Interview with M.L. Blackbird | NewInBooks
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write A Wish Too Dark And Kind?
As an ex-pat who has lived for many years far away from where I grew up, I am fond of the themes of “connections” and “isolation,” so I wanted to tell a story that incorporated these two themes. Initially, this played a role only in the plot and it is a key element of what the party and the ritual in the story are. Over time, these themes have seeped into the magic system, as one can see in the concepts of a magical network. At the same time, I had a conflict; on one side I wanted to build a hard magic system, that is closer to my taste, but I also wanted the story to have dark/horror tones. The two things don’t really work well together, so for many years, I dwelled in a limbo where I couldn’t decide the right direction. It turns out that traditional European occultism, another thing I’ve always been fascinated by, could help me. I included many of those traditions, together with concepts coming from physics and mathematics, to create a magic system that, while being hard, is never fully presented to the reader. I think that helps in creating the creepy atmosphere I wanted by always leaving the reader with the impression that there is something going on that they are missing.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of A Wish Too Dark And Kind, what would they be?
This is a brilliant question because I created a playlist that I listened to while writing the book. There are way more songs in the playlist, but these are the ones I always associated with the main characters:
Alex: Irregular God–Kevin Penkin
Daniel: Don’t Be So Serious–Low Roar
Roman: Hurt–Johnny Cash
Ioan: When the Night is Long–Shelby Merry
Van Vloed: Blue Lips – Regina Spektor
Hermann: Miss Misery–Elliott Smith
Celeste: Lilium – Kumiko Noma
Leto: Rain – Steve Conte
Arnaud: Two songs for him, Behind Blue Eyes–The Who, and The Man Who Sold The World–Nirvana
Valentine: BB’s Theme–Ludwig Forssell
You can find the full playlist Here
If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?
A Scotsman with expertise in whisky and magical sigils and a hobgoblin with a penchant for mischief investigate criminals who smuggle the Fae. All of this while they try to escape a curse that menaces to kill them through freaky accidents and the police who are wondering why people keep dying around them. The book is “Ink & Sigil” by Kevin Hearne, and you should read it; it is really cool!
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
I love pretty much anything fantasy and sci-fi that makes me lose myself in the intricacies of a new world, a magic system, or some complex scientific theory. I am especially fond of stories that use fantasy and sci-fi elements to explore deeper themes of society or human (psychological) conditions. As such, I read more dark, grim dark, and gothic fantasy with horror themes. In a sense, you can say that I read pretty much in the same genre I like to write.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.) Where did you write A Wish Too Dark And Kind? (your couch, a coffee shop, a bar… hey – we won’t judge)
I have a couple. Probably the quirkiest is that, while I write, I hate silence. If I write in complete silence, my brain roams, and I get distracted and unproductive. To fix this, I listen to music–often loud music–while writing. Another quirk habit I have is that I write standing; I built a standing desk and in the last year I almost never wrote a line sitting. I wrote most of A Wish Too Dark And Kind at home, but what “home” was changed a lot while I wrote it. In fact, I started writing it while I lived in Scotland and finished after I moved to Seattle. Given my obsession to keep writing under any conditions, I wrote in the weirdest places. The strangest I can think of is during a road trip to Iceland where I did not skip a writing night even while driving 4-5 hours during the day or after having climbed on a glacier. It was exhausting, but it was a lot of fun!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
In life, the best advice I received was to stop focusing so much on outcomes and start enjoying the process of making things. It was also important because it made me understand that while we cannot measure certain things in life with numbers, they are still important. In writing, instead, the best advice was to keep writing every day no matter what, especially when I didn’t want to write. Ultimately, this made me complete the book. Of course, it won’t always work, and in those days, self-compassion is a must, but writing every day is still a must for me.