Susan M MacDonald had lived in half the provinces of Canada before settling in Newfoundland in 1998. She sent her first manuscript off to a publisher in grade six, but was politely rejected. A life long reader of science fiction and fantasy, she began writing in earnest thirty years later. Edge of Time is her first published novel. She lives with her husband, two children, two dogs and a fluctuating number of goldfish.
First of all, Orson Scott Card endorsed your debut novel. That’s an accomplishment in itself. Were you thrilled?
I literally screamed when my publisher sent me an emailed copy of the blurb Orson Scott Card had given. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. I met Scott back in 2008 when I attended a writers workshop he gave and when Breakwater asked me if there were any famous writers I knew who might be willing to review the ms, I mentioned him. I never in a million years expected such a positive review.
Some of the characters in your novel have unisex names–Riley, Darius, Rhozan–was that intentional and if so why?
I didn’t even realize about the names until you mentioned it! I named Alec after Alexander the Great, a fearsome warrior who was also very clever and shrewd. I hope that Alec can grow into his own special powers with the same degree of confidence. I named Darius for the king who was one of the very few monarchs to ever beat Alexander (even though he was eventually defeated by him). Riley wasn’t named after anyone in particular. It’s just a name I’ve always liked.
Alec finds confidence when he moves away from his unstable private life and accepts himself for who he really is. There is a real message there for young adult readers. Did you intend to do that or is it something that just happened as the story unfolded?
I’m fascinated by psychology and what makes us tick. I think adolescence is the most interesting (and unpleasant) time in our lives. True maturation comes with accepting who you are and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. The messages of tolerance, maturity, self-confidence and unrestricted love are all intentional. I hope they don’t come access as preach-y! I think that teens are often looking (in what they read and hear and see) for validation messages.
I’ve noticed some similarities between the science fiction TV show Heroes and some of the characters in this novel. Did you watch any similar shows/movies in preparation for writing this novel? And what science fiction reading or research did you do?
I gave up television about 8-9 years ago in order to fit writing into my life. As a consequence I’ve missed the ENTIRE reality TV thing (apparently not a bad thing) and haven’t seen anything of Heroes or Lost or any of these shows. I think there are pretty typical archetypes I probably have tapped into. I do go to movies, and love adventure/SF/fantasy. I am a huge Trekker (enough said) and still think Star Wars was the best movie ever. I dabble in reading SF, but will read anything. I’ll even read the back of a cereal box if there isn’t anything else. My husband is a HUGE SF fan and knows the genre exceptionally well. When I had technical questions I would run them by him.
What do your kids think of this novel?
My kids are now 17 and 15. The 17 year old is huge reader. I gave her a copy of the ms to proofread after it had been accepted and the proofs needed checking. All she said was, “You can actually write.”, which is great praise. My 15 year old is not a reader but did read his copy when they had come out in print. I discovered that he liked the book when we caught him reading it at 1:30 in the morning (on a school night, no less).