MY INTERVIEW WITH SKYE MACKINNON!
Hey, I’m Skye MacKinnon and I’m a Scottish author.
I hate describing myself, so to help, my good friend and co-author Laura Greenwood wrote me a bio recently: “Skye MacKinnon is an International Bestselling author with a slight obsession with Scotland, bunnies and dried mango. And when she says slight… her friends are trying to find ways to trick her into not having a book set in Scotland. You’ll often find Skye bribing herself into writing words using cake and tea, but whatever works, right? Whether it’s set in space (Scottish space, obviously), fantasy worlds (Scottish fantasy worlds, obviously), or Scotland, Skye’s tales are full of magic, romance and adventure. Oh and unicorns. There’s a few demons too.”
I write mostly reverse harem, where one woman has several love interests and doesn’t have to choose. Think love triangle but without the angst and decision. My reverse harem books are all sorts of genres though: most are paranormal romance (for example my bestselling Daughter of Winter Series), but I also have fantasy (Ruined Heart Series), sci-fi (the Mars Diaries) and post-apocalyptic (The Drowning Series). As you can see, I don’t like to choose, just like my female characters.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
My latest book is called Polar Fates and it’s the second book in The Drowning series. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic Scotland and tells the story of Isla, a young woman who meets and falls in love with four bear shifters. In the first book, it was all about them getting to know each other, but in Polar Fates, there’s a bit more mystery, mythology and magic.
I came up with the idea for the setting when walking home from work and listening to a podcast about climate change and the effect it could have on Scotland. So then I did some research and suddenly I had a world I could have my story set in. That the characters turned out to be bear shifters just happened somehow, it wasn’t planned. But most of the times I don’t plan much and the stories just develop by themselves.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I read my first reverse harem book about two years ago (Charcoal Tears by Jane Washington) and have read little else since then. I believe love comes in all shapes and forms, and why does it always have to be two people? It’s much more interesting as an author to have more than two main characters. It gives me the chance to get into their heads, explore their dynamics, have them interact in different ways. It’s a very fluid genre that is still evolving. When I started reading it, they were predominantly one woman with several men, but slowly, there are RHs with more than one woman emerging (like my own Ruined Heart Series). RHs can be fantasy or contemporary, they can have vampires or zombies, they can be set on Earth or on Mars. That’s the beauty of this genre – why choose!
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did quite a bit of research on how the rising of the sea levels would change the world’s coast lines and climate, specifically in terms of Scotland. There are some great simulators online which show you how the world could look in the future.
But then there’s also been some other stranger research topics like the properties of bear milk…
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Until two weeks ago, I was working full time and mainly wrote during lunch breaks and evenings, as well as the entire weekend. But now I’ve reduced my hours at work, so I have two extra days a week to write. I’m still getting used to that, but usually I prefer to write in the afternoon for several hours in one go, but if that isn’t possible, then a few half-hour sprints throughout the day.
I write every day, at least 500 words, but on a good day it can be around 5,000 words.
I have a favourite cafe around the corner where I like to go. They all know me there by now and recently, the waitress even gave me some free hot chocolate because I started crying while writing a really sad scene.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I’m working on Winter Queen, the third novel in my Daughter of Winter series. I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t other projects I’m writing on in the background, but those are secret for now…
This year is going to be really exciting though!
Where do your ideas come from?
I wish I knew! I have new ideas all the time, sometimes just out of nowhere, sometimes because of what I see on the news, or films, or just random images I find online. I have far too many ideas and far too little time to write them all down.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Finding the time. I have so many ideas and projects I’m working on, but there’s always so much else to do. But now that I’m working part-time, I’m hoping to have a lot more time for writing.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I’ve made a few book trailers, but I don’t know if they’ve been effective. I don’t have one for my latest release, but for the first book in the series.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Being able to share stories with others and not keep them all penned up in my head. Basically, letting the voices in my head out into the open 😉
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Living on a Scottish islands with lots of bunnies and cats, maybe a child or two, and my very own library. And of course having lots of books published and read by a lot of lovely readers.
Have you always liked to write?
I’ve always written stories, even before I could properly write (I used to replace words I didn’t know how to spell with drawings). But I became more serious about it when I was sixteen and a friend entered one of my short stories into a competition. It won and got published, and I got the bug. I managed to get about a dozen short stories published in various anthologies, while starting to write a longer novel on the side. I wanted to become a writer but people kept telling me that wasn’t a “proper job”, so when I finished school, I studied Journalism and worked as a freelance science journalist for a while. With a stressful job that required a lot of creativity, I no longer had the energy to write prose in the evenings, so my writing took a backseat for a while… until spring last year, when I changed jobs and suddenly had the time and energy once again.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t think you need to follow convention. I tried plotting and planning my novel and got frustrated whenever I didn’t manage to stick to my outline. Then someone asked, “Why don’t you just write without a plan?” and I tried that and ever since, I no longer take years to write a book but months or weeks. I just let it flow and let the characters make their own decision. If the book turns out to be totally different than expected, who cares as long as it’s a good story?
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I try not to read them but usually I do. I never respond to them, unless I’m tagged in one on Facebook and then I usually say something “thanks for reading my book”. Sometimes the bad ones can be really helpful feedback that I like to take on board. If it’s just something like “I hated this book”, I try to ignore it. But if I ever get depressed by bad reviews, I look up some of my favourite books and look at their bad reviews – it shows how even those authors get them.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
The editing and all the other non-writing aspects that need to be done to get the book ready. Luckily I have an amazing formatter who makes them look pretty, so at least that bit is being taken care of.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Oh that’s hard, I love pretty much all of my characters, at least the good ones who aren’t out to kill you. I’d love to have a few of them over for tea and just have some time to chat and gossip. Wyn, my demi-goddess, would be a guest, because she’s clever and confident, but knows her limits and is not afraid to say that she doesn’t know how to do something. Another one would be Macey, a kelpie shifter from Scotland who has a very funny outlook on everything. And finally Isla from Polar Destiny, because I don’t want to be the only human 🙂
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I’m addicted to dried mango but my shop around the corner stopped having them, so for now, I’m sticking to coffee beans coated in dark chocolate. And I need tea, lots of it. I’ve got an entire cupboard full of tea at home so I can choose depending on the book (e.g. chai tea for a book set in winter or fruit tea for a summery book).
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with quite a few other indy authors, but my closest friends are Kelly Stock (writing as Bea Paige), Arizona Tape and Laura Greenwood. Together, we’ve formed the Flock, an author collective. We support each other, cheer each other up and I’m working on cowriting projects with all three of them! They’re all amazing authors in their own rights and you should totally start stalking… ehm, following them.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/skyesbookharem
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/skyemackinnonauthor/
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview!!