1. Tell me about your book The Right of Wands and where you got your inspiration for it?
It’s the first of a new epic fantasy series, debuting in March, written for those who are 8 years and older. The story came to me in 2006 while on a road trip to Indiana to see the LOTR Traveling Exhibition at the Indiana State Museum, featuring costumes, props, etc from the fantasy movie trilogy The Lord of The Rings.
2. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?
Fantasy. I admit I have a strong fascination, or maybe even obsession, with swords and sword fighting. I also admire the elaborate fashion from that time. And of course, who doesn’t like a wee bit of magic?
3. Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so what was it?
Writing is A LOT harder than it looks. If someone tells you that writing is easy, don’t believe them. It’s one thing to write a story, it’s another thing to actually finish it. There are so many people out there who falsely believe they will write the next bestseller on the first try. I cannot tell you how many drafts I had to write before I finally got it right!
4. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
A, and let me emphasize, a character hijacked my story. His name is Mierta McKinnon, one of the lead characters in The Rite of Wands. He is a very complex, colorful character, and believe me, he lets me know if I don’t have something right lol! He is a prime example of a character that has a life of their own.
5. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
A bit of both. The first character that came to me, for example, was the warlock, Orlynd. I always envisioned him to be a mentor like Obi-Wan, yet he is burdened because he has the ability to interpret the future. He really feels like he’s an outcast, which is something I can relate to. Fitting into this world while trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do, is something I have always struggled with.
6. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to see play the lead?
MATT SMITH! (Did you hear that, Hollywood?)
Going back to the previous question though, I wrote the character Mierta specifically for Matt. Those who are fans of his in particular will recognize some of his infamous Smithisms in the character.
I am one of those people who believe that people come into your life for a reason. I can honestly say if I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to meet him at Wizard World in Chicago, IL, this book would be still sitting somewhere in my writing office unfinished. Completely serious. Matt has some kind of “magic” about him, I can’t really explain. But whatever it was, seems to have cast a spell on my muse. So, instead of fighting it, I went with it, and turned Matt, so to speak, into a wizard. Wizards are cool!
7. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?
What motivates me is being told I won’t succeed. I know that sounds odd, but I’ll elaborate. Back in 200, I was at the airport in Orlando waiting for the plane to arrive to take my Dad and I back to Cleveland, OH. I was working on a scene, which happens in a later book in the series. There was a young girl who looked about my age with her Dad sitting across from us. They asked what I was writing about, so I mentioned a little bit about it. Afterward, my Dad smiled and told them that I was writing a fantasy series, and that I would never finish it. I was shocked, embarrassed and hurt by the outburst. Even as I am recalling that moment now, it still angers me! But that’s where he went wrong. Not only did I write it, not only did I finish it, I found a company to PUBLISH it!
8. What was your most defining moment in life?
My most defining moment was when I got to work for actress Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman – The Young and the Restless) as her webmaster back in 2004. Not many can say at 18 years-old that they got to live their dream. It still is pretty surreal that it even happened.
At the time, I was running a fan website that I put together myself because I wanted a place her fans to go to. There wasn’t any official website or twitter or anything like that then. I can’t remember what prompted Mel to go online. I did write her a fan letter stating I had made a website for her, so maybe it was that that prompted the adventure lol. Anyway, she was so impressed that she emailed me and told me to contact her agent. As you can imagine, I was sceptical. I mean why would a celebrity want to contact me? LOL! I did and was shocked to find out it was legit. Then months went by and I didn’t hear anything more, and I kept running the fan site as if the conversation never happened.
Then I got a phone call from a producer of the daytime talk show Soap Talk! They had heard about MTS wanting to hire me, and they were going to have her on their show as a guest, and thought it would be a cool surprise to fly me out there and surprise her! So, they flew me out to Hollywood, and we recorded a video to make it appear like I had heard about her being on the show, but wasn’t able to be there. They played it on the show while I was hiding backstage. I could hear Mel state she was hoping she could meet me someday, too, not having any idea I was waiting for the doors to the stage to open so I could surprise her. Really, the whole experience was like an amazing dream. I got to meet her personal assistant, her publicist (whom I’m still friends with and work with on website projects on occasion!), got to see her home, the set of The Young and the Restless, see a photoshoot with CBS Soaps In Depth, and even got to see her renew her vows with her husband, Edward Scott.
Sadly though, good things sometimes have to come to an end. After almost 3 years working for her, she decided to go in another direction. It wasn’t until about a year or so ago I learned what really was going on at the time, which now if I could back, I wish I had known because she doesn’t know we also have THAT personal thing in common.
Celebrities are really no different than you and me. They simply make a lot more money than most people. J
9. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Absolutely! As a reader, if I really like the cover, I’m already intrigued in the story without even knowing what it’s about.
10. Do you think giving away books for free works and why?
Yes and no. I have been part of some amazing book launches, featuring authors and books I would never been exposed to otherwise. Because of these launches, these authors have been able to introduced to new readers. On the other hand, I have seen authors who give away their books for free in hopes it will bring in new sales, which is a great marketing strategy, especially if they are trying to sell a series. However, while some authors do have a number of extra downloads, I can admit myself as a reader I have a number of books on my kindle I have downloaded for free and have YET to read them! So, you can run into that kind of problem, too.
11. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
The whole review process system is flawed honestly. For example, Amazon has changed their review process so much half of the time you don’t know if they are going to allow a legit review or delete it. And Goodreads doesn’t have any process what so ever to prove the person reviewing actually read the book they read, permitting trolls to just give you a 1-star review without reading the book (which happened to me before my book wasn’t even published!).
On the other hand, I know a lot of readers who won’t buy a book if it has all 5 stars because they think the author has gotten a bunch of people to give them 5 stars just for the rating, whether that be true or not. Instead they want to see a book get a 1 or 2 star so they know it’s safe to buy. So, those who think that giving a book a 1 star is hurting the author, you’re wrong. It is actually doing the opposite.
12. What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
The toughest criticism given to me was that I had no structure to my story. I had a lot of good ideas, but no structure. That is one of the worst things an author wants to hear. But in all honesty, the person who told me that was correct. You see, Part 2 of my novel, was written before Part 1, and if you take Part 1 out completely, there IS no structure!
13. What makes you cry?
This may sound odd, but I don’t generally cry. If I do, it’s normally because I’m so angry I cannot hold it in anymore. I grew up believing that crying was a sign of weakness. I was also bullied horrifically by students, teachers, and people I trusted most of my childhood and teenage life, so that really affected me psychologically. My writing allows me to express myself and truly show my vulnerable side.
14. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I do! I work full-time at call center for a bank. I generally spend my afternoon and evenings speaking with customers on the phone about their various banking issues, then come home, and write, or read my kindle while I unwind.
15. Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Don’t give up, and if someone tells you can’t do something, don’t believe it. As one of my dear friends has said, sometimes in order for something to happen, you have to give to the universe, and the universe in turn, gives back.
One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever
And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.
Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.
But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.
Mackenzie Flohr grew up in Strongsville, OH, chasing leprechauns and rainbows and dreaming of angels. Her parents nurtured a love of fantasy and make-believe by introducing her at a very young age to the artistic and cultural opportunities that the state of Ohio had to offer. While following her love of adventure, Mackenzie found a second home at the Beck Center for the Arts Children's and Teen Theater School. It was there that a world of wonder was only a script and a performance away.
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