Kathy McCullough is the author of “Don’t Expect Magic” & “Who Needs Magic?”. Kathy is a screenwriter and a novelist who currently lives in L.A. Don’t Expect Magic is her first novel! I really enjoyed reading Don’t Expect Magic and I loved the humor factor that was in the book. You can find Kathy several places I will link her goodreads page, her website and her twitter username so you can contact her or find out about her books if you want to!
What inspired you to write your first book?
Although I’m a screenwriter, I’d wanted to write novels for a long time. I liked the trend of YA books using re-invented fairy tale characters, and I thought it would be fun to focus on a teen fairy godmother. And that’s how “Don’t Expect Magic” was born! To make it more interesting, I knew she had to resent being an “f.g.,” and the story developed from there.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I always have at least a broad outline. This comes from being trained as a screenwriter, where structure is everything. However, I used to work on the outlines a lot more, and added a lot of details before I started writing, but now I try to get a draft down as fast as possible and work out the details later.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
It matches my sensibility. I love to read all genres, but I enjoy writing humor – and I have to enjoy the writing or I’ll find all sorts of ways to put off doing it!
Are you currently reading anything, if so what are you reading?
At the moment, I’m reading “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, which is as far away from what I write as you can get!
Have there been any books that really impacted your life?
My favorite book when I was a kid was “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle. As an adult, I’ve been wowed by a number of books, from very short (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote) to very long (“All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren), from whimsical (“Princess Bride” by William Goldman) to tragic (“Mountain Lion” by Jean Stafford). I could go on and on!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Good question! Hmm…If I made a list of all the books I’ve read and loved, there is one author who would show up the most: Edith Wharton. There is something about her writing style that I really love. I admire almost all of her books, but my favorites are those with a dark, biting sense of humor, especially “Custom of the Country.” I also love her short stories.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I don’t experience writer’s block, but I do often feel overwhelmed by the roughness of early drafts and have to push myself to keep going. Luckily, I really like revision, which is good because I have to do a LOT of it.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
My editor, Wendy Loggia, wisely pointed out to me in the original draft of “Don’t Expect Magic” that I was rushing from plot point to plot point – betraying my screenwriter roots! I had to expand and deepen the story a lot before it was published. It was a great learning process and I had a much easier time with “Who Needs Magic?”
What has been the best compliment?
I’ve gotten some very sweet emails from readers and it’s hard to choose among them. “Don’t Expect Magic” also received some really nice reviews, which made me happy. The most surprising and fun response was from a teen reader who did some fan art inspired by the book. I thought that was so wonderful!
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or is it all purely imagination?
I like writing about characters whose personalities and stories are different from mine, because I find it more interesting than my own life. Of course, real life does sneak in a little bit. For instance, Delaney moves from New Jersey to Southern California and I made a similar move: from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Other small details, like locations, are often inspired by things I know or have experienced.
How did you come up with the characters names?
“Delaney Collins,” the name of the protagonist in “Don’t Expect Magic” and “Who Needs Magic?,” just came to me! I discovered later that there’s a Canadian speed skater with the same name, as well as a lovely man from the Midwest who sent me a nice email when he read about my book. “Flynn,” “Posh” and “Cadie” also just popped into my head. Some of the teachers are named after friends. If I get stuck on a name, I either consult a running list I keep of names I like or flip through one of two books of baby names I have.
Which character was your favorite to write about?
Delaney is a force of nature, so she was very fun to write in both books. Second to Delaney is a new character in “Who Needs Magic?” named Ariella. She’s another teen fairy godmother, with whom Delaney gets into a rivalry. In many ways, she’s Delaney’s opposite, but her personality is equally strong.
Are you working on anything new at the moment? And if so can you tell us about it?
I’m working on a new YA book with slightly older characters, although the tone is similar to that of the “Magic” books (but the story is reality-based). I have a few other ideas for teen books, some of which include a little fantasy and others which are wholly realistic.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I am very grateful to everyone and anyone who took the time to read the first book. Every complimentary email or tweet I get means so much to me. It’s amazing to me that what I wrote is out there in the world, being read by people I’ll never know about!
Thanks, Kelsy for these great questions and for your support of the book.