Hi Math is Everywhere readers,
Kaitlyn: Hi, A. S. Mackey, thanks for joining us today!
A.S.: Thank you – I’m so honored to be here!
Kaitlyn: Yay! I’m excited to have you. To start off, how did you become an author?
A.S.: I started writing poems when I was about eight when we were given an assignment at school. (The poem I turned in was about rainbows, and the teacher accused me of plagiarism because it was really good!) The little writer in me sort of woke up, I guess! I vividly recall writing our own version of Gilligan’s Island with my brother and sister when we were kids, and acting out the stories for our poor parents. I dabbled in the prerequisite angsty poetry in my pre-teens, then progressed to novels in my teens. It’s been a passion my entire life, and I finally got serious about it when I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2011.
Kaitlyn: WOW! That’s so great to hear that NaNoWriMo had such an impact on your career. Your debut middle grade novel The Edge of Everywhen has such striking imagery that really brings the reader into your world, did you write the story that way or come back and sprinkle those gems in?
A.S.: The imagery was definitely a progression. With each draft of the book, I wanted to make it more mystical and mysterious.
Kaitlyn: What fun that must have been for you! What do you hope kids get out of reading this book?
A.S.: The book nerd in me hopes that readers will make a list of every book mentioned in The Edge of Everywhen, and head to the library and read all of them! I also hope they think deeply about their views of God, and family, and classmates or family members with special needs. But mostly, my hope is that they’re simply entertained.
Kaitlyn: I definitely encountered a few stories that I need to read and loved classics like Naria in there as well. Can you share your journey to publication?
A.S.: Sure! I have done NaNoWriMo since 2011, and I’ve written – or attempted to write – a novel each year since then. In 2015, I wrote the first draft of this particular novel during NaNoWriMo, and spent about six months editing it. After I finished the novel in 2016, I enlisted beta readers and took their feedback seriously. My target reader is a 12-year-old girl, so I found 9 girls (children of my friends) and they were all happy to be beta readers. I had adult beta readers, as well, and listened carefully to all of their feedback and made more changes. I bought The 2016 Writers Market and sent out 43 query letters, resulting in all rejections or no response (which, to me, is a rejection.) Then I set out to make the novel better. I read books on the craft, and completely rewrote it. I honed a killer query letter, and sent out 30 more query letters, and landed my agent in October of 2017.
Kaitlyn: Great work getting your story where it needed to be! For this book, you have a Christian publisher, but your book description says, “The Edge of Everywhen story bridges the chasm between faith-based and fantasy kid-lit genres.” Do you think non-Christian audiences will enjoy this book as well? Why or why not?
A.S.: Oh, yes, my hope is that all sorts of readers will enjoy the book! Reviewers have said that the Christian references are subtle and not overly pushy, and the story of the two kids and the mysterious omniscient book is intriguing to readers regardless of what religion readers subscribe to. Non-Christian readers enjoy Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time, both of which are based in Christian theology, and The Edge of Everywhen has a very similar vibe.
Kaitlyn: I definitely think everyone will enjoy this book! Can you give us some insight into what happens after a book sells? What did you and your publisher/editor do once you signed on the dotted line?
A.S.: I thought the book was “done,” but I was wrong! There were lots of edits before my agent shopped it. At first I got my feelings hurt when I was asked to edit certain things out, but I was able to swallow a big old load of pride and trust that the editors know what they are doing 🙂 My first publishing offer came in at the end of 2018 after more than a year of my agent shopping the novel. So after signing on the dotted line, there was a ton of waiting. Yep, waiting. LOTS and lots of waiting. Those big publishers move S-L-O-W-L-Y and nothing I can do will speed them up. We started fairly quickly on the cover art design, which was really fun. And the edits probably took 5-6 months overall.
Kaitlyn: Well lucky for you, the wait for this book is finally over; it’s out in the world! Your agent is Elizabeth Bennett at Transatlantic, can you tell us how you landed her and what you love about her?
A.S.: Oh my goodness, I have SO many wonderful things to say about her! I found her the old fashioned way – sending out query letters! I obtained The 2016 Writers Market and made a list of agents accepting unpublished manuscripts in my genre (middle grade fiction / magical realism.) I sent a total of 73 query letters from 2016 to 2017, and she loved my book! I am SO glad Elizabeth had a vision for what my novel could be. She took a chance on a newbie and was GREAT! Also she made sure she put cover consultation rights in my contract, for which I’m very grateful.
Kaitlyn: She sounds like a dream! It must have been shocking to have your book launch at such a different time in our world, can you give authors any tips on how to launch your debut in times like these?
A.S.: Haha well … get yourself a crystal ball and avoid launching during a pandemic! I’m just trying to go with the flow, and not letting the cancellations damper the excitement. One tip: get tech-savvy! Using Zoom and Skype with good lighting and decent equipment is crucial. Plus I am so blessed to have a wonderful publicist, and she’s hooked me up with podcasts and interviews and virtual events all over the place. Wynn-Wynn Media gets an A+++ from me!
Kaitlyn: Oh, that’s great advice; I hadn’t even thought of lighting! What advice can you share with writers on this journey to publication?
A.S.: Know what’s out there. No matter what genre you write, you’ll need to read LOTS and LOTS of books in that genre to know what you can offer that is different or better. Spend time in bookstores and libraries. What’s missing on your favorite shelf? What’s an angle or perspective that isn’t out there? Also, learn patience. Seriously! Lots of patience! The wheels turn achingly slow in the traditional publishing world, so just embrace that going in.
Kaitlyn: More wonderful advice! Can you share what’s next for you?
A.S.: I hope this book is a smashing success and that the publisher will offer me a deal for books two and three. I also have two YA books in progress; one is an alt-medieval allegory, and the other is a speculative Christian fantasy. I am always adding to a growing file of book ideas for middle grade and young adult. This next year I plan to do lots of in-person and virtual author visits around the south. I really enjoy talking to kids about creative writing!
Kaitlyn: That all sounds wonderful, good luck, let us know how the visits and book sales go! Finally, if you were able to spend the day with your favorite author or illustrator, would you rather drink tea by the fireside or go fly a kite?
A.S. Oh, tea by the fireside, absolutely! I love fireplaces, and tea, and all things cozy!
Kaitlyn: Thank you so much for this delightful interview!
A.S.: Such a pleasure to be here; thanks so much!
A unique middle-grade novel, The Edge of Everywhen tells the story of Piper, a 13-year-old self-proclaimed book nerd whose world has been upended after the death of her mother. She and her autistic little brother (and best friend) Phoenix cling to one another as they are forced to move a thousand miles away from everything familiar and live with their rich, estranged aunt.
Piper reaches to the books on her shelf for comfort, but it is one unique book, Novus Fabula, who offers true guidance as the omniscient narrator in the story. It watches them arrive at their aunt’s home, with tired hearts and stones in their stomachs, and now its whispered voice must point the children to depend upon the sovereignty of God during the most dire times as they await word of their missing father.
“What’s that you say? Books cannot speak? On the contrary, dear Reader. Quite the contrary. Books are one of the few things on this earth that truly speak, from the moment the first word is penned until the book’s last Reader has drawn their final breath.
Let me show you.”—Novus Fabula
Full of mystery and intrigue, The Edge of Everywhen story bridges the chasm between faith-based and fantasy kid-lit genres. It is a book-lover’s book, carrying the reader right into the adventure as Piper and Phoenix embark upon a life-changing journey, in search of their father and of a faith to call their own.
A.S. Mackey is proud to be represented by agent Elizabeth Bennett at the Transatlantic Literary Agency. She is a member of the Shoals Writers Guild and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is happily married to Chad, and she is the mother of three adult children and a son-in-law. She currently resides in Florence, Alabama.
Would you like to win a copy of The Edge of Everywhen (anywhere in the world where book depository ships to–if continental US, it will be SIGNED)
You have five ways to enter (each one will get you one entry into the drawing, so feel free to do all three!):
- Comment on this post
- Share in the comments below that you did a purchase request for The Edge of Everywhen at your library
- Share in the comments below that you added The Edge of Everywhen to your “Want to Read” on Goodreads list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share in the comments that you ordered a copy of The Edge of Everywhen
- Retweet my tweet about this blog post on Twitter (gold star if you tag A.S.)
Thanks so much, readers, for reading, sharing, and supporting authors in any way you can. Buy books, read, review, and share, share, share!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
PS if you missed Korrie Leer’s blog interview and giveaway, there’s still time to enter, check it out here, and stop by the blog on Tuesday 6/2/2020 for a SUPER special interview!