BookView Interview With Author M.Z. Medenciy

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we interviewed author M.Z. Medenciy about her writing and debut novel, Island Eight: Book One of the Ataraxia Series, a page-turning fantasy that takes readers on one woman’s exhilarating journey to find her true identity. (Read the review here.)

M.Z. thoroughly enjoys adventuring, if there are lands to be discovered, stories to be told, or fun to be had—you can count on her to be there. M.Z. resides in Rhode Island with the love of her life, their two hilarious boys, a pair of energetic pups, and one cat to rule them all.



Island Eight doesn’t have a typical protagonist or plotline, which makes this story stand out from other fantasy or sci-fi narratives. Was that a conscious decision you made before you went into the writing, or did that come about organically while you were already in the writing process?

This was a conscious decision. To be fair (holding back the urge to sing “To be fair”, I’m a huge Letterkenny fan), after I came to the conclusion of how I wanted to write Island Eight, the rest did come organically. One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, once wrote – “Start telling the stories that only you can.” He goes on to say that, and I paraphrase – Sure there will be people who do this and that better than you, but there will only be one you. Tell that story the way only you can. I took that to heart ^_^.

Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

Island Eight was born from my dreams. The first incarnation of Gabriel appeared to me several times in my sleep. I would wake up with this aching in my heart, and an unspoken message as if he was imploring me to tell his tale. I knew there was a story there.

At first, Island Eight seems to fall categorically into the genre of fantasy, until elements of sci-fi are uncovered toward the end of the book. Can we expect more sci-fi elements going forward? Was it important to you to blend both genres for this story?

It was very important for me to blend the genres. I cannot stress how important it was to me to blend the genres. This desire was not newfound, but grounded deep down into my youth and was an integral part of the world, the imaginary refuge, I created as a child. You can definitely expect more sci-fi elements moving forward.

Which scene, character or plotline changed the most from first draft to published book?

I have to say that the most prevalent change is that I have significantly fewer characters than what I started with. One of the biggest edits I was asked to do by my content editor was to minimize the number of characters I had. He also suggested that I take the strong traits of weaker characters that I was eliminating and use those traits to add more dimension to my main characters. It was brilliant advice. Even so, it was hard for me to do. There were some side stories I wanted to keep but, in the end, I realized those characters did not drive the plot forward in anyway. So, they had to go.

What were the inspirations behind the world you’ve built in Island Eight? Any particular histories, mythologies, or stories from the real world that aided in your development of Gea?

I don’t want to give too much away here, but I can say without hesitation that I used a lot of lore from around the world. I intentionally didn’t stick to any particular history or mythology. If the reader picked up on something, I wanted it to feel like they found an incomplete trail of breadcrumbs.

Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Cytrine – From the get-go I knew what the relationship between Cytrine and Sophia was going to be. But creating a character like Cytrine was difficult for me. I did not want to her to be the typical OW (Other Woman) in novels. She is so much more than that, and figuring out how to tell her story meant me getting into her head. Working out why she wants what she wants and does what she does had me screaming into pillows. In the end it wasn’t about what I wanted. It didn’t matter if at first she did come off as the typical OW, because that’s what she wanted. Cytrine didn’t care how Sophia perceived her, so I needed to let that go. In the end I had to let Cytrine write herself.

Like many fantasy novels, Island Eight opens with a map of Sophia’s world. Unlike many fantasy novels, though, extensions of the map are revealed throughout the book. Why did you decide to include the map in multiple pieces like this?

The way the reader sees the world is the way Sophia sees the world. Therefore, I made the choice to open the world map to reflect the journey.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t be scared. You are not writing to please each and every person. You write because you have stories to tell in a way that only you can tell, so tell them.

Island Eight is the first installment in the Ataraxia Series. Without spoilers, can you give us a sneak peak at what to expect from the series in the future?

I imagine the Ataraxia series as this intricately knotted entity. With Island Eight, I pulled at one of its loose tethers, revealing a glimpse of the world within. There are many tethers and the one I’ve chosen to pull has been showing me a deeper look into the mysterious gods of Gea, feuds within once unified Councils, the birth of magitech and a realization that could potentially destroy Sophia.


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