Heart of Time
Ruined Heart, Book 1
by Sky MacKinnon
Genre: Fantasy, Lesbian Romance
For Eona, manipulating time is second nature. It gives her an edge in her dramatic circus performances, but it also separates her from the other artists in her troupe. She has always known that her unique kind of magic could make her a target, but she couldn’t have prepared for being kidnapped, manipulated and imprisoned by a megalomaniac sorcerer.
In order to figure out what he wants from her, she needs to explore her own magic, the bond she feels with a mythical creature, and the feelings she has for a certain beautiful elven woman.
There are about twenty illustrations in the book, drawn by artists from all over the world.
“A peryton! Of all the magical beasts there are, this is the most elusive, the most mythical of them all! I didn’t think they existed! There are a few legends and tales, conflicting and inconsistent, yet they tell of a beast combining the physical features of a stag and a bird. Never did I think that this bird might be an elvedritsch!”
Lassadar’s voice was full of awe and wonder. Inside, I agreed with him. The little thing was astonishing.
At the sound of Lassadar’s voice, he opened his big eyes and looked up at us. First, he turned his head to the man opposite of me, then he shook his head slightly and turned to me. The huge brown eyes looked straight at me. I stared back. I saw an intelligence waiting behind those watery pupils. This peryton was not simply a beast like any other. It was more than that, though I could not say what brought me to that conclusion.
His look was firm and steady, and when I cautiously smiled at him, he inclined his head. Hello.
Skye MacKinnon is a bestselling author who tells stories about science for a living - but at night she writes fiction, mainly fantasy. When she's not writing, she's out and about with her camera, or spends time with mythical creatures and the odd vampire living in her kindle. Usually, there's tea and cake involved.
She lives in Scotland with her two overly spoilt house rabbits and a few hundred self-obsessed characters constantly asking her to tell their stories. One day she will. Promise.
What can we expect from you in the future? I’ve got so much going on at the moment! In the past two months, I’ve been publishing my Winter Princess serial, a paranormal reverse harem romance. It’s been extremely popular (all four episodes have become instant bestsellers on Amazon) and I’m looking forward to publish the final instalment, Arrival of Winter, on the 7thOctober. If you’re not a fan of serials, you can get the omnibus edition on the 21st. Then, on the 4thNovember I’ve got a book coming out called A Little Crazy, which is the first book I ever wrote. It’s quite a dark tale about a young girl dealing with grief, but it’s very close to my heart. I’m currently editing and rewriting it, but you can already pre-order it. Then there are several anthologies that I’m part of, including one about fairy tales and one featuring contemporary reverse harem. You can subscribe to my newsletter to find out about upcoming releases: https://skyemackinnon.com/newsletter.html
What kind of world ruler would you be? I’d hope I’d be fair, generous and wise. But I guess many rulers start out with high ideals and then end up turning evil. Muahahaaa (tries to hide evil lough – guess you better don’t make me world ruler).
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Is it really sad to say that I write? I have a full time job, and I write in my lunch breaks and in the evening, so it’s a nice change from working. But there are so many other things that go into being an author, like covers, editing, marketing, so I also spend a lot of time doing that. Interacting with readers on social media is one of the most amazing and relaxing things I can imagine.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
Writing is like an addiction. I was on holiday for two weeks this month, and because I was backpacking, I didn’t take my laptop with me. I got so many story ideas during that time, and was devastated I couldn’t write them all. Of course I made notes, but I missed writing a lot. Usually I write every day so this was like going cold turkey. My head is full of the stories, and I’d probably go crazy if I couldn’t get rid of them by putting them on paper.
I’m not a full time writer yet, I’m still having a day job. And I’m glad that I do – it gives me the security to try if I can make my living with writing alone, while still having a monthly income. I could live from my current book sales, but I want to give it a few more months to see if it stays this way before quitting my job to become a full time author. I’d recommend this to all aspiring authors – try it first while having a regular income, I’ve seen too many others fail and use up all their savings while trying to write full time.
A day in the life of the author?
That’s easy as most of the day is taken up by my job. I work in communications at a science institute, telling people about the research we do and how it can help patients. But every lunch break, I write for at least half an hour. Something that’s helped a lot is so-called sprinting, where you write as fast and as much as you can in 25 minutes. Most of the time I do it at the same time as a friend, so we race against each other. It’s very motivating and keeps the inner editor at bay, who usually slows me down when I try writing at a normal speed.
When I get back from work at about 6pm, I do another half hour or so of writing, then dinner and any household chores I have to do (don’t remind me, I need to do the washing tonight), then it’s time to go on social media. I’ve got some very active fans on Facebook, and I regularly take part in takeovers, Facebook parties and other fun stuff. In my group, I post teasers to show readers what I’m currently working on. They love that, and I love interacting with my readers. I still can’t believe how many people seem to love my books.
I’ve got a cover designer, but I sometimes like to do my own covers or some other graphics on Photoshop, so I try to do some of that every few days. And then of course there’s editing…
At weekends, I like to go to a café, switch off the wifi and write for a few hours. Every 1,000 words, I get a treat – not good for my waistline, good for my word count.
I’m hoping to become a full time writer next year when my current work contract runs out.
What are you currently reading?
The My Winter Wolf serial by my good friend Arizona Tape. She was a beta reader for Heart of Time, and after she gave me a detailed analysis of my personality after reading it, I thought it would be a good idea to keep her close (I don’t want anyone to know how crazy I really am). Now we’re writing buddies and write together most days, and critique each other’s work. She’s just sent me her final draft, so I can’t wait to read it tonight.
How long have you been writing?
Ever since I could hold a pen, pretty much. When I turned 18, my mother gave me an album of stuff I had drawn and written over the years – and apparently, I wrote little stories (with terrible spelling) in my first year at primary school. I don’t think they were any good, but I’ve never stopped writing since then. I always wanted to be an author, but people told me that you can’t live from that, so I trained to become a journalist instead. After all, that’s writing as well, just a different kind. Then I went into communications, but my job there was so stressful that I stopped writing in my free time for two years (which is why Heart of Time took a total of four years to complete). I felt like all my creativity was drained during work hours, and I didn’t have any left in the evenings to write. But when I changed jobs earlier this year, I finally had the energy again, and managed to finish Heart of Time, another book called Winter Princess, and get started on several other writing projects. Now, I write every day after work, and at least one day during the weekends, and I hope to start writing full-time at some point next year. What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I start with the first sentence, I always find that really easy. I know other authors who start in the middle of the story, or who rework their first few paragraphs again and again, but somehow, mine always have to start at the very beginning. In fact, I’ve got tons of first sentences lying around that are still missing their story.
I write linear, one scene after the next. And no planning at all. Usually I know where I am at the beginning and where I want the characters to end up at the end, but that’s it. My characters are very vivid in my head and they run the show. They develop while I’m writing, and often come up with things that I could never have planned (for example, in my Winter Princess serial, I hadn’t planned to do any sex scenes until the end of the first story arch – but somehow, those pesky characters ended up having quite a steamy moment in the second instalment).
Heart of Time was never supposed to have a romantic aspect – it was planned as a high fantasy novel. Well, my main character Eona didn’t like that, and managed to get herself a female love interest. And towards the end of the book, she meets some guys that she’ll get very close to in book two.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Most of them come to me while I write. I usually have a picture of the main character formed in my head, and maybe one or two others, but the rest just happen to stroll into the book and demand to be heard. Those are actually the best ones, because they’re part of the natural flow of the story, and somehow create themselves. Sometimes, they don’t tell me their names at the start, so I just call them X for a few paragraphs or even chapters until I find out their name. This sounds slightly crazy, but these characters really have their own mind and don’t always do what I tell them to. Okay, make that almost never. Sometimes that can be quite annoying (recently, a character who I thought was Scottish suddenly told me that he was from Norway – so now I had to find someone who speaks Norwegian to tell me a few basic words I can use).
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Usually, I do my research while writing a book. I’m not much of a planner, I just go with the flow and write down what my characters tell me to. But when I come across a topic I need to know more about, I do my very best to research it. For example, in Heart of Time, Eona befriends a healer who specialises in herbs and candle making. I had some basic knowledge of healing herbs, but I did a lot of research to make sure that what was mentioned in the book was accurate. My other book, Winter Princess, is full of Scottish mythology – there’s not as much material on those Gods as there is on Greek or Roman ones, so it was interesting to find out what people used to believe in here in Scotland.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
This might be a bit cliché, but the idea for Heart of Time came from a dream. A nightmare, to be precise, in which I had my heart torn out. Not a pleasant feeling, I can assure you. And somehow I survived the heart-tearing and ended up becoming evil because I was missing empathy and love. So when I woke up, I wrote a little fairy tale featuring a woman who looses her heart (quite literally) to the devil. But that wasn’t the actual story – in the end, I wrote the story of the woman’s daughter, who grows up as an orphan, not knowing that her inheritance might be a very magical one.
Do you have any advice to give aspiring writers?
Never give up. Eona, my main character in Heart of Time, spent two years in a dungeon because I couldn’t figure out how she would escape. During that time, I wrote other stories and focussed on my career in journalism, but Eona was always at the back of my mind, nagging me to release her. And then, one morning at work, I suddenly knew the escape plan. It was so obvious that I’m ashamed how I never figured it out. Eona didn’t have to get out of the prison by herself – she was allowed to get help. And somehow she fell in love with the man who rescued her. Figures.
But yes, never give up. Even if a story evades you for a while, keep at it. Don’t let it go to waste. And nobody is saying that you can only ever work on one project at the same time (you do NOT want to see my spreadsheet where I track all the stories I’m currently writing).
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