Jacqueline Woods interviews aspiring fantasy novelist, M.L. Yates
Please tell us about your two novels in progress; Magic’s Fall – The Dragon Within, and Tarrenstride. What makes each one unique?
I have two works currently in progress:
Magic’s Fall is actually a prequel to a novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo two years ago called The End of Order. While writing End of Order, I decided that to tell the story well would require a lot more detail. So I started working on Magic’s Fall. The plan is to go back and work on ‘Order’ after I finish MF.
Tarrenstride is a completely new idea, I started writing it one day when I had some extra time. I liked the characters immediately, so I kept the idea and used it for NaNoWriMo in 2015.
As to what makes each of them unique…Magic’s Fall is typical fantasy, but the magic comes from an external source, and can be taken away. Tarrenstride is unique because I’m turning some of what is commonly used in Fantasy on its head. My elves have longer, more expressive ears, which I’ve only seen a few times. And they work closely with the dwarves, rather than distrust them. In fact, they distrust very few races.
What is your favorite character from each?
Magic’s Fall: Avier Gantt. He’s one of the twins, and unfortunately I can’t say much more than that without giving away the whole story.
Tarrenstride: Right now, Prince Rioran is my favorite, but I can’t say that with certainty yet. I have a few others that may claim that spot after some edits.
Why do you write fantasy as opposed to other genres?
Fantasy is what I read most often, and it’s something I feel comfortable writing. I have been branching out with a few short stories that are different genres, but I don’t feel I do them the justice they deserve.
How do you become inspired to write the characters, plots, and settings for your novels?
There’s really not anything specific for Magic’s Fall or Tarrenstride. I can’t remember thinking “Oh, that would make a good story,” I just had the idea and started writing notes to myself. Some of the short stories I’ve been writing recently are inspired by conversations and anecdotes from family and friends. My mother has been a wonderful source. Every once in a while I just get a text message from her that starts with: Title for you.
I come from a very creative family, my father is a photographer, and my mother is a very crafty person, as well as an English professor. I think writing was my creative gift.
If you were able to quit your day job and work as a full time author, how would this change your life and the way you see the world?
I’d love to be able to do this. It would definitely allow me to get more writing done, so I could finish novels/stories faster. I don’t know that it would change the way I see the world; I’ve got a pretty good outlook on things.
What was the plot line of your childhood book, The Death of The Easter Bunny?
Haha! I wrote Death of the Easter Bunny in Kindergarten as a class project. It was a hand-drawn, short story that my teacher “bound” using cardboard and wrapping paper. The plot was that the Easter Bunny catches a cold, can’t deliver the eggs, and his brother has to do it. When he gets back, he finds that the actual Easter Bunny has died. Kinda dark for a kindergartner, now that I think about it.
If you could go back in time and make another career choice that was closer in line with writing or books, what do you think you would choose?
Absolutely! I would want to teach English, like my mom. She’s definitely one of my role-models (and closest friends). She used to ‘grade’ all of my papers before I turned them in for school. She even did that while I was in college. I’d email them to her and she’d send them back with notes. Now, she edits my novels and short stories the same way. I want to be more like her.
What are your hobbies, and other interests aside from writing?
Oh wow, that’s a hard one. I used to ride horses competitively. I rode English, and did Hunter/Jumper and Dressage. I was captain of the girl’s bowling team in high school, and I still love to bowl. My mother got me interested in Cross-stitch at an early age, and I still dabble in that every once in a while. I also read (anything I can get my hands on), watch movies, and play video games with my husband.
What was a specific time in your life that was more inspiring than others for your writing?
Right now. I have an amazing supportive family.
What style of fantasy do you write, purist fantasy or something of a more modern sense?
I have bits and pieces of other story ideas laying around that fall in both categories. I mostly write what I consider High Fantasy. The best way I’ve seen that defined is on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fantasy. I enjoy reading all kinds, though.
Do you have any advice for the starving writer/artist?
Keep writing! I know there have been times when I thought I was spinning my wheels. But as I get feedback on my writing from my family and the wonderful Scribophile community, I think I’m actually starting to make some progress.
How has being involved in a writing community helped or affected you as a writer?
My writing has greatly improved since joining Scribophile. It’s also helped me interact with other writers. I’m not an outgoing person – and being able to use the internet as a medium has helped me form some very good (and hopefully long-lasting) friendships.
When do you expect Magic’s Fall to be published?
Not sure yet. I’m still doing edits, and working on a query letter to send out. I want to try getting it published traditionally before I make the leap into self-publishing. Hopefully soon!
A bit more about Magic’s Fall
In a world where magic prevails, Nalon Gantt never expects to rule the war-torn kingdom of Tannin. After all, both his father and his identical twin are highly Magick’d, while his own abilities remain stubbornly latent. But after they both fall in battle, Nalon finds himself in charge. Before Nalon can lead his people to victory, he must forge a link with the dragons of Tannin. It’s a race against time, as he’s heard that the Unmagick’d king has a powerful new weapon – Revenant, a man raised from the dead with uncanny knowledge of the Magick’d army’s movements. Somehow, Nalon must help Revenant regain his memories – and his purpose – if he’s to marshal his forces and save the children of Tannin from extinction.
About M.L. Yates
M. L. Yates is a gaming enthusiast who lives in Florida and works as an EDI analyst. She wrote her first book, The Death of the Easter Bunny, while in kindergarten, and she has been writing ever since. She is currently working on two Fantasy Novels: Magic’s Fall – The Dragon Within, and Tarrenstride.