12459586_10153904282158278_717576313_nToday we have a special visitor. My friend Erin McGowan is here to talk about her new YA fantasy novel, The Mage: Awakening, which is participating in Amazon’s Kindle Scout program.

Kindle Scout is a fairly new program launched by Amazon where YOU get a hand in deciding what books get published. If, at the end of Erin’s run, she gets enough votes and Amazon decides to publish her book, everyone who nominated her will receive a free copy of the e-book version.

I had the opportunity to beta-read The Mage: Awakening, and I really enjoyed it. Right from the first scene, I was rooting for Katrina, the main character. But you can check it out for yourself here and read an excerpt. Then, if you decide Amazon should publish it, drop a nomination to keep Erin’s novel in the running.

A bit about Erin…

Erin McGowan lives in Galveston, Texas, where she spends as much time as possible writing or walking in the surf. She also travels with her roommate and partner-in-crime, L.B. Clark, whenever she can.

While pursuing her master’s degree in accounting from Stephen F. Austin, Erin discovered that writing during and after class was a great way to relieve stress and focus. Changing jobs and moving all over Texas fueled her desire to write and gave her some great story ideas, and deciding to partner with her roommate in a publishing company gave her every reason to share said stories with the world.

Erin finds that story ideas come from everywhere. Watching the ocean, picking figs in the morning, even walking down the street to get coffee can lead to an idea for a book or a short story. She also finds that her natural empathy and love of music lends itself to writing about musicians and the music industry.

For Erin, writing is like laughing; you can get through life without it, but what would be the point?

And because I was nosy, I asked a few questions…

1. Do you have a favorite character in this story?

I have a favorite character, but it keeps changing. I think the character I relate most to is Ginger, the Oracle. She is human, therefore she is fallible, but she’s trying desperately to be perfect. Her position of power overwhelms her.

2. I love those fallible characters. What sparked the idea for this story? What’s the first scene you thought about? Or did it come to you in some other way?

This story came to me in a weird way. I hadn’t written anything but short stories for over a year. I finished my first novel and couldn’t get anything to come together for more than a few scenes. One day I had a dream about a girl who could transfer feelings from one person to another, and I talked to Laura about it. She’d had a dream about a girl who was a succubus and didn’t know it, and we joked about creating our own universe. A few weeks later Laura talked me into going to MOD, the coffee shop where we write, and I started writing a short story about a girl at her grandmother’s funeral. I’d just watched an episode of The O.C. where a surfer died and the main characters attended his funeral…as did sixty other people. Now this kid had a few friends that he was seen with when he was alive, but when he died, we find out that he knew everybody. I realized that most funerals on television went the same way. There was never a sparsely attended funeral. It bugged me, because I know that a lot of people have half a dozen people at their funerals if they are lucky. So, I set out to write about a typical funeral. Then, the girl revealed that she was an empath. That night, after we left MOD, we took a walk on the beach, and I told Laura that my story had taken on a mind of its own. I asked her if we could talk about that shared universe we’d discussed the possibility of, and a few hours later we had a rough idea of what that universe looked like. I wrote two chapters that night, and then went on to write sixty eight more. This was the short story that never ended.

3. The book is fantasy, but did you draw on any real-life experience for any of the characters or the situations?

I think everyone draws on parts of real life when they write. I didn’t base characters on people, but I drew names and experiences from my life and stories that I’ve heard. The main plot came to me one night right before bed. I’d been rereading the Harry Potter series, and the idea came to me that night, that it would be interesting if a character went to school with Voldemort and observed him going down the road he went down. I ran with it, and told a story that I was interested in.

4. What are you writing now? Can you give us a hint?

I’m writing the sequel to The Mage: Awakening right now. Katrina’s story is not over. The great thing about the Unification Council Universe is that there are so many places you can go with these people. I might follow Katrina through all of her school years. I might follow her even longer. I love this girl, and I want to see her grow up. She’s got a lot of gray in her. Everyone has the potential to do bad things or make decisions that are less than stellar, but there are some people who gravitate towards the dark. Those people are more interesting to me than the people who have everything handed to them.

5. They make the most fascinating characters. So, when you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I love to read, eat, and listen to music. I love living by the ocean, and try to take advantage of the beach near my house whenever I can. Occasionally I edit for Laura or other friends, and I bake on a fairly regular basis, too.

6. If you had a time machine and unlimited funds, where would you go and why?

If I had a time machine and unlimited funds I would go back to the late 60s and early 70s and go to all of the great concerts that I’ve read about. I’d go see Iggy and The Ramones at CBGBs. I’d find a way to go to the Factory and catch Velvet Underground. I’d see AC/DC with Bon Scott. I’d see Bowie in England in a pub back in the day. I don’t think I’d be able to do the groupie thing, but I would go to the shows. Hell, I’d probably hit some shows in the 80s as well. There are some good musicians around today, but we don’t have movements like we did back in the day. I was lucky enough to be alive during part of the metal movement, but that was the last great musical uprising that interested me. After I was done with all of the great concerts I wanted to see I would just start visiting awesome people who I haven’t gotten to meet in person yet.

7. Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m pretty new to the independent publishing/writing world. I just want to thank all of the independent authors out there, for paving the way for the rest of us. It takes a lot of courage to put a piece of your soul out there for the world to see. It take even more courage to go out and say, “This is mine. I did this, and it is worth reading.” I admit, it scares me to put my stories out there. If I had to do the promotional part without a support, if I had to do any of it without support, I don’t know that I would try. It takes a village.

Thank you, Erin, and thanks for reading! If you’d like to check out her Kindle Scout novel, hop over here.