My books in The MacArthur Family Chronicles, the second, The Earl's Childe, having just came out this Tuesday, takes place in the Borders region of Scotland — right where England and Scotland meet. It's a location of cultural difference and blending, and the two countries have had a bloody and rough history. Beneath the ground, there is geological evidence of Scotland slamming into the UK; the land area of Scotland isn't naturally part of what we know of the British Isles.
Borders are an important theme of this series, too.
The main character, Heather MacArthur, is eleven years old. Right on the border of being a child and being a teen. When she wants to have some alone-time with her mother to discuss a terrible, fairly grown-up situation with her best friend and his family, it ends up being a trip to buy new clothes and — of all horrors — bras because Heather hasn't any clothes that properly fit anymore thanks to a recent growth spurt. In one of her less-than-mature moments, Heather pitches a fit. The moment between her mother and her, however, addresses both the child-self Heather still wants to cling to and the adult-becoming Heather who has to think about real world consequences that decisions that have no clear right answer: If you have only one magickal creature at your disposal, do you send him away to rescue a friend or keep him around to protect the people near you? And what if his safety and will in regard to the situation?
While Heather declares she is too young to even want to like-like someone (upon finding out an older boy might kind of like her), she finds herself stuck worried about her parents' marriage and the stress she's brought to it in her position as faery liaison. And watching your older sister get the boys who like her to do things is both awe-inspiring and freaking annoying.
Being liaison between Faerie and her family's land in the human realm also puts her on a physical border — a hotly disputed one as yet another daoine síth lord tries to wrest the land from both Heather’s family and the existing fey. It's been a battle for a few hundred years, in fact!
One of the best things about writing for young audiences is working in that mysterious grey space of transition. It's never a clean thing to change from one thing to another, to find the lines between two sides or two realms of existence. It's not for adults; but if you're in the middle of a change yourself, you have an even deeper perspective of how many shades of grey there are.
As a writer, also, I'm writing in the borders. The MacArthur series falls right on the border of middle grade and YA with Heather's age and the complexity of issues in her family alone — not even including dealing with the supernatural! Her father, Michael, has bipolar disorder, and with that comes some problematic decisions from him when his medicine fails, which affects Heather and her relationship with him. What do you do when you still need your parents, but you know you can't entirely trust the judgment of at least one of them? As an adult, Michael can make some pretty serious mistakes that Heather sees. And while I, the author, think it's important for readers to share some of these experiences with Heather — children do go through these things, and seeing heroes like themselves in books help — not all the teachers, parents, and librarians who might read this book agree.
Also, I don't write only for children. I write horror for adults under my full name. And while both my husband and I were watching horror at an early age, it's easy to forget that we were not necessarily the norm. Fortunately, I have wonderful editors that kept me within the safer borders of description when some of Heather's adventures get quite dark.
I'm also glad they understand that I also think kids can take some levels of darkness better than adults.
After all, the kids I'm writing this for live on the edge of a lot of borders.
Like with my first book, The Kelpie, I want to continue supporting the Bay State Equine Rescue through my writing, so a percentage of every sale of The Earl's Childe will be donated to the BSER, a 501(c)3 organization in Massachusetts.
The Earl's Childe is available through all online and brick & mortar bookstores, big box or your favorite independent store.
Meet the Author: