I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Kathy McCullough’s debut, Don’t Expect Magic, this summer and I really enjoyed it. It’s a cute and humorous novel that I know teens and tweens will enjoy. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy, I definitely recommend reading it.
Summary of Don’t Expect Magic (From Goodreads): Delaney Collins doesn’t believe in fairy tales. And why should she? Her mom is dead, her best friend is across the country, and she’s stuck in California with “Dr. Hank,” her famous life-coach father—a man she barely knows. Happily ever after? Yeah, right.
Then Dr. Hank tells her an outrageous secret: he’s a fairy godmother—an f.g.—and he can prove it. And by the way? The f.g. gene is hereditary. Meaning there’s a good chance that New Jersey tough girl Delaney is someone’s fairy godmother.
But what happens when a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own?
- Why is the title Don’t Expect Magic? Doesn’t it contradict the plot?
Great question! It seems like a contradiction, but it’s meant to reflect Delaney Collins’ attitude about having inherited these magic powers. She’s dark and sullen, and therefore the typical image of a sparkly, cheery fairy godmother goes completely against how she views herself. She feels that none of her own wishes in life have come true, so she resents being forced to help others achieve theirs. The title applies in a more literal sense too, because Delaney discovers that she only has limited powers initially and she’s not very good at performing them. Ultimately, she discovers that it’s not magic that makes dreams come true, but accepting who you are—and letting others see the real you.
- What was your motivation to write a book?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was five years old, when I wrote my first book: an illustrated collection of poems. I wrote stories all through junior high, high school and college, but I loved movies and decided to get my graduate degree in screenwriting. The challenge in writing scripts is that you have to include a lot of other people’s ideas into what you write. You also run the risk of having someone be hired to rewrite you. I decided to go back to writing books so that I could protect my ideas and my words. Not that I didn’t do a lot of revision for my editor! But it was me doing the revising and not someone else.
- Why did you choose to write about a young girl?
I’ve always gravitated toward family stories and stories about kids of all ages. I tend to identify with younger characters and I also think kids and teens are more interesting and complex than adults. Younger people tend to be more passionate about their beliefs and they also feel things more deeply, whereas adults have learned to tamp down or hide their passions and emotions in order to get along.
- Do you plan on writing more books like Don’t Expect Magic?
I do! I’ve completed a sequel to Don’t Expect Magic, in which Delaney faces off against a rival teen fairy godmother – an “f.g.” who is the pink, sparkly type. I’ve begun a new book, which, like Don’t Expect Magic, is a mostly comic novel with a touch of fantasy, and which uses the fantasy to propel the protagonist’s emotional journey.
- Has your family read the book yet?
I know my mom has read it and she liked it a lot. I’m not sure about Dad (he’s not a big reader; maybe if it comes out on audiotape…) My brother and sister-in-law bought a copy for their sons, but I don’t think any of them have read it yet. My cousin Paula, who is a big inspiration to me, has read it and I know at least one aunt has. Because the book just came out, many members of my family are giving it to other members for Christmas, so by January, everyone will have probably read it.
- What do you do during your down time?
I don’t have a lot of down time. Really! I’m trying very hard to juggle writing projects, both books and screenplays, and I also work part-time reading scripts and books for film production companies. I volunteer at the library (I guess that’s down time) and have been trying to keep up on all the promotional work of having my first book come out. Promotional work like this interview! – and also, visiting bookstores and libraries to introduce myself, doing school visits, etc. When I do have a bit of free time, I love going to the movies with friends. And, of course, I love to read for fun.
- How would you feel if you were put in your character’s situation?
I probably would be more thrilled with having magic powers than Delaney is initially, although I think I’d also be more nervous about them. Delaney’s not really afraid of screwing up, but I’m always worried about screwing up.
- Was the publication process different than you thought it would be?
Yes, in a lot of ways. I expected to do some revisions, but I ended up doing a lot – all of which made the book much better. I learned that there are many more revision steps than I realized, even after copy edits are done. Also, when I wrote the book, I had no idea that there were even book bloggers at all, much less book bloggers who write just about YA books! So that was an amazing discovery. The best thing I learned was that despite all the hard work and challenges involved, I really do enjoy the publication process.
These were excellent questions! Thanks so much for the opportunity to be on your blog.