Friday, January 15, 2016

Interview with Rory B Mackay, THE KEY OF ALANAR

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
'The Key of Alanar' is the first official book in 'The Alanar Ascendant' series, although it was preceded by 'Eladria', which serves as a prelude to the series in much the same was as 'The Hobbit' did to 'Lord of the Rings'.

'The Key of Alanar' tells the story of David, a teenage boy on the run from a brutal enemy intent on seizing him. An orphan uncertain of his origin, David possesses a unique gift that will either save or destroy his world. Featuring alien invasions, time travel, cyborg soldiers, cities in the sky, angels, demons, dragons and a world full of different races, cultures and creatures, 'The Key of Alanar' is a hugely epic yet intimate, emotional rollercoaster of a story blending fantasy with science-fiction and metaphysics.

Do you have a favorite character?
David is a complex character who was wonderful to write. He's very definitely the hero, but along the course of the story, he becomes in danger of stepping over to the dark side. In some respects 'The Key of Alanar' is a psychological thriller and at the core of the story is a battle being waged inside the mind and heart of the lead character. Will David succumb to his demons, both inner and outer, or will he find his true inner strength and become all that is he capable of being? The fate of his entire world rests with him. No pressure or anything!

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
I've done both. 'Eladria' was traditionally published, and 'The Key of Alanar' is published by my own new publishing company.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
As with everything in life, there are pros and cons to traditional publishing and self-publishing. With traditional publishing, a lot of the pressure is off in terms of having someone to do all the practical things for you: editing, typesetting, printing, distribution and rudimentary promotion. However, there are pressures that mitigate that. You relinquish control of the final product, you give away the rights, and if your book fails to sell X many copies in the first few weeks, you find that a publisher suddenly isn't quite as on your side as you might think. I was unhappy about certain things that did or didn't happen with my publisher, and was only contracted to them for one book, so I decided to release the rest of this series on completely my own terms. I'm glad that I did that, even though it has given me some extra pressures. It's been worth it. Traditional publishers are struggling and the landscape is changing all the time. I believe that, unless someone already has quite a name for themselves and a publisher willing to invest the necessary time and money into promoting their work, that self-publishing may be the best and option for many authors.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I was greatly involved. I had a very clear idea what I wanted and even created my own mock up cover design. It looked pretty neat too, but the final design is much better. I loved working with the designer, who patiently implemented any changes I asked for, and I think the result looks pretty cool!

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
When writing first draft, I need complete silence. I shut myself away and endeavor to get into a creative flow. If I find myself struggling over parts and going over the same sentence or paragraph again and again, trying to 'perfect' it, I usually have to give myself a little kick and move on!

The first draft, I've found, should be written as fast as possible to get into a flow of writing. The editing stage should be held off as long as possible, otherwise it literally takes weeks to write a single chapter (or even page! Ha!). Once I have my bare-bones first draft, then I edit the heck out of it, often rewriting each sentence several times. I lost track of the number of drafts 'The Key of Alanar' went through over the best part of a decade! When editing I can happily listen to music, as long as it is non-vocal (or at least with no vocals in English, such as bands like Sigur Ros). I find ambient electronic music especially good for editing work, from Vangelis and Brian Eno to Carbon Based Lifeforms and Solar Fields.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I'm an outline man. I need to have a map of the territory before I set off. I think, as a fantasy/sci-fi writer, you really have to. When it comes to world building, it takes considerable time to develop a world, its history, races and culture, and that's to say nothing of the plot. I need to have a clear idea of how the story unfolds, and how all the elements tie together. As I go, lovely little nuances and details present themselves and flesh out the story, but the plot is in place before I write the first word.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
Yes! I love animals and nature. Daily walks with my dogs are just heaven for me. I meditate, do qigong and love cooking, and make art and music when I have the time and energy. I'm a philosopher, environmentalist, social activist and advocate of a resource based economy as a needed alternative to our current socio-economic system. I also make great cake. I love cake.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Dogs! Dogs are cool. I like both chocolate AND vanilla – which I prefer really depends upon the context! Love both coffee and tea, but I tend to drink more tea. Love amaretto coffee in the morning first thing, and redbush or chai throughout the day. I tend to text more due to time and convenience. And I prefer day – I love blue skies and sunshine although I also adore looking up at a clear night sky and staring up in wonder at the stars.

What’s next for you?
I'm hard at work on 'Shattered Time', the follow-up to 'The Key of Alanar' and am hoping it will be released in 2016! Following that, I will complete the final book in The Alanar Ascendant series and then, who knows? I certainly have a great many ideas for future books and am also toying with the idea of releasing books in different ways or formats, such as multi-media projects or graphic novels. I want to explore different ways of sharing stories!

Book & Author Details:
The Key of Alanar by Rory B. Mackay
(The Alanar Ascendant #1)
Publication date: August 15th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lasandria: an ancient, advanced civilization, consigned to oblivion by the greed and power-lust of its own people. The coming apocalypse heralds the arrival of a new evil that will ravage the world of Alanar for an entire age. Yet on the eve of Lasandria’s destruction, the ethereal overseers of the mortal realm grant a dispensation—a promise of hope for the future.

That hope lies with an orphaned teenager named David, born some ten millennia later; a boy whose isolated and uncertain existence leads him on a journey upon which hinges the fate of not just his world, but countless others.

On the run from a brutal military force, David’s quest is one born of shattered dreams and tainted by the thirst for revenge. As an inter-dimensional war that has been waged since the beginning of time threatens to consume his world, the dark force that destroyed Lasandria lurks in the shadows, ready to take possession of the one thing that will either save Alanar or destroy it: David.


A natural born writer, thinker and dreamer, Rory Mackay was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1979. As an ardent student of Vedanta, Zen and Taoism, one of Rory’s true passions is exploring the potential of fiction and art to elevate mood and expand consciousness.

Rory is the author of the visionary fantasy/sci-fi novels “Eladria” (2013) and “The Key of Alanar” (2015), as well as a translation and commentary of the Tao Te Ching (2014) and several short stories. He is in the process of writing a self help book and writes a regular blog at

Author links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway