Sunday, May 16, 2010

Author Interview: Wendy Raven McNair author of Asleep

I am lucky enough to be able to interview the talented author Wendy Raven McNair, who wrote the amazing book Asleep. You can read my review of the book here.
Wendy Raven McNair is the author of the book Asleep which is the first book in its trilogy. She is a African America adult novelists who was inspired to venture into the world of YA books when her daughter wanted a YA paranormal book, featuring African America characters, and I couldn't agree more!

First of all, what was your inspiration for this series? The whole superhero complex, and the unique world you created in the book is so different from everything else out there right now, how did you come up with it?
ALSEEP was inspired by my teen daughter who loves fantasy stories but I couldn’t find any with lead characters who reflect her, an African American teen girl. So I came up with the character, Adisa, first. My original idea was to write a story about saving the environment. It may sound like a lame subject to some but I was going for an exciting doomsday angle. For some reason, the story just wasn’t going anywhere. However, the idea of “champions” of the environment appealed to me. The champions idea evolved into superheroes then super beings and the story started writing itself after that. The end result bears no resemblance to my initial over the top “save the environment” theme but I believe this makes ASLEEP (a down to earth teen love story with a super being twist) the perfect intro novel to the trilogy.

I know Micah is now my #1 leading guy from YA books, was he a recreation of your dream guy?
Micah is a composite character, made up from several different “dream guys” based on real people I’ve met plus others I’ve only imagined. I also gave Micah some unappealing qualities because I believe if he was perfect, he’d be boring. So in the beginning of the story, Micah is silent and emotionally distant which causes tension between Adisa and Micah, an important element in storytelling. Micah changes over the course of the 
story, becoming more expressive physically and verbally due to his relationship with Adisa. The first time Adisa and Micah are alone, their conversation is awkward because Micah gives short answers or says nothing 
at all. But midway through the story, Micah shows significant change, laughing and teasing Adisa during their mountain hikes and their connection is obviously stronger. I believe Micah’s transformation is what 
makes him so appealing to readers.

How important was it that you wrote a book in the YA fantasy/paranormal genre (a genre very popular now-a-days) with a strong leading African American female character?
Showcasing an African American female character in a lead fantasy role was extremely important because a genre this popular is obviously being read by African Americans girls who want to see themselves as major players in this type of story. Their absence in fantasy stories can send a negative message to young impressionable minds suggesting that African American girls aren’t imaginative or relevant and that simply is not true. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Hopefully ASLEEP will be an inspiration for girls to imagine a bigger better future for themselves and then work hard to make it come true. 

I know there were many parts of the book and the character’s lives that I could 100% relate to, are their parts in the book that reflect your own experiences?
Yes, many of the feelings and situations reflect my own experiences but these are events shared by all of us; like feeling insecure or embarrassed, falling in love, getting your feelings hurt, facing adversity and overcoming hardship. These are universal themes that make the story relatable and entertaining to a diverse audience. One particular part of the story that reflects my own experience is a strict household. I grew up in one and didn’t appreciate it especially when I was teased by my peers. But as I grew older, I saw the benefits as I avoided the pitfalls some of those same kids fell into. Now I’m a relatively strict parent and my teen does not appreciate it but I tell her, give it time.
Is there anything special you do to get “in the zone” when you start writing?
To get into the writing zone, I try to minimize distractions as much as possible. There is this one quirky thing that seems to allow me access to my more imaginative subconscious and that’s the sound of water. I don’t
know how it works exactly but the sound of water has aided me in working out several complicated story lines. The down side is that once I dropped a manuscript in water and my handwritten edits dissolved. It was devastating. That manuscript was book 2 of the trilogy, AWAKE. I ended up making major changes to the story after that, changes that wouldn’t have occurred had I not lost all that hard work. Getting “in the zone” is
different for each author so all aspiring writers have to find what works best for them.

What is your favorite part about being an author?
My favorite part about being an author, outside of making up stories, is listening to the readers’ feedback. I love positive feedback but I learn from critical feedback as well. I use it all to challenge myself to become
a better story teller.

Do you have a favorite YA book and/or author?
I have a favorite fantasy author however her books are not YA. She’s an African American author named Octavia Butler and she actually won a “Genius” award from the MacArthur Foundation.
Can you tell us a little bit about Awake and what we can look forward to in the second book in the series?
AWAKE, book 2 of the trilogy, is complete and currently in the editing process. AWAKE reveals more secrets about the super world, giving readers a better understanding of Micah’s odd behavior. We also discover that super being children are being murdered and the threat hits close to home when Adisa confronts an assassin trying to kill Jason, Micah’s little brother. You can read an excerpt and see the cover of AWAKE on my website at

Thank you so much Wendy McNair for the interview. I can tell a lot went into the first book in the Alseep trilogy and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!!!

You can find Wendy Raven McNair here:  
Official Website:


MissAttitude said...

One of the main things that struck me about Asleep was that the main characters were realistic, Micah is not annoyingly perfect.

Interesting how Wendy needs water to be able to write, that stinks about the edits being ruined! I'm glad you wrote this book for you daughter and girls like her, it was nice to be able to read a book that is paranormal with African American main characters :)

Good interview!

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