An Interview with Mother-and-Daughter Writing Team, Kate McMurry and Marie August, Coauthors of the Young Adult Novel, Girl vs Ghost (Book 1, Misdirected Magic Trilogy)
Kate McMurry (katemcmurry.com) is married with two grown children, one of whom is her coauthor, Marie August. Kate and her husband Chris share their home with an adorable rat terrier named Dottie. Kate has worked as an English teacher, a therapist, a paralegal, and a freelance writer. Girl vs Ghost, a paranormal, romantic comedy targeted primarily at teens age 12-16, is her first published novel.
Marie August (marieaugust.com) has a bachelors degree in visual art and has written fiction since her teens, with the guidance and encouragement of her mother, Kate McMurry. Marie and Kate have partnered as a fiction team since 2006. As a special promotion for the release of Girl vs Ghost, Marie produced a webcomic of the first chapter which is posted at misdirectedmagic.com. She also writes and illustrates a fairytale webcomic called The Fox and the Firebird at www.fairytaletwisted.com.
Q: How did the two of you get started as a writing team?
Kate and Marie: We’ve always had a close, personal relationship, not only as mother and daughter but as friends, because we share a great many interests, in particular writing fiction. For years we each struggled along on our own with individual projects, periodically critiquing each other’s writing. Marie was creating young-adult fantasy stories and Kate wrote adult romantic comedy. Then in 2006 Marie suggested that if we joined forces, we could get a lot more done together than we ever managed to do apart. She was absolutely correct. Not only have we been much more productive together, our separate projects melded together into what we write now, young-adult, paranormal, romantic comedy. Our teamwork has had an additional wonderful perk of giving us an excuse to spend much more time together than we might have been able to do in the ordinary course of events.
Q: Where did you get the idea for Girl vs Ghost, and what made you decide to write it as a trilogy? (Book 1,Girl vs Ghost, was released in April, 2011; Book 2, Witch vs Wizard is scheduled for release in November, 2011, and Book 3, Spells vs Spirits will follow in the spring of 2012.)
Kate and Marie: Marie came up with the original inspiration when she was still in her teens. She had envisioned a different ending for the story than we ultimately decided on together, and there was at least one important character in her initial conception whom we ended up not using, but the basic storyline is much the same.
We planned to write Girl vs Ghost as a single title when we began working on it in 2006, but when our “fantasy bible” of the magic of our story world grew to over 25,000 words and the biographies of the various characters totaled altogether over 44,000 words, it struck us that there was too much story to limit to only one book.
Q: Why did you decide to write your book as a comic romance with only one love interest rather than a dark, paranormal romance with a love triangle, which is extremely popular right now?
Kate and Marie: While YA romances with a couple of dark and dangerous males who are mad for the heroine can be quite fun to read, we’ve both always loved a good romantic comedy where there is no doubt from the start of the story who we should be rooting for the heroine to end up with. When fantasy elements are added to romantic comedy as well, it provides endless possibilities for humorous romantic conflict through the crazy situations it creates.
Q: Do you enjoy reading YA fiction as well as writing it? If so, what are some of your favorite authors?
Kate and Marie: We are both big fans of YA, particularly YA with fantasy elements. In fact, our love of YA was a major inspiration for writing it.
Like millions of others we’ve devoured the Harry Potter books and the Twilight series (and enjoyed the movies based on them). We’ve recently been impressed with Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, the Angel series by Lee Weatherly, the Raised by Wolves series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the Dark Mirror series by Mary Jo Putney, the Goblin Wars series by Kersten Hamilton, the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, and the Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross.
Our favorite authors of comic YA novels, many of which have fantasy elements, are Meg Cabot, Janet Rallison, Tera Lynn Childs, Suzanne Selfors, Wendy Toliver, Allison van Diepen, Kristin Walker, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Tina Ferraro, Aimee Ferris, Maryrose Wood, Alex Flinn, Martha Freeman, Ebony McKenna, and Sydney Salter.
Q: Any writing tips you’d like to pass on to aspiring authors of YA fiction?
Kate and Marie: If you want to write fiction, it’s a good idea to write in a genre that you love to read. One good way to learn to write fiction is to analyze any book that you particularly admire to try and figure out how the author did it. It’s also a good idea to take classes on writing fiction, either locally or online, and look for a compatible local writer’s group to get feedback on your writing.
Q: Any final thoughts?
Kate and Marie: Any time you read a novel that you love, consider supporting that author’s work by writing a review on booklover sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads, or posting a comment on a blog such as this one. Positive reviews by readers are a double blessing. They encourage the author whose work you enjoy to produce more books, and they help other readers who are looking for the same type of books that you enjoy to discover the work of talented authors.
Last but certainly not least, we are very grateful to Shanella for interviewing us on her wonderful blog!
Buy Girl vs. Ghost (Misdirected Magic, Book 1) : Isabel Lindley doesn’t believe in magic, but her best friend, Tripp, is obsessed with witchcraft. Strictly as a favor, Isabel agrees to help with a spell and is shocked when the ghost of a teenage boy splat-lands in her bedroom. Her friend is thrilled—even though only Isabel can see or hear the ghost—but Isabel is horrified. She’s the most ordinary sixteen-year-old girl on the planet. What is she supposed to do with a ghost who doesn’t know his own name, how he died, or why the heck he’s tied to Isabel with a psychic chain? Her only hope to take back her life is to help him solve the mystery of his demise so he can go to the Light. Or wherever. She’s not particular, as long as the ghost is gone.