With the growing and continued success of Young Adult (YA) literature, spanning quite possibly every genre imaginable, diving into a new story or looking for the next Hunger Games or Divergent can be a daunting task.
Mary Fan, a published author of ten years and contributor to the Workprint, knows the world of YA all too well. In addition to crafting many different book series in the genre, she is coming in on closing one of her recent book trilogies, the Flynn Nightsider series by summer’s end this year.
The first book, Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, originally published in 2018, is on promotion, being offered for free on Amazon Kindle until the end of the week, Saturday February 18th at time of publishing.
To give readers a taste of Flynn Nightsider, we took the time to chat with Mary about Edge of Evil and the Flynn Nightsider universe.
Workprint: Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil is available for free on Kindle until the end of this week. Can you tell us why readers should dive in? What separates this from other YA series?
Mary Fan: Edge of Evil starts with a pretty common YA concept– that magic and monsters are real– but turns it on its head. Instead of those with magic being underground good guys who secretly protect humankind from the monsters, as is the premise of a lot of YA fantasies, these magic folks have decided they have all this supernatural power, and they’re going to use it to rule the world. Not only that, but they’ve implemented a rigid caste system where those with magic are on top and those without are on the bottom, and the closer to magic you are, the more power you have. And the main character, a 16-year-old boy named Flynn, is as far from magic as you can get. So it’s basically the opposite of the whole “magical kid discovers powers” trope.
WP: What was your inspiration for writing this?
MF: I came up with the idea around 2012, when YA dystopia was having a moment, but only in the world of soft sci-fi (like The Hunger Games). Meanwhile, I’d grown up on a lot of the “magic kid” fantasies, and I wanted to combine the concepts, but also turn them on their heads. No spoilers, but let’s just say the revolution doesn’t go as Flynn thought it would.
WP: You’ve written two novels thus far, with the last book of the trilogy coming out this year. How does it feel reaching the end of a story?
MF: Very weird, especially since I first came up with the idea so long ago! But also satisfying. When I wrote the first draft of Edge of Evil, I had no idea where the series would go; only that I wanted a twist ending, and I’d figure it out later. Then I outlined the series and thought I know where I was going with it. But with the second book, Shards of Shadow, I suddenly got an idea for another twist ending that was going to get me into a whole lot of trouble. And of course I wrote that ending because it was more interesting than what I had planned, and Book 3, Ire of Inferno, has been about me finding (hopefully) clever ways to get out of the hole I wrote myself into.
WP: Can you give some insight about the worldbuilding of the Flynn Nightsider universe?
MF: In Flynn’s world, the monster apocalypse came and went a hundred years ago. Scores of supernatural beasts and malevolent spirits overran the earth and decimated the population, and the only reason humanity survived at all is because those with magic established protected cities. Now, those protected cities are totalitarian nightmares, the monsters are still out there, and you’ve got two choices: accept the dictatorship or get eaten.
WP: Flynn Nightsider is just one of the many series you have written, with this one being a dark fantasy dystopia story. Having written sci-fi and other forms of fantasy, what’s it like writing different genres?
MF: It’s a lot of fun! I bounce around a lot creatively, and I like to explore various speculative fiction genres. Writing series mean I do get to stay in a world I built for longer than one book, but in general I like to switch it up from book to book.
WP: What can readers expect by diving into the Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil?
MF: Edge of Evil is definitely on the darker side of YA, though it stops shy of full-blown horror. Expect Hunger Games-style dystopian violence, with themes of rebellion and revolution, and also nasty monsters and evil ghosts like the ones the Winchesters fight in Supernatural. There’s lots of action for sure!
WP: Do you have any favorite Flynn books or is it like picking a favorite kid?
MF: That’s impossible to say right now since Book 3 isn’t finished yet, but I have a feeling even when it is, I won’t be able to pick. I mean, they’re all so different!
WP: You have written a plethora of YA novels over the last decade. What makes the YA genre so appealing to you?
MF: I like how fun YA gets to be. Your main characters are teenagers, with all their headstrong impulsiveness and youthful flaws. They have room to make mistakes and grow in a way that can be frustrating with adult characters.
WP: You are also a co-editor of Brave New Girls, the anthology series that features YA sci-fi tales about teen girls skilled in STEM. Can you tell us more about that experience?
MF: Brave New Girls started in 2014 when my co-editor Paige Daniels and I were complaining about the lack of brainy girls as sci-fi heroines. Sure, you’d get the lab girl or blond bombshell with 9 PhDs, but you didn’t really get to see girl mechanics, hackers, etc. as the main characters. So we ran a crowdfunding campaign to put together the first Brave New Girls and had so much fun putting that together, we kept going. We’re publishing Volume 7 this summer!
WP: Finally, what would be your advice to writers trying to get their works out there?
MF: My advice is to always remind yourself that publishing is a lottery, not a meritocracy, and that “meritocracy” was originally coined as a dystopian term. Rejection is frustrating, as is seeing others get what you want, but don’t let that get to your head. Just because you’ve received your 500th rejection the same day someone on Twitter is boasting about their 5-book deal doesn’t mean they’re a better writer than you, only a luckier one. And don’t forget that writing is, first and foremost, meant to be something you do because you love it, and that matters more than any flashy deal.
Make sure to take advantage of this kindle deal for Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil before the 18th to get your chance to dive into the intriguing world built by Mary Fan. Also, visit her website to learn more about her vast bibliography and the great work she’s done with Brave New Girls.