Author Spotlight: Rebecca McLaughlin talks NAMELESS QUEEN
I'm thrilled welcome Rebecca McLaughlin on today's blog! Rebecca graduated in 2014 with a BA in Chemistry and English Creative Writing. Since then, she has worked as a technical writer in Michigan. NAMELESS QUEEN is her debut novel.
When not working or crafting stories, Rebecca can be found practicing her knife-throwing skills or seeking out the perfect cup of coffee. She wrote NAMELESS QUEEN because she grew up lower-middle class (which was not ideal), went to a private college (which was weird), and made good friends along the way (which was wonderful). She realized that exploring the social and economic divide is difficult, but magic makes that exploration easier—or at least more entertaining.
Check out my full interview with Rebecca, a synopsis for NAMELESS QUEEN, and a link to an excerpt below!
"A thrilling tale of identity and found family wrapped up in epic, politically-charged worldbuilding. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop...on the list of my favorite fantasies, Nameless Queen has won its way to the top!" - Crystal Smith, author of Bloodleaf
Everyone expected the king's daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.
It shouldn't be possible. I'm Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don't even get names. Dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.
But there's no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous than the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don't?
Hi, Rebecca! Welcome and congrats on Nameless Queen. Can you tell us a little about the story and what inspired it?
Nameless Queen is the story of a girl called Coin who is catapulted from her life as a thief and grifter up to the tip-top of her city’s classist society. She goes from a Nameless nobody, who doesn’t even have a literal name or basic human rights, to the queen of the whole city. Needless to say, there are some unhappy campers about this power dynamic shift. One source of inspiration was the literal phrase “to name your successor.” I began thinking—what would it literally mean to name your successor by speaking their name, and what happens if there are people without any name at all? The second source of inspiration was really wanting to write a story that explored class dynamics. As anyone who has gone from a public school system to private—or even walked into an unexpectedly fancy restaurant—can tell you… it isn’t easy moving between social strata. I wanted to take a girl who grew up as a thief and throw her into a palace where she the expectations and challenges facing her were new and strange. How would she grow? How would she change? How many people would she punch? You know, the normal questions.
How did you approach your world building and class system for Nameless Queen?
Writing the first draft of Nameless Queen taught me that I could draft fast even with a 50 hr/week job. It taught me that I didn’t have to choose between careers. I did the first draft of Nameless Queen in about 2-½ months while I worked overtime at my first job out of college. Revising Nameless Queen over the following 2-½ years (Yikes! That’s a long time!) taught me that really substantive changes to a manuscript are not only possible, but help strengthen the story in ways you don’t even expect. Also I learned that I’m a workaholic, so that’s fun.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently infatuated with?
I am currently reading Glitch Kingdom by Sheena Boekweg. It’s a hilariously fun romp where human players are trapped in a lifelike AR video game and have to win in order to survive. If you like nerd jokes, video game tropes wrapped up inside a fun narrative, then check out this book! It comes out in February 2020.
And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned (so far) in your publishing career?
You have so little control over your own success. It’s really, really true. We want to think that it takes talent and wit and hard work, but that’s not all it takes. Success is something brought on by luck, chance, timing, and the actions of others. All of this to say: To be successful, you have to do two things: Get good, then get lucky. And you only have control over one of those things. Do your best, try to keep improving, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Many thanks go out to Rebecca for taking the time to tell us more about the inspiration behind NAMELESS QUEEN, and for sharing some of the lessons she's learned so far in her publishing journey. Be to sure to add Rebecca's debut which Kirkus calls 'a socially conscious fantasy with appealing themes and tensions' to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore!
For more information, keep up with Isabel on Twitter, Instagram, and visit her author website at mcrebecky.wordpress.com.
And, as always,