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Monday, August 18, 2014


Back in June, we were part of the cover reveal for M.J. Fifield's first novel Effigy. Now her book is out, and she's joined us to answer a few questions...

1. Where did the initial idea for Effigy come from?

Between my sophomore year of high school and my sophomore year of college, I wrote a series of eight fantasy novellas. The story was really over by the end of the eighth book; there was just no place else for it to go. Then the summer before my junior year of college, I found myself wanting to go back to that world and those characters and decided to write a prequel. The main character, Haleine Coileáin, popped into my head and wouldn't get out. And though it was meant to be a prequel, her story changed everything I had written before, so it became instead the first in a brand-new series. Effigy was born, and my eight novellas became history.

2. Which part of the publishing process was the most surprising?

I think maybe it was just how long everything took. I knew it wouldn't be a quick process by any means, but everything took just so much longer than I had thought it might. And having said that, I was also very surprised by how quickly my cover came together. The artist who did the work was really quite brilliant, and I adore her.

3. If you could give yourself any piece of advice before you started writing, what would it be?

I'd advise myself not to be so resistant to plotting things out ahead of time. I think I could have shaved some months off of my writing time if I had only done just that.

4. Plotter or panster?

I kind of answered this question already, but let me explain further here. I used to be a confirmed pantser. I would sit down to write and just wait to see where I ended up. I still do that on occasion—mostly during NaNoWriMo. But somewhere along the way while working on Effigy's sequel, I got stuck on what should have been happening when, so I started plotting things out. Because I am a visual learner, I chose the storyboard method and made my first storyboard on a six-foot bulletin board in my writing room. That was followed by my second storyboard which currently resides on three of my dining room walls. Now I'm rather addicted to plotting and growing ever more so. Never thought I'd say that, but it's so very true.

5. Quiet room or noisy room when you're writing? How quiet do you need it? What sort of noise?

The noise level in the room in which I'm working honestly depends upon what I'm working on. Most of the time, I need noise. Seems counterproductive, I know, but I can't always concentrate if a room is too quiet. I work with music playing (every WIP has its own playlist) or the television on. On occasion, however, the exact opposite is true, and a quiet room works out better for me. The most recent time this happened, I was proofing Effigy's proof copy. I needed absolute silence then.

6. Your writing area/desk: a place for everything and everything in its place or if anyone ever straightened it, you'd never find a thing?

Most of the time—and I mean, like, 99% of the time—my desk and office are incredibly neat. It's the only room in the entire house which can make such a claim. Everything has its place, and if something is not where it should be, it drives the OCD side of me crazy. Crazier. These days, however, it kind of looks like a bomb went off. There are books, notebooks, pens, and post-its all over the place. Publishing is, apparently, very messy. If you're me anyway. I hope to be able to reclaim my desk one day soon.

7. What is your current pop culture obsession (book, TV show, movie, webcomic…)? What are the rest of us missing?

My current pop culture obsession is Orphan Black. It's a show on BBC America which just wrapped its second season a couple of months ago. Its star, Tatiana Maslany, is a freaking genius, and the fact that she was not nominated for all of the acting awards in all of the world is a downright travesty.


The survival of a once-mighty kingdom rests in the hands of its young queen, Haleine Coileáin, as it slowly succumbs to an ancient evil fueled by her husband’s cruelty.

A sadistic man with a talent for torture and a taste for murder, he is determined to burn the land and all souls within. Haleine is determined to save her kingdom and, after a chance encounter, joins forces with the leader of the people’s rebellion. She gives him her support, soon followed by her heart.

Loving him is inadvertent but becomes as natural and necessary as breathing. She lies and steals on his behalf, doing anything she can to further their cause. She compromises beliefs held all her life, for what life will exist if evil prevails?

Her journey leads to a deceiving world of magic, monsters, and gods she never believed existed outside of myth. The deeper she goes, the more her soul is stripped away, but she continues on, desperate to see her quest complete. If she can bring her husband to ruin and save her people, any sacrifice is worth the price—even if it means her life.

About the Author

Armed with a deep and lasting love of chocolate, purple pens, and medieval weaponry, M.J. Fifield is nothing if not a uniquely supplied insomniac. When she isn't writing, she’s on the hunt for oversized baked goods or shiny new daggers. M.J. lives with a variety of furry creatures—mostly pets—in New Hampshire. Effigy is her first novel.


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M.J. Fifield said...

My book's at Barnes & Noble? Cool!

I mean...I knew that.

Thanks for hosting me today!

Christine Rains said...

Great interview! I need to find some time to watch Orphan Black.

M.J. Fifield said...

@Christine—Oh, you should definitely check out Orphan Black when you have the opportunity. Such an awesome show!

Huntress said...

I do love fantasy. Great title and concept.

Tara Tyler said...

great interview!
i liked hearing how Effigy began. and your cover is one of my favorites by far!

M.J. Fifield said...

@Huntress—Thank you!

@Tara—It's one of my favorites, too, but I supposed I'm biased...

@Everyone—Thank you so much for stopping by today! It's much appreciated.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can't concentrate in total silence either.

Liz A. said...

@M.J.--I searched it on Barnes & Noble and found the link. Looks like it's only in paperback, though. Please make the ebook available through them as that's where I get my ebooks.

@Christine--I second the Orphan Black recommendation. Totally awesome show.

Sorry for being AWOL yesterday. Glad you all stopped by.

Murees Dupè said...

M.J. is so cool. I also listen to different music depending on the project I am working on. Great interview.

M.J. Fifield said...

@Alex—Yeah, I (almost always) get nothing done in a completely silent room. I spent all my time wondering why it's so quiet.

@Liz—The B&N ebook is almost ready. I'm proofing the file now.

@Murees—Thank you! You're so nice.

Heather R. Holden said...

Love learning about the history behind Effigy! (RIP those eight novellas, haha.) I had once been a pantser, too, but had to become a plotter when I started making webcomics, and can never imagine not plotting anymore!