Author Interview: C.C. Luckey

I collect quirky authors like some people collect seashells.

Cory Doctorow. TJ Klune. Erin Morgenstern. Robin Sloan. Jenny Lawson. Those are the New York Times Bestselling big names of course, but there are many indie authors I count amongst them.

They’re like beach finds to me, from hours combing the sandy shores of bookstores, online book reviews, social media, and word of mouth. When I find an author I like, I follow their work, often reading outside my comfort genres, just to get another taste of their prose and stories.

When I read Kana the Stray, I had the feeling I was uncovering more than just a moment, but something that would alter the landscape of my reading journey for more than just one book. Like finding an intact conch shell—a beachcombers dream. In other words, C.C. Luckey, whether you like it or not: you’ve been added to my collection.

So needless to say, I felt quite lucky (sorry, couldn’t help it, it’s just the one I swear) that I got the chance to interview Luckey to talk about their writing journey and their future stories.

(And if you haven’t yet, you can read my review for Kana the Stray here.)

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live near the ocean in Long Beach, California, and I have a few different hobbies. I play accordion in a rock band, go hiking one or two days a week, and collect oddities. But my true passion is writing, and my books mean everything to me.

Tell us about your novel.
Kana the Stray is a story about a young woman who lives on the streets of Chicago, but is pulled into another world populated entirely by talking animals. To survive, she must quickly learn about politics, become self-sufficient, and endure living in the wild without help—all skills which are new to her. The book is a new twist on animal fantasy for adults, with a hefty dose of science fiction and epic adventure thrown in.

What is your favorite novel, and has it inspired how you write? How?
My favorite book is a fairly obscure novel called The Book of the Dun Cow. It was written in the late 1970s by a pastor named Walter Wangerin Jr., and borrows some characters and ideas from Chaucer’s fable of Chaunticleer. It is technically biblical fiction, which is not normally an interest of mine, but when I read Dun Cow it just spoke to me. The story follows a rooster who leads his flock in a horrific war against an ultimate evil which lives inside the earth, and along with its sequel, The Book of Sorrows, it’s the most beautifully sad story I have ever read. Wangerin’s tale was definitely an inspiration for Kana the Stray.

What are some key takeaways you’re hoping readers will get from your book?
I write primarily to entertain, but there are a few other important ideas in Kana, such as accepting one’s true self and persevering in the face of unfamiliar challenges. In a way, it is also an environmental disaster precautionary tale. But the most important theme, other than the pure joy of exploring a new world, is that family can be chosen. Family is whoever is most important to you, whether they are related to you or not. And a chosen family will always bring you happiness, even in the most difficult times.

What is different about your novel?
I’ve been told I write in a more classical style, ignoring current trends and tropes. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad from most readers’ perspectives, but it’s what I enjoy. All four of my books encompass realistic “low” fantasy supported by science fiction ideas while focusing on complex and relatable characters, who are often somewhat damaged. Kana is flawed. She doesn’t always make the right decisions. Her friends are flawed, too. But all that matters in the end is the bond they form with each other, and doing the best they can in a dangerous world.

What are your plans for future novels?
I am currently working on my first series! I have three historic fantasy books planned for release in late 2021 and early 2022. The series is about a late Victorian circus traveling across the United States, and has a divination theme, including both tarot and astrology.

What inspires you to write?
I’ve always been greedy with my life. I’ve never quite been comfortable with the fact that I get only one. There is so much in the world to enjoy, to explore. As long as I keep writing, I can live a hundred lives, have a thousand adventures, and—hopefully—bring some other people along with me.

What do you enjoy about publishing, and what do you struggle with?
I enjoy nearly everything about publishing, from developing loose story concepts to screening the final edits. I think the hardest part is getting feedback from people. Even readers who really love your story often forget to tell you!

What has been your greatest struggle writing, and how would you inspire other writers to overcome it?
Much of my work doesn’t fit well into currently popular genres. I tend to hold story and originality over market demands, which makes it harder to reach people who I know would love my work if they found out about it. The feedback I have received from my readers has been incredibly positive, so I know my work has merit. What matters most for me, and for all other writers, is to just keep writing. Keep setting new books free into the world, and never quit.

How can we purchase your book?
Paperback and eBook versions of all my books can be found on Amazon. My eBooks are also available on Kobo and many other similar sites, and my paperbacks are also available on bookshop.org. My website is www.ccluckey.com, where you can find links to my Amazon listings and a contact form to email me directly or sign up for my newsletter.

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