Hello everybody! Today, I’m so excited to be sharing my interview with debut author Rebecca King, as part of her blog tour for Ember Shadows and the Fates of Mount Never. Onto the post!
1. Hi Rebecca, thank you so much for being here! To start us off, can you please describe the book in 5 words?
FATE, ADVENTURE, MAGIC, FRIENDSHIP, COURAGE
2. The big theme of the book is fate, and whether or not it’s fixed or it should be allowed to change, which I found really interesting. What are your beliefs about fate and destiny?
I have always found the idea of fate fascinating, and I’ve always been torn over how I feel. Part of me wants desperately to believe that everything happens for a reason and that we all have a set path in life – it would certainly be easier that way! But a bigger part of me believes that I can make my own decisions and carve my own path.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have parents who encouraged self-belief and let me choose my own path from a young age, and I love to believe that we can all write our own destinies. But the truth is that we all start from different points and have different levels of privilege, so it’s much harder for some people to choose their fate than others, and that’s a really important thing to acknowledge. Part of choosing our own destiny needs to be understanding that and working to make the world a place where everyone has the opportunity to work towards the fate they choose.
3. If you had the chance to see your whole life ahead of time, do you think you’d take it? What detail(s) would you most want to see on your journey through Mount Never?
In theory, I would jump at the chance! Knowing everything would put me at ease, and as a total control freak, I would love to know everything that was coming around the corner. I think like most people, I’d just want to know that I’m happy when I’m older. I’d want to see a freeze-frame in The Messy Middle of an old-and-grey Rebecca doing something she loved, and know that things had turned out OK!
But in reality, I know that it would be wrong to discover my fate. Part of the beauty of life is the unexpected moments and the surprises along the way. Often the worst things in life can be the start of something brilliant and I think that like Ember, I need adventure in my life.
4. Something else I loved in the book was Ember’s sidekick on her quest, talking clock hand Hans, particularly as he really reminded me of Olaf from the Frozen movies. Who are some of your favourite sidekick characters in fiction, from any medium you like?
A few people have compared Hans to Olaf now and I love that connection! Hans is my favourite character – he’s kind and sweet and has a zest for life like no one else! Sidekicks are often the best characters. Dory in Finding Nemo is fabulous, the dragon Mushu in Mulan is a great sidekick (I even named my dog after him) and Matilda’s best friend Lavender is the real hero for putting a newt in Miss Trunchbull’s water!
5. Your world building is absolutely amazing, and I was wondering where the idea for Mount Never (and the surrounding areas) came from initially?
Thank you so much! It took a while to come up with the world, as I had wanted to write about fate for a long time but had never had an idea that seemed to work. While we were living in China, I was desperate to visit Tibet as my great-grandmother was Tibetan, and I had always wanted to experience that part of the world. We were lucky enough to be able to organise a trip and as part of that, we visited Everest. We were watching the sunset and I was thinking about fate, destiny and being in the same area as my great-grandmother all that time before, when I suddenly had this idea of a girl having to climb a magical mountain to change her fate.
After that, it was so much fun coming up with different realms along her journey. I wanted each realm to make sense in terms of discovering your future, covering important parts such as death, knowledge, talents, milestones, fears etc. But within each realm I wanted it to feel magical and bizarre. I’ve always been an Alice in Wonderland fan, and I definitely injected some of that feeling of nonsense into Mount Never!
With Ember’s village of Everspring, I took a lot of time to ask myself questions and really think about what living there might be like in terms of things like schooling, politics, and surrounding areas. I wanted it to feel ‘real’ like our world, but also separate from our own world. So there are plenty of recognisable things, but also quirks that wouldn’t be familiar to us, or names tweaked and animals altered.
6. In particular, I read in your bio that you’ve lived in several other countries and I was wondering if that had maybe had some sort of influence?
Absolutely. I have been extremely lucky to travel quite a lot over the last five years or so. I was living in China for a few years, and now we live in Bratislava, Slovakia. Travel is something that I’ve always loved and I find that my ideas come when I’m seeing new places and meeting new people. Mount Never came from Everest, its magical realms have been inspired by gardens in Nepal, or forests in Malaysia, and then there are bits inspired by the tiny village in Cheshire that I grew up in!
7. On that note, what tips would you give to other writers trying to create their own unique, interesting worlds?
My tip might sound cheesy, but never mind! I would say that it’s important to see new things and experience them as if you’re an explorer. (Bear with me here!) This doesn’t mean jetting off to another country, but instead taking a different route to work, or exploring an old museum that you’ve never been to. So much of the time we get used to our surroundings so it’s really hard to see the magic in the world around us. But going somewhere new isn’t enough, it’s about trying to see that new place with the excitement of an explorer. Imagine you’re in a new café down the road. Rather than shrugging your shoulders and moving on, look around! Is there a strange door? Where could it lead? Who chose the photographs in the frames? Why is the wallpaper only peeling in that one area? It might feel childlike at first, but really it’s just using your imagination a bit. We seem to grow out of it as we get older, but inspiration for new worlds can really come from anywhere and it’s those small details that make all the difference. The mundane café details might be the magical, interesting beginning for a new world.
8. And another writing question: what’s your writing routine like, if you have one? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks?
I spent a long time trying to hone a perfect writing routine, before realising that actually, most of my time is spent editing! So, I don’t have an exact routine, but I usually start the day off with a coffee, breakfast, and taking the dog outside. While I’m getting ready I tend to listen to a podcast as I find that listening to other writers helps me get in the mood for creativity. Then I try and hit my daily wordcount goal of 2,000 before I do anything else. Sometimes it takes me a few hours, sometimes it takes me all day!
But when I’m in the stages of the very first draft, I’m not focusing on quality at all, I just try to get the story down all the way through without going backwards. That’s why most of my time is spent editing: once I’ve finished that first terrible draft, I rewrite, edit and polish over and over again until it looks nothing like that first draft at all!
I don’t have any strange quirks, except for the fact I am dependent on coffee to get me through the day. Sometimes I’ve had three by 10am and have to slow myself down! When I’m editing, I find that a bowl of M&Ms is the perfect accompaniment, or I’ll be so distracted that I keep heading to the fridge just as an excuse to get up from the desk.
9. Finally, before our wee quickfire round, what can you tell us about Ember’s next adventure? I’m so excited to read it!
Thank you! I’m already excited for readers to join Ember on her next adventure. I won’t say too much, except that she has to deal with the consequences of her actions on Mount Never, she sees a lot more of the world, and she discovers even more magic hidden beyond Everspring, and beyond Mount Never!
Disney character you’re most like? It’s got to be Belle, purely because of the books! Who doesn’t want the Beast’s library?
Favourite ice cream flavour?
Weirdest coincidence that’s ever happened to you?
This had me thinking for a long time! I’m not sure if it’s too much of a coincidence, but during the trip to Tibet when I came up with the idea for Mount Never, I went across to Nepal and in Kathmandu we found the tiniest, most charming bookshop. I got chatting to the owner and told him that my Tibetan great-grandmother was a writer and told him the name of the book. His face lit up, and then he hurried off between the shelves and emerged with her book! I couldn’t believe it – written back in 1926, and I had found it on the same trip that inspired my own book.
Top 3 books you’ve read so far in 2022?
The Hatmakers, Tamzin Merchant
Rebel Skies, Ann Sei Lin
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, V.E. Schwab
3 2022 releases you’ve not read yet but are excited for? SO MANY!
I’m still catching up as I’ve come back to the UK for the summer so finally have access to full English bookstores, rather than just a section.
Three of many on this year’s TBR list:
• Alex Neptune Dragon Thief, David Owen
• Nura and the Immortal Palace, M.T. Khan
• Leila and the Blue Fox, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston.
Thank you so much for reading! What are your beliefs about fate? Are you planning to read Rebecca’s book? I’d love to chat in the comments!