Series: Song of Forgetfulness #1
Published by Fable Press on 7/2/2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
» Buy on Amazon
» Buy on Barnes & Noble
I’m not like the other girlygigs in Cityplace; I’m a bringer. I can sing to the only animals left in NotsoGreatBritAlbion and make them land. Adara, catcher of birds -that’s what they call me and that’s what I can do.
Now that the Agros have cut supplies and folk are near starved, I’d best keep shutums about my name though, or everyone will want a piece of me. I’d best creep and peep all stealthy-like to track down my bro-bro, snatched by Agro scum for who knows what.
Good job I’m trained in S.A.N.T. ways too, for I’ll need all my roughhouse skills to keep the Agro spies, Nearly’s and wolfies at bay until I find and bring home my bro and all the other missing Meeks.
I just wish I knew who or what is following my every move.
In this unsettling and mysterious vision of the future, animals are almost extinct and humans are subjugated by the sinister and secretive Agros; nothing is as it seems. And 17-year-old Adara must use all her courage and power battling against evil forces to save herself and those she loves.
This is a coming of age tale with a difference. The inventive slang-derived language creates a fresh and dynamic style to create a truly compelling world inhabited by characters such as Clonies, Nearlymen, and S.A.N.T.S.
Interview with Author Nicola McDonagh
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Echoes from the Lost Ones is about survival in a time of want. It is set in Scotland, England, 250 years after famine, disease and global warming have wiped out almost all animal life. Those creatures that are left are diseased, their flesh inedible to humans. Oceans have risen, land is in short supply and in NotsoGreatBritAlbion, people are divided into Citydwellers, Forestdwellers, Clonies, Ladies, S.A.N.T.S. and the Agros; a self-appointed government that supplies all the food to the inhabitants of NotsoGreatBritAlbion.
The story follows the journey of seventeen-year old Adara, who has a special gift. She is a Bringer and can sing to the only edible creatures left, the birdybirds and make them land. In a world were meat is just a memory her talent is much sought after. When the Agros cut food supplies and children go missing, Adara must leave the comforts of her home to search for her kidnapped brother.
During her dangerous quest to find him, Adara finds unlikely friends, unearths dark secrets and discovers her true potential as a Bringer and powerful weapon, when she must use all her courage and skill to battle against evil forces to save herself and those she loves from being slaughtered by Agro spies.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
The book came about due to a challenge from some pupils that attend a creative writing group I teach at my local High School. They asked me to write something for their age group that included subject matters that they were concerned about, such as global warming, disease, and cloning. Also the fact that characters never seem to go to the toilet. After discussing what they liked to read and what they felt was lacking in most YA books, I came up with the idea for The Song of Forgetfulness.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
In the book I deal with issues that are of concern to us today. Such as overpopulation, rapid advances in technology and global warming. The book is set in Scotland because oceans have risen and that is all the land that is left in Great Britain. There are no animals because of viral infection, except for the elusive birdybirds and they never land. In ‘Echoes,’ I am trying to suggest that if mankind continues to abuse this beautiful planet, then a world like the one I have created might happen. But I am also trying to say that we are all connected somehow, and that we all have something special inside us, even if we aren’t sure what it is. That we are all capable of doing something amazing if put to the test.
How long did it take to write the book?
It took about a year to write and about four months to edit.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Wirt, Adara’s Nearlyman friend is my favourite character and was the most fun to write. I think it is because he is quite funny and vulnerable, yet strong and resilient. He is loyal to the point that he would die for his beliefs and to save Adara. He is the kind of friend anyone would love to have.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I started by researching the meaning and origin of Celtic, Anglo Saxon and Roman names to help me give personalities to the characters for the story. When I found the name Adara, it said: Catcher of Birds. For some reason that appealed to me and I began to imagine a future world where birds were scared to land. After that I came up with other characters and based their personalities on the definition of their name.
Once I had the characters in place and a rough idea of when the story would take place, I began to jot down possible scenarios for my dystopian plotline. After researching about technological advances such as 3D printing, super strong-lightweight materials, and ‘invisible cloth’, I came up with several ideas for inclusion in the book. Adara’s invisible super lightweight Synthbag and self replicating Sterichoc, to name but a few.
Although I did have a rough chapter outline, I found that once I started writing the characters took on a life of their own. I changed my initial ideas and I did go off in different directions because of this. A lot of the book came about with just me writing down a chapter heading such as, Rough night amongst the Nearlymen, and letting the characters ‘tell’ me what happened next. It was a lot of fun to let go and just allow my imagination to flow.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
I’m still not sure if I like the ending. I changed it because it was too much of a cliff – hanger and now, I think the last line may come across as a bit ‘cheesy’.
How did you come up with the cover?
The cover idea came from Adara. She has this special gift of calling to the birds and the birds never land, so that image of birds/feathers and hands just seemed right for the books message. Also, I wanted a suggestion of trees and a sense of density of woodland to create a feeling of another world/timescale.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I suppose when I moved to where I live now. I am surrounded by fields and trees and somehow, the scenery brought out the inner writer in me. I studied and gained a Creative writing diploma and won the Suffolk Book League’s short story competition in 2011. That gave me confidence as a writer and when I was shortlisted folr the Escalator Genre fiction Competition with an extract from Echoes, I knew that being an author was possible.
What are you favorite books and authors?
I enjoy reading some YA novels such as ‘Unwind’ by Neal Shusterman and the ‘Chaos Walking’ series by Patrick Ness. I also enjoy science fiction, particularly Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon and Ursula K la Guin. I also like the classics: Dickens, Bronte sisters, and Thomas Hardy. Also I enjoy more surrealistic works: Gunter Grass ‘The Tin Drum’ ‘Street of Crocodiles’ by Bruno Schulz, ‘Heart of A Dog’ by Mikhail Bulgakov, ‘At Swim Two Birds’ by Flann O’Brien. I think Conrad and Nabokov are two of my favourite authors. I enjoy humour too: Jeeves and Wooster series by PG Wodehouse and ‘A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I have a particular fondness for the short stories of Annie Proulx, Flannery O Connor and always go back to Sylvia Plath’ s poetry.
What are you working on next?
I am editing the second book in the series The Song of Forgetfulness, and am getting ideas for the third. I am also going back to a children’s book I started writing several years ago called Marauders of the missing Mummies aimed at 8-12 year olds. I’m also about to self publish a collection of adult short stories called Glimmer.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t give up, even if publishers or agents reject you.
Write what you want to write and not what you think would sell.
Don’t self-proof read. Get someone you trust to it for you. It is too easy to miss mistakes when reviewing your own work.
Consider self- publishing. These days there is a lot of support and free marketing out here to resource.
Use online media platforms to promote yourself.
Converse with other authors, share books, and reviews and get yourself noticed.
Do book readings and signings if you can. It’s a great way to actually meet readers who might enjoy your work.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
I write notes to myself and stick them around the house. They help me focus on what I have to do. I’m a fan of daily lists and jot down what needs to be done each day, that way I can do the things that need doing and know that I have the two hours in the afternoon before I go to work to write. I usually stick to this, but quite often things come up and I have to fit in a few hundred words in between working and family life.
Chapter Twenty-One: Brother Jude
He leant out and I heard a high-pitched shrill sound. “Eagle, I think and quite near. Come, try it. Call to this creature.”
I stood and went to the window. Brother Jude stepped aside and I put my head out. I saw snow-capped tips of mountains in the distance. Clouds swirled around them like ghosties at play and I felt a shiver pass through my innards. The air was cold and clean and I closed my eyes and filled my lungs with its purity.
“Sing, Adara. Call its name, its true name, and it will come.”
“What? I don’t know what birds call themselves.”
“Then listen and it will tell you.”