Monday 21 March 2016

Meet the #Author Monday - Megan Cutler #fantasy #interview

Please tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Megan Cutler. I was born and raised in the US, but I married myself a nice Canadian gent and moved to the frozen north shortly after I graduated high school. I studied Information Technology and Networking, and worked for three years in the field, but all I've ever wanted to do was write. I've been writing full-time for five years now and it's been a fantastic journey! I published my first novel, Island of Lost Forevers in May of 2014. I mostly write science fiction and fantasy, but if an idea claws its way deep enough into my soul, I always give it a chance, no matter the genre.

Tell us about Sea of Twisted Souls:
Sea of Twisted Souls is the third book in the Mystical Island trilogy, which takes place on a dimension-hopping island travelling the universe via its cosmic ley lines. The island is a favored haunt of dimensional travelers, especially renowned for its bathhouse resort. Despite living in a tropical paradise, Catilen (who came to the island during the first book) and her family, manage plenty of misadventures. This book centers around Catilen's children, now fully grown, and the return of an old family friend long absent from their lives. If Catilen's daughter, Morulin, and her two brothers can't agree on who should rule the island going forward, they may risk losing their unique island home.

What inspired you to write this particular story?:
The first book in the trilogy, Island of Lost Forevers, was inspired by a dream of mine wherein two sorcerers faced off in a duel of magic. As my co-author and I worked through the story, the world grew bigger. We realized we had enough threads left over for a second plot, which became Crossroads of Frozen Eternity. When we wrote the second novel, we both became enchanted with Catilen's daughter, Morulin. We began to speculate what she might be like when she grew up. Before we knew it, we'd outlined a third book centering on her.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
Personality always comes first. Often my character's looks will grow out of their history, and a name is usually the last thing I choose (I'm really terrible at choosing names and I put it off way too long). Often my characters start as a core concept and I build outward from there. Catilen's core concept was 'empathy,' which manifested in her abilities as an Empath. Her counterpart, Damian, grew out of the concept of a traditional fantasy sorcerer lurking on modern day Earth. (How did he get there? And how did our views on magic being malarkey affect him?) When it came time to create their children, we pulled key traits from the parents, but they each received a core concept of their own; Morulin's involved mapping the universe. My secondary characters are usually spawned by the needs of the story, and unfortunately my lesser characters often make it through the first draft nameless (I'm terrible, I know).

Any tips for aspiring authors?:
Don't be too concerned with fear of rejection or loss of control. I worried about both those things way too long and I lost a lot of time as a result of it. The publication process is daunting, to say the least. Even Indie publishing comes with a learning curve that can seem over the top at first glance. But the truth is, you always have options. And you should always chose the option that feels best for you. If something scares you away from writing, or makes your writing overly stressful, you should either stop thinking about it, or make a decision that brings the joy back to writing. I know that sounds vague, but the fact is that individual terrors and decisions will vary for each author. Just don't let anything come between you and that joy; enjoyment is a powerful motivator and writing requires a lot of motivation.

Questions for fun:
Which fictional universe would you like to live in and why?:
Any of you remember The Neverending Story movie? Everyone who does always refers to it as 'that movie with the flying dog' (even though he was technically a dragon). The movie takes place mostly in the fantasy world of Fantastica (pronounced 'fant-asia'), and if I could live in any made-up universe it would be that one. Why? Because Fantastica is the land of stories. That's right; if a human can dream an idea, it lives in Fantastica. It's the world where all our dreams and stories come to life. A writer's dream, isn't it? The drawback is that I think humans can't stay in Fantastica for very long without consequences, such as losing all your memories and becoming well, husks. BUT, if you're clever enough to realize that, you can come home and go back as many times as you want. So, in theory, if I write all my stories here, they should be waiting for me when I get to Fantastica. And since Fantastica has no borders, I could travel forever and never get bored!

Which fictional creature would you like to own, and why?:
This one's easy for me; a dragon. If I could get away with it I would want a full-scale huge dragon (Asian or western style doesn't matter, I'm not picky, as long as it can fly), because then I could ride it. I've never been a fan of flying, but I think I could change my opinion if I got to ride a dragon (a frekin' dragon guys, seriously)! It would probably be best if the dragon didn't breathe fire, or anything other than plain old air, but the details would certainly be negotiable. I'd even be happy with a tiny little dragon that could sleep in my lap or ride on my shoulder. How adorable would that be? In case you can't tell already, I've always had an affinity for dragons. I don't know exactly why, but I've collected dragon figures since I was a teenager. It could also have something to do with my love of mythology and the fact that most ancient cultures had some concept of a dragon.

Your weapon/instrument/gadget of choice?:
If I could have as my own, any special object, I think I'd choose the Doctor's sonic screwdriver (I'm not picky on the model). If you think about it, the sonic screwdriver qualifies for all three of these things (weapon, instrument, and gadget). I think there's something to be said for a guy who rides around the universe using science to solve his problems. And I'll admit I love the idea of having a magic stick I can point at anything (except wood) and make it do pretty much whatever I want. I realize that I would be tempted to abuse this power, but let's be honest, I would probably just use it to automate simple tasks I didn't feel like doing.

Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, Butterbeer or Romulan ale?:
Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, though I'm uncertain if I could handle it. Maybe I'd better make sure no one's around to take blackmail photos at the time...

Coffee, tea or wine?:
Apparently I'm quite opinionated about drinks. I love coffee, but tea is probably my favorite drink. I mean, there's a tea for pretty much every moment, and I love that. I've got Lady Grey when I need a pick-me up, Rooibos for productivity (and it comes in so many flavors!), blueberry for relaxation, and chai (again in so many flavors!) to fill all the gaps. Plus, there's nothing quite like an iced tea on a hot summer day to cool you down.

And to finish:
What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):
You may be able to guess after my 'flying dog movie' answer, though many people aren't aware The Neverending Story was based on a book. It was written by German author Michael Ende. There have been several fan-work sequels but none have been translated into English, which makes me terribly sad. For those that remember the movie, let me assure you that the book is ten thousand times better (no lie!), and the movie is actually only based on the first half. The basic gist is that a young boy by the name of Bastian Balthazar Bux finds a book entitled The Neverending Story and realizes that he simply must have it (a book that never ends you guys!). He steals the book from a used bookstore and runs to the schoolhouse attic to read it. Bastian is something of an outcast among his peers. He spends most of his time reading and writing and he isn't very athletic or brave or popular. As he reads the book, he soon realizes that he is a character in the story and critical to how events will play out. Needless to say, this struck a chord in the teenage me, who wasn't all that different from Bastian in a lot of regards. And if I had one dream when I was a teenager, it was to disappear into the worlds of my books and never have to come back.

Favourite genre and why?:
It's difficult for me to choose between science fiction and fantasy. I love them both. But fantasy would probably edge into the lead just a tad. Fantasy books were what really sparked my love of reading, and my desire to write. Science fiction came later, when I found a few irresistible books that bridged the gap. In truth, I like to read anything with a hint of the fantastic. I don't want to read about the real world most of the time because I live in it and I happen to know it's kind of boring. I like to discover new worlds. I like to learn how they tick.

Favourite colour?:
My favorite color is blue. No particular shade, I just like blue. It's very calming. This became a problem when I was a teenager, however, and I wanted all of my characters to be 'blue.' Blue eyes. Or blue hair. Or blue skin. Blue, blue, blue. But I've grown out of my blue stage now, and I embrace the other colors, except sometimes yellow. Yellow and I don't get along.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
Aside from rounding off the Mystic Island trilogy with the release of Sea of Twisted Souls, I'm working on a series of short stories (about 10,000 words each) that will be released once monthly starting in May. The series is entitled Eternity's Empire and centers around a group of collage girls who meet on a special project in Antarctica and discover they have magical powers. The first book in the Mystical Island trilogy, Island of Lost Forevers is also on sale for 99cents for the next two weeks!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

It's been sixteen years since Damian departed the island. Sixteen years since he broke his promise to be there when Morulin needed him. Now an adult, she's ready to take the reins of rule from her father, but he has chosen to pass his position to her brother instead.

When Damian reappears without warning, Morulin isn't interested in making amends. She'd rather spend her time with the enigmatic Pilgrim, a dimensional traveler with plenty of stories to tell. That Damian seems to loathe him only makes his company more appealing. But she can't ignore her stepfather's strange behavior, especially when someone attempts to assassinate the island's new heir.

Damian insists the Pilgrim is responsible, but Morulin isn't convinced. Could he be trying to frame his new rival? Or has something more sinister come to visit their island paradise? If Morulin's family can't heal their fractures in time to solve the mystery, they might lose their beloved dimension-hopping home.

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