Saturday, May 7, 2016

Paper Crowns Blog Tour // Interview with Mirriam Neal

It is with humongous excitement that I welcome author Mirriam Neal to Adventure Awaits today! She just published her second novel, Paper Crowns. I've been following her blog for a few years, and over that span of time I've also been one of her beta readers for several stories. So I can tell you with 100% conviction that she is an amazing writer, one who pens her tales with depth, vibrancy, and wit. (Just wait until you meet one of her trademark snarky characters.)

It goes without saying that Paper Crowns' release has me flailing/squealing/bursting with joy. And I'm equally thrilled to have the chance to interview Mirriam about her writing journey and her new book. After all, the paths of writers so often intersect in some way, and it is at those junctions that we find encouragement for our own journeys.

Mirriam Neal is a twenty-two-year-old Northwestern hipster living in Atlanta. She writes hard-to-describe books in hard-to-describe genres, and illustrates things whenever she finds the time. She aspires to live as faithfully and creatively as she can and she hopes you do, too.

You can find her at any of these places:

And here's the book itself, all brimming with magic and beauty and intrigue--isn't it positively gorgeous?!

Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

Without further ado, here's the dedicated, talented authoress herself . . .


Tell us a little about yourself! Personality, interests, how you take your coffee—whatever.

I'm an INFP - a severe introvert who adores people. Writing is my greatest love, but when I’m not writing I'm probably making art or reading. (I'm currently reading Jennifer Freitag's 'Plenilune' for the first time since I beta-read it. I'm in love all over again. She inscribed it to me and called me the 'kitty-cat foxy bomb diggity,' which probably says more about my personality than I ever could.) I take my coffee black and strong enough to eat the spoon.

Because many of us here are on our own writing journeys, could you share a little bit about yours?
I was always an avid reader, and I fiddled with writing now and then. I never finished anything until I turned twelve, and wrote a short story called 'The Pegasus on the Mantle.' I submitted it to Girl's Horse Club, an online gathering for horse-loving girls, and I consequently forgot about it - until I received the notification I'd won! After that, I couldn't stop writing. It was the push I needed. It's been rocky and I've had phases (I once went through a depressing phase where everything was…well, depressing) - in fact, after writing for over a decade, I've only recently fallen into something I can call a 'groove'!

What was the Paper Crowns journey like, specifically?
It was more of a jaunt than a journey. It took a total of one month to complete, and was far from grueling - it was a literary vacation. Most of my novels are definitely grueling journeys, no matter how much I love them, but Paper Crowns was something else.

What are some of the sources of inspiration that fueled this story?
I started reading Julie Kagawa's 'Iron Fey' series, which inspired me to also write something fey-ish. I'm not a fan of Julie's writing, but the concept was fun, and there are a million different ways to work it. Owl City's 'Sky Sailing' album prompted the idea of Ginger's Blessing.

What’s your favorite part of writing?
The characters. Everything I write is very character-driven (occasionally they're so character-driven that the world-building suffers during the first draft, but that's what first drafts are for, right?).
What’s the hardest part?
For me, the hardest part is always editing and revising. Editing, because I'm really terrible at seeing my own typos and errors. Revising, because when I write something, it (usually) feels 'set in stone.' Changing it feels like sacrilege. (When I break this rule, however, I break it in really spectacular ways and end up with two entirely different novels.)

If you could spend a day with one of the Paper Crowns characters, who would it be and why?
It would definitely be Azrael. He would infuriate me half to death, but it sure wouldn't be boring.

Your book deals with magic (wysary). Can you talk about how this fictional magic meshes with your Christian faith?
I think many Christians believe modern fictional 'magic' conflicts with Christian faith. Most of the time, this isn't true. Many years ago I did extensive research on this, because every time I dug into magic and Christianity, it seemed like a 'Christianity vs. Magic' fight. It's a fight that's completely unnecessary the majority of the time. 'Magic,' as we know it in most fiction today, simply isn't in the Bible. Not anywhere. Necromancy, communication with demons, and divination - these things are condemned in the Bible, but turning someone into a bird or creating paper objects that fly? That kind of magic simply isn't mentioned. The terms 'witch' and 'wizard,' as found in modern Bible translations, didn't even exist at the time of the original text. You'll find the meaning of the original words to be more in line with 'necromancer,' etc. Before I carry on too much - I believe magic is extremely complimentary to Christianity, and is very easy to mesh.

What’s next on your writing/publishing agenda?
I plan to finish editing 'Dark is the Night,' the first in my Southern urban fantasy 'Salvation' series. I'm still writing 'The Dying of the Light,' my futuristic sci-fi Japanese Robin Hood, and I need to edit and revise 'Paper Hearts,' the sequel to Paper Crowns.

What advice would you give to other young writers?
Don't view writing as your career. You want to be a writer? That's fantastic - but don't burden your writing with thoughts like, 'You need to make me enough money to live on.' Write because you love it, and support yourself with another job. If your writing takes off in a big way, congratulations! That's amazing! But give your writing the freedom it needs without trying to make it support you.

Fabulous answers, Mirriam! I especially loved your piece of advice at the end there. It's something I need to take to heart--giving my writing room to breathe by not depending on it as a source of income, at least not right away. Thanks for the freeing perspective! And thank you so much for stopping by!
To my fellow wayfarers, voyagers, and questers: who's eager to read Paper Crowns? (Hint: ALL OF YOU, BECAUSE IT'S FABULOUS AND YOU NEED A SLICE OF MIRRI-MAGIC IN YOUR LIFE.)
P.S. The Paper Crowns blog tour lasts for the month of May. All the stops are listed HERE. There's book spotlights, guest posts, more interviews, etc., so I encourage you to check them out!


  1. *SQUEALS* I'm just so ridiculously excited about this book being released to the world, I can't even begin to express it! I cannot wait to read it again and have an actual, living, physical copy in my hands and to display on my bookshelves.

    This was so much fun getting a closer look into your writing life, Mirri. I'm veeeery happy to hear you're still working on editing Dark is the Night. The world NEEDS that book. Like Tracey, I especially loved your writing advice at the end. It's something I think all writers need to hear now and again.

    This was a wonderful review. I so enjoyed reading it. ^_^

    1. I know, it's incredibly exciting! There's something special about personally knowing an author who's starting to break into the publishing world. ^_^ I didn't know Mirriam when Paper Crowns was being sent out for beta reading, but I've heard sooo many good things from you and others! I can't wait to read it!

      I, too, am happy to hear about Dark is the Night. ANGEL FOREVERRR. Also Skata. <3

      I'm glad! I sure had fun putting it together. :)

  2. I can't wait to have a paperback of this! My little sister needs to read it, considering how I went on and on about it while I was beta reading it.

    I take my coffee black and strong too!

    1. Haha, that's great that you'll be passing it along! I can hardly wait to snag a copy for myself.

      You guys can keep your black coffee. I prefer some cream to take the bitter edge off! XD

  3. I've put this on my to-read list, and I'm looking forward to doing so!

  4. Oh my, that book is BEAUTIFUL! I would want to buy it for the title and cover alone :D. Is there a Kindle edition of it?

    1. I KNOW! The title is so whimsical and intriguing, and the cover is too. :D I actually have no idea whether or not there's a Kindle version. I'll look into it and let you know!

    2. Okay, in answer to your question, Savannah, there is no Kindle version of it. Nor are there any known plans to release one. Saaaad, I know! :(

  5. That is one gorgeous cover, and the book sounds really great. Loved getting an insight into the author's journey. :)

    1. Isn't it?? One of Mirriam's friends illustrated it. Talk about talent.
      Glad you enjoyed it! ^_^

  6. Your interview questions were fabulous! I especially loved reading Mirriam's thoughts on magic & Christianity and her advice to aspiring writers. Spot-on! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go order my copy of Paper Crowns finally. (The curse of being perpetually late to the party + smothered by homework.)

    1. Thank you! So were yours. ;) Those were some of my favorite answers too, actually! Great minds think alike?

      I need to order Paper Crowns too, and I don't even have homework as an excuse for why I haven't done it sooner. XD

      Thanks for stopping by Adventure Awaits, Sarah!