Marlow York Q&A
Book Link: Blood of Fire
Social Link: Marlow York Website
Seventeen-year-old Valieri Fiero must flee for her life when her peaceful farming village is destroyed by the City, her clan’s powerful yet mysterious rulers. Haunted by the deaths of her parents and her older sister’s disappearance, Valieri must learn to survive on her own when she is captured by the Grakkir, a forest-dwelling Warrior race with rumored abilities to control god-like beasts. The more time she spends in their world, built upon a foundation of strength and honor, the more lies she discovers about her own world and the City she once revered. But a fiery secret runs through her veins. Will she be able to harness this power and find her sister, or will the City stand in her way?
About the Author:
Marlow York was born in the Adirondack region of northern New York. She has always had an active imagination and began writing when she was only seven years-old. She earned a B.A. in English and creative writing at SUNY Potsdam, and has a technical certificate in culinary arts. She has had poems and short stories published in a handful of small literary magazines. "Blood of Fire" is her debut novel. Marlow moved to San Diego in 2015 and lived there for 3 years. She now lives in northern Utah with her husband and their dog, Hogan. She is a country girl at heart, an animal lover, and never says no to dessert.
Marlow York Q&A
1) Tell us a bit about yourself. Any personal tidbits you’d like to share?
Hello! My name is Marlow York, and I’m a self-published author. I’m originally from the Adirondack region of northern New York. I moved to San Diego in 2015, and three years later I moved to Utah where I currently live. I’ve been writing since I was about seven years old, but I published my first novel in 2018.
2) Tell us about your past and current works. Any future projects you’d like us to know about?
My debut novel is called Blood of Fire, which is a YA dystopian fantasy novel about a teenage girl with the power to create and control fire. Her village is destroyed by her government and after running away, she becomes enslaved by a rival village. While living with them, she realizes there’s a lot about her government and clan she didn’t understand. She not only has to survive in an unfamiliar world, but learn how to become stronger and regain what she’s lost.
In the past, I’ve had a few short stories and poems published in small literary magazines. I also contributed to the self-published nonfiction book, Reinvented by Dan Dynneson, which is a collection of stories and writing exercises by and for writers. I’m currently working on the second and third books in the Blood of Fire series. Book two, Trail of Flames, is in the editing stage, and book three is in its first draft.
3) What inspired you to write your current project?
I love stories about misfits with powers. Fire is my favorite element, so I wanted to write a story about a girl with power over fire and what consequences might arise from having such a power. From there it turned into a story about totalitarian government, genocide, racism, and so many other issues. Of course, my first goal was to get my story out of my head and entertain others, but even I was surprised how a small idea set in a fantasy world covers so many other issues that are happening in real life.
4) Why did you decide to start writing?
I’ve always been a writer. Like I said, I’ve been writing since I was about seven years old. I always had a big imagination, and writing seemed like an awesome way to get all my silly ideas out of my head. The cool thing about writing is you can turn fantasies into “reality” (sort of).
5) Who are some of your favorite authors & why?
I don’t usually pick favorites, but if I had to choose, they would all be for the same reason: I’ve read several of their books and was always entertained. Lisa See, J.K. Rowling, and John Green are a few favorites.
6) What do you think makes an author successful, and what makes their work resonate with people?
That’s a good question. I think an author’s success really depends on a lot of circumstances, some of which are within their power (like their writing skills), but others are outside their power (like how much press their book gets). I’ve read bestselling books that don’t deserve the amount of attention they get (in my opinion), but I’ve read lots of fantastic indie books that deserve much bigger spotlights. I wish I could tell you some secret formula for success, but I’m still trying to figure it out myself haha!
I think the type of books that resonate with readers most are ones that make people think about stuff, and storylines that they can relate to. If you can see yourself in a story, you feel like there’s a chance others can see the world through your eyes and understand what you’re going through. Also, people like to think about things. Even if you don’t see yourself in a story, a good book makes you see the world through someone else’s eyes. I watched a screenwriter’s round table recently, and one of the writers said something that stuck with me. I’m going to paraphrase here, but basically he said viewers (and readers) don’t like to feel stupid. Readers don’t need everything spelled out for them all the time. They like to think. A great book makes your mind work and makes you feel things.
7) What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome as an author?
Honestly, time and money. I don’t want to get too complainy, but balancing a full-time day job, a house and family, and a part-time job as a writer is a LOT to handle. I’m exhausted! And the big thing about being an indie author is that you have to pay for everything yourself, which can be difficult if you have just enough income to live comfortably. I’d like to think I could be doing more if only I had more time and money to devote to writer stuff, but that’s when I need to tell myself, “Hey, you’re doing your best. Don’t beat yourself up for being human.”
8) This is a personal question so feel free to answer how you want or to not answer. A lot of people in the creative arts suffer from depression, self-doubt, and hopelessness. Can you share a moment in your writing career where you felt these emotions? How did you overcome it? Do you have any advice for those currently struggling?
I’m a very guarded person; I never wear my heart on my sleeve. A few years ago, I probably would’ve skipped this question, but the older I get, the more I want to be a little more open about mental illness because I hope that I can, in some small way, try to alleviate the stigma surrounding mental health. As someone with diagnosed mental illnesses, I can’t deny they sometimes creep into my creativity. Some days I feel like my writing is great and I’m so happy when others read my book and say how good it is. Other days I don’t care about my writing anymore. I feel like it’s pointless; I’ll never write a bestseller, my writing is crap, I’m going to be a slave to “The Man” and the Rat Race forever. But I’ve been dealing with depression and whatnot since I was fourteen years old, possibly younger.
For over a decade I’ve gone back and forth between darkness and light, and, honestly, knowing that it will be a back and forth battle possibly forever was strangely liberating. I know I’ll always have dark thoughts and feelings, but they’ll go away. And you know what? Those feelings of doubt and hopelessness aren’t necessarily proven facts. Some beta readers had some harsh criticisms of Trail of Flames not too long ago, and they hit me in a “dark period.” I felt lousy about my writing. But then I refocused on all the good things my betas have said. I reread good Amazon reviews for Blood of Fire. I remembered why I do this. I write because I love it, because I have a story worth telling.
Sometimes the words don’t come out as pretty as I’d like, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth saying. I think everyone has a story worth telling, so don’t let those ugly little demons in the back of your mind tell you otherwise. Bad writing happens just like bad days happen. But that doesn’t mean all your writing is bad, just like all days won’t be bad. Get through the bad so you can enjoy the good.
9) What do you feel is the biggest reward with writing?
When someone tells me they enjoyed my book and that parts of it made them think. When I know I’ve not only entertained people, but they also saw the deeper meanings and issues addressed in my story, it makes me feel like I was able to let my voice be heard, even if I didn’t speak a word.
10) Is there any advice that you can offer new writers?
Don’t worry about perfection, just sit down and start writing. I think too many writers worry about doing things “the right way” and they scare themselves away from writing anything at all. Just let yourself be creative and try new things. As long as you practice often, your skills will improve, so don’t worry about comparing yourself to other writers or authors who have been writing and publishing for years.