Young Adult Fantasy Author + Cat lover + Dancer + Eternal optimist + Harry Potter fanatic Alana (Siegel) Mag is the author of the Olivia Hart and the Gifted Program and (after)life lessons young adult fantasy book series. She was raised on Long Island, New York. She was the valedictorian of Plainedge High School and graduated with a B.A. and double major in Finance and Accounting from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. She currently lives in San Francisco, California, with her husband, Stefan Mag, and their two ragamuffin cats named Zeus and Thor. Since early childhood, she has loved to read fantasy books. Add a little romance and a happy ending and in her eyes, you have a perfect afternoon of reading. As our Author of the Day, Mag is telling us all about her book, The Light of Supremazia.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Light of Supremazia is about.
The Light of Supremazia is about a community that can communicate with spirits. Children with this ability attend a private high school run by famous dead people. For example, Albert Einstein teaches Science and John F. Kennedy teaches Social Studies. One student, Jules Winklevoss, gets unwillingly sent to this school and learns an evil spirit is plotting revenge on her family.
What inspired you to write about a school run by the dead?
My favorite types of books are magical realism--the books with a tiny bit of fantasy that if you close your eyes tight, you can almost imagine that it actually exists. The existence of spirits is a highly debated topic, and I wanted to bring them to life.
Tell us more about Jules. What makes her so special?
The main character, Jules, is a natural leader of the leftovers. She doesn't like to follow the expected path, and she stands up for people who don't stand up for themselves. She is loyal and independent to a fault.
Why Young Adult Fantasy? What drew you to the genre?
I am a self-proclaimed Tween Queen. I love to read and write anything young adult, but especially fantasy and romance.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I am an investment analyst by day! Writing is my escape from spreadsheets, financial statements and Bloomberg formulas. I am also a dancer. I take five classes of jazz and ballet each week, and I post my videos on Instagram (@alanasiegel).
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
I wrote my first series (Olivia Hart and the Gifted Program) while I was living in New York, and this series ((after)life lessons) while I was living in San Francisco. Some of the characters reflect the Bay Area culture, like Logan Klomp and his Asian American heritage.
Was there a particular character whose voice you found it easiest to write in?
The book is in the first person and from Jules's viewpoint. I've heard people say that Jules is stubborn and loyal, just like me!
If you could choose one character from your book to spend a day with, who would it be? And where would you take them?
I would spend the day with Albert Einstein. Perhaps we would go to Silicon Valley and discuss the latest inventions. Who wouldn't want to pick the brain of one of the most famous people from history?
How do you come up with such brilliant ideas for conflict? I mean, the way the plot goes is just never what you expected it to be, you never know what might happen next!
The evil spirit that creates conflict is Machiavelli. He creates fear and terror all over the world to attain obedient followers for spirit supremacy. Machiavelli died in 1527 and was best-known for writing The Prince, a political discourse on using fear as a means of power.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
I write down ideas for new books in emails to myself. When I feel a story has enough traction, I map out the plot in an excel spreadsheet. I dream up character traits while I'm doing mundane tasks like taking a shower. blow-drying my hair, or petting my fluffy ragamuffin cat (Thor's on my Instagram, too!).
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a new magical realism series. It is about the government banishing criminals into a parallel universe that sits on top of our world. Convicts have been escaping through an odd means of transportation. The world unfolds through the eyes of a group of friends who may or may not be connected to the parallel universe.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?