Welcome everyone! Our interview today is with Mina Marial Nicoli, the author of the new fantasy novel The Magic of Avalon Eyrelin
Book Description: The Magic of Avalon Eyrelin:
A young girl discovers a doorway to a magical world, where she makes friends and also makes discoveries about them and herself. When she is a bit older, the adventures really begin, and she is brought into a quest to defeat the evil wizard, who is also from her own world.
There are mythical creatures of almost every kind which she encounters along the way, as well as legends from her own world. Each challenge she faces helps her discover her strength, and most of all, that compassion and love are stronger than evil.
What gave you the idea for The Magic of Avalon Eyrelin and your book series Dreams and Worlds?
I really wanted to write a fantasy story of my kind – something like a fairy-tale for older children – something absolutely fun to escape into as a reader; something I would enjoy reading about. I also have a love for fantasy quest stories, so I integrated that into it. I drew on my memories of everything from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels, Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia stories. I think my story has a little of each of those in it, in one way or another.
My series, Dreams and Worlds, only came about after I had written The Magic of Avalon Eyrelin, when I realized I wanted to write sequels to Avalon, each one beginning with the next generation of children, all of them exploring new worlds, introducing a new world for each story.
What got you into writing fantasy?
Fantasy has always been my love. There is ultimate freedom in fantasy writing – you can create whole new worlds and do not have to stick to grounded facts – instead, the truths are more intuited truths, or truths of the heart. Total liberation in writing happens for me in fantasy.
How long have you been writing?
Well, I have been writing for fun for my entire life – I didn’t start out with stories, I started out with poetry, and was published in a poetry anthology called Great Poems of the Western World: Vol. 2, published in 1988 or 1989. I received the book which included my published poetry as a gift from my grandmother, who had submitted my poetry in secret, for my 14th birthday (which was toward the end of 1989). From there, I wrote poetry and kept a journal for years, and I attempted to write 4 novels, but had a problem with editing before I was done with the first draft and so I would ruin them. After that, I began writing short stories for children about 6 years ago or so. However, it was Stephen King’s book, On Writing, that set me straight about the editing while writing thing and enabled me to write a novel-length story to its finish for the first time – and that book is The Magic of Avalon Eyrelin.
Why did you choose to self publish?
Originally, I had wanted to publish traditionally. I had a couple of publishers seemingly ready to publish my book for me, but one of them really wanted things changed in my story, which bothered me because I didn’t want to wreck certain scenes, and the other publisher fell through for business reasons on their end. In the end, I found that many small publishing companies are going out of business or not doing well financially, and I heard stories from authors who had their publishing company go under and were scared about their rights to their own books. Traditional publishing seems to be on the decline, while self-publishing is on the rise, and seems to be the way to go for writers in the Internet and Technology era. Besides, I do not want someone changing my story ideas (or telling me I have to) – I want the liberty to write the story the way I see it – the way I dream it.
What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like?
I think of a good story idea – very basic concept (i.e. – a girl discovers a doorway to a magical world and then goes there and ends up on a quest to defeat an evil wizard). Then I sit down and write a cast of characters and a basic outline of what I MUST see in my story (for instance, Ava MUST defeat the wizard, and I want her to have to travel all the way across the country to do it, learning as she goes). Then I start researching mythical creatures I would like to be in the story, both for characters and for obstacles and villains. Then I plan out which will be in which category, and pay special attention to their attributes so that I include them in their proper setting. Then I sit down and write the story out, with a high daily word goal (mine was 8,000 words per day), and I write it until it’s done. I try to let the story lead me, but I do check my character list and my outline at every turning point in the story to make sure I include my original ideas. It truly is like dropping into a fantasy world every day for the duration of the writing period, and it’s lovely.
What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why?
I don’t really have a favorite book. I like many books. I will say, however, that C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books are great, and so are J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series. And so is The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton, and so are many of Stephen King’s great literary works, especially the older books like The Talisman and The Dark Tower series. I am an avid bookworm, and I love to read many genres, including Horror, Historical Fiction (especially Sharon Kay Penman’s writing), Mystery, Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Romance (clean books, not the sexually explicit stuff – ie. Nicholas Sparks, Fern Michaels, Paullina Simons’ The Bronze Horseman series, etc.), and so on.
What are you doing next?
I plan to begin writing the first sequel to The Magic of Avalon Eyrelin very soon – within the month. It will pick up with Ava’s twin children, Rhiannon and Camelot (Rhi and Cam for short) when they are in their late teens, just on the brink of adulthood. The story will center around the two of them and possibly a third character, with the majority of focus on Rhiannon, I think, and they will go to another world and save it, and us all, from calamity.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Do not give up. Reach for your dreams. Follow through, and as Stephen King’s advice indicates, “write like the devil is after you” until you reach the very end of your story. Do not stop, do not go back and start reading. Do not put it down. Keep going, and you will love that you have done it when it’s finished, I promise you. No matter what the story turns out like – you will love it because it’s yours – something you created, and some part of your spirit is in that story. Don’t let the funny looks your neighbors and friends give you when you tell them that you are writing (or have written) a book get under your skin or discourage you. Do it anyway.
Elyra Mirabell writes children’s stories and young adult fantasy fiction. She lives with her husband, her mother in law, her cat, and her dog, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is a mother and a grandmother. She loves to garden, play her piano, create art, write, sew, and likes to live a quiet life.