Tuesday, May 1, 2018

MarcyKate Connolly Author Interview

Photo Credit: Cheryl Colombo Photography

MarcyKate Connolly is a children’s book author and nonprofit administrator living in New England with her husband and pugs. She graduated from Hampshire College with a double major in Music and Literature, and from Boston University with an MS in Arts Administration. Her debut middle grade fantasy series is available now from HarperCollins Children's Books and includes Monstrous and the companion novel, Ravenous. Previously, her short stories “Connected” and "Don't Pet the Ghosts" were published in the Spring Fevers Anthology and Summer's Double Edge Anthology by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. You can visit her online at www.marcykate.com.


Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby? 
I think I can mark that to around the time I was writing my fourth (never published) novel. I’d fallen in love with writing stories with my first few books and did try to get an agent for a couple of them, but that fourth novel was one that finally got some positive feedback from agents (even if they didn’t feel it was right for them) and that made me think that maybe I really could do this as more than just a hobby.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes? 

I’m not sure I can pinpoint a single book that’s changed my life, but certainly every book I read changes my perspective a little bit (and sometimes a lot). That’s one of the most incredible things about books – they allow you to empathize with people who are different and experiencing things outside of your own everyday life. Every book leaves you a little bit changed.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you? 

That I’m a classically trained soprano and when I was in college I wrote an opera as the equivalent of a senior thesis (the college was Hampshire College, a magical place where they don’t give you grades :P).

In your new book; SHADOW WEAVER, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel? 

Sure! SHADOW WEAVER is a fantasy adventure for readers who like books that are a little dark, a little creepy, and full of magic. SHADOW WEAVER is about Emmeline, a girl who talks to her shadow…and her shadow can talk back. She also has the talent of shadow weaving, which means she can make things out of shadows and control them. Unfortunately, her parents find her talent unnerving and when a noble from another territory visits and offers to remove her talent, they agree to send her away. Her shadow, Dar, makes a bargain with Emmeline: she’ll change the noble’s mind if Emmeline will help her become human. Emmeline agrees, but when Dar’s attempt to carry out her end goes horribly wrong, they are forced to flee their home.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Emmeline?
How hard it would be to write about shadow magic! It took some trial and error and lots of brainstorming to decide on the appropriate rules that made sense but would still be intriguing and useful to the plot. I’m very pleased with how it turned out!

What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face?
I’d say there’s two big ones that persist throughout an author’s career: self-doubt and the never-ending cycle of rejection. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing your career path to other authors and it’s one of the worst things you can possibly do. Even after you get a book deal, or a second or third deal, there’s always bigger fish, always authors getting better reviews, bigger contracts, movie deals, etc. It will make you crazy if you let in the little voice that tries to suggest you’re not good enough, you’re not a real author yet because you haven’t accomplished those things. But it’s a slippery beast, because the goal posts keeping moving. It’s great to have goals and things to strive for—it’s important, really—but just because your path there might be longer or different than someone else’s does not mean you or your books are failures.

This, of course, is compounded by rejection. It’s a fact of life in publishing. Not every book will sell, and that’s OK. It happens at all levels across the board. Doesn’t matter if you’ve sold zero books or twenty, rejection will come at some point from agents, editors, reviewers, readers, etc. You have to find a way to come to terms with that and it isn’t easy.

What was the most magical thing that happened while writing SHADOW WEAVER?
Definitely the way I got the idea for it. I’d been trying to find the right idea for my next book for a while and had kept striking out. But the best ideas always seem to come when you least expect it. Late one night I was in the shower and all of a sudden two images popped into my head in quick succession. The first was of a baby in a crib in a dark room with a mobile completely made of shadows spinning over her head. The second was of a baby who’d just been born but instead of reaching for her mother as instinct should have instructed her, she reached for the shadows in the corner of the room. I immediately recalled this other grain of a concept I’d tucked away a few months earlier that I thought would be a young adult book about a girl whose shadow is a living thing. I realized it would be so much better as a middle grade story. Hence Emmeline and her shadow, Dar, were born!

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Probably Coraline (of the novella by the same name) and Emmeline. They both are leads in fantasies for middle grade readers with a fair amount of creepiness and darkness. I think they’d have a lot to talk about!

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
My next book is COMET RISING, the sequel to SHADOW WEAVER! It will be out 1/1/19. After that, I have a co-authored book, THE STAR SHEPHERD that will be out in Fall 2019. It’s a heavily illustrated middle grade fantasy that takes place in a world where the light from the stars is the only thing that keeps the world safe from dark creatures. A boy, his dog, and the town baker’s daughter must race to rescue the stars and find his father, the local Star Shepherd, before too many stars fall from the sky. It will also contain many fantastic illustrations – I’m really excited about both upcoming books!

If you could live in any period in history, what would it be and why? 

You know, I’m really fond of modern amenities like toilets and showers and refrigerators and such, so I’d actually chose this current time period (though perhaps it might be fun to live through the 1980s as a teen or adult. But definitely modern times).

Most memorable summer job?
Probably that time I was an intern for an opera company during their summer teen opera camp and basically spent the entire session babysitting the director’s son instead.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
When I was in elementary school, maybe 4th or 5th grade, I was playing with my neighbor in her yard one evening when we saw a UFO zigzag overhead through the sky. I distinctly remember running across the yard together yelling and trying to see where it went. I don’t think anyone believed us because we did live near an airport, but I was 100% convinced. It was too round to be a plane and it was also soundless so not a helicopter either (plus neither of those things can zigzag and just disappear.) I was already pretty obsessed with the weird and wonderful and that experience solidified it!

What did you do for your last birthday? 

My husband and I went furniture shopping for my new office and some other rooms in the house. (I know that sounds super lame, but I was pregnant and nesting at the time, so it was actually perfect!)

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? 

Baby and caffeine. Sometimes, caffeine and baby.

Where can readers find you? 

Readers can find me online at marcykate.com, and on Twitter (@marcykate), Instagram (@marcykateconnolly), and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MarcyKateConnolly). I’m located in the Boston area and do events relatively regularly in New England – the events calendar on my website is always up to date with my next appearances!

In no particular order (I don’t think I could choose – I love them all!):
1. Harry Potter
2. Game of Thrones
3. The Dark is Rising Sequence
4. Grishaverse
5. Shadowhunters
6. Shannara
7. A Court of Thorns and Roses
8. Redwall
9. Xanth
10. Seraphina

Fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak and The Night Gardener will devour Shadow Weaver, the first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology that's filled with shadows, danger, magic, and has the feel of a new classic.

Emmeline's gift of controlling shadows has isolated her from the rest of the world, but she's grown to be content, hidden away in her mansion with Dar, her own shadow, as her only company.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble's mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble's guards on her trail, Emmeline's only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline's not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it's hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.


"[Connolly's] use of language and suspense is captivating, resulting in a gripping tale that is wholly original. Dark, yet dazzling, this first installment in a planned duology is sure to popular. A perfect choice for fans of Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon" Booklist, starred review

"Shadow Weaver is a spooky thriller filled with danger and magic... a fresh take on magic and friendship not to be missed.Shelf Awareness, starred review

"Fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak (2015) will find much the same chills and sequel-primed mystery here.Kirkus

"Vivid and invigorating." School Library Journal

"Connolly's narrative is full of meaningful moral lessons-on the limits of loyalty, the importance of honesty, and the absolute necessity of trusting others... an enchanting new juvenile fantasy series.Foreword Reviews

"This book contains plenty of action and intrigue to keep the reader turning pages. It is quick to read and contains enough unsolved mysteries to make the reader look forward to the next title in the series." School Library Connection

"The theme of friendship is handled deftly here... A gripping finale reveals the truth about the "cure" for magic, and readers will eagerly anticipate learning more in a promised sequel." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

You can purchase Shadow Weaver at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MARCYKATE CONNOLLY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Shadow Weaver (Shadow Weaver #1) by MarcyKate Connolly.


  1. I wanted to be like my parents and be a small business owner

  2. "When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?" A leading Egyptologist!

  3. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid.

  4. I wanted to be a librarian when I was a kid. I still do ;-)

  5. I wanted to be a sports star playing basketball or football.