KYD: Thank you for catching up with Kill Your Darlings this afternoon. I’m looking forward to chatting about all your work, and particularly your new book, The Coming of the Whirlpool, which is the first in a new YA-fantasy series. So I thought we’d begin by talking about the book, which marks a departure from your previous books in some ways, and in others there’s definite continuity.
AMcG: There is, as someone else has pointed out to me recently. It’s there in the last three or four books, The White Earth, Wonders of a Godless World and this new one – that there’s always a young mind being crafted by an older, embittered one. Which I hadn’t really been aware of, but I guess I had in other ways – it’s quite clear-cut when you look at them like that.
KYD: You can certainly weave that thread, particularly through your more recent books, as you say. And fantasy is now a reoccurring genre, which we read in Wonders of a Godless World. Within these stories is also the idea or concept of individual consciousness, collective consciousness, the freedoms of the mind.
I read somewhere that you had a real love, as a child, of sea tales and sea lore. Can you talk a bit about that, and how it’s informed your new novel, and the series?
AMcG: I did. It just came out of love of bizarre tales, like ghost stories. And in those collections of tales, you’d often find ones about weird happenings at sea, like ships would disappear, and in the case of this there’s an Edgar Allen Poe story, which I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, called ‘A Descent into the Maelstrom’, which is about two guys who get caught in a whirlpool off the Norwegian coast. That sort of stuff as a kid I just adored, so I’d seek out more and more the weird, sea-story type things, just for fun (it was never a major compulsion or anything). Even up until now I’ve been collecting them – if I saw a collection of sea stories, I’d grab them. Not the real ones, not the stories of what sailing’s really like, but stories of myths and weird things at sea. In my novel Wonders of a Godless World, there’s a passage where the guy [a character named The Foreigner] gets stuck at sea for a while, and I can indulge in a bit of that sea weirdness to an extent. But when I finished writing this passage, which only amounted to one chapter, I thought I’d really like to get into a bigger sea adventure. And it couldn’t be a sophisticated sea adventure, I wanted just a fun story. Not young-adult fantasy necessarily, but I thought fantasy would be the way to go – a simple, classic sort of fantasy, which naturally enough the publishers thought would suit young adults. So that’s where I ended up with Whirlpool.
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