. I’m just starting to do some consultancy for writers now too. 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
No, it was always there. I was a big reader so it was just a natural extension of that. My first story was a blatant rip off of a story I’d read where a character turned purple with rage. So in my story, I think I was about 5 or 6, someone turned yellow with rage. We didn’t have much when I was little but my mum read to me a lot, made sure we went to the library every week, and she bought me books at jumble sales. I still have a beautiful book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales she bought for 10p on my shelf. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just keep going, keep writing, try new genres to write in, read across genres, read everything you can get your hands on. Analyse what makes something good and bad writing, in your opinion, then do that and see what it sounds like in your voice. Write a lot.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Yes, definitely. I’m a sucker for a nice cover, and I’ve got a lot of books I bought only because of what they looked like! But also covers don’t matter when you know the author, if you’ve had a recommendation or whatever. My favourite books are battered and mostly unremarkable covers. But a commercial publisher spends a lot of time making sure the cover is eyecatching, appropriate for the age group and that retailers like it before they commit to it.

Would you or do you use a PR agency?
I don’t, and I can’t afford one, so it’s not an issue! It would be nice but not essential for now.
If you could have superpowers, what would they be and why?
Not really a superpower as such, but the resources to be able to ensure that no child went hungry in this country. The world, obviously, but this country would be a start. I’d have a magical ever-refilling foodbasket like in the Grimm’s fairytale, or more realistically, fantastic wealth which could completely fund the Trussell Trust.

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us?
Crow Moon is out from Quercus on March 5th.

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