Where Are They Now? with Kathy MacMillan

Posted January 9, 2017 by Jamie in Features, Interviews, Where Are They Now // 1 Comment

At Books Are My Fandom, we love debut authors, but we feel as though once they debut, the book community forgets about them as a whole. Where do the debut authors go once they have debuted? What do they have in store for the future? And thus, “Where Are They Now?” was born: a feature for the previous year’s debuts to continue to stay in the minds of the bookish community! You can see our full list of participating authors here! So let’s meet today’s featured author…

Kathy is currently hanging out in Sequel Valley as the sequel to her debut, SWORD AND VERSE, is currently being written and will be published in January of 2018!

Where Are They Now? with Kathy MacMillanSword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Also by this author: Sword and Verse
Published by HarperTeen on January 19th 2016
ISBN: 0062324616
Pages: 384
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Raisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the King, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery. Everyone knows that Raisa is Arnath, but not that she is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that, although she may have a privileged position among slaves, any slipup could mean death.

That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the Resistance could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved, an honorable man she knows wants to help the slaves.

Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.

And Raisa is the one holding the key.


BAMF: What has been the best part of your debut year?

Kathy MacMillan:
The best part has been finally getting to hold that book in my hands, and having the opportunity to connect with readers and other authors! Sometimes, in the m
idst of all the stresses of debuting, it’s easy to lose sight of the little moments of wonder, like the time when I described my book to a fourteen-year-old boy at a book festival and he practically started vibrating with excitement to read it. There is nothing that compares to the feeling of finding your readers.

BAMF: What was the most exciting thing that happened to you in your debut year?

Kathy MacMillan: So many exciting things happened this year – I participated in several book festivals and conferences and mini-book tours with other authors – but it’s hard for anything to top the epic launch party I had back in January. It was a gala dinner to benefit Deaf Camps, Inc., a nonprofit I have been involved with for many years, and it was such a wonderful celebration of the years of work it took to get SWORD AND VERSE into print.

BAMF: What advice would you give to authors debuting in 2017?

Kathy MacMillan: Do as much writing as you can before your book comes out, because once it does, you will be awash in stress (both good and bad) and internal and external pressures you can only imagine now. Once your book comes out, be gentle with yourself. Take self-care very seriously; it’s not indulgence, but a necessity for creating art again.

BAMF: How did you come up with the religion for SWORD & VERSE? Was it based on other religions or something entirely new?

Kathy MacMillan: Everything in the story came from the central idea of a library full of letters to the gods. Who would be allowed to write them? What type of script would be used, and how would it be restricted? What cultural and religious beliefs would give rise to this type of control of writing? As I explored the answers to those questions, the religious doctrines of the society took shape, as did the story of the gods and goddesses. There are undeniable Greek, Roman, and Egyptian influences in the mythology, but the use of religious beliefs to justify oppression and mistreatment echoes nearly every society past and present.

BAMF: Why did you choose to write SWORD & VERSE from Raisa’s POV? Would you consider writing from Prince Mati’s in the future?

Kathy MacMillan: I actually have written several stories from Mati’s point of view, as well as a few from Jonis’s. (https://kathymacmillan.wordpress.com/extras-from-the-world-of-sword-and-verse/) The main story was always going to be Raisa’s, because she was the one at the center of the different strands of the story; her position is simultaneously oppressed and relatively privileged, and she alone has the perspective to unravel the linguistic mystery. But I did write a novella from Mati’s point of view about what happens next, and that had to be his perspective because it centers on him dealing with Raisa coming into her power. I hope that novella will be published eventually, but since it contains spoilers for book two, it won’t be for awhile.

BAMF: What can we expect to see in the sequel?

Kathy MacMillan: The sequel, due out in January 2018, picks up about thirty days after the SWORD AND VERSE ends, and it is from the point of view of Soraya Gamo. Soraya, Raisa, Mati, and Jonis are doing their best to get the city back to normal and not strangle each other. Unfortunately, there are looming consequences from decisions made in the first book that will ignite the tensions in the city, and Soraya will have to make some hard choices about who to trust and what kind of person she wants to be.

Soraya is a very different character from Raisa. She’s grown up in wealth and privilege, and yet she has been used by her father, publicly rejected by her fiancé, and ridiculed time and again for her ambitions. In fact, the only person who has ever taken Soraya seriously is Raisa, who should be her worst enemy. That’s enough to make anyone conflicted.

BAMF: If you had to choose to give up either cheese or chocolate for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Kathy MacMillan: That’s a tough question! I guess I would have to say chocolate, because I could satisfy my craving for sweets with fruit or other candy, but when you really want cheese, there is just no substitute.


About Kathy MacMillan

Kathy MacMillan is a writer, American Sign Language interpreter, consultant, librarian, signing storyteller, and avowed Hufflepuff. Her debut young adult novel, Sword and Verse, explores questions of power and prejudice in an epic fantasy setting, and has been called “fascinating and unique” by National Book Award finalist Franny Billingsley. Kathy is the founder of The Sweet Sixteens (www.thesweet16s.com (http://www.thesweet16s.com/) ) debut group of 2016 middle grade and young adult authors, and serves as the co-Regional Advisor for the Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia Region of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is also the author of eight resource books for educators, librarians, and parents, including Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together (Huron Street Press, 2013). She lives near Baltimore, MD with her husband, son, and a cat named Pancake.


Sword and Verse #2 by Kathy MacMillan
Also by this author: Sword and Verse
Published by HarperTeen on January 2018
Add to Goodreads

The second book will pick up not long after the first book ends, and will be from Soraya’s point of view. There are still plenty of challenges left for the council to face, not least of which is learning to trust each other. The consequences of decisions made in Sword and Verse come back to haunt them as well.


US Only: Signed copy of SWORD AND VERSE audiobook, open through Jan 31, 2017
International Only: SWORD AND VERSE swag pack including a bookmark with your name in the language of the gods, open through Jan 31, 2017.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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