#IndieFallFest: Anna Carolyn McCormally

I'd like to welcome Anna Carolyn McCormally back to my blog for her Indie Fall Fest post!
Don't forget to drop by the kick-off post and enter the huge giveaway!

On Kira Adams' blog today, she's featuring Chess Desalls!

by Heather Letto
Hi Anna! I’m so excited for this cyber-meet and opportunity to get to know you more!
Thank you! Right back at you.

Although I haven’t (YET) read THE SIX DAYS, it sounds awesomely intriguing. Can you tell me how this fantasy world was birthed?
This is the first novel I have ever completed and the idea first came to me hilariously long ago—like, in high school. I wrote so many different parts of it so many times in different forms… and then totally abandoned them. In my last couple years of college, when I started taking creative writing workshops as electives on the sly—I was supposed to be doing my economics homework—I realized that writing fiction was a thing I wanted to spend more time and effort on.
But no matter what else I tried to write, the Carpenter brothers kept coming back to me and I really felt like I had to tell this story in order to move on from it. I think that Emanu, the alternate world in the book, is a pretty clear culmination of every fantasy book or fairy tale I’ve ever read. My dad read to me every night until I was eleven—The Dark is Rising, The Golden Compass, The Princess Bride, The Lord of the Rings (SEVEN TIMES. IN ITS ENTIRETY. OUT LOUD. NO JOKE). All those characters and worlds went in and got jumbled around and The Six Days, Emanu and Jamie Carpenter are what came out.

What would you like your readers to come away with after reading your work?
That how you treat other people is important, and that how you treat yourself is important, too.
I always joke that you can tell The Six Days is set not just in a fantasy universe but in my personal fantasy universe because everybody is a feminist. They have 99 problems on the other side of the Gate but systematic gender inequality is not one of them.

I see that there are two additional co-authors on this book. Can you talk a little about how this process unfolded?
Rachel Miller and Sarah Dergin aren’t really co-authors, but they were both a big part of making The Six Days happen.
Sarah did the cover art for the book—she’s an incredibly talented artist who was a pleasure to work with and I love the design of the book. Rachel Miller edited The Six Days and is also my partner at Giant Squid Books, a YA publishing community that we started about a year ago. I met Rachel through a friend of a friend of a friend at a party in 2013 and we immediately started talking about books.
Rachel and I both love reading YA fiction and wanted to support writers in any way we could. We published The Six Days together as sort of a practice run. We have since published another book—How to Be Manly by Maureen O’Leary Wanket and have a third, The Burned Bridges Protocol by Abigail Borders, coming in December. Our business is small but we are having a great time and the opportunity to connect with Abigail and Maureen—both of them came to us through our online submissions system—and promote their work has been a privilege and also a really good time. GSB authors are partners in the collaborative publishing process and that’s how it should be.

When you work, do you tend to get exhilarated and giddy or focused and grumpy?
I zone out when I’m really writing and when I’m in that space there really is no mood. The exhilaration or grumpiness happens afterwards, depending on how I feel about what I wrote. There is definitely a period of anxiety when I first sit down to write, though.

What snack most often finds its way to your hungry belly when creating?
Toast! But fancy toast, with something exciting on it, like avocado.

Do you ever act out your scenes? If so, have you ever been ‘caught’?
Can’t say that’s ever happened! Has it happened to you? That sounds pretty funny. I do talk to myself, though, and I will sometimes find a housemate and make them sit while I rant to them about an idea I’ve had or something I’m working through.
I would actually like to take this opportunity to express my undying and infinite gratitude to Rosa Olivia Ostrom, my best friend who was also my apartment-mate in Brooklyn during the last draft of The Six Days. She sat on the couch while I yelled to her about it a lot and never complained. She also made me sign a contract with her that I would finish a draft by a certain date or I had to pay her rent for the month. She’s good people.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, tea all day after that.

Cream and sugar?
A little cream.

What’s the oddest thing you can tell us about yourself? (G-rated please… ;-)
I write a lot of notes to myself. My desk is covered in notes that I’ve taped up to see if I look up while I’m writing. They say things like, “You’re fine!” and “first drafts aren’t supposed to be any good so don’t worry about it” and “Don’t be a writer, be writing” which is my favorite quote about writing (Faulkner said it). Past Me and Future Me have a pretty intense relationship and I definitely try to think about Future Me as a friend I need to be nice to. That’s weird, right?

The Six Days by Anna Carolyn McCormally

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

"You have six days from midnight until the Gate closes
again. Bring me what I need by then and maybe you’ll
get your brother back.”

Fifteen years ago, in the middle of the night, Jamie Carpenter’s mother went up to the dark lighthouse on the cliffs. She never came back.

Jamie has spent his whole life trying to forget his mother. But when his little brother goes missing, Jamie has to face the facts. There is another world through the lighthouse, the world of his mother, a powerful witch. And the dangerous magical inheritance she left her sons is now the ransom for Danny’s life in a war between the Council of Witches and the rebel group Jamie's mother abandoned her family to lead.

Desperate to save Danny, Jamie and his best friend Nia cross into a universe they never knew existed. Struggling to survive in a world of shadowy magic ravaged by war, Jamie and Nia seek the help of the Council. But the Council’s leaders aren’t too happy that the son of the witches’ most infamous traitor has returned to Emanu...

With no help, no idea where to look, and no magic on their side, Jamie and Nia have to learn fast if they’re going to survive Emanu and rescue Danny. Because there are only six days until the gate between worlds closes again.M/blockquote>
I really enjoyed this book. A very strong story, very well written and presented. The characters are young and come across as young, they are believable, especially when they start dealing with their emotions and feelings for one another. The sense of brotherly love as well as a romantic love interest is presented and developed through the story in a manner that really resonated with me.

Plot wise it reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia, good adventure, a fun sense of wonderment, all combined with a nice pace of storytelling. Lots of potential story still to be explored, but the book itself very well self contained and fully presented, leaving me satisfied with the conclusion yet still wanting to read more of the world created.

I highly recommend this if you are a fan of the Narnia series or similar stories in that vein.

**This book was given for free in exchange for an honest review.

"I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, & I loved it!  World building can be tricky in fantasy, but this book has just the right amount of description without overdoing it.  What made the book for me, though, was the characters.  They're realistic and fully flushed.  None of them are portrayed as total angels or heros, they all have their own issues or flaws.  Even Jamie's missing mother has her faults, or at least aspects of her personality or past that we don't find out right away.  I love the way that McCormally keeps you guessing until the very end about a lot of things!  I'm still thinking about some of the choices Jamie's mother made, and whether they were right or wrong.  I love when a book keeps me up nights and makes me think!

Without giving too much away, I also like that this book isn't a typical boy meets girl romance.  I'm not sure how I feel about who the characters end up with in the end - but it definately made the story more interesting, and again - it's making me think about it after the book is done.  The ending was intense and just blew me away.  I love the way it wraps up the story, but it's not all neat.  There's room for a sequel, but it can stand alone.  I wouldn't say anything is unresolved, but it's messy and real and true and perfect, and the things that needed to be resolved were."

It’s your 18th birthday and, upon it, you parents deliver some pretty shocking news: You’re not really human. They admit that they’ve been covering up the fact that you are actually a nephilim. After hearing the news you still decide to go to school, but this school day is different than all your school days past, especially when it’s revealed to others what you truly are. Write this scene.

by Anna Carolyn McCormally
I had started my eighteenth birthday by spending about twenty minute staring in the mirror. I thought maybe if I stared hard enough I could break it and erase what I saw: the four unmistakable blue markings, one at each of the corners of my eyes. Not there yesterday and there today: the telltale sign of--
“MOM!” I yelled.
I guess I sounded as upset as I felt because my mother came barging up the stairs and burst into the bathroom where I was nose to nose with my reflection. She was holding a spatula and smelled like bacon and eggs, the hot meal she made every year on my birthday--the one work day a year she went in to the office after 9 a.m. so she could have time to make me my favorite breakfast. Usually I loved smelling that bacon, but this year it made me sad. Because I already knew everything was about to change.
She saw the markings around my eyes and said, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”
My mother started explaining. I heard the words: you knew you were adopted. We didn’t know for sure whether--there was no way to tell until--I guess we were just hoping-- but the one I understood was: nephilim.
I was one of them.
At school, everything looked the same. Even I was the same as I’d always been: same dark pixie-cut, same pointy nose, same grey swim-team hoodie and worn-out jeans. But things looked different, or maybe I just noticed different things. As I walked past the hallway where the bluies hung out I couldn’t help but stare. I was one of them. They dressed like everyone else but there was something different about them, even the ones who weren’t eighteen, whose marks hadn’t come in. The boys, even the ones who hadn’t finished growing yet, were noticeably bigger than human boys. Not just taller, but broader.. And the girls--muscles like Olympic gymnasts. Superhuman strength--it was one of the reasons the law kept a curfew for bluies. Even though we’d integrated the schools and other public places, some safety precautions had to be taken. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that they’d kept humans as slaves.
We. It wasn’t so long ago that we’d kept humans as slaves.
I looked down and hurried away down the hall.
Alex and Jennifer were waiting for me when I reached my locker. They were both beaming, Alex holding a plate of brownies I was just sure she’d made herself, Jennifer holding a poster that said: HAPPY 18TH BIRTHDAY PHOEBE!!! My locker was decorated with pink and yellow streamers and bubble letters drawn in magic marker.
“Hey, birthday girl,” Jennifer yelped. “What’s with the glasses?”
“What’s wrong?” Alex asked, immediately suspicious. “Hey--why aren’t you wearing that dress we bought last weekend?”
We’d been best friends since middle school. I couldn’t hide it from them even if I wanted to. I braced myself, and took off my sunglasses.

Anna Carolyn McCormally lives, reads and writes in Washington, D.C. She is a student in University of Maryland's Fiction MFA Program, has a Deathly Hallows tattoo, and blogs about YA fiction at www.giantsquidbooks.com. Her short fiction has appeared in ROAR Magazine, Quantum Fairy Tales, and pacificREVIEW. The Six Days is her first novel. She is on twitter @mccormallie.

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