Today, we are privileged to have an interview with author Gabrielle McMaster. Gabrielle has written the YA Contemporary novel – Not Always Blu Skyes. Recently, I got in touch with her via Instagram and she kindly agreed to an interview.
Where do you come from and has this place influenced your writing at all?
I come from Northern Ireland. It hadn’t influenced much of my writing until my third novel, which I’m currently writing. However, other places have heavily influenced my writing, such as Dublin and Wales.
You studied history and theology recently at university. Do any events similar to those that occurred in history happen in your book?
No events that happened in history are similar to anything in Not Always Blu Skyes. Nevertheless, I am writing an historical fiction novel currently. My degree in History and Theology has massively helped me with this novel.
Your novel – Not Always Blu Skyes – is a YA contemporary novel. What three books or films inspired you to write in this subgenre?
Three books or films that inspired Not Always Blu Skyes are:
- Manifesto on How to Be Interesting by Holly Bourne;
- Lady Bird (film)
- L.O.L. – (film)
This blogger: As it happens, you have just reminded me to watch Lady Bird. I think Saoirse Ronan is a brilliant actress, so thanks for the reminder. When I get round to watching it, I will bear it in mind for Not Always Blu Skyes (*smiles.*)
Tell us a bit about your novel. Why do you think readers will enjoy it?
Not Always Blu Skyes is about a girl called Olivia, who is in her final year of high school in the UK. She is struggling with friendship, depression, first love, and picking university choices. Olivia is trying to discover who she is and what she truly wants in life. It is a coming of age novel with realistic and flawed, but loveable characters. I think readers will enjoy the travel aspect to this novel as well as the mental health awareness. I know a lot of readers don’t like to read books that are extremely heavy on mental health, due to some memories they may have. I’ve tried to accommodate this for those readers so that they can enjoy Not Always Blu Skyes, while still appreciating the mental health aspect to it.
This blogger: You come across as a very considerate person, Gabrielle, and I am sure you have achieved what you set out to do. Your main character, Olivia, sounds like a character that many young adults (and new adults for that matter) can empathise with. Well done!
Who is your target audience for the book?
The target audience is young adult girls aged 15+. But it is a book for anyone older, who has an interest in the book.
On a meta level, what does Not Always Blu Skyes mean to you? Do you have a ‘guilty secret’ that periodically catches up with you?
Not Always Blu Skyes is my book baby. It’s my debut. For me, this book symbolises the hope that there is when life is dark. I was bullied for writing and when I stopped writing for four years, I always thought that I would never go back to it. But I did, and I wrote Not Always Blu Skyes then. It’s a reminder for me, and an inspiration for others, that there is hope and there is light. Yes, at the time life is difficult, but there is always something better to come.
I don’t have a guilty secret. This book is not autobiographical. Many people presume that writers have to write about their life. But it is a work of fiction. All of my books are a work of fiction.
This blogger: I like the moral message behind your story a lot. You are an inspiration for many, of that I have no doubt. I am sorry to hear that you were bullied for writing, and that this stopped you from writing for a time. But I am thrilled that you came back to your passion, as you do have something to offer people.
Moreover, I am very happy that you don’t have a guilty secret lol. I was only asking as it is a great premise for the novel.
If you could go back in time and speak with a young Gabrielle McMaster, what advice would you give her with regard to the writing process?
Don’t give up. After being bullied at 15, I stopped writing for 4 years. Only at 19 did I begin to write again. I wish I hadn’t stopped when I did. I wish I had kept going. So, that would be my advice – keep going, even when life is difficult.
This blogger: It’s great advice. One of the hardest parts about writing is actually… well… writing.
What is your writing kryptonite?
The internet and my phone (*smiles sheepishly*). I get so easily distracted. For someone who can throw out a novel every few months, limiting the distractions is very important. I use the internet to set timers, update my readers on my working life, research and to ask some writing buddies questions about my book.
Yet, sometimes, I find myself going to social media and scrolling rather than what I’m supposed to be doing. Motivation is key to being a high production writer. I find that social media, the internet and my phone actually decrease my motivation when I start going on to them.
What do you find harder – writing your novel or marketing it?
I think both are equally difficult. Writing a novel takes so much time and motivation. It takes many months and sometimes years to put out a book.
However, marketing a novel takes a lot of work too. You need to understand your target market, do research, make sure reviewers get an ARC. The work for marketing doesn’t stop once the book is released. Marketing continues for your books and always will.
Have any of your family and friends read Not Always Blu Skyes yet? If so, how do you feel when they talk about it with you?
A lot of friends and family are reading it at the minute. They’re all so positive about the book and they really love it. It feels strange talking to them about something that I wrote. Becoming an author still feels so surreal.
This blogger: It’s amazing that your friends and family are supporting you in this way. I am so pleased for you. Yes, I am sure it is strange/surreal, but enjoy these moments all the same.
Are you currently writing another book? If so, could you give us a sneak peek on it please?
I’m currently writing two books. One is a young adult contemporary novel, which is based in Northern Ireland. The second book is a new adult historical fiction novel which is based in the First World War.
That’s about all I can say about them, except that they do both feature romance. Plus, the young adult contemporary novel features mental health awareness.
Lastly, outside of writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to bake, cook, travel, play piano and take photographs. I also love to read – my bookshelf is overflowing with books!
This blogger: It all sounds wonderful. Enjoy all that you do for as long as you can, Gabrielle. Simply keep doing it.
End of Interview
That brings our interview with author Gabrielle McMaster to a close. I would like to thank Gabrielle for her time and to say that it has been delightful getting to know her. Moreover, I wish her all the best for her future writings, piano playing, travels, baking and book reading/reviewing.
You can purchase Gabrielle’s Young Adult Contemporary novel – Not Always Blu Skyes – on Amazon. Check it out!
In addition, like Gabrielle on Facebook; follow her on Instagram and Twitter; and check out her website. That way you can stay in the loop with her. Then. You’ll know precisely when her next books are coming out.
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