Name Rory Mackay
Where are you from I was born in Glasgow, Scotland and have lived in the North East for most of my life.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I have qualifications in Fine Art and a degree in Social Science, which makes for an interesting combination. I think my artistic, creative side mixed with a background in psychology, sociology and other disciplines has lent my work a unique angle. I tend to be a bit of a hermit sometimes, although I can be outgoing at times. As well as having to deal with some health challenges the past decade or so, I have devoted myself to my study of Eastern philosophy and spirituality, as well as creating a series of books that I have been working on since my school days.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My second novel is just about to be published! Although my first novel, Eladria, was published in 2013, this new book, The Key of Alanar is one I have been working on for around two decades now! I first started working on the basis of this project when I was still in school. It’s grown and evolved continually over the years. So to finally be able to share it with the world is really exciting. It is released on 14th September 2015.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been creative, even from a young age. As a kid I used to write, draw and compile my own comic books. As I grew up, I turned my attention to fiction and began work on a series of books called The Alanar Ascendant. It’s taken many years of work and several false starts, but I’m finally getting my work out there. I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction. The ability to create whole new worlds is, simply, the coolest thing imaginable. To be able to share what I’ve created with other people, through stories (and in time also art and music, as well), is immense fun. To be a writer is to be almost godlike in a way! In my first two novels I’ve created and destroyed entire worlds and opened up the entire universe in a pretty fun and mind-boggling way. I also love the ability of fiction to convey ideas—to explore life, the human condition and the very nature of reality. The best stories are metaphors; metaphors for helping us make sense of life, deal with the challenges we face along our way, and to help us become all that we can be. I see stories as very powerful. I love what Ursula Le Guin had to say on this: “The story is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I started to make headway with my first novel; as in actually committing to writing every day. Prior to that I spent several years just playing around with ideas and trying to work things out (which was also time well spent though). A writer is someone who writes. It’s that simple, really.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I can’t pinpoint anything in particular. I think it’s just in my nature to be creative. It’s as natural to me as breathing. I spent a lot of time playing by myself as a kid, creating what were essentially movies in my head, all kinds of different worlds and adventures. And I always had a great compulsion to share these worlds with others.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think my style is quite fluid and easy to read, yet I try to add a little literary depth to my work. I try to get right to the heart of characters and to really find out what makes them tick. I incorporate themes and love to use stories to explore ideas and issues; to provoke, explore, challenge and inspire. I’ve been told my writing is wonderfully descriptive, which is good to hear as it can be a challenge to build up scenes and create immersive worlds without going overboard on the description and losing the reader’s patience. So I think I’ve found a happy medium!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Quite simply, the Key of Alanar is an object that is the central focus of the novel, so it was an easy choice of title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Generally I want the reader to figure that for themselves. Some people are open to the more philosophical aspects of my books, and others are simply there for a page-turning adventure. My books work on both levels, I think. If there is a message, in simple terms, it would be this: you are much more than you take yourself to be. Life is difficult and at times we can go through all kinds of painful experiences, but there’s a part of us which transcends all that; the source of our strength, untouched and untouchable. Most people have a very limited ego identity; an identity that constricts and causes immense suffering. But we really are so much more than the sum of our parts. We are beautiful—and life is beautiful.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Because I’m writing about whole different worlds and some fantastical events ‘realism’ becomes a debatable point! But I do endeavour to create immersive, logical and internally consistent worlds. The realism for me is in creating what are hopefully vivid, three dimensional characters and going for an authentic emotional resonance. My books are very much human stories, about dealing with issues we all must face in life; overcoming loss and adversity and finding that which is highest and best within us.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not in terms of plot. I don’t have any direct experience with ancient civilisations or alien invasions, thankfully! But the characters’ journeys, particularly the protagonist David, are based on my own experiences in terms of things I’ve had to deal with in life and adversities I’ve had to overcome. All stories are essentially human stories and the human condition is something that is universal and timeless. That’s why stories work and why we can relate to characters even if their circumstances and challenges are greatly different to our own. The human experience is a shared experience.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Too many to mention really, but I’ve always especially loved writers who make me think, whose work generally stays with me long afterward—and also authors whose imagination really engages and inspires me. The work of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis influenced me when I was younger and later, writers such as Herman Hesse, Aldous Huxley and Paulo Coelho.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I actually find it very difficult to read fiction while I am writing fiction. I like to stay immersed in my own worlds, I guess. I do read nonfiction though when I have the time. At the moment I am reading a massive multi-volume commentary on the ancient Indian text The Bhagavad Gita by Swami Dayananda.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am about to set to work on my next novel, the follow-up to The Key of Alanar. The second and third books in the trilogy are planned and ready to begin.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely, and it’s one of the coolest careers there is.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so. I spent years changing, adjusting and tinkering with things and now I’m happy and content that it is finally complete.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a child, I just loved the ability of books and other mediums such as film and TV, to transport you to other worlds, to experience adventure, excitement and magic. I had a very deep desire to be able to create and share my own worlds like that.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The Key of Alanar is an epic book spanning ten thousand years, beginning with the catastrophic collapse of an ancient civilization, amid which the angelic overseers of the mortal realm offer a promise of hope for the future. This hope rests with a teenage boy born millennia later with the power to either save or destroy his world. He must embark on a journey that will determine the future of an entire realm—and evade capture by the brutal enemy that destroyed his home and killed his loved ones. It’s a difficult path, for aside from the external perils that lie ahead, David must struggle with his inner demons and deal with an extremely dangerous, powerful enemy that may have already invaded his psyche. In many ways this book is a battle between good and evil; a battle that to a great extent takes place in the lead character’s mind. Will David follow through and embrace the path of his destiny, or will he give into his grief, despair and fear and be overcome by the darkness? It’s a battle I think each of us must face at some point in our lives.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The hardest part about writing these days is not the writing itself. That’s just done one word at a time. The hard part is finding a way to make your work stand out from the thousands of other books that are being published each and every day. It’s an extremely crowded market and some statistics reveal that general readership is falling. More books and less people reading—that’s really the greatest challenge facing any writer!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have many authors I love, for wildly different reasons. What strikes me is imagination, a genuine emotional resonance and a book that really adds something worthwhile to the world. I love authors who write from their heart.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not really. In the 21st century you can write, publish and promote a book all from the comfort of your own home!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My first book cover was designed by the publisher’s in house designer, and my second by a company named Damoza. I especially love the cover for The Key of Alanar; it’s beautiful, intriguing and really suits the book perfectly.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Wrestling with self doubt, and continuing to believe in myself.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned the power of perseverance, of committing to a project and seeing it through—and also of not rushing things. I wanted to take the time to ensure that I did it right. My books will outlive me, so I want to make sure they are as good as they can possibly be.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Take time to learn how to write; how to structure stories, create characters and character arcs and how to blend the two. It helps to learn a bit about mythology and the roots of storytelling; specifically why humankind has an innate need to tell stories and the function these stories have. I believe writers need to learn their craft before jumping straight in. To do so gives books much greater depth and resonance I think.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I am so appreciative to my readers and to the support they have given me. I genuinely appreciate every copy sold of my books, and find it the most wonderful thing in the world to be able to share my creative visions with other people. It’s amazing and the most wonderful feeling in the world.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Quirky and fun things and people make me laugh! Human cruelty makes me cry—and the way we often treat ourselves, animals and the planet.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d love to have met Leonardo da Vinci. One of the most creative and fascinating minds. I’ve always been fascinated by the Renaissance men.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I don’t have time for it right now, but I do draw, paint and make digital art. I love photography and post regularly on Instagram. I meditate, cook and like reading and studying.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch much television. Weeks can go by without watching a thing. I’d rather spend my time creatively or reading. I do like a good film, but again don’t watch many right now. I enjoy comedies, drama and intelligent sci-fi.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
You know what, I love cake. I don’t know why I’m still quite thin! I love the colour blue. And I am a huge music addict. I love ambient and alternative music, my two favourite bands being Cocteau Twins and Sigur Rós.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Maybe a tree surgeon. I love trees!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Amazon Authors page USA http://www.amazon.com/Rory-B.-Mackay/e/B00BU8PR0Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1