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Dec 23, 2013

Chatting with Inion N. Mathair: Interview

Posted by Wendy Ewurum  |  at  11:49 AM

I am so glad to finally be able to have you on my blog Inion N.Mathair. This interview has been a bane in my conscious for so many weeks because you two are some of the best couple of people I have recently come across in the blog world. You are so good to so many bloggers and I think I owe it to others to introduce you  and your wonderful book.

Tell us about the early days of your writing career, did you start of as a duo?

Mathair: Inion pretty much knew she wanted to be a writer very early on in life. She was five when she packed up her Flintstones suitcase and informed me that she was off to New York City where the real writers were. Instead, I told her to immerse herself in all things about the craft to hone her skills: reading, creative writing courses, volunteering at the local library, working for the high school newspaper, etc. Though I didn’t realize my calling until later, I have always been involved in the writing field in some way. Either with editing my boss’ novel and my father’s memoirs and newspaper articles; writing bedtime stories for my daughter and songs for church or heading reading programs for local schools, writing has always been a part of my life. Of course, it wasn’t until 2008 when I was in a near-fatal car accident that landed me on my back for eight months, that Inion put a laptop in my hands and told me to write. We began writing together as a duo shortly after, per our writing group’s suggestion.  

Were you voracious readers growing up? If so, which authors do you think resonated with you enough to make their way into your writing?

Inion: I read everything from comic books to memoirs, but I think I can speak for both of us and say that we are hardcore fantasy fiction fans. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Anne Rice fan and that The Lives of the Mayfair Witches is my biggest literary influence, but I also find inspiration in works by C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Stan Lee.

Mathair: Fantasy Fiction is a big form of enjoyment and inspiration for us and C.S Lewis is one of my top picks, but I’m also influenced by lyrical poetry and the works of Robert Frost, John Grisham and Laura Ingalls Wilder. And Inion N. Mathair would’ve never honed our dark, twisted edge without the infamous Edgar Allen Poe. (Sorry, Inion. Anne Rice is great, but he’s my fave.)

I read that you naively thought you could be a published author in three months, what rained on that parade?

Mathair: A slap from reality, a shake from life, and a spoonful of cynicism from the literary world.
LOL. The first thing we did was ensure we had a completed novel. It’s been a question asked by most that network with us or know us. How did we publish three novels so closely together? Some assume that we’re just typing out any mess we can and slapping a cover on it. They don’t realize that Inion and I had been writing together for more than five years, not to mention two of the books were spawned from the ideas we’d played with more than a decade ago. Nightwalkers was based on an idea Inion had eight years ago. You can find several pieces of that original work on line in the form of short stories, posts and interviews. New Salem Chronicles was based on an idea I had while heading the Make Believe Fun-Fest Program when I worked at the private school my daughter attended. We have years of work long before we began creating our platform. But we can assure you that we don’t take writing so blasé. Course we were rather green. Our first novel that we completed was New Salem Chronicles: The 13 Reapers. After that, we figured we’d mail the manuscript to a publishing house, they’d fall in love with it and we’d have a beautiful finished product in our hands in a matter of weeks. Our proverbial bubble was popped when we dove headfirst into this craziness known as the literary world. 

I’d love to know what kind of relationship you have as a mother and daughter that you could work on and produce books upon books together without driving each other nuts.

Inion: It sounds cliché, but my grandfather always taught me that family is the most important thing in this world and I’ve kept that with me my whole life. Add that with the fact that I never really had a lot of friends growing up (I was always kind of the odd girl out and couldn’t find my niche in the teen social pyramid), so I put all of my time, love and affection into my family. My mother is my best friend. And though we have some petty quarrels here and there, we always remember to be professional with each other and think of the stories. When we are Inion N. Mathair, we throw the business partners cloak on. But, we make sure that nothing comes between us as mother and daughter.

You write literature that has a strong Christian motivation from what I’ve gathered in my research, how deep does this vein go? 

Mathair: We try not to box spirituality into religious constraints. My father was a minister and always taught me and my daughter that a person’s spirituality is a very intimate and personal thing that shouldn’t be judged. We try to portray that in every facet of our life, but also in our novels because we feel it’s a positive message that needs to be heard. It’s sometimes hard for people to believe, especially those that have read The Perfect 7, but our spirituality is very important to us and we always begin every novel, story, poem with a prayer of guidance and blessings.

Who is your reader demographic and what do you think they relate to most with your books?

Inion: We try to write a story that can be relatable and pertinent to anyone that can pick up a book, but we do prefer to write within the Young Adult spectrum. It’s a great age because they can still hold onto that sense of wonder and imagination and yet we can flex our gritty, edge that YA readers could really appreciate.  We like to think that they relate to that grittiness and the fact that we don’t try to sugar coat the issues we tackle in our novels. Life is difficult at any age. The YA demographic is at a very fragile one that a lot of people make the mistake of tiptoeing around or safe-guarding, whereas we believe there should be a fine line between that and facing the harsh, ugly side of reality.

If you were to pick one of your books to recommend to a prospective reader, which one would it be? (why)

Mathair: I’m going with my gut, to quote the infamous Kevin Yager. Although we’ve been shunned by certain bookstores, had the shame-shame finger pointed at us by a few readers and just informed our pastor that it wouldn’t be prudent for him to read it, The Perfect 7 gives readers an opportunity to have a one-on-one relationship with a main character that is flawed, but uninhibited. In a sea of unrequited loves and perfect heroes, Kevin’s journey is one of struggle, pain and uncertainty, which is something that’s relatable to all.  When we were through with the book, Inion and I both hoped that there was one boy that would pick it up and say that someone finally got them. We were surprised when it was readers of all ages, gender, class, and race that said exactly that. 

Inion: Gosh, that’s like picking your favorite kid. It just can’t be done. LOL. But, for you, Wendy, and your wonderful readers, I must. It really would depend on the reader because our novels are diverse, but I would have to say Nightwalkers: The Secret of Jessup. It’s much cleaner than The Perfect 7, though I always have a special place in my heart for Kevin and the boys. It’s got a great balance of a dark mystery, beautiful romance, and diverse characters with a splash of the paranormal. (Gotta have that!) It also has a great message which is that power is a double-edged sword.

What are the most significant discoveries that you’ve made about yourselves in your writing process as two instead of one?

Mathair: The most significant discovery that I’ve made as a partner in a writing team is that communication is key. The author has the purest form of the story; once it reaches the readers their minds can interpret it in completely different ways (something I love about storytelling in general). In order for us to lay that foundation for the reader, we must have a cohesive image in our minds, which is actually quite more difficult than it sounds. We sometimes spend days even weeks in our writing room just talking a story out before we ever research, blueprint or actually begin the writing process. We talk until we’re blue in the face and we’re sick of hearing each other’s voices, but we don’t leave that room until we both have the same clear-cut image in our minds. 

Inion: I’ve discovered that stories have a mind of their own and sometimes what you think is the way things should be and how they were meant to be are two completely different things. I’ve always believed that a story should tell itself, but when writing solo you can never tell if the journey is your own or the characters. Working with a partner forces you to constantly look outside the box, let go of your inhibitions and controlling nature which really frees the story to wind its own path. (Albeit most of ours are trickier than a sidewinder and don’t always end the way we want them to.) 

You have been writing together for quite a while it seems so what:
Is the greatest benefit in this type of arrangement?

Mathair: The workload is halved. There are days that I’m feeling under the weather and Inion will take care of things and vice versa. Although we’re a bit competitive when it comes to work ethic, so there’s rarely come a time where we’ve taken advantage. LOL. 

Inion: We complement each other. Where I lack, Mathair excels and vice versa. It’s nice in the way of our work because social networking and public speaking is a weakness of mine, so Mathair will take the lead on that. She tends to get bored with the researching aspect of our novels, which I love given my journalism background.  When it comes to the actual novels, it’s a definite plus because the story won’t have that danger of becoming one-dimensional. 

What could you do without?

Mathair:  Funny enough, I have no regrets. If I had to answer, it would the tiffs brought about over creative control and differences in creativity. It’s not really regret over not having control, but the arguments themselves. Of course, our deep respect for each other and love never allow us to go to bed holding the animosity within us and we always make up and meet halfway. 

Inion: It’s not really a negative in our writing process or creative control, but rather a downfall of my own. Writing is such an intimate thing, so we’re either in each other’s heads or our own. It can get pretty heavy in our writing room, which is what I take issue with. It’s so small! I’m claustrophobic and the fact that we’re so zoned in can make the walls seem like they’re closing in on me. During fall, Mathair accommodates me and we take our things outside on the porch, but I wish we had a bigger writing room.

Can you each pick a favorite book and tell us about it?

Mathair: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I would only read it while in my own
closet with a flashlight, certain that I would find Narnia. I truly appreciated the fantasy element of it, but that he managed to merge that fantasy with the harsh reality of world war. He gave children a means of escape, yet never forgot that there was always a battle to fight, a war to wage. Inion and I credit C.S. Lewis for our signature fantasy-reality edge. I read Laura Ingalls Wilder to relate and C.S. Lewis to escape.

Inion: Not to sound like a broken record, but The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. My first book was Mathair’s copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I still have today), but I found my true literary icon when Mathair handed me Interview with the Vampire on my tenth birthday. I fell in love with the seductive aspect of Anne Rice’s writing, from the blatant sexual references to the way she romanticized New Orleans. The Witching Hour came to me on my thirteenth birthday and I was finished, done, floored, hooked. It had the same seductive weight in its style, but with a background that I knew all too well, Celtic with a strong family bond. Pair that with the intense paranormal aspect and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in six hours and couldn’t wait for the second installment. Mathair went out and got me the second that day. 
How on earth did you ever come up with that pseudonym and why do you write with one?

Mathair: We both agreed on the pseudonym. We wanted to write novels that were diverse and spanned many genres and demographics. So, we felt that a unique and original name would ensure we weren’t pigeonholed into the mother-daughter writing shtick. Inion played around with our names, when I came up with the idea to use our Irish heritage. I’m mostly Irish and Inion’s always been fascinated by her Celtic heritage, so we looked up mother and daughter in Irish Gaelic. The crude translation of our pseudonym is “daughter-n-mother”.  

How have you experiencing marketing through a pseudonym, I ask because it took a while for me on Facebook to figure out what was going behind the name?

Inion: Actually, it’s been great. We’re treated no differently than any other aspiring author, which was our goal in the long run. We didn’t want to be “mother-daughter writing team” or “female authors”. We just wanted to be storytellers and we wanted our stories to speak for themselves. It isn’t until a profile picture’s been seen that we get, “Are there two of you?!” We go through the meaning of our pseudonym and the story behind it, but we haven’t gotten a negative response from literary agents, fellow authors or readers; quite to the contrary. 

Mathair: We have three people that act as backers and mentors in our writing career. They are much wiser and more objective than we could ever hope to be and their advice is invaluable to us. It was our decision to come out with Nightwalkers first as it is our most commercially friendly book, but our mentor explained that if we published that first and The Perfect 7 second we’d look like a mother and daughter trying to look cool using cusswords and talking about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Should we reverse the two, we’d show our edge first and our soft side second, which would relay that we weren’t inhibited. Along with the fact that what teenage boy wants to read a book about teenage boys written by a mommy and daughter. It didn’t matter that I grew up in a house full of men, that those same men were a huge influence in my daughter’s life, or that I raised a tomboy and that together we raised my teenage son. 

If you had to do your publishing all over again for your first book, what would you do better this time?

Mathair: Editing. We stand by The Perfect 7 and can confidently say that we are proud of the finished product and where Kevin’s story went. However, we were told by our mentor that the editing process is never done and an author can spend a lifetime editing one novel. It’s a light clean at best, but it still needs a bit sprucing up. 

If you had to write a book solo, without considering anyone’s opinion, what would you each write about?

Mathair: Hm. That’s interesting and definitely the first time we’ve ever been asked this question. I would do a collection of poems. I love poetry and have always used it as the most intimate portrayal of myself. I don’t restrain myself or the words. I’m also a musician, which adds to the lyrical quality of my poems. We have a poetry collection that we’re coming out with soon, but it’s still a work in progress. Although Inion and I are freakishly similar in our writing, there are still some notable differences that make both voices unique within our stories. However, anyone that knows Inion N. Mathair, knows where the warped endings come from… my daughter’s never liked a happily ever after, where I need that closure. Going solo, should free my characters from their untimely demises and open-ended finales. 

Inion: Ah, the possibilities. Just joking, Momma. I love writing fantasy fiction and don’t know if I could part with it, but I love a challenge and flexing my creativity. I would love to try my hand at a dark and gritty fictional memoir for YA or a hardcore science fiction novel. And, yes, all of them will have the signature Inion ending. 

What’s your favorite part in your writing routine?

Mathair: After the initial spark comes to one of us and we’ve determined if we want to set it in stone we have our make-believe time. My favorite part, Inion always refers to it as playtime. We put a do not disturb sign on our writing room door and form the story by talking it out. Like the birth of a child it is a truly unforgettable experience and to me, a miracle. Of course, the end product can vary from that conversation as all children eventually grow into their own person, but even in our make-believe time, we try to cover every turn the story could take and never restrict its journey. 

Inion: Seeing our stories grow from the seed of an idea in one of our twisted heads to being nurtured by both of us and finally into the beautiful and complex creature it becomes. Looking back on our stories and following their journey, it takes my breath away. Should we have to do them over, I’m not so sure we’d take the same path or make the same decisions. We’re both so proud of our stories and their evolution is something so precious to us, that if given the option of doing it over, I’m not so sure we’d take it. 

Do you have any bad writing Achilles heels that you have to keep watch over?

Mathair: My Achilles heel is what my daddy used to call “running rabbits”. I have a tendency to stray from a thought, branching it off into another and another and another… What was I talking about... You get the idea. I’ve been working on it and Inion keeps me reigned in, but it’s a reflex of mine that I partially blame my Southern Roots for. It’s a Southern person’s nature to “spin you a yarn” and that yarn can turn out to be a full-fledged afghan if they’re not careful. 

Inion: The Grim Reaper. It’s a running joke in our home that I’m not too fond of happily ever after’s. I’m a cynic at heart and a pessimist by nature, so I can’t relate, connect or appreciate any story, song, movie or situation that doesn’t have struggle, heartache, pain or suffering in it because life’s all about dealing with those things and rising above them.  And remember, I’m Irish for crying out loud! I do have a tendency to kill off characters, especially ones that readers and Mathair have soft spots for. She does keep the leash tight on my scythe, so no worries. 

What has been the biggest highlight in your writing career thus far?

Mathair: We were recently able to travel and speak to a language arts class at a middle school in North Carolina. No matter how far our books take us, nothing will ever match that day. The children allowed us into their world for that brief moment, told us their dreams and aspirations. It was truly a wondrous day and an early Christmas gift for both of us. 

Inion: I’d have to agree with Mathair. No matter how many books we publish or how far they take us (if at all). Nothing could be better than sharing that moment with them, helping them to become the writers they will eventually be or are. It’s going to sound cheesy, but to quote the late, great Whitney Houston, “The children are our future” These are our next C.S. Lewis, Anne Rice, Virginia Woolf, Robert Frost, so we need to nurture, encourage and listen. 

What should your readers be looking out for next from you?

Mathair: We’re currently working on getting our MG/YA novel, New Salem Chronicles: The 13 Reapers edited and published for a late Spring release, while blueprinting the second installment of Nightwalkers and finishing the last few chapters of The Damask Persuasion, which is our second installment in The Perfect 7 series. It’s definitely going to be a busy year for us, but we’re excited and ready to work.

It was a such a pleasure chatting to you girls....thank you and rich blessings and grimmer stories still is my wish for you for 2014!


Book Trailers:
The Perfect 7
From the Dark & Twisted Mind of Inion N. Mathair

About the Author

Most know me as the author to Fabulosity Reads and in actual fact, that is the previous name of this blog. I have since then moved my books to a Wordpress self-hosted blog so that I can have a place to show a different side of me which I am equally passionate about and that is marketing and personal development. I hope you will love being here, watching me grow as I share and learn. My highest hope is that we will grown and learn together in all disciplines affecting our lives. I'd LUUURRRVE to hear from you, so don't be shy...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again to the Fabulous host of Fabulosity Reads, Wendy Ewurum. This was by far the best interview we've been part of & forced us to dig deep. We look forward to your responses!! Merry Christmas. :)


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