Series: The Marked Series #1
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For all of written history, on the day of Da Un Marcu, fifty boys and girls across the three kingdoms are marked. They become a class apart from society. Taken to join their brothers and sisters, the Chisanta, they enter a culture of knowledge-keepers, martial artists, and possessors of strange and wonderful abilities.
When Yarrow discovers himself marked, he feels lost and lonely; until he meets Bray, a spirited and curious girl with whom he feels uncommonly connected. As the two of them become familiar with their new lives, unaccountable events unsettle the peace. A mysterious murder leaves the Chisanta in confusion. Odder still, one of the fifty children never arrives. In the years that follow, more and more children of the Chisanta go missing.
Ten years later, the devastating truth comes to light. The death of a young marked girl is uncovered. Yarrow and Bray—separated for a decade and grown apart—are thrust back together to investigate the crime. Can they overcome their differences to save the fate of their kind and the peace of the nation?
Interview with Author March McCarron
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Certainly! Division of the Marked is the first of a fantasy series set in a pseodo-Victorian world. Every year, on a particular day, fifty fourteen-year-olds wake to find a mark upon their necks. It signifies that they are Chistanta—a group of scholars, martial artists, and possessors of strange ‘gifts.’
The story follows Yarrow and Bray, a boy and girl who meet after they are marked and become fast friends. On the year of their marking, however, only forty-nine children are found. In the years that follow, fewer and fewer Chisanta children are discovered. After a decade long separation, Yarrow and Bray—who’ve grown to dislike and distrust each other over the years—are thrust back together to solve the mystery of their dwindling numbers.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
The initial kernel of idea that eventually spawned the book had to do with the magic system. In my world, the Chisanta are each given one special ability, or ‘gift,’ but they have the option to gain more—at a high cost. They need to sacrifice something incredibly valuable, something they don’t want to give, in order to attain a second gift. The idea came to me when I was watching The Fullmetal Alchemist for the first time. I absolutely loved the way the alchemy worked—the idea of “equivalent exchange,” that in order to gain something, something of equal value must be lost. I wanted to do something like that, but on a more philosophical level.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
Well, I’m a big believer in reader experience trumping authorial intent, so I’d like people to take away from my book whatever feels true to them. What I see in it—and what I hoped would speak to readers—is an understanding that sometimes in life we are confronted with situations for which there is no right or easy solution, and so we must choose as best we can and pick up the pieces where they fall.
How long did it take to write the book?
I had the idea stewing in my mind for well over a year before I finally abandoned the project I’d been working on and began this one. From there, it took about a year—six months of initial writing, and six months of rewriting, revisions, and editing. Though I can’t claim that I was, at all times during that year, working with equal consistently.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
This is a tough one, as I love all of my characters…even the not so lovable ones. The character I enjoyed writing the most—and who, if I’m forced to choose, is my favorite—would be Adearre. He doesn’t have a lot of page time in the opening third of the book but becomes invaluable as the story proceeds. Adearre was never in my original outline, was invented to fill a minor role, and ended up becoming the most important character in the book—the assertive devil.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I attempted to outline, but I always immediately deviated, to the point where the outlines were fairly useless. I knew where I wanted the story to end and I had a sense of the information that needed to be revealed and the character development that needed to happen—how those things were accomplished I figured out as I wrote. There were several scenes—some of my favorites, at that—which I found myself half way through before I even realized what I was about. I went through and made everything tie together, ensured a sound, consistent narrative during revisions.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
There are minor things—like word choice and sentence construction—that stick out to me as imperfect now, but those are the sorts of things I could change and edit eternally and never be 100% satisfied. As far the story goes, however, I have no real regrets. Sometimes I wish I’d written a book that was easier to categorize into a sub genre, and therefore easier to market. It would be so much easier to say, “my book is kind of like this book” rather than, “so imagine if the X-men, Sherlock Holmes, and a Kung-Fu movie had a baby.” But really, I like my novel for what it is—odd little duckling though it be.
How did you come up with the cover?
I painted and designed my own cover, which enabled me to make it more specific to my story rather than generic fantasy. I wanted something that would be atmospheric and, hopefully, intriguing, but still simple.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was very young I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Then I found out that archeology involved less nazi fighting than I’d been led to believe, so I decided I’d like to tell stories of adventure and action instead. I’ve been writing ever since.
What are you favorite books and authors?
My all time favorite is Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen has such an amazing gift for characterization. I’ve read all of her novels so many times that returning to them now is like visiting an old friend. The Wheel of Time is the series that made me fall in love with fantasy—no writer has ever made feel as immersed in her or her world as Robert Jordan. More recently, I’ve loved Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. The man sure knows how to spin a tale and turn a phrase.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on the second book in Marked series—Elevation of the Marked. I’m hoping to have it out sometime this winter.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Get writing! I spent way too long wanting to write and not actually doing it. For me, the big revelation was that it’s perfectly acceptable to write a first draft that is utter garbage. The quality can come in the revision process—but you have to keep at it if you’re ever going to get there. If you want writing to be your job then treat it like one—set yourself a schedule, create word count goals, do whatever it takes to commit. It’s such a great time to be a writer, it would be a pity to delay.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
I have an understanding husband and, as of yet, no children, so it’s not terribly difficult at this point. I try to have a clear mental delineation between ‘writing time’ and ‘fun time.’ It’s important to still socialize, have date nights, see extended family. I just try to prioritize and make time for both.
Enter to win an e-book copy of Division of the Marked. Winner will be notified by email and must respond within 48 hours to claim prize. Prize providied by author March McCarron. Contest ends December 8, 2013.