Hello, beautiful people, I am thrilled to be interviewing the Kelsey J.N. McRae today. Kelsey is a Scottish author and LGBTQ+ and mental health advocate. Their debut novel Indigo Rain came out last year through Bombadil Publishing. I wanted to sit down and talk with Kelsey about Indigo Rain, publishing, and diverse representation. Here’s what they had to say.
Tell Me a Little About Indigo Rain.
Indigo Rain is a novel I wrote in high school, that was just published last year (while I was at university). It’s a fantasy novel about a trio of friends set to a background of new age mythology. One of the main characters, Riley, is an indigo child, meaning she can see all sorts of wonders other people can’t.
One day, she sees something new, a suffocating smoke filling the forest that threatens the destruction of everything she holds dear. At the same time, her twin brother — who also possesses similar talents — is battling with his own depression and suicidal thoughts. His better and much bubblier half, Eason, is the final member of the group. He is entirely mundane other than his fierce loyalty to his friends. Eason will give up time, sleep, and even, if necessary, his own life, to ensure their safety. Together, they desperately try to navigate their way through their lives, which lately have become a battle for survival.
What Inspired Indigo Rain?
I started Indigo Rain when I was in high school. To me, writing has always been a platform to vent (which you will know well if you read my works), and my younger self was dealing with bullying, suicidal thoughts, depression, and questions of identity. Also, like every LGBTQ+ kid stuck in the highlands of Scotland, I desperately clung to the idea that something more awaited. I started reading up on auras, spirit, and new age mythology, so my story developed from there. The twin characters came from different aspects of myself, and Eason…Eason was a friend I wished I had.
I Know You’re From Scotland. What Was Your Publishing Journey Like Over There?
A lot scarier than my twelve-year-old self could imagine. A piece I wrote for fun became one I revisited frequently and changed in anger and sheer frustration at my past self for thinking such trivial things were important or the height of humor. I think a lot of young authors are like that, especially when you start applying to publishers. Eventually, I stumbled into one.
I walked into a creative industries talk in the college and was introduced to my future publishers (who are passionate and dedicated). They are a new company called Magequill. I’ve helped them find things they need to change on their website, and they’ve supported me through my publishing journey. The idea that this is the starting point for both of us makes us like family.
What Was Working With an Editor Like?
Working with an editor is interesting because you see your novel in a different light. You realize how much you actually have to explain that can’t be taken for granted. But you also learn how little you have to be direct. It’s hard to put what is essentially your baby out there for critique, but it’s definitely worth it.
Was it Difficult Publishing While in School?
Publishing at peak assessment time at university was definitely a challenge. To all the new writers out there: coffee, playlist, no sleep, repeat (though as a mental health advocate, look after yourselves).
The Characters in Indigo Rain are LGBTQ+. Why Do You Believe LGBTQ+ Representation is Important in Young Adult Media?
They are! Eric is gay, and Riley “doesn’t get it” yet, but will discover a word for her identity later in the series. I believe LGBTQ+ representation is so important. Opening up the conversation with young people especially can create grounds for them to understand not only each other but themselves. Whether it be to understand narratives different from their own or seeing themselves represented, education is vital. I struggled with accepting myself before, and Eric is how I came to terms with that. I hope maybe he can help more people come to terms with their truth.
I know representation is survival. The statistics for mental illness and suicide among LGBTQ+ youth are staggering. If I can teach people to be okay with themselves or challenge homophobia, I can say I’m doing myself proud.
What Are You Working on Now?
I am currently at the start of the long editing process for the follow up to Indigo Rain, Crystal Clouds. I’m also writing the end to the trilogy and a run along book about a character introduced in Crystal Clouds.
Can We Continue to Expect the Same Level of Representation in Your Later Novels?
The same and more. Crystal Clouds is a favorite of mine because of the identities I get to explore. My two favorite characters are introduced, Oscar MacMillian (he/him) and Wren Blackburn (they/them), both of whom are Trans individuals. I am ecstatic about the opportunities I have to explore here politically. Wren being a Native American AMAB Trans person, opens up a lot to talk about. I’m also very excited to explore different experiences of homosexuality with characters who have been met with less desirable reactions and how they dealt with it.
Also, if you have read Indigo Rain, you will be delighted to know I’m also hoping to explore ace/aro identities with my favorite spooky sweetheart Riley Alder.
Thank You So Much For Your Time, Kelsey. Before I Go, Where Can We Find You?
Thank you for having me. You can find my work here through Bombadil Publishing.