Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Post: Writing Prophecy Girl by Faith McKay

We're excited to have Faith McKay here today, talking about writing her novel, Prophecy Girl, and all of the ups and downs that went along with it! Check out the synopsis:

Ever since Samantha Winthrop's mother moved them to Lacuna Valley, supposedly in search of better weather, the list of strange questions she has no answers for has been growing out of control.

Does her little sister, Violet, have the ability to make things happen just by "praying" for them? Are Sam's dreams really predicting the future? Is she destined to marry the boy she just met, and what is the mysterious orb that he's guarding? Why does she get the impression that there are dangerous creatures watching from the woods?

While Sam should be focusing on answering those questions, there is one other that makes them seem almost irrelevant: Is her mother planning on killing her and Violet?

Writing Prophecy Girl by Faith McKay:

Prophecy Girl wasn't always called Prophecy Girl. Writing a novel is a journey, and there were plenty of ups and downs while writing, and then revising, Prophecy Girl. First! Some facts.

-- Prophecy Girl wasn't titled Prophecy Girl until the novel was already completely done. My husband named it, actually.

-- It was going to be a standalone novel. That novel sucked. (Yeah, it's a fact!)

-- Both the beginning and the ending had four completely different versions. Fourth times a charm, like they say. (Or something like that)

-- I wrote several very specific scenes and then built the rest of the story around them. (They're in Chapters 8, 9, and 14)

-- The first draft was 70,000 words. The final draft was 91,000+. I actually cut out a ton. Prophecy Girl changed a lot.

I really wanted to write a standalone novel. It was at around 40,000 words into my novel that I realized this was impossible. I knew what my ultimate ending was going to be, and getting there in one novel didn't make sense. It made my characters grow way too far too fast, and the plot had to whiz by without any explanation. It was like trying to watch a movie on fast forward. I struggled over the decision whether to make it a series for a very long time, but eventually I had to give up. The book wants what it wants!

Once I realized Prophecy Girl was going to be a series, I knew exactly how Prophecy Girl (Lacuna Valley #1), would end. So I wrote the last 500 words. And then, I wrote four different versions leading up to that ultimate ending. You wouldn't think you could come up with so many different ways to reach the same place, but I assure you, I outlined ideas for other versions as well. I think endings are really important, and I couldn't be happier with the ending to Prophecy Girl. The ending it wound up with had my favorite jokes in it, too. "Magical GPS" is probably one of my favorite parts of the novel.

There is always more that I could tell you about the journey I went on while writing Prophecy Girl. There is that Hemmingway quote about how writing a novel is easy, you just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. I felt that throughout this whole journey. When editing, I would pull out a scene and tell my husband "This one is WRONG!" And the only reason I had for why it needed to be changed was that it didn't have enough blood, not enough guts, not enough feeling.

Prophecy Girl deals with some pretty emotional and dark themes. Destiny, love, marriage, bullying, family, control, and child abuse. As a survivor of child abuse, I closed my eyes and went to the dark and twisty place, and wrote and rewrote until I felt like my darkest and most raw feelings were out on the page. Which is a thrilling and terrifying feeling at the same time.

And then the next day, I had to shake those feelings off like a good little writer, play "When U Love Somebody" by The Fruit Bats on repeat, and write about the squishy and complicated feelings of first love under some very complicated circumstances (although really, isn't love always under complicated circumstances? Isn't that the rule?). I swear, writing the cute and wonderful happy scenes were just as hard as writing about being bullied at school, or being abused by your mother.

I wrote, read, rewrote, read, rewrote, read, and rewrote most of the scenes in Prophecy Girl until the scenes had feeling, felt right, and I could read them say, "Yes, I opened a vein there."

Between rewriting to get the feel of the scenes right, and all of the other adjustments I made while writing this story, I definitely feel like Prophecy Girl has taken me on quite the journey. I don't know that you're ever really done with a book as an author. I stop editing it, I send it out into the world... but I keep thinking about it. I still go to Lacuna Valley in my head, and not just because I'm working on the other books in the series. After spending so much time creating real characters, I don't know if there is anyway to get them out of my head really. I'm good with that.

About the Author:

Faith McKay writes stories about characters with real world struggles in otherworldly settings. She is the author of PROPHECY GIRL, a story where characters struggle with the idea of having a destiny. In comparison, she feels really lucky that her destiny was to struggle with comma placement and be that awkward lady who points out puns at parties.

Other things to know about Faith… She wears two different colored shoes. She is a survivor of child abuse. She has lived with chronic illness for over a decade. A lot of people don't like her because she laughs too much. It's also the reason a lot of other people do like her, so go figure. She listens to more music than people are probably supposed to. She's a nomad. The word sounds really cool, so a lot of people say it, but she actually lives in an RV with her husband and their pet bunny rabbit, Dorian Gray.

If you'd like to know more about Faith McKay, visit her at:

For more about Prophecy Girl check out these sites!


  1. I loved this post! And I love how your husband named the book, too! I hadn't heard of it before but it's definitely up my alley with the dark, tough issues it deals with!

  2. Faith, this post rocked! You actually helped me figure out some things for my WIP. I loved reading about your writing process with Prophecy Girl.

  3. Thank you, Faith, so much for this post! I loved reading this because you clearly put so much of your heart and soul into Prophecy Girl. I just admire the amount of effort you put into writing your book to make it just right in every way imaginable.

    -Angie @YA Novelties


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