Friday, June 9, 2017

Interview with Schuyler McConkey, author of "War of Loyalties"

Hi friends! I'm so excited to share this interview with you. It was intended to be a short video interview, but after I experienced some technical difficulties, it turned into a blog-interview. 

I had asked Schuyler McConkey to join me for tea this week to talk about her book, War of Loyalties. The hope and prayer is for this ink baby of hers to be released this fall or winter, which would be the centennial anniversary of the year it actually occurs in. How cool is that!? We had apple cinnamon tea, strawberries and golden oreos under the shady boughs of an ornamental crab tree, listening to the sounds of my little goldfish pond. It was lovely! (Schuyler's answers are in italics.)

1. Who is your favorite character and why? 
My favorite character is kind of a secret at this point, but one of my favorite characters to write was Terry O'Sean. He was a character I didn't have to edit much in each draft of War of Loyalties, which is rare in the process of writing a book because he basically wrote himself and came across really vividly. He's an American who basically lived with wanderlust, and left home at 17. Many years later, in 1916, Ireland tried to rebel against England and was promptly put down. Terry was one of those rebels, and now he's on the run. He's also the comic relief of the story. 
Personally, I love it when you find those characters you don't have to edit much, they just flow, and you know they are just right! I have one like that, too, in the White Hawks. It's the best feeling. 

2. If you could meet any one of your characters, besides your favorite one, who would that be?
I think--there's a farmhouse in this story, where Ben and Charlotte and Terry like to gather, and I would love to be a fly on the wall and spend the evening together with them. It's a place where they can come and relax and find respite from spy work. 

What makes you love this farmhouse so much? 
It's a place for Ben where--he gave up his home and the country he loved to come to England and be a secret agent, so coming to this farmhouse is like a home. It's a safe place, and he finds a place he loves in spite of what he had to give up to come here. 
All characters need a safe place to wind down sometimes, to reflect, and put the puzzle pieces together. This farmhouse sounds so pleasant. 

3. Who was the most difficult to write and why? 
Ben was the most difficult to write. He's an introvert who has had a hard upbringing, and it's very hard to write an introvert in his circumstances without having him being stand-offish and self-pitying. In the third draft of the book (which was a very hard draft) I tried to make him more sympathetic to readers by showing him more vulnerable, having him ask for help more. Part of the difficulty of writing him was because I knew him so well, and I hadn't gotten him across on paper as well as I should have because my familiarity with him blinded me to what I had actually written. In James Scott Bell's Art of War for Writers, he talks about writing outside your comfort zone. I tried to write outside my comfort zone and Ben's, and that really helped a lot with making him more sympathetic. This is really hard to do! It is a very vulnerable feeling when you know a character so well that you forget your readers don't, and it is hard to share their true colors with others when you're so close to them. Great job. James Scott Bell is brilliant and has some excellent advice. 

4. If you could go back in time and see any place from your book, what would that be? 
I would love to stand on a piece of land called Copt Point in Folkestone. It's on the cliffs overlooking the English Channel, and I took the liberty of adding a fictional cottage to have my characters live there. -Schuyler, here I'd like to add a little quote that I think I mentioned later into our evening: "We musn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling," (Inception). You're allowed to take those liberties in writing. I love when authors add their own twists to things. Sometimes the best creative worlds are a mish-mash of real-world and your own. I've imagined what it would be like to stand there, and I definitely want to go there someday! You ought to plan a trip in your future and go. It would be a fantastic blog post!!!

5. What time period would you like to travel to the most? 
You know, I love the time in which we live. I feel like we're living in history--we've seen the longest reigning British sovereign--there may never be another sovereign that reigns in Britain as long as Queen Elizabeth the II. We're living during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation--and I suppose it would be cool to go back in time and see where it all started, but I really love the history that we're experiencing now. That is not the answer I was expecting and I love it. That's a really great perspective. What a blessing to be able to celebrate the Reformation's 500th year! It makes me so thankful to have that legacy as part of my identity.

Plus, I enjoy modern conveniences. :) Haha, yes! So true. Writing is so much more convenient with a computer. Can you imagine always hand-writing everything? I mean, a type-writer wouldn't even be the same. 

6. What place would you love to visit the most? 
I have a dream to visit Ireland/Scotland/England someday, and I'm definitely going to get there--I want to see where my characters would have lived and visit the WW1 museum in Folkestone, the town where my story took place. I want to see where Richard III died, and the statue of Davie and Alan from Kidnapped in Edinburgh, and visit the Giant's Causeway in Ireland. There is also a Titanic museum in Northern Ireland not too far from the Giant's Causeway. You would love it. 

7. Where can we find you on social media? 
You can visit me at, and if you'd like to reserve a copy of War of Loyalties, we are running a Kickstarter campaign until June 22 to raise the money for editing and cover design, among other things. You can check out more about that here: 

Thank-you SO much for having me on the Ink Lizard!! It's been so fun to chat with you and talk more about War of Loyalties! 
You're welcome! I had such a wonderful time and I'm looking so forward to reading your ink baby!


  1. I loved this interview so much! <3
    Thank you for sharing, dear Schuyler and Kiz! Blessings!

    1. You're welcome, Joy! I'm glad you loved it!

  2. I loved the part about character development. I experience the same thing--some characters are a struggle to write while others come easily. Interestingly, I actually have the opposite problem that Schuyler has in that characters based off people I know come easily, I think because I have real-life specific details to draw upon. Otherwise, my characters are based off vague generalities and come across as distant or poorly defined as a result.

    1. I often draw from details of people around me, and either accentuate or tamper-down a quality I "stole" from real-life people. I agree, trying to draw entirely from generalities or vague ideas often turns out to be slippery work at best, coming across as unfinished and confusing for readers. Thanks for the comment!

  3. That made me want to sit down for tea with both of you and then curl up with the book. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes interview.

    1. Awww! Thank you, Mystery Person. :) Your comment is appreciated!