- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It’s hard to pinpoint when I first wanted to be a writer. In some ways I think I was a born storyteller. Whether playing with action figures as a young kid, or creating my own comic books, I seemed to have a natural propensity to create stories; epic adventures of good and evil, of fantastical worlds and tales of heroism and discovery. I was greatly inspired by television, films, books and comic books. While the other kids were outside playing, I’d be inside with a pen and paper in hand, immersed in my own worlds and having great fun bringing them to vivid life with words and images. Writing is just something that’s natural to me; something I’ve never questioned I wanted to do.
- What was the hardest part of writing your book “The Key of Alanar”?
The hardest part of this particular book was simply the effort it took to persevere with it. I first began work on the project when I was only about 15 or 16, and it certainly wasn’t the simplest or easiest tale I could have come up with for a first novel. It’s an expansive, multi-layered and pretty darn ambitious story. I really didn’t know where to start with it. Perhaps understandably for a teenager, I had no idea how to write a novel. I spent years playing around with ideas, taking notes and making ill-fated attempts to write the first few chapters. It wasn’t until I began to grow and mature, learn a bit about life and study the art of writing, plot, characterization and storytelling, that I felt able to begin the process of making this particular dream a reality. This book grew and developed as I grew and developed. Even after completing the first drafts I spent years and years developing and refining the book; and at times stripping it apart and starting again from scratch. This process took around two decades! There were times I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere and was ready to give up and try to forget I’d ever started it. But the sheer amount of time, energy and love I’d poured into the book over many years prevented me from doing that. I knew I had to persevere with it and I’m very glad that I did. This book is very close to my heart and if I never wrote again I would be satisfied. I’ve put so much into the book; not just in terms of plot and character, but in the themes and message it presents. I’m proud of it, and I’m proud of myself for having stuck with it for twenty years, even when it seemed like I was getting nowhere! Writing this book taught me so much about life and about myself.
- How did you come up with the title of your book?
The book was originally titled “The Journey: Awakening”. At some point in the development I wanted a more dynamic title, and I decided on “The Key of Alanar”. The Key of Alanar is an object that is intrinsic to the plot and the focus of David’s journey as he battles immense odds to save his world. I like the sound of the title and I love the name Alanar even on just a phonetic level (I’ve no idea where the name came from, it just seemed to pop out of the ether one day).
- Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?
There were many authors whose work helped shape my style and approach. Offhand I could mention JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Philip Pullman as well as Paulo Coelho, Aldous Huxley, Herman Hesse and even George Orwell. I love authors who craft stories that have some kind of deeper meaning; stories that challenge, provoke, inspire and leave the reader thinking. My sources of inspiration are great and many, including films I’ve watched since childhood. Studying the work of comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell was probably the biggest single influence on my work. Campbell, drawing upon ancient myths dating back centuries and millennia, truly helped me understand the mechanics of storytelling; why we tell stories, what function they have and why they are a necessary and needed part of human culture and society.
- What process did you go through to get your book published?
Before I’d even finished writing the initial drafts of the book I got a copy of the Artist and Writers’ Yearbook and began sending out query letters to agents. It was an immense waste of time, effort and money. First of all, an author should really focus on finishing and polishing their novel before seeking representation. Secondly, I simply wasn’t that great a writer back then. I was young and struggling to learn my craft. Looking back, the quality of the work was simply not up to par. There was huge potential there, but my work was not yet publishable. Although in time I eventually got some encouragement and positive feedback as well as the standard and pretty soul-crushing rejection slips, I still never found an agent willing to take a chance on me. It was pretty sobering.
I eventually set aside ‘The Key of Alanar’ and decided to try a different approach. I still wanted to work on this series—I’d come too far to give up on it. But since I couldn’t seem to get anywhere with this book, I decided to write another book that might get my foot in the door of the publishing world. While ‘The Key of Alanar’ is the first book in the Alanar Ascendant series, I decided to write a book that would serve as a prelude to the series, in much the same way as ‘The Hobbit’ was a prelude to ‘Lord of the Rings’. With this in mind, the book ‘Eladria’ was born! This time I managed to find a publisher, and ‘Eladria’ was published in 2013 by Cosmic Egg Books. The response to ‘Eladria’ was overwhelmingly positive, so I went back to ‘The Key of Alanar’ and essentially did a complete rewrite. The process of writing ‘Eladria’ had made me a better and more experienced writer, and I finally think I was able do ‘The Key of Alanar’ the justice it deserved. That it’s finally been published after all this time is pretty darn exciting and an immense, unspeakable relief!
- Who should read your book, and why?
Everyone should read it, cos it’s cool! Seriously though, it is a book that will appeal to fans of fantasy and science-fiction, as it combines elements of both in what I believe is an interesting and unique way. Beyond that, it’s a very character-based novel, and is essentially a human story; a tale of dealing with loss and grief, battling immense odds and finding our way, purpose and destiny in life. A tale of transcendence, healing and self-realization, it deals with some powerful, sometimes dark themes and I believe has the potential to stay with the reader long after they have read the last sentence. There’s a strong visionary, metaphysical element to the book, especially in the mind-bending climax, which questions the nature of reality, consciousness and life and death. It’s very much a multi-layered story that can be read on multiple levels; as a straight out fantasy/sci-fi thriller, or a book with a subtle philosophical slant, exploring the nature of reality and the human condition.
About the author
A natural born writer, thinker and dreamer, Rory Mackay was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1979. Since then he has lived most of his life in the North East of Scotland, a place he finds scenic and inspiring, if a tad cold. With a lifelong passion for creative writing and art, Rory knew from a young age that he had stories to tell and adventures to share. As he grew up and became interested in philosophy and metaphysics, he came to realize the potential of literature and art as a means of sharing ideas, posing questions and exploring the nature of reality in a way that is accessible yet compelling and challenging.
Rory is also an animal and nature lover, music junkie, social and environmental activist, cake enthusiast and generally rather chilled out guy. He sells his art online and writes blogs on creativity, writing, philosophy, spirituality and whatever else inspires him. He has written his own commentary on the classic Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching and is planning a self-help book as well as a new series of fantasy books called The Dreamlight Fugitives.
About the book
The Key of Alanar
By Rory B. Mackay
Published by: Blue Star Publishing
Genre: Fantasy / Science Fiction
Lasandria. An ancient, advanced civilization, consigned to oblivion by the greed and power lust of its own people. The coming apocalypse heralds a new evil that will ravage the world of Alanar for an entire age. Yet on the eve of Lasandria’s destruction, the ethereal overseers of the mortal realm grant a dispensation—a promise of hope for the future.
That hope lies with an orphaned teenager named David, born some ten millennia later; a boy whose isolated and uncertain existence leads him on a journey upon which hinges the fate of not just his world, but countless others.
On the run from a brutal military force, David’s quest is one born of shattered dreams and tainted by the thirst for revenge. As an inter-dimensional war that has been waged since the beginning of time threatens to consume his world, the dark force that destroyed Lasandria lurks in the shadows, ready to take possession of the one thing that will either save Alanar or destroy it — David.