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Author Interview: MC Foley


Synopsis:

A family, reeling from their eldest son's death, escapes to the Ice Hotel, where an age-old, arctic magic connects this world to the next...

To twin siblings Izzie and Poe McGarity, big brother Rossa is not just the eldest of three children. He is a hero, a leader, a king. Or rather... he was a king. Before his mistake. Before he died.

Haunted by visions of Rossa wherever they turn, the twins and their parents accept an invitation to the legendary Ice Hotel, an enormous structure built entirely from snow and ice, thousands of miles to the north, in the Arctic Circle. What the grief-stricken McGaritys don't know, is that the Ice Hotel will not only bring them face to face with frigid Arctic winds, powerful huskies built of fur and frost, magnetic fields, fluxes and levitation, mercenary Hunters, and a storm thundering towards the polar cap with the force of the cosmos itself; but also, it will bring them closer than they could ever imagine, to Rossa's last, greatest, and most impossible wish.*

(*the family encounters an arctic magic that enables them to see Rossa again, in another form)












Author Info:

MC Foley was born in Cebu, Philippines, raised in Virginia and resides in West Hollywood, CA. After winning second place in an elementary school poetry contest, Foley's fate was sealed.

From that day forward, Foley and the written word would never part. Years later, after winning a poetry slam competition in Oakland, MC Foley paid rent with the winnings, and began touring as a performance poet, doing shows across the U.S. and overseas, including tours through the UK and Denmark, where Foley performed on Denmark's national radio station, Radio P3.

Foley then wrote/acted lead in "The Coconut Masquerade," a play written entirely in verse and produced by Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco's SOMA district. Segments of "Coconut," were featured in theaters around the country including the national Hip Hop Theater Festival and LA's Greenway Court Theater.

Upon moving to LA, MC Foley continued writing plays, screenplays and teleplays until one awful Saturday in November when a phone call reminded Foley exactly just how fleeting our time is on this earth. After that day, the voices of Rossa, Izzie and Poe, as well as the multitude of stories that weave into The Ice Hotel, grew swiftly.

Until they were too loud to be ignored.

Interview:

1. When did you decide to start writing?

Writing took hold of me in elementary school. I have a clear memory of walking up to my parents when I was in first or second grade, and telling them I was going to be the youngest published author in history. Of course, that didn’t happen, but over the years I always wrote – sometimes without even thinking about it. I secretly won contests in high school (when I didn’t want people to know I loved writing poetry and plays, for some reason), I wrote and performed work in college, and immediately after college I toured internationally as a performance poet. It’s in my blood – partially because it always has been – and partially because I always write.


2. Why young adult?

I actually write everything – I am a weekly e-columnist on an entertainment industry newsletter, I’ve had plays produced in San Francisco and featured in U.S. festivals, had screenplays optioned, and etc... However, with this particular story, when it struck me, it took the shape of a fantasy YA story immediately. Growing up, I read books from Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Michael Ende (Neverending Story), JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), and Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) – to name a few – until the pages were worn – I obsessed over comics like X-Men, Excaliber and Elfquest with my brother, and I played Dungeons & Dragons with my brother and father. Fantasy infused my childhood and has stayed with me ever since. In fact, I often tell people I wish I lived in a traveling circus. And the “young adult” part came because of the nature of the story and its 12 y.o. protagonists. I, myself, appreciate books designated as YA because there seems to be more hope present in these stories.


3. Were you worried about the word count of your work?

No, not at all. I just created 3 bibles of research, mapped out the general story before writing, and then wrote until I’d taken the family to what felt like the end of the book.


4. Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?

I don’t know if I would call this a quirk – but perhaps someone else would: I am always inclined to include segments of verse in my writing. One of the plays I wrote that was produced in San Francisco – called “The Coconut Masquerade” – was written entirely in verse; a screenplay I wrote that was optioned in Los Angeles – called “Down and Out” – often broke into verse segments; and “The Ice Hotel” is part prose part verse. It has a lot to do with how my mind works, because what I love most about certain types of verse, is that it represents that space between what we think and what we say or do. It is the essence of thought. The purest representation of our internal world.

Oh – and in terms of ‘quirks’ in my writing habits – I suppose I’ll mention that I can often sit for 10 to 12 hour stretches, if needed, with nothing but a few snacks, my laptop, and my little chihuahua buddy, Chia – and just write. I don’t subscribe to that whole “writing is painful” / “I hate writing” school of thought. I love writing. It makes me feel whole and balanced. It is a form of meditation. And when I am consistently writing, I feel that I am doing what I was put upon this planet to do.


5. If you can describe your novel in one word, what would it be and why?

Hopeful.

If it had to be just one word, I would pick that one because that is what I was trying to find for myself when I was writing the book. It all began when I saw my friend, Bryan, on a Friday and got a call the very next day that he had died. He was young and healthy, in the prime of his life, and his death was not only shocking, it threw me, and many people I knew into a state of surreal grief. People would talk about being haunted by him – in a good way, of course. Some thought they saw Bryan walking down a street in Hollywood, others saw him at shopping centers or waiting tables at a local restaurant. And I, myself, woke up at 3am and saw him on a cooking show in my TV. I suppose it must have been our subconscious minds trying to come to terms with his loss, trying to tell ourselves that he was okay. Trying – in some way – to stare at the empty space where he used to be, and to find hope.


6. How did you decide on the title and what does it mean?

The title came very easily. It is based on the location where most of the story takes place: the real ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, inside the Arctic Circle. It is the very first hotel of its kind, build entirely out of snow and ice every winter for the last 20 years. Each year, sculptors travel to Jukkasjarvi to create unbelievable designs from a material that, by its very nature, parallels human existence. That is – it is born from the nearby Torne River, when the waters freeze at the start of winter and become ice. That ice is turned into a phenomenal hotel with rooms that are sculpted to look like anything from space ships to chessboards, dance floors with life-sized dancing couples, forests, and underwater scenes. And at the end of the winter, the entire hotel melts – returning back to the Torne River from where it came.

It is like the cycle of life: birth, existence, death. And, if you believe in this sort of thing – rebirth. Because each year, the cycle repeats itself.

I was immediately drawn to the ICE HOTEL for the story location because the story has everything to do with death, loss, rebirth, and acceptance of the cycle of human life. And I was also drawn to it because the actual location is mindblowing. It is a fully arctic environment that many of us have never and (maybe) will never see. Everything from the hotel itself, the dog sleds, arctic forests, and the Aurora Borealis – contribute to an almost other-worldly place that is, in fact, real.


7. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your novel?

I hope readers will enjoy the adventure that the McGarity family encounters on the road to overcoming the loss of their eldest son, Rossa. I also hope that anyone who has experienced the pain of loss can find, or at least think about, what I found through writing it – acceptance and hope... and possibly – the means to be unafraid of death. As it is just a part of the cycle.


8. Tell us a little about your road to publication.

Once I'd completed a solid first draft of the book, I began giving it to people for notes. One of these people was producer, Marvin V. Acuna (The Great Buck Howard). Again, this was just for notes or quick thoughts, but he called me in two days and said he'd read the entire thing, and that he wanted to work with me on this project. I took some of his notes, as well as other people's—and then Marvin sent the manuscript to his industry peers who gave even more thorough notes—off which I further honed the story. We then chose to do two things: 1) self-publish the novel to get it out in the world as soon as possible. And 2) begin formal discussions with the major publishers as well as the studios for the screen adaptation rights via Marvin's network.

This approach has been used by a number of successful authors. Christopher Paolini (Eragon), William P. Young (The Shack), Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box), Patrick Carman (The Land of Elyon, The Dark Hills Divide), etc. With rapid advances in digital technology, internet marketing and social media, it is clear that while traditional publishing houses are struggling, this does not mean that books are struggling.

And – to be quite honest, when you witness the sudden death of a friend at a young age, you are intensely aware that our time on this earth is brief. And if you have something you want to put out in the world, and there are obstacles to its distribution, you must not let these obstacles stop you, or make you wait another ten years. You must be relentless.


9. What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?

The same advice I give to myself each and every day: Write. Write like your life depends on it. Write like you need to do it in the same way you need to eat or breathe. Write without over thinking it. Write without wondering about the past or the future (unless you are thinking about these things as you write). Write without hoping for successes, or riches, or fame. Just write – because that is what you do – because you are a writer.

Best example I can give – the prologue to the prologue of The Ice Hotel, is a verse segment that I often re-read and am very satisfied with as a writer. And it came to me on a day when I was tired, bored with myself, and totally uninspired to write. I look at it now and I often think – if I had allowed myself to not write. To just say “I’m tired, I have no idea what to write, I have writer’s block,” etc ... then that section would never have found its way to the page, to the book, to other readers. Anyone curious to see this segment can go to the Amazon page for “The Ice Hotel” and click “look inside this book” to read that one page prologue to the prologue. It begins with... “One of the worst things in the world to lose... is hope”

Blogger Remarks:

I would like to take this time to thank MC for giving us her time. It's been a pleasure. I'm currently reading The Ice Hotel for review, so watch out for that. If you want to learn more about this amazing author and her work, you can visit the Ice Hotel website by clicking here.

"The Ice Hotel" fantasy YA novel now available! Order your copy here:  http://www.theicehotelbook.com/
http://www.thebusinessofshowinstitute.com/newsletter.html (weekly article - Business of Show Institute) 

6 comments:

  1. Hi, hope it's OK to contact you here. We would love to include your blog on our giveaway search engine: Giveaway Scout (http://www.giveawayscout.com). Have a look and if interested, use our online form to add your blog (http://www.giveawayscout.com/addblog/ ). thanks, Josh

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  2. I remember the day you texted me that you'd received this in the mail. The cover of the book looks fantastic and the synopsis has me excited about acquiring this once I actually find it in the shelves. Great author interview, Kate!

    P.S. I'm grinning at that little bit of bio that states that the author was born in Cebu. :D

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  3. I thought you might like that, si-fu. :-)

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  4. :D Hee hee. I hope this turns out to be available via FB or Powerbooks. I'd really like to read it. :)

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  5. Hi Kate! Just wanted to update you that THE ICE HOTEL is now being adapted to screen by 2011 Oscar nominees for Best Original Screenplay, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson of THE FIGHTER

    It's very exciting! Thank you so much for taking interest in the book last year**

    Cheers,
    mc

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  6. Wow, MC! That's really big! I can't wait to see it on the silver screen. Please continue to keep me posted. :-)

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