Welcome to the UKYA extravaganza blog tour! UKYA extravaganza is an event happening in Birmingham on the 28th February with an amazing 35 UYKA authors and to celebrate we’re doing a blog tour with 35 bloggers.
Each blogger will be doing a spotlight on each one of the authors attending and I’m happy to host an interview with Anna McKerrow, the author of the upcoming novel Crow Moon. So without further ado, here’s my interview with her.
Hey Anna. Thanks for coming onto The Reading Fangirl today for an interview. I’m very excited for Crow Moon but most people probably won’t know what it’s about so could you please describe Crow Moon in one sentence.
In a future not too far from now, witches are in charge of an eco-pagan Cornwall, cut off from the rest of the UK.
The cover for Crow Moon is utterly stunning. Did you have any say in it? Do you know what the thought process behind the cover was?
Thank you! I did, but the design team at Quercus had already been through a few different concepts for the cover before they presented this idea to me. However, they were really happy with the fact that I had already made a Pinterest board full of imagery for the book, so that helped them a bit. Here’s the board: http://www.pinterest.com/annamckerrow/crow-moon/. I saw some very basic ideas at first and gave feedback on them as we went along, but covers also have to be acceptable to retailers and the sales teal at the publishing company, so there’s a lot of people involved in the process. The cover was quite hard because there are a lot of elements that it needed to represent – mystical, natural, witchy, romantic, modern with green issues. It was a tough combination! I’m delighted with how it turned out.
The idea behind Crow Moon is really quite unique. Where did the idea come from? What were some of your inspirations for it?
It’s a combination of a lot of things that interest me, and ideas that I thought went with each other, even though they aren’t usually connected. Crow Moon is a book – the first in a trilogy, in fact – about witches, but it’s a Pagan/Wiccan inspired witch community rather than witches as paranormal beings or witches from history, like in the witch trials. As a pagan, though I love any kind of witchy story, I found it frustrating not seeing my experience of witchcraft reflected in popular culture. So Crow Moon is full of the type of spiritual, strong women I know in the pagan community, who can’t shoot lightning out of their fingertips, but might commune with goddesses in meditation or vision, or have psychic experiences and revel in the beauty of nature. Women for whom witchcraft isn’t about casting spells as much as experiencing a devotional practice with deity, and with the earth. For me, then, the natural consequence of representing a pagan community is that it has a strong ecological focus. Pagans of all types consider Nature as holy, so naturally, there’s a strong link to being concerned with green issues. Lots of pagans are environmental activists, and green issues are certainly in the forefront of my current concerns. So the Crow Moon trilogy has an ongoing environmental theme about an energy crisis, and what happens to a country – and a world – divided between capitalism and green secularism.
Being a writer, I assume you also love to read. What are some of your favourite YA books?
I do! Before YA was YA (but I think it qualifies) Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books were and are some of my favourites, and when I was a teenager some of my favourites were The Outsiders and one called Easy Connections by Liz Berry which was about a teenage girl falling in love with a rock star – that book was awesome! But more recent YA I’ve loved How I Live Now, the Chaos Walking books, TFIOS, The Hunger Games, Every Day, Ketchup Clouds.
You’ve been involved with #ukyachat before (that’s how the buzz around your book reached me!). How important do you think chats such as UKYA chat are?
I think it’s a really vibrant mode of connecting a mostly online community, though it’s really nice too how the ukyachat community is also developing in person events. It’s been great for me to get to know other authors, bloggers and readers and you can get a sense of what’s popular, and hear about books and authors you might not be aware of yet. As time goes on it will only get bigger I think. Any community that celebrates books and reading is a great thing. I think it’s dynamic and democratic and presents a rare environment for people of all ages and occupations to interact.
Talking about UKYA, what do you love the most about it?
It’s developing into a very diverse genre, though genre probably isn’t the right term – is YA an age banding, or a marker of topics discussed, approaches taken? When I say genre I think of horror, romance, thriller etc, all of which are subgenres of YA – and YA also exists as a subgenre in all of those. But anyway. I think UKYA in particular is increasingly full of original stories for young people, investigating the vast spectrum of experience we have in those formative years. YA enables the writer to investigate complicated issues with depth, but it also requires strong storytelling. I like that it’s still relatively new as a phenomenon but it has this passionate army of advocates and fans. I love writing for young people because they are the people that will change the world for the better.
Is there any specific lesson you hope to teach people in Crow Moon? Any message you want to send out?
Crow Moon is a story, most of all, meant to entertain. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to make people think about how having a reverence for nature, and seeing your own personal development as part of the whole ecosystem of human experience, is (in my view) an essential part of us going forward as a global community.
Was there a specific moment in your life when you decided to become an author?
Since forever. It was what I always wanted to do. I think I came out of the womb that way.
Finally so that my readers can get to know you a little bit better, I thought we could do some quick fire questions about the things you like.
Crisps or chocolate: Chocolate! Every time. Ah, chocolate, sweet brown mistress.
London or New York: London, but New York is amazing. London is home and an endlessly surprising city. I love being a Londoner.
Favourite holiday destination: California or Cornwall. Convinced I lived in California in a past life. There’s a beach house in my future. Or not, depending on likely worldwide flooding in the next 10-20 years.
Tea or Coffee: Coffee please!!! BUT NOT INSTANT.
Favourite food: A really awesome curry.
Favourite movie: Can I do a top 5? Star Wars (A New Hope), Annie Hall, The Last Seduction, Mulholland Drive, Thelma & Louise.
Favourite TV show: Twin Peaks, X Files, Battlestar Galactica.
Something you feel is very underhyped that needs to be loved more: Hmmm. So much in the world. The magical literature of Dion Fortune. The Spiritual Ecology movement. The discontinued series EASTWICK. That should have got a second series.
And finally to end this interview, the hardest question of them all; what is your ultimate favourite book? This is SO hard. I would have to say Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.
Thank you to Anna McKerrow for doing this interview with me! I loved reading all of her answers so I hope you all do too. Crow Moon is out on the 5th March so definitely go pick up a copy when it’s out. Also thank you to Kerry Drewery for organising this blog tour. If you want to know more about this event definitely go check out the following twitter accounts for more details:
Thanks for reading and definitely go check out the next stop on the blog tour and I hope to see you at UKYA extravaganza if you’re going!