Today, I’m welcoming to the blog KA Last, whose newest novel IMMAGICA has just come out. It’s about a girl who gets transported into a book and a land of mythical creatures and strange people. Doesn’t that sound awesome already?
Where anything is possible.
Enter at your own risk.
The night before her fifteenth birthday, Rosaline Clayton uncovers a deep family secret. She receives an amulet from her deranged father, and he tells her she must find the book in order to save him. Rosaline is used to her dad not making any sense, so she dismisses their conversation as another of his crazy rants.
When Rosaline’s brother, Elliot, drags her to their nana’s attic to explore, they find the old leather-bound book tucked away in a chest. It sucks them into its pages, transporting them to a magical world. Along the way, Rosaline and Elliot are separated, and the only thing she wants is to find her brother and go home.
Anyway, I put a few questions to KA, and she obliged me with answers! 🙂
What inspired you to write Immagica?
I get story ideas all the time, but this one really stuck in my head, and I needed to get it out. The original idea stemmed from a fleeting thought I had: what would the world be like for someone who was deprived of their childhood, and had never been allowed to use their imagination? I wanted to find out what would happen if that person was given the opportunity to go to a place where anything was possible, and Immagica was born.
Cool! I’d hate to have never used my imagination. Where did the idea roughly come from?
One of my favourite books is The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I also love Narnia, Oz and Alice. I love the concept of travelling to a different world in some way, especially through the pages of a book, but I wanted to put my own special twist on it. I asked myself what a world would be like where it could be made, governed and controlled by imagination. The idea for Immagica actually started with the amulet. One night I was sitting in my recliner and I started doodling. About half an hour later I had my first rough sketch of how the amulet looks now. I took the amulet and made it the centre of Immagica, and the Eye was born. Everything else pretty much stemmed from there. In essence, Immagica is a portal fantasy adventure with fairies and a unicorn.
I’ll admit that I’m biased towards portal fantasies already (I’m planning one at the moment!), but I like that you didn’t start with the world, but, instead, an object vital to the world. That’s more unusual in epic/adventure fantasy writing. 🙂 How long did the process take from writing the first draft of Immagica to publishing?
Um…a really long time. It’s been a little over two years. I finished the first draft in November 2011, and it took less than three months to write. The story is quite different now than it was back then, and as first drafts go, Immagica was awful. I went through four versions before I thought it was ready for submissions, and it did get a full manuscript request from Random House Australia. While it was on submission to them, it sat in the drawer and collected dust. Unfortunately, they declined publication, so I decided to dust it off, spruce it up and publish it myself.
Did you encounter any major setbacks on the way?
Oh yes, definitely. Immagica needed a major restructure, plot holes fixed, characters developed, you name it, and this story needed it. Just ask any of my beta readers the hell I went through with this book. I re-wrote a major chunk of it and added 10k of new story. It went from being around 59k to 69k. The biggest setback was when I didn’t meet my own deadline. I originally wanted to publish in November 2013, but life got in the way and it just wasn’t possible. I beat myself up about it for a while, and then I scraped myself off the floor and moved on. I wanted to release the best book I could, and back in November it just wasn’t ready.
Aww, man. Luckily it’s out here now. 🙂 Which authors influenced you when writing Immagica and in general?
I’m influenced by pretty much everything I read in some way. For those who have read Immagica, you’ll notice certain references to particular books, so I guess I was influenced by The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Other authors I really admire are Stephen King, Markus Zusak, Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, Karen Mahoney, Nikki Jefford… I could go on forever.
Readers of this blog will know that I have a certain love for Lewis Carroll myself, so I definitely approve of your influences! Next question: Did you consciously think about a certain writing style when writing Immagica, or did it just flow?
I don’t usually think too much about style. I let the story determine how it needs to be written. For instance, my first book, Fall For Me, was written in first person with multiple POV, because I knew there would be so many things happening that couldn’t possibly be told by one person. Immagica on the other hand needed to be all about Rosaline. It was one of those stories that in the beginning flowed out of my fingers, onto the keyboard, and into my Word doc. The first draft was the easy part. Re-writing, editing, re-writing again, and again, and then editing more, was where it got hard.
When you’re a teenager there are a lot of firsts. First day of high school, first big fight with your bestie, first date, first kiss, and the list is endless. Everything is so new, and exciting, and unpredictable. I love writing for a young adult market because I get to live all these exciting and unpredictable events all the time. But it’s also more than that. I love figuring out how teenagers tick, and I think writing for a younger audience in some ways is more of a challenge.
Haha, oh, don’t I know! I guess my use of NA characters shows my want to get away from teenagehood. Any particular reason Rosaline is fifteen?
In the first draft of Immagica, Rosaline was actually twelve. I thought she was too young to deal with all the things she had to face, so I made her old enough to cope with most of it, but young enough to freak out at the appropriate times. I also think fifteen is a good age for a MC when your target audience ranges from twelve and upwards, and Immagica is a story that can be enjoyed by people of most ages.
Who is your favourite character from Immagica? And why?
That’s like asking me to choose a favourite between my two children. I’m pretty close to Rosaline because the story is from her POV, but I can’t really call her my favourite. I don’t have a favourite because I love all my characters, even the secondary ones, but there are some that are more fun to write. With Immagica, I enjoyed fleshing out Lex’s character. He is so much deeper than he might appear on the surface. At this stage Immagica is a standalone book, but there could be room for Lex to grow sometime in the future.
Thanks for those answers, KA. I’m looking forward to start reading IMMAGICA and discovering the world you have built up. Readers, IMMAGICA is out now and you can buy it: Goodreads, Amazon (ebook and paperback), Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and ibooks.
About the author:
K. A. Last was born in Subiaco, Western Australia, and moved to Sydney with her parents and older brother when she was eight. Artistic and creative by nature, she studied Graphic Design and graduated with an Advanced Diploma. After marrying her high school sweetheart, she concentrated on her career before settling into family life. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she began writing to let off creative steam, and fell in love with it. K. A. Last is currently studying her Bachelor of Arts at Charles Sturt University, with a major in English, and minors in Children’s Literature, Art History, and Visual Culture. She resides in a peaceful, leafy suburb north of Sydney with her husband, their two children, a rabbit named Twitch, and a guinea pig called Squeak.