A former family counsellor – and pastor for more than 20 years – Andrea MacVicar is the author of the recently-released fantasy adventure novel Secret of the Laurel Crown, the story of a young girl and her brother who undertake an amazing adventure to an alternate world. Recently we spoke with MacVicar about the new book.
What inspired you to write this story?
My life was influenced by books like Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Hobbit. Those books touched my emotions. As a teenager, many books I had read allowed me to escape from the pressures of growing-up, and as I entered into their worlds filled with fantastic characters and circumstances, they also helped me to understand the complex differences between right principles and actions versus wrong thinking and decisions.
Did the book come together quickly or did you really need to work at it?
Writing is hard work. Very hard work. The first draft took me two years to write. Then came the countless rewrites, submissions and rejections from publishers with editorial comments; and by attending writing conferences I honed my craft. Twenty years after that first draft, Secret of the Laurel Crown was published.
What was the most challenging aspect of the process?
The writing itself. Putting onto paper what I saw, heard, felt, tasted, and experienced as the story unfolded in my mind, and yes, my heart. Carolyn, Jimmy, and Gazellia are dear friends. They are still real and alive to me. We have more to experience together in a sequel.
What did you learn during the process?
I had to let them come alive and make the adventure happen their way.
What was the most rewarding part of the experience?
Holding the published book in my hands. Turning its pages. Realizing a dream come true. The tears of joy because I didn’t give up on the story—after many rejections thinking it wasn’t any good and throwing it away.
Has there been any discussion about bringing the story to the big screen?
I’d love to have a discussion with anyone who could make SLC into a movie. By all means, let’s talk.
What has the response been like so far from those that have read it?
Here are some direct quotes from emails and reviews: “SLC is a gripping story from beginning to end.” “It’s an amazing book, targeted to young teens, but I loved it, and I’m a lot older than a teenager!” “Couldn’t put it down!” “I found this tale imaginative and engaging.” “The fantasy aspects of the story drew me right in, and I found them a departure from many of the more expected fantasy elements, which I enjoyed.” “The book was quite enjoyable–all the ingredients to touch different age categories (fantasy, realistic characters, tragic past and love)…”
What’s next on your creative agenda?
I plan to start writing a sequel to SLC.
What made you want to be a writer?
I didn’t think about being a writer as a child. I loved to make up stories and tell them to my friends, especially to anyone who would listen. I was a good mimic and liked to play-pretend the characters I saw in the movies. I won a writing contest in the third grade for a poem in rhyme about our presidents. It was published in our local newspaper. This brought a lot of encouragement from the adults in my life. I wrote for our high school paper, took creative writing courses in college, won a competitive writing scholarship, had poems published in small presses, and then—and only then—after many years of study, did I think of myself as a writer. Through the years while I “honed my craft,” I worked as a teacher, manager, minister, missionary, counselor, and pastor. I was a college president for a couple of years as well. All of the jobs I held needed writing skills. So, I was writing all the time as a part of what I was doing to make a living. I enjoyed working on puzzles for relaxation. In 1981 I completed a jigsaw photo of a ballerina in a flowing, pink chiffon costume in an arabesque position. As I wondered who she might be, I named her Gazellia (fleet as a Gazelle). I thought she might make a great central character for a book. I jotted down some notes and plot ideas. She came alive in my mind. Gazellia led me to Carolyn and her brother Jimmy and their fantasy-adventure on the planet of Double Suns.
What makes a good book?
Oh, my goodness! Books have been written about what makes a good book. But, I’ll try to answer. Simple as this sounds: I love words. Words which draw me into what the writer desires to reveal in such a way to be satisfying: in a story, a point of view, an opinion, a feeling, a lesson, a piece of knowledge, a usefully learned wisdom. Whenever I have finished reading a book (on any subject—fiction, non-fiction) and have closed its cover, I want to feel satisfied. If I do, the author has fulfilled his/r intention in writing it.
What are your thoughts on Celtic literature today?
Celtic literature can be used to bring ancient traditions and history into a modern vernacular. Celtic history is filled with spiritual insights and intrigue. I plan to use it again in my SLC sequel.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Work hard. Keep honing your craft by reading finely written material. Never give up your writing. Don’t imitate, create.