Fantasy writers come from all walks of life, but Marcy is a true woman of the wilderness, a lady from the great northern State of Alaska. I am pleased to feature her here on No Wasted Ink.
I’m Marcy L. Peska, a dog-loving, rain-preferring bibliophile. I live with my husband, our four-footed child Jeb and our housemate. I’ve spent most of my life in Southeast Alaska which is part of the Tongass National Forest, the largest temperate rainforest in existence today. I had a unique childhood growing up transient, on boats and in bush Alaska but today I have deep roots in Juneau, the capital of Alaska, and enjoy modern conveniences like hot and cold running water, flushing toilets and electricity. My employment history has mostly included working in non-profit human services and I remain passionate about mental health and disability rights.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing fiction as a pre-teen because I loved reading, felt I had some talent for writing and needed an outlet to cope with life stressors. I began writing with the explicit intent to publish about two years ago when I first became aware of the self-publishing movement.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Ooooh, a semantics question! I’ve considered myself a writer since I was about twelve because…I wrote, I enjoyed writing and because I knew that someday I would be a fantasy author. I began considering myself an author about 14 months ago when I began writing my novel, Magic All Around.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Meet Vivian Marshall, an introverted artist from Juneau, Alaska. Painting, cooking, hot baths, and quiet evenings make Vivian happy. Neighbors with poor boundaries, her mom’s coven-style living arrangement, and dogs make her unhappy. When Vivian moves into a new apartment, she finds her sensible life turned topsy-turvy by dogs, a pony-tailed landlord and an inconvenient prophesy. Vivian is about to learn that there is magic all around!
What inspired you to write this book?
You know that not-quite-asleep feeling you get when you’re in stage one sleep? I often have vivid daydreams/lucid dreams in this phase and one night cracked myself up imagining an adolescent were-dog who gets himself in trouble by pissing on the Christmas tree at his mom’s holiday party. The more I thought about it, the more charmed I became by this paranormal faux pas and, ultimately, I built one of my main characters around this kernel of action. It doesn’t turn out to be a crucial plot point in the novel, but it was the original inspiration.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I have two writing styles. I mentioned that I’ve worked in human services and that’s where I honed my formal writing style. I’ve written hundreds of assessments, treatment plans and service delivery notes that reflected a person-centered approach while also meeting Medicaid guidelines for clear and measurable goals, objectives and interventions. My other style, the style I use in my novel, in my blog and during interviews like this, is less formal and more closely resembles my day-to-day speech and the sound of my mental voice. This style is colored by years of reading and by my early exposure to the rough and rowdy crowd of folks who lived on the docks in the 70’s and the fishing/subsistence lifestyle my family led in the 80’s.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
I played with several titles during the first few months of writing but kept coming back to this one. It’s part of a speech that one of my characters makes and it has layers of meaning for me, not just reflecting the outright magic in the story, but also a life philosophy.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are messages in my novel about relationships, self determination, mental health and more. That’s as much detail as I want to give though, because I hope that my messages are complex enough that each reader will add her own spin and take away the message most suited to her.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As a fantasy novel, this book is fictional and the plot doesn’t represent anything from real life. On the other hand, Magic All Around is set here in Juneau, Alaska and I want readers taste a bit of authentic, local flavor.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
There’s a long list. Robert Service, Richard Bach, J.R.R. Tolkein, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card, Mercedes Lackey, Oliver Sacks, Marsha Linehan, Deborah Tannen, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Daniel Quinn…I could probably list a hundred authors here. I like to be transported when I read but also want to return with some bit of knowledge or wisdom that I can fit into the grand jigsaw puzzle of life and that duality is what inspires me.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?
Debora Geary is a tremendous inspiration. She writes fantasy that focuses on community building and personal transformation and her novels leave me eager to make the world a better place. She is also incredibly accessible to her fans, through e-mail and FaceBook. She is genuinely kind and, along with her fans, supports several great causes.
I don’t think mentor is quite the right word here because it conveys a level of intensity and intentionality in the relationship that isn’t representative of my interactions with Ms. Geary but I can honestly say that she is my social media model.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I selected my cover designer for her enthusiasm and affordability! I created my own cover and wouldn’t have it any other way. I had a lot of fun playing with colors and images and went through about 10 possible covers before I settled on this one. I also enjoyed creating the icons and visuals for my web site. This is one of the best parts of being an indy author; creating the whole package and getting everything entirely my own way.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, don’t worry too much about following writing advice! The only thing other writers can tell you is what works for them. Figure out what works for you and don’t be surprised when it’s different from what works for other folks. There’s room in this world for a lot of diversity and creativity.
Marcy L. Peska
Magic All Around