MarcyKate Connolly talks debut YA novel Twin Daggers

Each week, an accomplished published author takes over the YEM Twitter account for Thursday’s Twitter Takeover. Each week, the YA author will answer questions, tell stories, and give advice on our social media. This week YA author MarcyKate Connolly will be taking over our Twitter account. She is the author of the new YA book Twin Daggers. In fact, Twin Daggers is Connolly’s first young adult novel! Check out YEM’s interview with MarcyKate Connolly here!

Young Entertainment Mag: How did you first get involved in writing?

MarcyKate Connolly: Growing up, reading was extremely important to me. But I believed music was what I wanted to do with my life. I’m a classically trained soprano, however I also have crippling stage fright. So eventually it became clear a life on stage was just not realistic. In college, I discovered a love of composing music and ended up writing an opera as the equivalent of a senior thesis. Once I graduated, I began working in Boston in the arts sector which led to a long daily commute as I was still living in NH at the time.

One late night while I was stuck on a subway train that had stopped between stations, I noticed there was a light on behind some plastic sheeting in an old, unused tunnel and it was glowing in this intriguing way. Suddenly the gears started turning in my brain and that sparked an idea for a story about fairies living in the subway tunnels of Boston. I figured if I could write an opera, maybe I could write a novel, and I’ve basically never looked back!

YEM: You have experience with writing children’s books, but this is your first young adult novel. What is the biggest difference between writing for kids and young adults?

MarcyKate: I think the biggest difference is the mindset of the characters. Generally speaking, in middle grade the primary tension is between the main character and how they fit into the scope of their world—friends, family, etc. With young adult, that scope is usually broader—the world at large—and there’s a deeper reflection about the main character(s) place in that world.

YEM: Did you have to alter your writing style in any way when writing for young adults?

MarcyKate: I don’t think of it as altering my writing style so much as inhabiting a different mindset while writing. For me, the category of a book is largely determined by the main character, so once I figure out who they are and what they want, that tends to fall into place.

YEM: Your new book is called Twin Daggers. Tell us about the book- what is it about?

MarcyKateTwin Daggers is a fantasy spin on Romeo + Juliet. If Juliet and her twin sister were magic wielding spies out for revenge in a world of magic versus machines.

YEM: Twin Daggers has elements of adventure, thriller, fantasy, romance, all mixed into one. Did you set out to write a novel that hit so many genres?

MarcyKate: Don’t forget there’s a little sci-fi too with all the machines! 😛 Yes, I did want to include a number of different elements in this book. But primarily fantasy (the subgenre of science fantasy to be specific) and romance. Most fantasy includes some sort of adventure, and once I figured out that my main character was a spy, the thriller aspects also fell into place.

YEM: The book has elements of Romeo & Juliet. Was that one of your inspirations for this novel? 

MarcyKate: Absolutely! I’m a Shakespeare fan, but the one thing about Romeo + Juliet that always bothered me was that Juliet doesn’t have a lot of agency in the play. She’s very much swept along by her fate. So this was an opportunity for me to use the elements of that play that I loved (the star-crossed lovers, angsty teens, and essential plot elements), but to put my main character more in charge of her own fate.

YEM: Where did the idea for this book come from? 

MarcyKate: As I mentioned, I love Shakespeare so writing a retelling eventually was inevitable. One day I was looking through some snippets of ideas I’d saved away and came across one about a world where people with magic were at war with people who had technology. I’d jotted it down months before, but that day it struck me that those two factions were a lot like the Capulets and Montagues, and the idea for Twin Daggers was born.

YEM: The main character Aissa is a very determined character. Are there any elements of her that were inspired by people in your life?  

MarcyKate: There’s definitely a lot of myself and my own stubbornness in Aissa. Also, while her sister Zandria is more of a flirt, Aissa is a bit clueless and awkward when it comes to boys. And that’s very much taken from my own teen experience!

YEM: This story tackles the theme of good versus evil. What do you want readers to take away from this book?

MarcyKate: Twin Daggers is very much a story about learning that the world isn’t black and white. And that most people fall into a shade of gray. It can be very difficult to come to terms with the fact that the people you look up to are not infallible after all. They make mistakes, some of which may have terrible consequences. In Twin Daggers, the main characters must reconcile with those truths and I think that makes the book very timely. I hope it can help others process those things in their own lives if they’re struggling with them too.

Want to learn more about Twin Daggers?

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