Interview with J.Z.N. McCauley

J.Z.N. McCauley is an award-winning fantasy author residing in lovely New England.he is the author of The Rituals Trilogy, A Bell Sound Everlasting, The Zinnia Queen, and more. Among several works in progress, she is currently writing an epic fantasy series.

1. How do you get inspiration?

For me, there isn’t any one way that I get inspiration. It comes from everywhere. Sometimes it’s from a beautiful image of artwork, a book of fiction, history, or mythology I’ll be reading, or simply nature when I take a walk or look out a window. Often, my ideas come from nowhere at all and pop up before I go to sleep or when I wake up, which is most inconvenient!
2. What first inspired you to write?
I’ve been a writer since I was around twelve years old. Life happened, and I didn’t get serious about it until I was in my mid-twenties. But my first inspiration to be a writer was when I was six years or perhaps younger, and I fell in love with the books and film adaptations of Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, and Anne of Green Gables, each depicting strong women who went through various turmoil in their times and loved the written word. I related to them in many ways. Since I’ve loved the art of storytelling as long as I can remember, whether it be in books, art, plays, films, or what have you, I’ve always known I wanted to create and write mountains of novels.
3. How do people react when you tell them you’re an author?
It’s usually a lot of fun because people ask me about my books, which I love discussing. Often it turns into a short conversation about books in general, which is always a favorite topic of mine since I can rattle on forever.
4. Which authors inspire you?
I’m inspired by so many authors; there are far too many favorites that I admire, to be honest. But I will say I’m a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, and Mark Twain. Some modern ones are Patricia A. McKillip, Tanya Huff, Romina Russell, Patrick Rothfuss, and Anne McCaffrey.
5. What is the best book you have read recently?
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip.
6. What did you research for your series?
For The Rituals Trilogy, at first, I researched different ancient druid or traditional Irish rituals, followed by a few cultural facts that were relevant to the scenes. One of my best friends is an Irish archeologist, so I often go to her for anything I’m not sure about, which has been a tremendous help. I also enjoy reading and studying mythology, especially Irish or Celtic in general, and I pulled a lot from folklore regarding fae creatures and tendencies. Other than that, I used my own imagination, or regular personal experiences from being in Ireland years ago.
7. What inspired you to write young adult fantasy?
Well, I wouldn’t say that I aim to write specifically young adult fantasy. I write fantasy, and I love it. What ends up happening is when the story is finished, it’s a work that can be enjoyed by regular fantasy readers as well as lovers of young adult fantasy. But truly, my inspiration for writing fantasy comes from my deep love of all fantasy from my earliest memories.
8. Where did the idea of the new book come from?
As soon as I finished Oak and Mistletoe in the summer of 2016, the idea for the next book just came to me randomly while I was working on edits. Not too long after that, the third book’s plot was figured out as well.
9. Do you read all of your book reviews and how do you react to them?
I’m afraid I don’t read any of my book reviews unless, in some circumstances, a reader personally contacts me requesting that I do. Many famous authors have passed on advice not to read reviews because book reviews are for readers, not writers. What it comes down to is that all books are subjective, so whether positive or negative reviews aren’t something we writers should keep in our heads. Our focus needs to always be on our stories. Instead of reading reviews, I spend that time personally interacting with awesome readers through my newsletter or social media. In regards to popular opposite opinion of book reviews helping improve a writer’s work, I obviously disagree, but I do make sure each book of mine gets plenty of constructive criticism and helpful feedback from beta readers, critique partners, and professional editors before publishing. The experience always has a steady hand in moving me forward in my writing craft and making every story as rounded as it can be.
10. What other authors are you friends with and how did that help you with your writing?
I’m connected with loads of fellow authors via social media, but only a handful of them have actually been part of my writing journey. Several have helped me get the word out about my books during release time, promotional periods, or sometimes even offered advice and edits about the back of the book blurb. Many of them inspired me to keep reaching for my dreams, even when things tumbled down around me.
11. What is your best memory as a writer?
Hmmm, I think a major highlight was when one of my editors told me she was so into the story that she had to read ahead to find out if a character lived or died before she could calm herself enough to finish editing!
12. What are your favorite underappreciated novels?
The Legend of Lady Ilena by Patricia Malone, and An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton.
13. Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yeah, I think it definitely happens. My advice is not to fight it. We’re human, there’s usually a reason for it, and your mind may need the break. Set aside time for rest and to do other things.
14. Do you have anything to say to your readers?
Just a huge thank you, and I can’t wait to share with you the rest of my long list of stories which I hope you’ll devour with pleasure!
15. Anything else you want to say about the new book?
If you’d like to purchase a signed print copy of The Oathing Stone (The Rituals Trilogy, #2), please email me on my website, and I’ll send you the purchase form.
16. Can you describe your books in three words?
Original, adventurously magical.
It was so much fun to get to learn more about J.Z.N. McCauley’s journey as a writer. Thank you for agreeing to the interview ! You can find her on Instagram and on her site where you can learn more about her and her books.

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