Crazy 8 Press has always been about bringing to you guys—the fans, the lovers of books—original stories that we, the authors, feel passionate about, and are dedicated to ensuring the finished tales remain true to our visions.
One year ago we invited YA and SF/F author Mary Fan to join our band of crazies, and now she’s here with her very first full-length novel under the Crazy 8 banner.
Entitled Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, Mary’s new book is a YA Dark Fantasy with monsters, magic, and secrets that can remain buried no longer. Sound awesome? To us, too. Here’s what Mary had to say:
Crazy 8 Press: This is your first full-length book with Crazy 8 Press. Why this one?
Mary: First of all, it still feels like I got invited to the cool kids’ table when Y’all let me join Crazy 8 Press last year :-). I originally wrote Edge of Evil way back in 2012, and it got picked up by a small press that same year. However, after five years of production delays and a few forays into self-publishing through other projects, I was ready to take the book indie. Still, there’s a big difference between being independent and being alone. Being independent is liberating. Being alone is scary. So I was thrilled at the chance to put Edge of Evil out with Crazy 8 because it meant I could still have the creative freedom of self-publishing while also being a part of a group.
C8P: We’re thrilled you picked Crazy 8 Press for its debut. The tagline is: Break the enchantments. Find the truth. Ignite the revolution. We’re intrigued. But what’s your book really about?
Mary: @RealisticYAplot actually tweeted a satirical but pretty accurate description of the worldbuilding: Wizards defeat the Dark Lord and use their power to oppress Muggles :-P. Edge of Evil takes place about a century after the Final Battle between the Enchanters – a small minority of humans with magic – and the Lord of the Underworld, who escaped his dark dimension and unleashed monsters upon the world. Theoretically, it ended in victory – the Lord was defeated. Problem was: the monsters were still around, and the Enchanters didn’t want to give up their power. So, using the excuse that they’re the only ones who can protect people from monsters, they set up a totalitarian regime with a rigid caste system that keeps those without magic in the lower classes.
One member of this oppressed majority is a 16-year-old schoolboy named Flynn Nightsider, who’s had it with the Enchanters’ crap. He tries to fight back in his own way – and gets himself in a heap of trouble. But in a twist of fate, a group of underground rebels, which includes a teen monster slayer named Aurelia “the Firedragon” Sun, hears of his plight and mounts a rescue. Flynn joins Aurelia in the fight for freedom, but he soon learns that not all is as it seems…
As the tagline implies, Flynn and Aurelia wind up facing supernatural dangers to uncover the regime’s darkest secrets and fight for freedom.
C8P: Wow. You must have some vivid dreams! What was your inspiration for Edge of Evil?
Mary: It started with the world and was inspired by a few things. One was that I wanted to combine two of my favorite genres: fantasy and dystopia. What would a dystopia look like in a fantasy setting? It also always bothered me that in many more contemporary fantasies, those with magic are the ones with power, and yet are the ones in hiding (Harry Potter, Charmed, Mortal Instruments, etc.). If you could wave a stick and turn people you don’t like into ferrets, wouldn’t you seize control? And lastly, it fascinated/horrified me how so many contemporary dictators got to their positions of power using the rhetoric of freedom and security.
So I set up a dystopian fantasy world where those with magic used their power to take control and used the rhetoric of freedom from fear and security from monsters to keep it. And then came my main character, Flynn, who’s a combination of fantasy and dystopian protagonists. On the fantasy side, I sent him on a Hero’s Journey-type arc (but threw a major wrench into it – no spoilers though!). On the dystopian side, I had him start out as a powerless cog in the system who’s itching to get out.
Once I had my character and my world, the plot kind of started unraveling on its own… Oh, and then there’s Aurelia. With her, I just wanted to write a kickass heroine (who has her own story arc and doesn’t just exist to support the male hero). With all these monsters and all these magic-wielding folks saying they’re the only ones who can fight them, I loved the idea of a teen girl who could take down the beasts with zero magic, which would be a seeming disadvantage in this world.
C8P: Your books tend to focus on characters who initially start out believing they’re without hope, or, at the very least, feel oppressed in a dystopian society, with no clear-cut path forward. But then they learn that there’s a fire in their belly — and sometimes power — they hadn’t known was even there. Is this wish fulfillment, is there a larger theme you’re after, or do you just like to see evil get kicked in the head?
Hah! Well, I do love seeing evil get kicked in the head :-P. I always loved stories about the ordinary becoming extraordinary, the unlikely heroes who are forced by circumstances to rise up and who heed the call. It’s classic storytelling (again with the Hero’s Journey), and I think it’s a fairly universally appealing theme. With most of my stories, I start with the world-building, and then look at this world and throw a spotlight on a seemingly random ordinary person who just happens to be there when things go wrong. It’s fun getting to develop them as characters and have them face their fears despite their apparent disadvantages. In the case of Flynn, I thought about who the lowest person in this world’s hierarchy would be—an orphan kid with zero family, zero money, zero magic, zero combat skills, and zero rights—and shoved him into the spotlight. Poor guy.
C8P: Without giving anything away, will we be seeing more of Flynn Nightsider?
Mary: Absolutely! Edge of Evil is the first in a planned trilogy. If all goes according to plan, Book 2 should come out late 2019 or early 2020.
C8P: Any chance you’ll be making appearances where lucky readers can get their copies signed?
Mary: Yup! I’ll definitely be at Shore Leave in July, Gen Con in August, and Chessiecon in November! Might also have a few more appearances in the works – check my website (www.MaryFan.com) for updates!