Today we sit down with British author Nikki McDonagh (She’s the human behind her cat, Storm) . The Liverpool native is going to tell us about her book and a little bit about herself. Please enjoy learning about her.
DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?
NM: Whisper Gatherers – Book 1 in the Dystopian, Sci-fi, Action Adventure series – The Song of Forgetfulness
DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?
NM: Quirky, fast-paced, Dystopian adventure with a unique mutant heroine.
DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
NM: My intended audience is anyone who enjoys a different kind of post-apocalyptic read. My book uses slang-based language to create a future world where people are scattered, living in fear of a common enemy. I don’t know if people should read my book, but they can if they want to. Maybe if I list a few snippets from some reviews, that may be a good way of suggesting why people should read my book.
“If you like action, and science fiction then you’ll appreciate one of the first books EVER that gives you high powered adrenalin with chilling revelations of utter suspense! This book is amazing to read and you will not want to put it down!”
“The author does a great job of drawing you in with her futuristic descriptions, at times it felt like I was watching a movie, that’s how enthralled I was with the book.”
“The central character has a convincing mixture of wilfulness and self-deprecation, and the imagined world is sufficiently complex to provoke thought and wonder. Nice to know that there are further episodes to pursue. A good read.”
“There’s danger, humour, pathos, and lots of fast-paced action that makes this book a very exciting read.”
DM: How did you come up with the title?
NM: Whisper Gatherers is a prequel to Echoes from the Lost Ones. I came up with the title to keep it consistent with the theme of sound, as singing is integral to the plot. Also, it suggests the menace that lies outside the city gates. The Whispers, are the Echoes from the second book. Another name for the children that go missing in the story.
DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
NM: Two of the books in the series were originally published by Fable Press. They closed down July last year, so I decided to self-publish and re-do the covers. As I am a photographer as well as a writer, I chose to design the covers myself. I used feathers in mask patterns with a plaid border. The border represents the setting of the book- Scotland – and the feathers represent the central character, Adara’s special power as ‘Bringer’ and a ‘Catcher of Birds’. The feathers represent these ‘birdles’ who are the only edible creatures left in this futuristic world, in a minimalistic way. I wanted to create a sense of tribal rawness since much of the book deals with people living in small communities trying to fend for themselves in a hostile world.
DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)
NM: I love the writing of Ursula Le Guinn. She has a knack for creating utterly believable worlds and has a sense of spirituality running through her books, which raises them above the usual, more mundane science fiction offerings around at the moment.
DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
NM: Greatgrangran is my favourite character in this particular book. Although she is quite ancient, she is feisty and has a wicked sense of humour. She is also full of surprises and more than able to fend for herself, or put up a fight, when the need arises.
DM: How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
NM: My least favourite character is Mayor Eldwyn. He is selfish, greedy and cannot be trusted despite him holding a high ranking office in Cityplace. He should be helping his fellow citizens, but he is only out for himself and does some pretty awful things in order to get what he wants.
DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
NM: Don’t ask me to change what I’ve spent years creating!!! One thing will lead to another and I’ll end up re writing everything!
DM: Can you tell us a fun fact your book?
NM: Echoes from the Lost Ones, Book 2, has just been the subject of a graduate thesis on the difficulties of translating books that use made-up/slang-based language. I was quite flattered by that.
The main character, Adara, has a Synthbag that becomes invisible when she puts it on. It can hold a huge amount of stuff and remain as light as air. When I was researching nanofibres I discovered that scientists have now developed a fibre that is so light it doesn’t bend a blade of grass if you put it on top. Also, they can make cloth that is invisible. Life imitating art!
DM: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
NM: To be honest, I haven’t read a book quite like mine, but then I haven’t read every dystopian book ever written. One reviewer said that the series reminded them of Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness, because, “I loved the unique language, and both the style and the voice of the book reminded me of Patrick Ness’ Walking Chaos Trilogy.” As another reviewer puts it – ‘A great story full of fun wordplay, great imagery, and an underlying commentary about the frailties of mankind.” Which is very like the theme running through Chaos Walking.
DM: Besides writing, do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
NM: No, I am very boring.
DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?
NM: You can purchase The Song of Forgetfulness on:
Amazon: US: http://amzn.to/1pF2YuQ
Whisper Gatherers is on offer until the end of March. £0.99 $0.99
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/216H92W
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1OjRXXG
You can also reach out to me on:
Blog page: www.nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/
DM: What can we expect from you in the future?
NM: I am currently working on The History of NotSoGreatBritAlbion, which is a series of journals explaining how the world in The Song of Forgetfulness, came to be. It will be from several viewpoints and will chronical the collapse of civilisation through global warming, pestilence, disease and the greed of the chosen few.
Plus, I am going to be publishing another short story anthology based on paintings of artists I admire, such as Chagall, Picasso and Munch.
DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
NM: Oh, that’s easy – buy it, read it, leave an honest review and tell everyone they know to do the same.
DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
NM: Take your time. Make sure your book is professionally edited/proof read and formatted. Decide which route is best for you. Traditional, small press or self-published. Do your research and weigh up the pros and cons. Remember, even if you are traditionally published, you will have to do 99% of the promotion and marketing yourself. Get a website and or blog going to let people know about you and your book. Join writing forums and interact with fellow authors, you will get invaluable advice and support. Facebook has a ton of great pages for writers to hang out in and chat.
DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?
NM: This extract is from Chapter Four – Nothing Ever Happens. Renegades have broken into the quiet confines of Cityplace where Adara lives and are looking for her as they believe she is a prophet.
Sheriff Fychan, a small thin male without much hair, yanked out a comdevice and screamed down it for assistance. He threw the thing onto the floor when all it did was make a buzzing noise. He peeled the Headteach’s arms from around his waist. Stepping forward, he said, “Stop right where you are. Advance no further. I said, stop!”
The Praisebees did not. Instead, they tramped faster chanting, “Cheesus is life. Cheesus is good. Believe in him and live forever.”
A catchy little ditty to be sure, but it fell upon deaf ears. All in Cityplace believed in the OneGreatProvider that centuries ago saved the few remaining bigwigs from famine and disease. He built our now great home where we live, safe and sound. Except that today, we were not. The leader of the group walked up the steps and onto the stage. Sheriff Fychan held up his hands in front of his chest to warn the tall slim male, to advance no further. The ‘dult smacked his mitts away. He turned to the quaking crowd.
“Calm yourselves. Do not be so a-feared. We come in peace. We come because of rumours.”
“Word has filtered through to our nomadic ears that the dead and lost ones have risen.”
“That these troubled spirits have come to warn us of things to come. Things most wretched and horrible. We must listen to them. Mend our ways. If not, then all upon this land-starved planet will perish once and for all. If that is so, then a saviour must rise to save folk. That hagio, or saint, will free us from despair and deprivation. That saviour is here.”
The Praisebee/Carnie disciples fell to their knees and banged their heads upon the hard, stone floor, saying as one, “Praisebee Cheesus. Praisebee Cheesus.” Blood from their temple wounds splattered just about everywhere. Cityfolk gasped with terror and disgust at their pristine, clean space being tainted by their red disease-ridden fluids. Santy used this distraction to rush past the guards and join me.
Hrypa started the screaming and near all joined in. Except for myself, Santy Breanna and Greatgrangran, who was still asleep. Santy grabbed my wrist and pulled me through the standing audience. She nodded to Meilyr, who shook Greatgran Amranwen until she woke. He helped her rise and pushed her through the shrieking folk that stood before their chairs.
The main Praisebee lifted his arms to the ceiling. Something heavy fell through the skylight in the roof.
The head-pounding Cheesus/Carnie nuts, put their hands under their robes and drew out facemasks. They pressed them over their noses and mouth, then joined their leader on the stage. I was baffled by their action until I saw the grey vapour spread around the room. The screaming stopped. Coughing started.
About Nikki McDonagh
Nicola McDonagh was born in Liverpool, the youngest of six children. She grew up amidst books, music and lots of animals. She originally trained as a photojournalist, but her love of the theatre and story telling, saw her gaining an Honours Degree in Drama and English Literature and a Diploma in Creative Writing from the UEA. She spent many years as an actor, scriptwriter and workshop leader, but gave it up to concentrate on her writing. She is a creative writing/photography tutor, and editor.
Nicola won the Suffolk Book League’s Short Story Competition, and was shortlisted for The Escalator Genre Fiction Competition. Her debut novel, Echoes from the Lost Ones, book 2 in the series, The Song of Forgetfulness, was published by Fable Press. The series has been re-vamped and Nicola self-published them in 2015.