Interview with Charlotte McConaghy (Part 1)

As I said a couple of posts back, Aussie girls are flying the flag for YA angel fiction. I was lucky enough to score an indepth chat with the brilliant (and incredibly youthful) Charlotte McConaghy recently, where she weighed in on her Strangers of Paragor series, and why wings are just so. darn. HOT.

Big fan of the Strangers of Paragor series, right here. But in 25 words or less, describe what the trilogy is really about, as if to someone who’s never heard of it before:

The series is about six teenagers from Earth who find a portal into a world called Paragor. There they find a world in crisis – a violent conqueror has taken over, and the people need help defeating him. The books are very romantic adventure epics with a whole host of characters – good and bad.

What made you decide to vary the perspectives of the six main characters, rather than simply have one main protagonist?

Varying the perspective allows us to have a much wider vision of Paragor on the whole. We meet more characters, go on more adventures and experience different aspects of the world and its inhabitants. I wanted each of the characters to have their own voice in order to enrich the story. I love having lots of characters and plot-lines to sink my teeth into. That way when they converge at the end it makes for a big finale!

So come on then, which character is you?

Honestly – none of them! I can’t write myself into any books, nor do I base characters on people I know. They’re all completely and totally made up – its the only way I can make them interesting enough. 😉

I totally know what you’re saying – all my friends are boring too (ha!). Anyways, the world of Paragor is quite intricate. What did you draw on as inspiration for your world-building?

Well first I started with my map. I drew it out and decided on how many countries I wanted to have, and the differences between them. Then I figured out how many characters I wanted, their names, and a few little traits for each. I knew I wanted the world to be medieval in style, so I based my guidelines around that. Then all the little bits and pieces just sort of happened when i started writing the story. To be honest I don’t spend a whole lot of time world-building – I like to just put in what the story needs, and then let the reader imagine the rest, otherwise it can be a bit of an information overload.

So, when you first had the idea for Arrival, did you expect it to branch out into a trilogy from the very beginning?

Actually, I always had in mind that it would be a trilogy, but now that I’ve finished writing the third book, I’ve realised that I can’t possibly fit it all into three, so I’m trying to convince my publishers to let me do four books… here’s hoping!

I’d love an extra book in the series! You can never have too much fantasy. What is it about the fantasy genre that appeals to your writing instinct?

Fantasy, for me, is the perfect canvas for expressing human emotions. You can create these wild situations that push the characters to feel and act in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. And it allows us to escape into a world that’s completely different to our own, where anything can happen and there are no rules to what we can imagine.

Why, in your view, do you think angels are so interesting to a YA audience in particular?

A creature that is quintessentially perfect and good in every way becomes really captivating when it shows its flaws. That’s why a ‘dark angel’ is so interesting – there’s something exciting about the idea of power and conflict within an unearthly being. And when a creature like that is interested in a simple human, it’s even more exciting, because it raises the idea of love that is beyond what mortals can experience – love that goes against what they’re supposed to feel.

Put more simply – I reckon a person with wings is super sexy.

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Charlotte, it’s like we’re twins. But I’m the less talented one.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my chat with Charlotte, where we focus on her second book, Descent, and she pretty much steals all my favourite movies for her own.