F I Virginia G. McMorrow Interview

Editor’s Foreword

Thanks to Virginia G. McMorrow for taking the time to do this interview back in August. My apologies to her and our readers for the delay in getting this interview online.

I am excited about interviewing an author with your remarkable credentials. You’ve had three fantasy novels published since 2004: Mage Confusion, Mage Resolution, and Firewing’s Journey. Mage Evolution, the third in the Tuldamoran Mage trilogy, is on the way, too. Your readers and your publisher, ArcheBooks must appreciate your quick tempo!

1. On your web site you mention that you write not only fantasy but mystery and other fiction as well. That’s amazing. Often authors stay with only one or two genres–for good reasons. Do you find shifting from one type to another challenging? Perhaps it keeps things interesting for you?

Anne, the truth is, I love to write! And writing in different genres does keep you challenged. Plus, each genre has its own quirks. In fantasy, you get to create your own world and your own system of magic. In mystery, you get to play with the reader's head by planting red herrings and dropping clues all over the manuscript. And mainstream fiction lets me explore deeper characterization and relationships–though my Mage series is more character-driven than plot-driven. In fact, all of my books are so because character to me is everything. I also write articles and essays because nonfiction is a good discipline and helps build up your portfolio as a writer.

2. In addition to writing myriad novels, you craft feature articles for a non-profit organization. You do all this in your spare time, besides; your “regular” job is manager of client publications at a New York City company. How do you accomplish it all?

I also teach adult education and try to have a personal life, not to mention going to cons and workshops! But I think the reason I can–and want to–do these different things is because they’re all related to my one passion (writing). Finding time is hard for a writer, whether married or single, with a family or not, working full time or freelance. That’s one of the most common complaints. I tell my students (in adult education) that I don’t buy into the “you have to write x number of words a day.”

However, I do believe that you have to write whenever you can, without putting undue pressure on yourself. After all, writing should be fun, shouldn’t it? It’s an outlet for your creativity. Besides, when you’re deeply engrossed in a book (or whatever particular piece you’re creating), you live and breathe it until you’re done so that you’re writing in your head even if you’re not sitting at a computer. When I can’t get to my computer, I’ll write in a notebook on the train. And to be honest, the things that aren’t important don’t get done. It’s a trade off.

3. You dedicated Mage Confusion to Kevin and Mage Resolution to Dad. In what ways did/do Kevin and your dad support you as a writer?

Speaking of importance, I’m very grateful for having such a supportive husband (Kevin) who understands how much my writing means to me. He’s very good natured and has always believed in my dream. So when I’m sitting quietly in the car, he knows I’m not mad. I’m just plotting or writing dialogue! My dad, too, always wanted me to follow my heart. And since Mage Resolution has a lot of father issues, I think dad would have been tickled to have a book dedicated to him. The third book, Mage Evolution, will be dedicated to my mom. I can’t tell you why because that will give away the plot!

4. The name of the heroine of your Tuldamoran Mage trilogy, Alexandra Daine Keltie, sounds both imposing and inspiring. From what I’ve read, she is both--plus some. How did you come up with her name? What do you like and dislike about Alex?

I love the name Alex for a woman, so she had to be Alexandra (she was almost Alexis). Daine (I have no idea where that came from) was for her mother, and Keltie–well–I married an Irishman, so Keltie reminded me of Celtic. Put together, the name sounded right. I like Alex because she’ll always do what she believes to be right, even though it takes a lot of grumbling. She listens to her conscience and her instinct, which is something we all should do. I have mixed feelings about her crankiness because it reminds me a little of myself when I’m not writing! And sometimes I’d get impatient with her, want to shake her, and say “grow up!” (which she does very nicely by the end of Book 3). But the fact that she places great value on friendship and family, and above all, has a wonderful sense of humor, made me forgive her faults. And a good character has to have faults, right?

5. On your site you speak of Alex as if she were an actual person. I think I understand that. You write the books in the first person, and you must get into Alex’s character for the process. In turn Alex gets into your head. Do you think a part of Alex stays with you? For example, when faced with a “real life” problem, do you ever ask yourself, “What would Alex do?” Do you sometimes find yourself thinking the way Alex does?

Alex is a real person to me because I wrote her as a down-to-earth, practical, genuine character. She treats royalty like human beings, not exalted beings. Granted, that might be partially explained because she and the queen are best friends. But even if they weren’t, Alex would be respectful but not fawning. She doesn’t tolerate hypocrites or people who don’t earn her respect.

Protagonists do get into your head. I think that writing is like acting. So many actors say they become the person they’re portraying. I do that with my main characters. I might sit in a family gathering or some other event and think, “hmmm, what would Alex say?” And I’d know what her reaction would be. As to whether a little bit of Alex stays with me, I think, for me, it’s the other way around. A little bit of me gets into all my characters–different ones in different ways. But they all have my sense of humor. With all the craziness in the world, you can’t take yourself too seriously!

6. You will be participating in several conferences in New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. What do you enjoy about these conferences? What do you not enjoy?

I enjoy meeting new people and getting them enthusiastic about writing. Many people in the audience come to listen to panels about writing techniques–themes, characterization, magic vs. science. All of that is fun. I enjoy hearing what other writers have to say about their difficulties and challenges because we have so much to learn from each other. There are so many new writers out there. I constantly leave these conferences with more new books to read. The part I like least is having to market my books. But that, too, is a common writers’ whine.

7. Is there anything else you’d care to tell us?

One of the things I’d like to say to unpublished writers out there is this: there’s room for all of us. Don’t give up or get discouraged. Keep writing. And don’t write to follow a trend. Write what’s in your heart!

I’m very fortunate to have had three (four in September) books out there. For those readers who have enjoyed my books, thanks very much! The best thing a reader can tell me is that somehow, some way, I’ve managed to touch them by making them laugh or cry or whatever emotion I might have evoked. And with Alex, it just might be exasperation!

Thank you very much for telling us a little about yourself and your extraordinary Mage!

Thank you, Anne, for letting me have my say!


About the Interviewer

Anne Verville is a New Hampshire freelance writer who enjoys reading a variety of novels, but the fantasy genre may quickly become her favorite.


About the Author

Virginia G. McMorrow, author of four fantasy novels from Archebooks Publishing (Mage Confusion, Mage Resolution, Firewing's Journey for young adults, and Mage Evolution, which is coming summer 2005.


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