Published by Giant Squid Books on 4-1-2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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"You have six days from midnight until the Gate closes again. Bring me what I need by then and maybe you’ll get your brother back.”
Fifteen years ago, in the middle of the night, Jamie Carpenter’s mother went up to the dark lighthouse on the cliffs. She never came back.
Jamie has spent his whole life trying to forget his mother. But when his little brother goes missing, Jamie has to face the facts. There is another world through the lighthouse, the world of his mother, a powerful witch. And the dangerous magical inheritance she left her sons is now the ransom for Danny’s life in a war between the Council of Witches and the rebel group Jamie's mother abandoned her family to lead.
Desperate to save Danny, Jamie and his best friend Nia cross into a universe they never knew existed. Struggling to survive in a world of shadowy magic ravaged by war, Jamie and Nia seek the help of the Council. But the Council’s leaders aren’t too happy that the son of the witches’ most infamous traitor has returned to Emanu...
With no help, no idea where to look, and no magic on their side, Jamie and Nia have to learn fast if they’re going to survive Emanu and rescue Danny. Because there are only six days until the gate between worlds closes again.
Interview with Author Anna Caryolyn McCormally
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
The Six Days is about a boy named Jamie and his best friend, Nia. When Jamie’s little brother is kidnapped, he and Nia are sucked into the complicated political intrigue of Emanu–a magical world they never knew existed where the Council of Witches is at odds with the human Queen and a rebellion stirring on the borders threatens both.
Both Jamie and Nia have ties to Emanu that they don’t understand, and can do magic they don’t know how to handle. Jamie is given six days to deliver the ransom for his brother’s life, and the book is a race against time as Jamie and Nia have to learn as much as they can as fast as they can about an entire new universe.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
That is such a hard question! Everywhere! From friendships I’ve had and trips I’ve taken and books that I’ve read. The idea didn’t come from one place…it grew very slowly over time, for years before I started writing, even.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
The importance of friendship and loyalty, but also not letting friendship and loyalty make you do things that aren’t right. Also—to take risks, and think for yourself.
How long did it take to write the book?
Forever. Well, not quite, but it feels that way. I wrote the first 50,000 words very slowly over the course of 4 years in college, and I wrote the second 50,000 words the first year I was out of college. Then another year of editing before I met Rachel Miller (of Giant Squid Books) and decided to take the book public!
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Rowan was absolutely the most fun to write! He is charming and shifty and I loved pitting him against Cal, who is another of my favorites. I loved putting them in the same scene and watching them clash, especially since Cal is just an all around good guy who tries so hard to like and get along with everyone. Not Rowan though. Cal just can’t get along with Rowan.
Sadia, the princess, also grew on me over the course of writing, and I’m excited that part of the sequel will be from her point of view.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
I read somewhere that it’s hard to get literary agents excited about YA novels that are longer than 90,000 words and I got really anxious that my book was too long—the first draft came in at 115,000 words! I never got it town to 90,000 but now I really regret cutting for the sake of cutting. If I could do it again I would spent more time slowly building up the world of the novel. That’s something I’m looking forward to expanding on in the sequel.
How did you come up with the cover?
The very talented Sarah Durgin did the cover art for The Six Days. She was absolutely wonderful to work with—she read excerpts from the book and sent me a set of concept sketches that were so breathtaking I had trouble deciding which I liked the best! We went back and forth with Sarah very patiently tweaking her designs until we had a cover! Her website is http://heyrabbit.com/
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved to write, but for a long time I wasn’t brave enough to say out loud that I wanted it to be my full-time occupation. I guess it just seemed too impractical to me! In college, I was an Economics major, which is about as far as you can get from writing fiction…but then, in my junior year, I had a wonderful creative writing professor who convinced me that while writing is hard work and doing it full-time is even more difficult, it could be worth it. That was when I sat down and got serious with myself about my writing.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
Hah! I have a composition notebook on my desk from 1997 with a short story titled Day of Fire, complete with captioned illustrations in crayon. I’m pretty sure I wrote and illustrated it during math class—sorry, Mrs. Stallings! It’s about a girl who is a witch (I guess some things never change). She has to fight a purple spotted monster. She has a horse named Lightening and is friends with a pink lizard with wings, which I guess seemed preeetty funny when I was seven. At the end the heroine gets married, and the story closes with this gem: “They got married and lived happily ever after but she fought monsters sometimes too.” Clearly I was championing feminist values from a young age.
What are you favorite books and authors?
My favorite kids’ novel is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I love all her books! The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood are also high on my list, as are anything by Jhumpa Lahiri and all the Harry Potter books.
What are you working on next?
I’ve been focusing on short fiction, but I am writing a second book about the Carpenter brothers as well! I also have ideas for a YA novel about sword fighting on a space station in the year 3021.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write all the time. Don’t worry if it’s good or not, just write all the time. It’s hard because good editing skills are important for any writer, but even more important is being able to turn off your inner editor.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
I live in a house with seven incredibly creative, hard-working people and everyone gets how hectic it can be to balance house life with work and creative projects. Also, I am lucky to have the most supportive partner anyone could hope for—he always understands when I need to spend time working and is basically always willing to listen to me shout about ideas that I have or things in my writing I’m struggling with. Thanks, Aaron!
Basically, I think the key to balancing writing and family time and life is to surround yourself with creative people who get that your writing is both important to you and valuable in general.
“The Captain grinned up at them with a smile marred by gaps where he’d lost teeth and a layer of brown rot over the crooked teeth that he still had. “And whadda you want,” he spat through his disgusting grin. He, too, was brown-eyed— human.
“We need transportation,” Jamie said, more bravely than he felt. Beside him, Nia tossed her hair and crossed her arms, which he knew was what she did when she wanted to look impressive.
The Captain raised his eyebrows. “Sure y’do,” he said.
“We were told you were the one to ask,” said Cal.
“Sure y’were.” The Captain took a drink from the great dirty glass that rested beside him on the table.
Jamie was impatient. “So can you help us?”
“Well,” the Captain said thoughtfully, leaning back and surveying them with a glint in his squinty eye. “Sure I can—the real question is, what do I get out of it.” Another long swig disappeared into his mess of a beard. “We only take three currencies here.”
“What are they?” Jamie asked hopefully.
“Gold,” blunted the Captain. “Bodies, and magic.”
Jamie’s heart sank.
“We know boats,” Cal said. (This was an exaggeration; Cal had worked on boats, at home, but neither Jamie nor Nia had ever done more than ride on one.) “We can work.”
“I have a crew,” the Captain said flatly. “What else have you got?” His eyes drifted across to Nia, scanning her long hair and narrow shoulders and sloping profile with an appraising eye. “Well if it isn’t a little witch,” he leered, his eyes lingering on the locket.
Nia drew back sharply.
“But what pretty brown eyes,” the Captain went on. “Not old enough to be with the Council yet?” He looked back at Jamie.
“She yours? We might make some kind of deal—”
It was only because Cal grabbed her arm that Nia’s violent step forward was hindered. “I’m sorry,” she growled, “am I his?” at the same time that Jamie said flatly, “Don’t even think about it.”
Cal put out a second hand to grab Jamie’s forearm, pulling him and Nia back, one of them in each hand like a pair of unruly dogs. “I think if we asked her,” Cal said, managing to sound steady, “we’d find that she’s not for sale.”
The Captain was unimpressed. “Just weighing your assets,” he said mildly.
Now Cal let go of Jamie and Nia and took a step forward himself.
Because Jamie was the one always getting into fights he found he had forgotten what an imposing figure Cal made, eyes like storm clouds and nearly six-foot-three. In fact, with the sword on his back, Jamie’s older brother almost looked like he knew what he was doing.”