Lisa McMann Interview

That’s right my followers, the author of the Unwanteds and Unwanteds Quests series was kind enough to speak with me despite her many responsibilities she only had time for a few questions but here they are just for you.

  1. Was one set of twins tougher to write than the other? 

Both sets of twins had moments of difficulty for me: Alex floundering early in the first series, and Aaron’s big redemption arc later in that series. Aaron again in Quests—he’s the most complex character to write. Thisbe feeling alone and abandoned early in Quests in the catacombs. Fifer’s struggle to find herself and her place after the end of Quests book 2 and beyond when she’s faced with so much.

2.) Who (or what?!) is your favorite Artiméan creation?

Several characters were favorites at different times throughout the years. Florence is one of my consistent favorites. Aaron is my all-time favorite. Dev became a recent favorite as his story unfolded. I also adored Mr. Appleblossom. Kitten and Fox were stand-outs.

3) The volcano system is ingenious! Did you get the idea from anywhere in particular? 

When I was doing research on the Dragon’s Triangle, I saw a note in a Wikipedia entry about how undersea volcanos that appeared and disappeared randomly were sometimes blamed for missing ships. That gave me the idea for the Island of Fire. The volcanos being a transportation system evolved from there.

4) If you’ve read my reviews you know I’m an Aaron fan, how far ahead was his arc planned? 

Almost from the beginning. Aaron has tiny moments of uncertainty about his choices throughout. I couldn’t wait to write Island of Graves to fulfill his arc—it was such a slow build. I’ve never said this before publicly, but I feel like Aaron is the true main character and heart of the story, not Alex. (Please people, don’t be mad at me—I love Alex too).

5) I love the way you treated disability when it came to speaking with Sky, and Lani’s issues with walking, Alex on the other hand I wanted to slap off the page, which I guess as a reader means you did your job. Did you worry about sending a negative message with Alex and his disability in the last book of Unwanteds and the first book of Quests? 

Thank you for asking this question. Yes, I worried a great deal about that.

Not many people know this, but I had planned for Alex to die at the end of book 7 of Unwanteds at Eagala’s hand. When it came down to it, though, it didn’t feel right to me, so I didn’t do it. It also didn’t feel right for him to make it through all of those battles unscathed.

Alex faced a lot of struggles as a result of surviving that last battle. His disability affected his creativity, in which he’d invested so much of his identity (to a fault. Creative people are so much more than their art). Added to that, Alex was forced into parenting his twin sisters as a teenager, and it was extra difficult for him because of Thisbe and Fifer’s destructive, uncontrollable magic. The community he’d fought so hard to protect were now turning on him—because of their fear of his dangerous sisters. I couldn’t picture Alex, or anyone, not having a chip on their shoulder about it all. He needed to work through several tough issues, and I didn’t want that to happen off screen, so they carried across the gap to the first book in Quests, where he could begin to figure out who he was after all of these changes.

I never want to cause harm to people with disabilities. I continue to learn and grow as a writer and as a human being in this regard and others. For those who feel like I messed this up, I am so sorry.

6) Love that the Islands are LGBTQ friendly, Henry and Thatcher’s little family is so sweet. Fifer seems like she’s not interested in anyone or romance at all. Is she asexual or aromantic? 

I hesitate to label Fifer, partly because I don’t want to spoil anything, but also because she’s in the early stages of questioning. Determining one’s sexuality can be a lengthy, sometimes-changing process for some people, right? A process that can take a person many years to define. I know people in their fifties who are still trying to figure it out.

As Fifer witnesses her twin—someone she feels is so much a part of her—having romantic feelings for Rohan when she doesn’t have them at all for anyone, that’s the beginning of the questions for Fifer, but it’s definitely not the end.

That said, I can confirm that Fifer fits under the ace umbrella.

7) Is this really the last we’re going to see of everyone in the Unwanteds universe? 

I believe this is the last of it. I never say never, but I don’t foresee anything else happening in this world. I hope you enjoy Dragon Fury, and thank you for being so wonderful and supportive.

 And if I may, I’d like to take a moment to mention that I have more books coming. This fall (2021) marks the arrival of Clarice the Brave. It’s a stand-alone middle grade book about two mice siblings who are separated in a ship mutiny, and vow to find each other again. It’s a book that I’ve been working on for many years, and every time I think about it I cry a little bit for happy. I can’t wait for people to read it.

 After that, next spring (2022), a new fantasy series begins. More on that when we get closer – keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram feeds @lisa_mcmann.

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