There are some bloggers who are simply unmistakable and unforgettable. Mirriam Neal is such a blogger. The first time I read one of her posts, I felt her storytelling seep into my soul. So much, that it’s been nearly two years and I haven’t forgotten the first post I read on her blog. I stumbled on her writing by following a rabbit trail of three or four other blogs, but hers is the only one in that trail I still read consistently. Mirriam writes with such eloquence and depth, but also whimsy and humor. Today, we’re celebrating the recent debut of her novel, Paper Crowns. (Which I desperately need to read. Curse homework for interfering with my reading habits.)
Until I can read the full novel, below is a little preview of Paper Crowns:
Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.
Doesn’t it sound magical? Be sure to check out the Paper Crowns Good Reads page for more. Before you rush off, though, pour a cup of mocha coffee and join me for a chat with Paper Crowns’ author Mirriam Neal. She graciously answered over a dozen of my questions, and her answers are as fabulous as I expected from her. They also make me even more eager to read Paper Crowns.
- What does the beginning of your storytelling process look like? Do you outline, free write, etc.?
The beginning always looks the same, but with different ingredients: I’ve had enough of said ingredients simmering around that I finally realize I can make something, as soon as I figure out exactly how. I’m a seventy-percent free writer and a thirty-percent plotter. I like to have a vague idea of how I want the book to end, and probably three major things I want to happen. Just enough pins to keep the whole thing from falling apart, and I take it from there.
- What was the most difficult part of writing Paper Crowns?
Editing and revising, really. I wrote it in a month, so the whole thing was kind of a slapdash mess. It still is! I’m working on a couple more tweaks since a few scattered minor mistakes were found – it’s a process.
- Let’s play favorites! Without spoilers, who is your favorite character in Paper Crowns and why?
This is phrased in a very tricky way, Sarah. Very tricky. Hmm. My favorite character to write? The character I’d most like to hang out with? WHICH ONE? Well, my favorite character to write was probably Azrael. He was the easiest. He wanted to be written (he’s pushy that way). The character I’d most like to hang out with is probably Hal. I’d have endless questions.
- What is your recipe for creativity?
It depends, really. Sometimes it means a constant diet of reading, movies, shows, dramas, and music. Other times I need to step away for a while and not read anything but non-fiction. Usually it’s a good mix of both – but I try to immerse myself in stories and music pertinent to what I’m writing. I also try to get out and spend time in towns and cities as frequently as possible, and write in places other than my room or my house. Shaking things up a little often knocks something loose.
- Tea time! What’s your beverage of choice, if any, when writing?
Black coffee is always my beverage of choice. Anytime, anywhere. (Although I’m a fan of many beverages and won’t turn down anything from tea to kombucha.)
- What is one thing most people wouldn’t guess about your writing?
How hard it is, probably. Even the easy novels like the Paper series. They’re the hardest things I ever do. I get told my writing feels effortless much of the time, which is often a large compliment but sometimes feels a little confusing – is that good or bad? I don’t want people to think that writing is easy, or that I do it because I’m lazy. It’s real work. It stresses me and pushes me just like any job.
- What has been a defining moment for you as an author?
My mother was reading one of my novels and was so physically revolted that she had to stop eating lunch. She asked how I could write something so horrible, and I pointed out that I hadn’t written anything horrible – I just wrote it so that her brain would fill in the gaps. She went back and re-read it, and told me, astonished, that I was right. This was a huge leap forward for me, both in style and in my personal confidence.
- If you could visit any fictional land, where would you travel?
I would absolutely travel to Middle-Earth. #Basic, I know, but it was my first otherworld love and continues to be the strongest.
- What makes a good villain?
I think the scariest villains are the ones who might actually do something good, or who show a human side to their villainy. In ‘Dragon Blade,’ Tiberius blinds his young brother with acid, but he weeps as he does it. He knows the pain he’s causing, and it pains him in turn – but he does it anyway. That’s terrifying.
- If you could have lunch with any author or artist, who would you choose?
I would have lunch with John Howe. It’s still surreal to be able to say ‘I’m friends with John Howe,’ but it’s true – yet he lives in Switzerland, so we’ve never met. Having lunch with him would be a dream come true.
- Are there any quotes that inspire your creativity?
Many quotes inspire me, but a consistent favorite is ‘be the person you needed when you were younger.’ It’s an important mindset, I think, and one I try to live by.
- Choose a superpower just for today.
Flight. Every time.
- Would you rather have a pet dragon or unicorn? Why?
A dragon. Unicorns are beautiful and often have healing powers, but dragons are more battle-fit, they can breathe fire (and often have other talents, like shape-shifting or voice mimicry) and they’re shrewd PLUS they can fly.
- Would you be most at home among hobbits, elves or dwarves?
Elves. I think I would be happiest there. The history, the architecture, the art, the music, the war-skills, the aesthetics – the conversations I could have!
- Thank you for making an appearance at On Another Note today! Is there anything else you would like to share? The spotlight is yours!
You have the ability to make an impact on everyone you meet. I think it’s an important thing to keep in mind. Thank you so much for having me, Sarah!
About the Author:
Mirriam Neal is a twenty-two-year-old Northwestern hipster living in Atlanta. She writes hard-to-describe books in hard-to-describe genres, and illustrates things whenever she finds the time. She aspires to live as faithfully and creatively as she can and she hopes you do, too.
Visit Mirriam’s blog, Wishful Thinking at mirriamneal.com or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also check out the other stops on the Paper Crowns blog tour – you can view a complete list here.