A Mortal Song
By: Megan Crewe
Publisher: Another World Press
Publication Date: September 13th, 2016
Sora’s life was full of magic–until she discovered it was all a lie.
Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.
As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.
If you emptied out your purse, wallet, desk drawer, pockets, backpack, beach bag, saddle bag, or fanny pack, what would we find?
I have a big purse because I like to carry lots of stuff! Right now you’d find my mini notepad and pens (for jotting story ideas that come to me on the go), my cellphone, my green pen for signing books, my lip balm and hand cream (I hate the feeling of dry lips and hands!), hand sanitizer, mini pouch of tissues, extra diapers for when I’m out with my son, my wáter bottle, my mini umbrella, my keys, and my public transit fare card, as well as lots of little scraps of paper and receipts I really should throw out.
What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?
I used to be a very strict plotter, but over the years I’ve started to loosen up a bit. My standard process these days is to let an idea percolate until it feels “ready,” then outline the first few scenes in detail as well as some notes on the other key scenes throughout the book, including the ending. Then I flesh out the outline as I go—so I’ll finish writing one scene and then write a more detailed outline of the next to get me started tomorrow. I find that makes it easier for me to be flexible about new ideas that come to me as I transform the story into prose.
Describe you book in 5 words or less:
Action-packed, heart-wrenching magical fantasy adventure.
What are some fun facts you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?
-I had a really tough time naming Chiyo’s boyfriend. I wanted a name that sounded right for his stoic, practical personality. He was originally Yuu, but then it occurred to me that it’d be really hard to read any scene he was in aloud and have people follow who I was talking about. Then for a while he was Ben, but one of my Japanese readers told me that name is really uncommon (though it does exist in Japanese) and would probably cause confusion about whether or not he was mixed race or not Japanese at all. Finally I settled on Haru.
-All of the settings in the book exist or are based on real settings, and I have been to all of them (or the places they’re based on). The partly made-up places are the palace on Mt. Fuji, the valley of the doves, and the various unnamed shrines.
-Keiji is a Monty Python fan and quotes one of their movies at one point in the book.
Do you have a special story behind your inspiration for the book?
The basic story is that I’d just read two YA books back to back that had the premise of a girl who discovers she’s not really human but a magical being hidden among humans for her protection. I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to be in the opposite position and to have to deal with losing what you thought made you special. All the rest of the story spun out from there!
Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?
Rin was always fun to write. She basically dictated her dialogue to me—she always knew exactly what she wanted to say and how—and it was interesting seeing how her often caustic personality would affect the other characters.
The hardest to write was probably Keiji. It was tricky making sure he stayed sympathetic even though he makes some pretty big mistakes, and my original conception of him was a little goofier than my early readers seemed to find appealing in a posible romantic interest. (What can I say, I like the class clowns!)
If you could ask a character of your choice from A MORTAL SONG one question what would it be?
I’d like to meet up with Sora ten years after the events in the book and ask her what she’s doing now. 🙂
What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?
The climactic battle and confrontation between Sora and the main villain. It took many revisions to get the progression of her emotions and understanding, the chaos of the battle, and the tenor of that confrontation where I wanted them to be, and I know it isn’t what some readers will be expecting, but after all that work, now it plays out exactly the way I feel the story and Sora need it to.
Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book?
In the first draft my idea of how the group ended up getting held up by a certain secondary villain was a little shaky, and I realized as I was writing it that it didn’t make sense with the rules I’d set down. But I pushed through it just to get the book done, knowing I’d come back to it in the second draft and figure out a better approach.
What is your number one writing tip?
Be willing to revise anything. Sometimes your first (or second, or third) draft will need a total overhaul to be the best version of the story you’re trying to tell, and you’ll only make it to that version if you’re willing to scrape scenes, characters, dialogue, descriptions, etc. that you’ve already worked hard on.
Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and son (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and she’s spent the last six years studying kung fu, so you should probably be nice to her. She has been making up stories about magic and spirits and other what ifs since before she knew how to write words on paper. These days the stories are just a lot longer.
Megan’s first novel, GIVE UP THE GHOST, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her second, THE WAY WE FALL, was nominated for the White Pine Award and made the International Reading Association Young Adults’ Choices List. Her Fallen World trilogy (THE WAY WE FALL, THE LIVES WE LOST, THE WORLDS WE MAKE) is now complete and she has a new trilogy forthcoming in October 2014, beginning with EARTH & SKY. Her books have been published in translation in several countries around the world. She has also published short stories in magazines such as On Spec and Brutarian Quarterly.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by the Fantastic Flying Book Club.