Captivating Authors: Skye MacKinnon

Grand Winner of our hotly-contested Captivating Opening Contest, with the fabulous novel Winter Princess, Skye MacKinnon, has just released her latest Scottish gem:  

Skye MacKinnon is an International Bestselling author who has a slight obsession with Scotland, bunnies and dried mango. And when she says slight... her friends are trying to find ways to trick her into not having a book set in Scotland.
You'll often find Skye bribing herself into writing words using cake and tea, but whatever works, right?
Whether it's set in space (Scottish space, obviously), fantasy worlds (Scottish fantasy worlds, obviously), or Scotland, Skye's tales are full of magic, romance and adventure. Oh and unicorns. There's a few demons too.

Welcome to the blog, Skye — what genre do you consider your books to be?
I hate describing myself, so to help, my good friend and co-author Laura Greenwood wrote me a bio recently: “Skye MacKinnon is an International Bestselling author with a slight obsession with Scotland, bunnies and dried mango. And when she says slight... her friends are trying to find ways to trick her into not having a book set in Scotland. You’ll often find Skye bribing herself into writing words using cake and tea, but whatever works, right? Whether it’s set in space (Scottish space, obviously), fantasy worlds (Scottish fantasy worlds, obviously), or Scotland, Skye’s tales are full of magic, romance and adventure. Oh and unicorns. There’s a few demons too.”
I write mostly reverse harem, where one woman has several love interests and doesn’t have to choose. Think love triangle but without the angst and decision. My reverse harem books are all sorts of genres though: most are paranormal romance (for example my bestselling Daughter of Winter Series), but I also have fantasy (Ruined Heart Series), sci-fi (the Mars Diaries) and post-apocalyptic (The Drowning Series). As you can see, I don’t like to choose, just like my female characters.

Tell me about your recent release, Polar Fates. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
Polar Fates is the second book in The Drowning series. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic Scotland and tells the story of Isla, a young woman who meets and falls in love with four bear shifters. In the first book, it was all about them getting to know each other, but in Polar Fates, there’s a bit more mystery, mythology and magic.
I came up with the idea for the setting when walking home from work and listening to a podcast about climate change and the effect it could have on Scotland. So then I did some research and suddenly I had a world I could have my story set in. That the characters turned out to be bear shifters just happened somehow, it wasn’t planned. But most of the times I don’t plan much and the stories just develop by themselves.

What interested you in delving into this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I read my first reverse harem book about two years ago (Charcoal Tears by Jane Washington) and have read little else since then. I believe love comes in all shapes and forms, and why does it always have to be two people? It’s much more interesting as an author to have more than two main characters. It gives me the chance to get into their heads, explore their dynamics, have them interact in different ways. It’s a very fluid genre that is still evolving. When I started reading it, they were predominantly one woman with several men, but slowly, there are RHs with more than one woman emerging (like my own Ruined Heart Series). RHs can be fantasy or contemporary, they can have vampires or zombies, they can be set on Earth or on Mars. That’s the beauty of this genre - why choose!

What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did quite a bit of research on how the rising of the sea levels would change the world’s coast lines and climate, specifically in terms of Scotland. There are some great simulators online which show you how the world could look in the future.
But then there’s also been some other stranger research topics like the properties of bear milk…

Describe your typical working day. When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Until two weeks ago, I was working full time and mainly wrote during lunch breaks and evenings, as well as the entire weekend. But now I’ve reduced my hours at work, so I have two extra days a week to write. I’m still getting used to that, but usually I prefer to write in the afternoon for several hours in one go, but if that isn’t possible, then a few half-hour sprints throughout the day.
I write every day, at least 500 words, but on a good day it can be around 5,000 words.
I have a favourite cafe around the corner where I like to go. They all know me there by now and recently, the waitress even gave me some free hot chocolate because I started crying while writing a really sad scene.

Any new books in the making?
My next release is in two weeks so that’s what most of my time is being spent on. The book is called Into the Mists and is the second book in the Seven Wardens series that I co-write with the amazing Laura Greenwood. The series is a reverse harem full of Scottish mythology and legends and it’s great fun to write. Laura and I don’t really talk about what’s going to happen, we just go with the flow. That means that we usually destroy each other’s plot point, but we’ve noticed how well this method works for us and the readers seem to love the series as much as we do.
I’m also doing another co-writing project with Bea Paige, which is a retelling of Dante’s Inferno. It will be published in the Realms and Rebels box set in the summer.
And finally, I’m working on Winter Queen, the third novel in my Daughter of Winter series. I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t other projects I’m writing on in the background, but those are secret for now...
This year is going to be really exciting though!

Where do your ideas and inspiration come from?
I wish I knew! I have new ideas all the time, sometimes just out of nowhere, sometimes because of what I see on the news, or films, or just random images I find online. I have far too many ideas and far too little time to write them all down.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Finding the time. I have so many ideas and projects I’m working on, but there’s always so much else to do. But now that I’m working part-time, I’m hoping to have a lot more time for writing.

What do you think of using book trailers – do you think they are effective?
I’ve made a few book trailers, but I don’t know if they’ve been effective. I don’t have one for my latest release, but for the first book in the series:

What’s the best thing about being an author?
Being able to share stories with others and not keep them all penned up in my head. Basically, letting the voices in my head out into the open 😉

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Living on a Scottish islands with lots of bunnies and cats, maybe a child or two, and my very own library. And of course having lots of books published and read by a lot of lovely readers.

How long have you been writing for?
I’ve always written stories, even before I could properly write (I used to replace words I didn’t know how to spell with drawings). But I became more serious about it when I was sixteen and a friend entered one of my short stories into a competition. It won and got published, and I got the bug. I managed to get about a dozen short stories published in various anthologies, while starting to write a longer novel on the side. I wanted to become a writer but people kept telling me that wasn’t a “proper job”, so when I finished school, I studied Journalism and worked as a freelance science journalist for a while. With a stressful job that required a lot of creativity, I no longer had the energy to write prose in the evenings, so my writing took a backseat for a while... until spring last year, when I changed jobs and suddenly had the time and energy once again.

Do you have any writing advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t think you need to follow convention. I tried plotting and planning my novel and got frustrated whenever I didn’t manage to stick to my outline. Then someone asked, “Why don’t you just write without a plan?” and I tried that and ever since, I no longer take years to write a book but months or weeks. I just let it flow and let the characters make their own decision. If the book turns out to be totally different than expected, who cares as long as it’s a good story?

Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I try not to read them but usually I do. I never respond to them, unless I’m tagged in one on Facebook and then I usually say something “thanks for reading my book”. Sometimes the bad ones can be really helpful feedback that I like to take on board. If it’s just something like “I hated this book”, I try to ignore it. But if I ever get depressed by bad reviews, I look up some of my favourite books and look at their bad reviews – it shows how even those authors get them.

What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
The editing and all the other non-writing aspects that need to be done to get the book ready. Luckily I have an amazing formatter who makes them look pretty, so at least that bit is being taken care of.

Can you give us your social media links, tours etc. and details of any works-in-progress?

Here are some of my social media links and my website:
Twitter: @skye_mackinnon

I’ll be at a signing in Belfast in March: and in Edinburgh in May:

My next releases are Into the Mists on the 16th March, and Hidden on 16th April.

Thank you so much, Skye, and keep writing...!

Readers: find out why Skye’s fabulous entry Winter Princess, was the outright winner in our hotly-contested Captivating Opening competition:

 One sassy demi-goddess. Four hot Guardians. And a few evil people.

As a demi-goddess, Wyn has always stood out from the human crowd. And now, on her 22nd birthday, her magic finally surfaces with a bang. A Big bang. She’ll need the help of not one, but four (sexy) Guardians to control her destructive powers. If only they weren't so distracting...
Her mother, the Winter Queen, waits for Wyn in the Realms of Gods, but there are enemies who will try and prevent her from ever reaching the Realms, even if that means going to war.
Will Wyn be able to survive the journey? And if she does, can she resist falling for her Guardians?

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