Friday, October 29, 2021

Kale Lawrence Interview - The Magi Menagerie

Photo Content from Chelsea Sedoti

Since the early age of 6, Kale Lawrence knew she either wanted to be an astronaut or an author. Obviously, the astronaut gig didn’t work out, so instead, Kale turned to fantastic √∂ctional worlds. When Kale is not writing creatively, she works as a Marketing Manager at a pet product company, and pretends she’s an Olympic swimmer at the gym. She has also served as a board member for the South Dakota Writes organization. In addition to books, Kale has lent her writing prowess to television, and her writing has been featured on nationwide PBS television programming, NBC newscasts, ABC newscasts, and the Travel Channel.

Kale currently lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with her feisty tortoiseshell calico cat, 
Emma Bug and  assy Siamese, Seattle Bean.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Just the ability to hear from those who really loved the story has blown my mind. To hear that my characters have made an imprint in imaginations across the world is incredibly rewarding. Honestly, this is every author’s dream, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Greatest thing you learned at school?
The greatest thing wasn’t something I learned in class, but when I was at university, I learned how to be truly confident in myself and my creative work. This confidence launched me into my future and has stuck with me even now, a decade later. It’s so important to harness that because it’s a driving factor in success. Confidence takes time to develop but once you have it, you can do anything you set your mind to.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Currently, I’m working with an incredibly talented voice actor to produce the audiobook for The Magi Menagerie. I’m also working on Book 2: The Magi Manifesto, which is slated to release December 13, 2022! In addition to all that, I’m playing around with some ideas for a Kindle Vella series, which will be more of a contemporary YA paranormal story. I like to stay busy. J

Can you tell us when you started THE MAGI MENAGERIE, how that came about?
Back in 2017, I came up with the title on a whim but that was the extent of it. Two years later in 2019, inspiration hit me in the face during a work trip, and I came up with the bones of the story that I instinctively knew was The Magi Menagerie. It took me two years to write, edit, rewrite, re-edit, and go through the publishing process. Now that it’s here, it’s a dream come true.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
It’s my wish that readers see themselves in one or more of the characters and know that there is hope, even in the darkest situations. On a more lighthearted note, I hope they can imagine the events of the book like a Netflix series because one must keep a positive mindset. ;)

  • 1. A good portion of The Magi Menagerie was written in hotels across the country. Some notable locations included Rapid City, SD; Hershey, PA; Omaha, NE; and Sioux Falls, SD.
  • 2. While researching if seagulls frequented Belfast skies, I came across an article from the BELFAST TELEGRAPH from 2014 detailing how seagulls were killing and eating pigeons in the city. This inspired the exchange between Henry and Jonas in Chapter Six discussing the very same topic, and it ultimately ended up in the published version as a cheeky nod to actual, more recent events.
  • 3. In addition to writing, I am experienced with graphic design and layouts. I designed all the multi-media elements in the story (telegrams, letters, newspapers, etc.)
  • 4. While the published book includes three points of view, the original draft had seven. Needless to say, having so many POVs was incredibly overwhelming and was eventually paired down to three as a nod to the “three” wise men.
  • 5. Ezra shares the same birthday as my dad (besides the year) and Aja shares the same birthdate as me.
  • 6. I had the song “Dangerous Night” by Thirty Seconds to Mars on repeat as I mapped out the events of books 1, 2, and 3. It was so instrumental (pardon the pun) in getting me in the mood to write that I named Chapter 41 after it.
  • 7. I’ve never been to any of the settings of the story but did extensive Google Map and Street View sessions to get a feel for the various places. I also dug up blueprints of the British Museum and the Royal Observatory from the early 1900s to assist in describing the locations to the best of my ability.
  • 8. I have both Dutch and Irish heritage, which inspired the background for Jonas and Kierra. Also, I pulled the names Evert and Diederik directly from my family tree. I have no idea why I gave them to such terrible characters, but here we are.
  • 9. The character of the Shahmaran did not come about until the third draft. She was so intriguing that my editor asked me to weave more of her into the narrative.
  • 10. The Magi Menagerie is the first project I was able to write after a long creative drought and struggle with depression. Just the fact I was able to create again, to publish again, means the world to me.
What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Ezra?
When I dove into Ezra’s character, I started learning about his culture almost from scratch. I learned more about the Islamic faith and Turkey during the Ottoman Empire. I learned about Turkish folklore and symbolism that eventually became threads in the tapestry of this story. Most surprisingly during the process, I learned that his character was the hardest to finesse. It took about four revisions of the story to finally see him in complete clarity, whereas other characters, like Jonas and Diego, were easier to create.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Jonas to Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. I honestly think they’d get along quite well. More than likely, they would bond over tea and talk about the injustices of the world and the prejudices people harbor.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
My younger sister and I would make homemade costumes and “perform” for our parents. Usually, these skits were blatant rip offs of the Lion King or The Little Mermaid but despite the material, we got some laughs and applause, and I think that’s all we really wanted.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Go on an adventure by yourself. Travel somewhere new with just you and your luggage. It’s the best feeling in the world! You are so free and the experiences are even more memorable. Plus, you call the shots on the itinerary, so the world is your oyster.

Best date you've ever had?
My best dates are non-romantic friend dates because those are always 100 percent better than actual dates I went on. One that stands out is when I accompanied my good friend Alisa to Valley Fair Amusement Park in Minnesota and we were stuck upside down on a ride, just waiting for it to start swinging again. We were just screaming, “OH MY GOSH, WHAT THE?!”

What was the first job you had?
I had the best first job in the world: I worked as an assistant at my local library! I got to be around books all day, talk about books all day, and basically live in bookland. I loved every minute of it.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I’d go back to September of 2016 and relive that Bahamian Disney cruise with my sister. Best vacation ever!

Most memorable summer?
Probably the summer I worked at Disney World in Florida. It was hard work, and I wasn’t so fond of it then, but it has left a lasting impression on me. I cannot tell you how many days go by when I think about my time there. It was truly magical.

First Heartbreak?
When I confessed my heart to my crush, and he had to tell me he was gay. Oops. No, it was all good; he was an amazing friend and I always appreciated how careful he was of my feelings.

What according to you is your most treasured possession?
My mind – because it holds this vivid imagination, without which I would not be able to create.

Where can readers find you?
Readers can find me on Instagram - @kalelawerence and on TikTok - @authorkalelawrence. (I’m still getting the hang of this TikTok thing, so bear with me. ;) )

Some stars aren't meant to be followed...

For seventeen years, Ezra Newport and his parents were habitual immigrants, traveling from their Ottoman Empire home across 20th century Europe. As the Newports migrate to Belfast, Ireland, Ezra wants nothing more to settle into a consistent life and lay the foundation of his architectural dreams. But after a strange, mechanical bounty hunter murders his mother and prompts the disappearance of his father, Ezra discovers that his parents had actually been on the run. Now, their enemies are targeting him, and they won’t stop until he is dead.

In a moment of desperation, Ezra’s fate collides with the Third Order of the Magi, a secret society dedicated to using their supernatural powers to protect their communities. With increasing violence around the world, the Magi are fairly certain they know who’s behind the attacks on Ezra and his family since the same group could also be threatening their own existence.

Both Ezra and the Magi’s survival hinges on knowledge only Ezra’s father has and the key to saving them could be buried within history itself. In a race across continents and time, both Ezra and the Magi must secure an ancient Babylonian artifact before hell is unleashed on the world. And, against all odds, Ezra must decide where his allegiances truly lie, despite what is written in the stars.

You can purchase The Magi Menagerie at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you KALE LAWRENCE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Magi Menagerie by Kale Lawrence.


  1. I flew from upstate New York back to Kansas

  2. I don’t remember, it was too many years ago.

  3. My first airplane ride was to Europe to see the Oberammergau Passion Play put on every 10 years in Germany. I was the youngest on the trip at 17 and my granny was the oldest at 70. We capital hopped and visited 8 countries in 3 weeks while on Global Tours.