The following is an interview with MarcyKate Connolly on the release of her YA novel, Twin Daggers, from publisher Blink. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Connolly about the inspiration behind the story, her creative process in bringing the story to life especially in transitioning from children’s and middle grade audiences to YA fiction, the impact that she hopes that Twin Diggers may have with readers, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your YA novel, Twin Daggers! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
MarcyKate Connolly: Thank you so much! Twin Daggers is a fantasy spin on Romeo + Juliet, if Juliet and her twin sister were magic-wielding spies out for revenge in a world of magic versus machines.
Sometimes, new ideas come to me almost fully formed, but this was definitely not one of those times. I’ve been a Shakespeare fan ever since I can remember, so writing a retelling of one his plays was inevitable. One day as I was perusing my Ideas folder (where I store bits and pieces of inspiration that might become a fully-fledged story concept eventually), I came across a note I’d tucked away about a fantasy world that had a magic-based faction and a technology-based faction. The warring factions led me to the star-crossed lovers idea which in turn led me to the idea for a Romeo + Juliet retelling.
BD: While you have penned a plethora of children’s and middle grade novels, this book will be your first for Young Adult audiences. What inspired you to make this change, and how would you describe your transition towards an older audience in crafting your narrative?
MKC: Fun fact: When I was first trying to get published, I actually always thought of myself as YA author and most of the books I wrote were YA. My very first published book, Monstrous, is middle grade, but I wrote it thinking it was YA, I pitched it to agents as a YA, and my agent pitched it to editors as a YA. Then, a (brilliant!) editor offered to buy it—as a middle grade book. I was puzzled at first, but after chatting with the editor, it was clear she was absolutely correct and only a couple things need to be aged down to make it more solidly MG. So, I kind of fell into writing MG, but my heart has always been with YA too and I’m very excited to finally be publishing a book in that category.
As far as crafting the narrative, generally speaking, young adult stories can be a little darker and have more intricate world building than middle grade. Also, they very often have more romance. All those things were really fun to indulge in while writing this book.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Twin Daggers’ story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
MKC: Twin Daggers is very much a story about division and overcoming your own prejudices. About learning that the world isn’t black and white, and people are not extreme caricatures, but they contain multitudes. As someone whose parents were on a very different end of the political spectrum, I know how brutally difficult it can be to come to terms with the fact that sometimes the people you love aren’t who you thought they were after all. In Twin Daggers, the main characters have to deal with those truths, too, and I think that makes the book very timely.
BD: What makes Blink the perfect home for Twin Daggers?
MKC: First and foremost, my editor had a vision for Twin Daggers that perfectly aligned with mine. That’s the most important thing. But also, Blink is sort of the best of both worlds. They have the good parts of being a small publisher in that they can give their authors personal attention along with the reach and backing of major publisher through their connection to Harper Collins. It’s a great combination!
BD: Do you foresee expanding the novel into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
MKC: There is a sequel in the works! It’s been so much fun to continue exploring the world of the Magi and Technocrats and telling Aissa’s story. From what I understand, it’s currently slated to release about a year from now, but that’s always subject to change.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
MKC: Primarily the sequel to Twin Daggers, as that will be my next young adult book. I also do have a middle grade fantasy duology that began earlier this year with Hollow Dolls and the conclusion, Lost Island, will be out in late 2021. Nothing else I can talk about yet, but if readers follow me online and signup for my email list, they’ll be the first to know when anything new is announced!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Twin Daggers and your other work?
MKC: My website, www.marcykate.com, is the best way to find the most up-to-date details about all my books. They can also connect with me on social media – I love to chat about books, writing, and my pugs!