The Official M.L John Website

The Official M.L John Website

About M.L John

Q) Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

A) Honestly I think it was genetic. I never had a choice. My mother filled my head with stories, many that she had written herself, from the time I was so small that I had no way to defend myself. I can only hope that I got to my own children while they were similarly defenseless.

Q) How long have you been writing?

A) I have literally been writing ever since I was old enough to learn how. I started making up stories and poems as soon as I could string words into sentences. The first thing I ever wrote was a poem about a woman with eighteen children who died of the plague. How warped is that? I can’t even tell you where I learned about the plague.

Q) Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

A) I have been influenced by Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Garth Nix, and of course Neil Gaiman. These writers were some of the first to pen urban fantasy and prove to a jaded planet that magic still exists in our concrete jungles. But the most influential of these was T.A. Baron, author of The Ancient One and the Merlin series. He gets special props because I met him when I was in the seventh grade, and he said to me, “You want to be a writer? It’s not easy, but it can be really rewarding.” How’s that for influence? I still have the copy of his book that he signed for me. Awww, now I’m all nostalgic!

Q) Why did you choose to write in your particular genre?

A) I chose to write fantasy because I fell in love with it as a child. The first novel I ever read in the first grade was L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. Seriously, there’s an Emerald City, a talking scare crow, and flying monkeys. How could any other genre compete with flying monkeys? I also love fantasy because there are so few constraints on my imagination. Just because something isn’t possible in real life doesn’t mean I can’t write about it! If I want a talking lion with a lack of self-esteem, I just write him in.

Q) What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your genre, which they need to know?

A) Some people seem to think that fantasy is for people who are trying to escape from reality, or they dismiss it because it’s genre fiction. Actually, fantasy is the closest thing we have to mythology in the modern day. It may seem to be about wizards and Hobbits on the surface, but just like ancient myth, it’s a way of using symbolism to explain the way the world works. It’s a genre that still has the courage to look at this old world through new eyes, making everything more beautiful in the process.

Q) What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

A) My primary goal with Lady of the Veils was pretty simple: I wanted to make fantasy interesting to girls. When I was young, I was fascinated by tales of heroes fighting dragons in various gorgeous jewel tones, of heroes storming Mordor with two guys behind them and an army of Orcs ahead, or even of heroes becoming powerful wizards and fighting their own shadows. But where were all the girls? They were rewards for a job well done, not appearing in the story until it was time for the hero to prove he had won and get married. Or they were evil, scheming people who made plans in darkness. But where was I represented in all of that? I wasn’t the kind of girl who would wait at home for the boys to save the world. I also wasn’t a scheming, conniving person who used her looks to get her evil way. So when I wrote Lady of the Veils, I wanted to carve a path for the type of girl who would take up her sword and lead an army if she had to. I feel that it was pretty effective. Karen MacGregor is the kind of hero I would send into The World of Fantasy to represent me.

Q) Are there vocabulary words or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Define some of those.

A) There are a lot of words in my book that people may not be familiar with because they are in Gaelic. The word Sidhe, for example. It is pronounced Shee and means ‘spirit.’ Another word that I use, ouiske, is pronounced ‘whiskey’ and means ‘the water of life.’ I based many of the fairy creatures on Irish lore and thought it would be helpful if I used Irish words to illustrate that.

Q) How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

A) Well, to quote Lazarus Long (And of course Robert Heinlein,) “If they hadn’t invented electronic books, I’d have been crushed under a pile of paperbacks long ago.” I must admit that to me, there is nothing like the feel of a book in my hand and the smell of old paper. I hope that physical books never go out of fashion. But I’m running out of space on my bookshelves. I honestly feel that e-books are the way of the future. They’re less expensive, they take up less space, and Lady of the Veils will be available exclusively on e-book. What’s not to love?

Q) What projects are you working on at the present?

A) I am working on two novels and two short stories. One of the novels is the sequel to Lady of the Veils, and the other is an urban fantasy about a homeless girl who can heal by touching. Neither of them have names so far, but I am certainly enjoying the writing.

Q) What’s your favorite art form (excluding writing?) Why?

A) My favorite art form besides the written word is music. I feel that a song can be just as expressive as a story, and a really beautiful piece of music can move me like little else. I have always loved to make music, but sadly, I was not born with the gift for it that I have for writing. So I sing in the car. But I do sing loud