Greer Macallister On The Magician’s Lie + Giveaway!

The Magician's LieToday on the Ball, we welcome fellow debut author GREER MACALLISTER, who’s first novel, THE MAGICIAN’S LIE, which is being called WATER FOR ELEPHANTS meets THE NIGHT CIRCUS The book centers on a notorious female illusionist who stands accused of murdering her husband — and she has only one night to prove her innocence.

We caught up with Macallister to talk about parenting and writing, her childhood fave, and how she “accidentally” fell into writing historical fiction!

Talk about one book that made an impact on you.

I read A WRINKLE IN TIME when I was in fourth grade and then I was off to the races, both as a reader and a writer. I’m sure I’d read books with female protagonists before, but no one who made as big an impression on me as Meg Murry. That book had everything – romance, interplanetary travel, self-sacrifice, straight-up science, girl power, family love, plus a riveting, high-stakes plot – and I could re-read it endlessly. On some level I still have a thing for Calvin O’Keefe. So dreamy!

If you were a drink (preferably alcoholic), what would you be and why?

I’d love to say something exotic like absinthe or one of those crazy orange wines, but really, I’m more of a Sauvignon Blanc. Sharp and lively, not too demanding, and very good to have around just in case a dinner party breaks out.

Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? How did that turn out?

Ha! Everything else I wrote before THE MAGICIAN’S LIE was a different genre. This was my first foray into historical fiction, almost by accident. But when I came up with the idea to write about a female magician cutting a man in half, I had to decide whether it would be a contemporary or historical setting, and the late 1890s/early 1900s was perfect for the story I wanted to tell.

But I also write in lots of different forms – poetry, plays, short stories – and I think each one helps you develop particular skills that then come into play in the other ones. Poetry helps you focus on how a handful of words sound together, and on clear, crisp images. Playwriting sharpens your dialogue. I’m glad I write all these things, although nothing else packs quite the punch of successfully finishing a novel.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t go it alone. There’s a time for introversion and introspection in the writing process, but the insight of others is incredibly valuable in reviewing drafts, considering career decisions, and a host of other moments. A strong beta reader or critique group can make a huge difference in your life and your writing; a great agent and/or editor, even more so. Developing a keen sense of when to incorporate feedback and when to pursue a different vision can be challenging, but it’s one of the greatest skills in a writer’s arsenal. The best writers I know all have that skill.

What time of day do you love best?

Lately I’ve been very fond of a little window around 2 a.m. My youngest is still up in the middle of the night to nurse, and so I’m up with her, and there are a limited number of things you can do in those moments. And it’s just so quiet then. Our days are so busy and hectic that I get overwhelmed – so in the middle of the night, even though I’m not sleeping, I’m recharging. Plus it gives me more time to read. How could I object to that?

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, February 8 to enter to win a copy of THE MAGICIAN’S LIE (U.S. only). Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!

greer3Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist whose work has appeared in publications such as The North American Review,  The Missouri Review, and The Messenger. Her plays have been performed at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. She lives with her family on the East Coast. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN’S LIE was a weekly or monthly pick by Indie Next, LibraryReads, People Magazine, SheReads, PopSugar, Publishers Weekly, the Boston Globe, and Audible.com. Find her on the web at greermacallister.com, or on Twitter: @theladygreer


People Will Buy Anything With a Cat On It

MomentofEverything_cover_webLike many of the other Debs, my editor asked me way up front if I had any must-haves or must-not-haves for my cover. I know this trick. Well, it’s not really a trick of the intentional kind. It’s the “we’re being earnest about this, but in spite of everyone’s best efforts, it will end up being something you hate” kind of trick.

This is how I know this. I’d worked with artists and designers in high tech for over 20 years. They are amazing and creative people who come up with things you never even dreamed of. But I have learned how to work with them the hard way. I could say, “I’m wide open. I just don’t want any pink.” Seems like a lot of latitude, right? Only this is what happens. The designer starts to think, “OK, anything but pink. No problem. I hate pink. But you know a little pink wouldn’t be bad. She probably won’t mind a little pink. And you know, it’s not really even that pink. It’s more of a magenta. OK, she didn’t say no magenta. And it looks so awesome. Let’s add more.” This will go on until the entire thing that you asked for is pink.

This is not the designer’s fault. It’s normal to go down that mental path. If my family says, “anything but chicken”, it’ll be all I think about until I’m Googling recipes of chicken on top of chicken inside of a chicken. So instead of all the things I feared would be on the cover, I gave my editor links to websites and Facebook pages that posted pictures of beautiful people reading and of gorgeous libraries and bookstores. I told them that these were thing things that inspired me while I wrote the book, so maybe they would help inspire the cover.

Well, in the end, I don’t think that helped. I know they went through several rounds of covers that I never saw. My editor just didn’t feel like they were right so there wasn’t any point in showing me. Then I said, “What about the cat? People love cats.” Two weeks later, my cover showed up in my email. We were all in love.

IMG_4120The designer found the photo on Flickr. A photographer in Texas was walking by a bookstore at night and a cat popped its head up over the books and she took a quick photo and posted it on Flickr. My publisher bought the rights and the designer created the gorgeous composition for cover. I’m a huge font nerd, so I fell in love with the fonts she chose right away. And I love how the lettering is a little transparent against the backdrop of the books, as if the books are part of everything. I cried when I saw it because it was just so perfect. I also held my iPad up over the shower door so my husband could see it. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait for him to rinse off!

There was some back and forth because the bookstore cat in my novel is black and this one is white and grey but in the end, we relented on the inconsistency because the grey and white one looked so great online. You couldn’t see the black cat at all. Ya gotta think about these things. But in the end, I thought it was good luck that the cat on the cover looks like my own cat Scout. Don’t you think?

I love it when a reader tells me she bought the book because of the cover. Above all, the cover is a marketing device to entice readers into the world you created. And no cover could have done a better job than mine.



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