Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Jill MacKenzie to the blog to answer few questions about her upcoming debut novel, Spin The Sky. This contemporary novel incorporate dance in the story and so much more.
Jill also share a fantastic playlist of the book for us to listen too. Have fun reading the interview and listening to the playlist.
And scroll down to learn more about Spin The Sky and the author, Jill MacKenzie. Also, don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom for a chance to win a copy of of the book.
Interview with Jill MacKenzie
What pushed you to pursue writing as a career? How did you know what story you want to write about?
To be quite honest, I’ve never really felt a push, per se, to pursue writing as a career because I’ve always just…written. It isn’t something I made a conscious decision about—at least, not until I had tried a few other careers first. From the time I was really little, I was making up characters and stories and, when I was ten, I wrote fifty pages of a novel about a girl who runs away from home to go live in the wilderness. Although that work-in-progress was accidentally deleted from my computer, it didn’t stop me. From there I continued to write short stories and poetry. Novels, of course, felt like a natural progression for me. I was excited to do it and was just waiting until I had a bit of time to dedicate to learning my craft. After a lot of reading and a bit of research, I realized that what I wanted to write was YA. After that, I just thought back to a time in my teenage life that really stood out to me. That time was on a beach in Oregon where I fell in love with life and fell in love with falling in love. Also, I grew up dancing so the integration of both experiences and memories felt right to me. And SPIN THE SKY was born!
Spin The Sky deals with a reality TV dance competition. Tell us about the process of creating the settings of the story, did any old or current reality shows influence or inspire the book?
The competition side of this story does, loosely, follow the basis of the reality TV show So You Think You Can Dance. I do poke fun at it (gently) but only because I love the show. Truly, I think SYTYCD has revolutionized the dance industry in that it has singlehandedly inspired a new way to look at dance, and having a career in dance. As a result of the show’s popularity, many young dancers who might have given up dance if they couldn’t see a productive future in it (like moi), now stick with it with hopes of making their dreams come true.
Your bio said you enjoy dancing also like your protagonist, how did your own dancing experiences influence the plot of Spin The Sky? Are there any scenes in the book that tell your own dancing experience?
Oh, definitely. I never got the chance to dance as seriously as Magnolia—never auditioned for any nationally televised competitions—but every dance scene in SPIN THE SKY is, in a sense, me dancing. I still dance all the time, although these days it’s more from the comfort of my own home. But dancing, to me, is more a state of mind that anything else. A release, a way to really be yourself, an escape. All of Magnolia’s big dancing scenes were taken from some moment in my life where I felt this power surge inside of me, a time where I felt like I could do anything. Some people do yoga. I dance.
Spin The Sky has a strong focus on family, especially the relationship between Magnolia and Rose. How much does this reflect your own life?
The sister element is pretty huge for me. I have one sister I know very well and we have a very tumultuous relationship (lots of love and little bit of non-love) and one sister that I don’t know nearly as well as I’d like to. I also have a brother who I’m close to mentally but don’t see often and speak to only a handful of times a year. I’m constantly thinking of family in terms of how the family I grew up in is different to the family I have now. I look at other families and try to decipher what kinds of relationships their families are made up of and why—how they got there and where they came from. The Woodson family is one type of family. They weren’t my family, but I loved the opportunity to explore these sorts of relationships as though they were my own.
If readers could take away one thing from having read Spin The Sky what would you hope it would be?
I hope that it’d be inspiration. I hope that someone will read this book and then put it down and say, “you know, if she can follow her dreams against all those odds, what have I got to lose?” I love “rise above” stories, and I’m always telling my girls that a person is nothing without her dreams. I really believe that. I hope my book is a gentle reminder of that to others.
If one of your characters could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your teenage years, what would the title of that book be? What would be the first line?
Ha. I love this question. So many possible titles popped into my mind right now. But I think one that really stands out to me would be taken from a song that, whenever I hear it, I feel really nostalgic for what could have been—maybe even what was–my teenage self The song is called Sweet Disposition, by The Temper Trap. It’s so pretty. And sad. And hurtful too, you know? Anyway, I think Sweet Disposition is a great book title, so I’d happily allow one of my characters to borrow it to name the book of me. And the first line of the book? How about something like, “Staring at the back of his unremarkable brown head, April wondered, not for the first time, why Jordy never seemed to care that everyone outside of Chem and Physics and Math thought he was a loner, a freak, an outcast, a loser and a waste of space, when it would kill April if anyone thought of her like that.” I’m thinking of writing a story along these lines one day. The girl who was popular and had a lot going for her. The girl who always feared that, one day, everyone would find out that she was nothing more than a phony. Nothing more than a freak.
Are you working on any project right now? What we should expect from you after the release of Spin The Sky?
Ah. The tough question. Well, I’m happy to report that I do have a few projects in the works right now. But because I’m a very superstitious person, I don’t really want to say too much about them. So I think I’ll just say that, thankfully, I’m keeping busy and plugging away at this thing I’m forever trying to do!
Spin The Sky Playlist
Thank you so much Jill for answering my questions and for creating the playlist of Spin The Sky for us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Although my heart will always be on the West Coast, I’ve lived in the heat of Florida for nearly 11 years and am finally getting used to it. Together with my South African husband named Gus and our two gorgeous little daughters (one girly, one not), our lives are pretty much spent on the beach, navigating the clear, warm waters of the South. In addition to being an avid member of SCBWI Florida, I’m currently completing my MFA in Creative Writing through the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. I also *occasionally* work as a freelance writer and substitute teacher because, you know, I’ve got to help bring home the bacon, too. In my free time, (free time? What’s that?) I enjoy dancing, reading, snorkeling, surfing, running and traveling.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she’s destined to pay for the horrible, awful thing her mom did—and that she’s left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.
But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she’s not—and has never been—a “no-good Woodson girl,” like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.
What’s up for Grab?
- Copy of Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie
- Open to US / CA residents
- There will be one (1) lucky winner
- Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
- Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
- Ends October 15th, 2016
- Prize will be sent by the author
To enter fill out the rafflecopter form
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