Mindee Arnett is the author of the critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller Avalon as well as the Arkwell Academy series and the upcoming Onyx and Ivory. An avid eventer, she lives on a farm near Dayton, Ohio with her husband, two kids, and assorted animals. When not telling tales of magic, the supernatural, or outer space, she can be found on a horse, trying to jump anything that will stand still.
A literacy advocate, Mindee is available for school and library visits, both in person and online, as well as writing workshops for both teens and adults.
1. Hi Mindee what have you been up to in the year since we last had you on the blog?
Hi there. So glad to be back to celebrate Ohio authors! This last year I spent a lot of time writing and riding. In other words, it’s been great.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about Onyx and Ivory?
Sure can. Onyx & Ivory is a high fantasy set in a magical world that has a real dragon problem. Whenever the sun goes down, nightdrakes appear and will try to eat any human they can. They’re like vampire dragons. The only safe place at night is behind the magically fortified walls of the cities. My main character Kate works for the Relay, the royal courier service that delivers the mail between the city states. Obviously, this is a hugely dangerous job. If something happens that keeps her from making her run on time she’s toast. But the real danger for Kate comes when her ex turns up in her life again. There’s a lot of magic, mystery, and romance.
3. How did your real life experience with horses affect the writing of the book?
It definitely made it easier, and it was a joy to get to include horses in a book. It’s the first time that’s happened for me. More than anything, it was important to me to write about horses as accurately as possible, without boring non-horse people with what can possibly be described as an obsession. I hope that comes across on the page.
4. Could you tell us a little bit about the furry creatures in your life?
I’ve got two beautiful dogs, Halo and Gambit. They’re both Australian Shepherds with big personalities. I’ve also have two cats that occasionally argue about who gets to sit in my lap. And I’ve got three horses, including my very first one. She’s 30 years old this year, if you can believe it. I’m pretty sure she plans to still be kicking for several years to come. And then there’s my newest horse. I brought her last year and named her Khaleesi, like you do. I call her Leesi for short.
5. Is there an issue in the YA community that you’re very passionate about? (Piracy, book banning, diversity, bullying, etc)
Well piracy is always a big deal, especially to a midlist writer like me. To be honest though, I try not to spend a lot of time and energy on it, because I’m pretty sure it will steal your soul. But what I wish people who pirate understood is just how detrimental it can be to a book series and also to an author’s career. Publishing is a business, and piracy contributes to book’s failure, which in turn will make a publisher decide not to continue publishing the writer. It’s a terrible, vicious circle, and for those of fighting to stay in the game, it can be the make or break point.
6. How was writing Onyx and Ivory different from writing other books in your backlist?
It was so much harder. So, so much. Some of it was because I was in a particularly hard place in my creative life at the time. Publishing is a weird, difficult experience, full of ups and downs. And I was definitely in a down. But that also made the book special in the end. I had to find my joy in writing again in this book, of putting the word on the page purely for the pleasure of it. It was also just a hard book in general. It’s pretty big in scope, and it’s the first time I wrote multiple points of view. It turned out to be a lot harder than I knew going in.
7. What’s your ideal writing day?
My ideal day is any one where I get to surpass whatever goal I’ve set for that day, especially if I can get it done before like nine at night. Since I still work a day job, I don’t have the luxury to have a set routine. I write in my spare time.
8. Name a book that has inspired you and tell us a little bit about why.
This might not be what you expect, but the book that’s inspired me most recently is Story: Style, Structure, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. It’s a nonfiction book on screenwriting, and it completely blew my mind. I found it both fascinating as a consumer of film and informative as a writer. Reading it made me eager to go out and apply the principles it illustrated in my own writing.
9. What’s next for you?
Up next is the sequel and conclusion to Onyx & Ivory. I can’t reveal the title yet, but hopefully soon!
10. Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Thanks for a great interview!