Eleven Questions with Sarah Macklin
1). How did your writing journey begin?
I was an avid reader as a child. It was a natural progression for me from reading about magicians and sword women to writing my own adventures. And of course there had to be a little black girl in the story because who didn't want to live in their favorite worlds?
2). Who are your writing inspirations?
My first inspiration was Mercedes Lackey. It was through her Valdemar books that I first saw women front and center in fantasy novels. Lately, I've been very inspired by the writings of P. Djeli Clark for his immersive worlds and Rebecca Roanhorse for her action and pacing. N. K. Jemisin's worldbuilding inspires me to think outside the box with my worlds.
3). Are you an outliner or a panster?
I tend to fall somewhere in between. I started out a pure pantser but I've found that planning out a little but helps me draft faster. I've heard it called headlight writing. Like in a car when you can only see as far as the headlights will let you. The most planning I'll do now before jumping into the first draft is to write out the major points of the overall story (if I can).
4). What are your favorite books?
Trail of Lightning by Roanhorse most definitely. Black God's Drums by P. Djeli Clark. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland wrecked me. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin. A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome by Alberto Angela because it's a history book that reads almost like a story.
5). Describe your writing process.
Some stories start with an event, some stories start with a character. But whatever the initial idea, I worldbuild until I have to start writing the actual story for my own sanity. l I plan a little, write until I've almost caught up to where I've planned, then plan a little farther. Often times I realize things about the world or the characters as I write and that makes the first draft fun for me.
I aim for about 1000 words a day but I'm not too hard on myself if I don't make it. Punishing myself only cuts into my creativity.
6). What inspired you to write The Royal Heretic?
I have always been curious about the Amarna era of ancient Egypt. This was when the pharoah, Akhenaten, turned his back on the traditional pantheon and worshiped one god of his own making. He disbanded the priesthood and moved the capital. Needless to say, he was greatly hated. I was interested to play with the chaos of that time. Oh, and I like Caligulia. He's a direct influence for the ruler in the novel.
7). Tell us a bit about your book.
The Royal Heretic is the story of the fall of an empire. The ruler, Bakari, has lost his eldest son and takes it as proof that the gods don't exist. Of course, what goes for the emperor goes for teverybody. In the north, there's a super religious culture that was conquered long ago and they take direct insult at the emperor's decree. The southern part of the empire was recently conquered and they're going to take this as the perfect reason to rebel. The question is what will be left of the empire because of the emperor's rash decision?
8). What do you hope accomplish with The Royal Heretic?
I'm going to prove that black women write high fantasy and do it well and I'm going to do it as blackly as possible.
9). Will there be more stories of the empire of the Ega?
I'm planning for a trilogy so we can see how this story will play out.
10). How do we keep up with all things Sarah?
I'm on twitter as @killianfantasy. I talk writing and art there.
11). What advice would you give to new writers?
Read widely, read to study your craft, then write with your whole heart applying what you learned. Keep at it and even if no one else appreciates it, you've written the story of your heart.
Sarah Macklin's debut novel, The Royal Heretic, will be available from MVmedia, LLC July 1, 2020. You can read her short story, Marked, from the Griots: Sisters of the Spear Anthology, here.