Author Chat with Jill MacKenzie (Spin The Sky) + Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Jill MacKenzie,
author of Spin The Sky!
Below you'll find more about Jill, her book, plus a giveaway!
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
It’s funny where inspiration comes from, isn’t it? Personally, I never know when I’m going to be struck with an image, and idea that manifests into something larger than an idea. I never know when a fleeting thought will grow to the point of becoming story. It’s an amazing concept, really. Something that blows my mind on a daily basis.
Once upon a time, I was watching So You Think You Can Dance on TV. I’m a huge fan of that show, but on this particular episode I was moved by how every participant had a compelling story to tell, something that made them strive to be on that show more than any of the other “regular” dancers. I remember thinking that I wish I could hear more of their stories, how the two-minute video clips shown on each dancer’s life wasn’t enough for me. I also remember wondering if audience viewers at home were motivated to vote for dancers based on their personal stories more than on their dancing abilities.
A while later, Magnolia’s character started to form in my mind. I knew she’d be a dancer, and I knew she’d be dealing with the disappearance of her mom. But I hadn’t correlated her story, yet, with the dance competition story at that time. As soon as her desire hit me, everything sort of fell into place. Of course she’d have the biggest reason of all to win the show. Of course she’d want to prove to the world—and to herself—who she really is.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Magnolia, definitely Magnolia. This story isn’t mine in that I’m not an eighteen-year-old Oregonian dancer, but my main character is always pieces of who I am, scrambled, re-arranged, put back together again. I wrote Magnolia’s character from the inside out. When I read her words now I always feel a sense of peace, like I’ve expressed a part of myself I never could have without her voice as my vehicle.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel! I almost never pick titles until the book is almost at the end of the first-draft stage. For this novel, I had the working title of Dance Yourself Clean, the song George dances to when he slips, until about the fourth draft of the book. As soon as I understood that Magnolia was more spinning skies than dancing clean, the title changed. I’m so happy it did. It just fits, don’t you think?
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I’m most proud of all my dance scenes, definitely. I worked hard to create scenes that were visceral, intellectual and physical simultaneously. I wanted to express the feelings of dance rather than just the movement of dance. I’m pleased with how they came out. I think they reflect how I felt about dance growing up and how I still feel about it today.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
What do you like most about the cover of the book? Can I just say that I love everything about the cover? At the time the cover for Spin the Sky was taking shape, my lovely first editor, Julie Matysik, asked me to create a mood board to help the designer construct something close to my vision. I wanted to represent the dichotomy between Magnolia’s black-and-white view of the world and the colorful environment she catapults herself into. I wanted something a little Warholian. I almost died when the first proof of the cover came back to me. It was perfect.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2016?
2016 is almost over, can you believe it? I was looking forward to so many incredible books this year, have read most of the ones I wanted to, and was disappointed by none of them! One of my most favorite books that came out this year was Robin Wasserman’s Girls on Fire. There’s one book, however, that doesn’t come out until December and I’m so excited about it. It’s called Teach Me to Forget, by Erica M. Chapman. It looks amazing and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Which was the most difficult or emotional I think the most difficult scene for me to narrate was the one where Magnolia realizes she needs to let her mom go. It was really emotional for me for several reasons. I’m a mother, and the thought of my daughter ever letting me go—ever needing a reason to let me go—practically killed me. It was also really emotionally for me because I was so in Magnolia’s head about it, I almost felt like my own mom in real life was gone…and she’s not. I mourned her and felt incredibly sad about it, only to come out of my “fog” to realize that my mom was alive and well. It was a confusing day, to say the least.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I like to think that my superpower is my ability to shapeshift. Okay okay, not exactly change shape, but I am constantly changing and open to change, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. I think I morph more than anyone I know. I like that about myself.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
In Spin the Sky, Magnolia wanders into a homeless shelter in a sort of subconscious search for her mom. She notices the people who are staying there, all of them looking cold and lonely and thinks about her own life, having a home but not being able to go there.
I come from a system where social services like shelters are well supported and available. Where I live now, I feel like they’re less available, or maybe just less visible than they are in my home city. But they’re so important. We all know what it’s like when life takes us down a path we never expected it and having a roof over your head during those tough times makes life just a little more bearable. Shelters not only provide this kind of habitat for people who need it, they provide additional services to help people with drug and alcohol addiction and abuse counseling.
Covenant House International is a wonderful organization that provides outreach to youth that are homeless, giving them with a place to stay, protection, and a voice on their behalf. If you are a teen in need of shelter or assistance or you know someone else who does, please visit their website at www.covenanthouse.org where you will find an list of international locations as well an explanation of the services they provide. And if you can donate to this very worthy cause, please do. It may only be ten bucks to you, but you never know when that ten bucks will actually and truly change a life.
Meet Spin The Sky!
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 haveto 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.
Meet Jill MacKenzie!
Jill Mackenzie, a Vancouver native, is an ex-ballerina and contemporary dancer. Now working toward her MFA in creative writing at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Jill chasses between roles as part-time student, full-time mom, and always-writer. Though Jill no longer studies dance, she still tries to dance herself clean whenever she can. Currently she lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she spends her free time beach-bound with her husband and two beautiful daughters.
Spin The Sky
By: Jill MacKenzie
Release Date: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
One winner will receive a signed copy of SPIN THE SKY and a set of 2 ballet dancer watercolor paintings.(US only)
The cover is different and very simple, though it makes one curious on what the book is about. The synopsis of the story got me really interested and it makes me want to read more. It has an interesting plot that makes you wonder what will happen and if she will balance all the things she did, is, and going to go through.
This sounds like a book I would love to read and the cover catches the eye so you want to know more about the book
I love the synopsis, it is not usually the type of book i read, but it sounds amazing. I love the cover as well!