Tuesday 1 February 2011

Delightful Debutantes #8: Karen Mahoney & The Iron Witch.

Delightful Debutantes is back today after a brief break! I'm delighted to welcome Karen Mahoney, author of The Iron Witch to the blog. I've read a lot of good reviews about this book already, and take a look at the cover of this book - simply delightful!
Can you describe The Iron Witch in just five words? 
Dark. Hopeful. Exciting. Magical. Empowering. 

I always love hearing about how debut authors started out on the long road to publication. I've heard some interesting stories! Can you tell me a little about your path to publication? 

And it often is such a long road! :) My story is long, but if we fast-forward to January 2007, it really starts there. Well, it re-starts, because I gave up writing (apart from journaling) for a good five years before then. But in January 2007 I committed to writing again - writing for publication - and I gave it my all. The best thing that happened to me during that time was finishing a novel-length manuscript. You'd think that I might say something like “getting an agent” or “signing my first publishing contract” but, for me, actually completing a novel was such a significant experience - maybe even the most significant experience on my path to publication. It was doing that that gave me the courage to keep going through all the rejection of finding an agent, and then more challenges while out on submission to publishers once I had an agent. I signed with my agent in July 2008 and my debut novel was set for release in February 2011 (although it's sneaking out a little early: January 25th), so that's 2 and a half years between getting representation and having a book on the shelves. 

 Can you tell me your favourite YA debut of 2010 and let me know a couple of debuts that you're looking forward to for 2011? 

There are just so many - I read a lot, so it's hard to name just one from last year, but I'll go with Dia Reeves' BLEEDING VIOLET simply because it blew my mind with its originality and fearless storytelling. 

And re. this year's crop of debuts, again it's hard to single people out, especially as I'm a member of The Elevensies group of debut YA and MG authors for 2011 (http://community.livejournal.com/2011debuts/). They might think I'm playing favourites! ;)  But I'll try to just pick a couple… I'm reading Tessa Gratton's BLOOD MAGIC right now actually (I know, I'm lucky to read it early), and it's truly awesome; her writing is out of this world, and the story is dark and creepy. I'm loving it! I'm also really looking forward to Dawn Metcalf's LUMINOUS which has such a unique premise. I've been waiting for it to come out for what feels like aaages.

The cover for The Iron Witch is stunning.  Do you love it? What does the cover image represent to you? 

I do love it! I was honestly thrilled with every part of it. Lisa Novak (http://www.lisanovakdesign.com/) from Flux in the US did the original cover, and although some of the other publishers have tweaked the image they've mostly kept it similar. I think everyone has fallen in love with the artwork, but the thing I love most is how accurate for the book it is. Seeing Donna - but not seeing her face (which I'm glad about) - and how clearly conflicted she is… that's awesome. Her tattoos are perfect! And she's even holding the bottle/vial that plays such an important role in the book. I couldn't have asked for more. There's a sense of foreboding which really suits the atmosphere of the story. 

I love hot boys in books, and I have a literary crush list that just keeps on  growing.  Does The Iron Witch have any hot boys that I'll be adding to my list? I'm curious about Xan. Tell me a little more about him! 

Haha… Hot boys are all the rage. :) There are two cute guys in The Iron Witch, although I have to say it's not set up as a traditional love triangle. Navin is Donna's best friend - they've been friends for 3 years - and she really doesn't see him as more than a friend. Of course, as the book progresses, she realizes more and more how important he is to her, but whether that's as more than a friend… you'll have to wait and see! Nav is based on my own best friend in real life, so he was easy to write. He has lots of humour and is a completely loyal to Donna. 

Xan… well, he's the real 'love interest' of the book; his name is short for Alexander, and all I'll say is that he has a ton of secrets that begin to unfold in The Iron Witch. You'll learn a lot more about him in the short story I have coming out in an anthology of urban faerie stories (Wicked Pretty Things: September 2011). He's already picking up some fans; he's not a clichéd 'bad boy' (I hope!), although there's something edgy about him. Xan is definitely vulnerable, though, and he and Donna bond over their similar traumatic experiences at the hands of the wood elves. He knows what it is to have to hide how 'different' he is - something that Donna struggles with constantly.

I know that quite a few of my readers are looking forward to The Wood Queen, the sequel to The Iron Witch . Can you give these eager readers who've already read the first book any sneak peek of what's going to happen next? 

Hmm… Okay, well a non-spoilery sneak peek is hard, but I'll say this: you will see more of the alchemists and find out why Donna is so important to them. You'll also find out exactly what happened to Donna in the Ironwood back when she was seven - what was she doing out there in the first place and what happened to her parents? There are also a couple of new characters introduced: a young alchemist from the Order of the Crow in London, and a fey character from Xan's past. 

Thanks so much for having me!

 Thank you for providing such great answers, Karen, and all the best of luck with the book!

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  1. Awesome interview dudes! I can't wait to read The Wood Queen!!!! And hot boys ftw <3

  2. Haven't gotten Iron Witch yet, but I have been lusting after it for such a long time. I loved reading about Karen's experience getting to publication. Wonderful interview! Thanks

  3. I am dying to read this one and after reading this interview, I am even more excited. I love that this novel has a love triangle that isn't traditional. It should definitely be interesting! Thanks for sharing this interview.

  4. I haven't read The Iron Witch yet but I'm looking forward to reading it. I can't wait to find out what secrets Xan is hiding!

  5. What a wonderful interview! I have a beautiful signed copy waiting for me on my shelves, I'm really looking forward to it :)

  6. Awesome interview! I ordered the book and am eagerly waiting to read it. Navin sounds great! :D

  7. Ok, after readign this interview, I officially cannot wait to read The Iron Witch. I'm especially curious about Xan!


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