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JP McLean is an urban fantasy and supernatural thriller author best known for The Gift Legacy series. Her books are often identified as pleasantly unexpected stories, where the readers are engaged and engulfed in the escapism factor of the story. Her inspiration comes from, as a true creator and author, a recurring vivid dream where she can fly. Dive into this interview with JP McLean and learn much, much more about her and her wild stories. 

Why do you think readers call your writing, "addictive, smart, and fun"?

I think it’s because the stories I tell are unexpected. Many of my early readers weren’t familiar with the urban fantasy or supernatural genres—they picked up the books based on word-of-mouth recommendations and were pleasantly surprised when they enjoyed the escapism of the stories.

You are a supernatural thriller author. Did the genre choose you or did you choose that genre? If so, what is its appeal?

The supernatural is my favorite genre to read, so it was natural that it’s also what I chose to write. The appeal of the genre is in the possibility that in some form, supernatural powers exist.

What are the challenges of framing a novel that is a part of a series? 

The biggest challenge is writing an instalment that is fresh, tells a complete story, and brings about character growth.

The second biggest challenge is keeping track of the details, which expand with each new book. It’s not only the physical traits of the characters (hair length, tattoos, eye colour), it’s their unique tics, their body language, and word choices. It’s keeping track of setting (house floorplans, park layouts), the primary locations (how far is it from point A to point B?), keeping track of time (is it still summer?), and keeping track of the interconnectedness of the characters (did they reconcile after their last fight?). 

What is the premise and inspiration for "Secret Sky"?

The premise is: A haunted young woman’s failed attempt to gain control of her supernatural gift brings her to the attention of a secret society and their powerful enemies, who now know her name and what she is, even if she doesn’t.

The inspiration came from a recurring dream I’ve had since childhood. In these vivid dreams, I can fly. Sometimes I hover upright or fly prone. Sometimes I speed toward a destination, but other times it feels like I’m playing, sweeping upward, swan diving, or following the contours of my dream landscape. I might be indoors, but often I’m outside. Flying is a wonderful sensation, and when I wake, I’m disappointed that the dream is over. I wanted to capture, in words, the magical feeling of flying. 

What does this novel have to say about the themes of guilt and longing?

Guilt and longing are strong emotional themes which play out in Secret Sky as a force of change on the main protagonist, Emelynn Taylor. The themes also highlight the differences in how males and females react to these emotions.

Guilt manifests in shame, humiliation, and low self-esteem. Women, in particular, are susceptible to guilt and Emelynn is no exception. But she is also strong, and through the course of the novel, she learns to move past the shame and humiliation that result from her mistakes and moral choices. And more importantly, she learns to forgive herself. As a counterpoint, Emelynn’s male lover in the novel, who makes different mistakes and moral choices, doesn’t suffer the effects of guilt, and is not moved to change.

The theme of longing is more evenly played out between the genders. When the object of longing is unattainable, frustration, depression and despair can manifest. For Emelynn, the longing to gain control of the gift and fit in, is attainable, it fuels Emelynn’s fight to learn how to fly. The longing for the comfort of her dead father is not attainable and highlights her vulnerability and her humanity.

Similarly, the longing Emelynn’s lover experiences to locate his missing family friend, fuels his drive to find her. His longing to control how others view him, is unattainable and causes him to act out in ways that ultimately hurt him.

You are known as a voracious reader. What types of books do you enjoy reading?

Supernatural and fantasy books are my favourites. My most recent reads are the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Some of my favourite authors include Deborah Harkness, Terry Pratchett, Diana Gabaldon, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, JR Ward, Charlaine Harris, and Kelley Armstrong.

I also enjoy thrillers and some of my favourite thriller authors are Stephen King, Lee Child, Chelsea Cain, and Terry Hayes.

You did not begin your life with a career in writing. Why did you change paths? Was it easy to do so?

I worked in human resources before I began writing full time. The change of career came about through an opportunity–my husband was offered a position that meant we’d have to travel. He could have said no (he live’s all over the world) but I found the prospect exciting, and so we took it. We lived in Alberta for a winter, then moved to a remote town in Mexico for a year and followed that up with a stint in the Mexican Baja and then three years in Arizona. It was during this time that I fell hard for fantasy novels, and when we settled back into our home, it felt natural to take up writing. And though I enjoy writing, I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s a craft that takes time and dedication to learn.

Do your interests, hobbies, and talents influence your writing?

My interest in the supernatural definitely influences my writing. News stories about hidden treasure, missing relics, or the unexplained draw my attention. And I’m quick to go down paranormal rabbit holes searching for story ideas. 

My hobbies (gardening, cooking) provide a quiet reprieve and down time, during which I often resolve plot holes. And my natural talent for observation lends itself well to creating the details that make the stories come alive.

 

She has lived all around the world, travelling with her husband diving into the paranormal rabbit holes chasing ideas to create. She plunges into deep emotional themes and goes into how they manifest in ourselves and how different feelings manifest differently in men vs. women. She definitely has found her way in her craft through hard work and dedication, and is always striving to grow and morph into something better, not only for herself but for her readers too.