Tag Archives: Secret Sky

Author Interview with JP McLean

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I grew up in Toronto, Ontario and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to attend university. Within days, I knew I’d make the west coast my home. I fell in love with the mountains and the ocean and the vast rainforest. Where else can you ski, sail, and hike on the same day? I studied business and worked in human resources after I graduated. When we moved to our current home on Denman Island, I took a five-year hiatus to travel with my husband. 

I started writing professionally after we returned to the west coast. We’d spent five consecutive winters in the sunny south, two in Mexico and three in Arizona. It was late fall, and after we unpacked and settled back into the house, I found myself staring out at the cold, grey, rain-drizzled deck. The days were still getting shorter and the wet weather had just begun. I knew I needed to do something to keep from going stir-crazy. That’s when I started forming the story that would eventually become Secret Sky. And though there have been many bumps along the road since then, I’ve never looked back.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

While I was travelling, I got thoroughly hooked on urban fantasy. There were days I couldn’t put my book down—I’d be stirring a pot with one hand and holding a book in the other. I loved the idea of magic, supernatural abilities, and the paranormal. So, my inspiration were authors I was reading at the time, Deborah Harkness and her All Souls Trilogy, Charlaine Harris’s True Blood series, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and anything by Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

If there is a message in these books, it’s perseverance. It’s about getting back up when you’re knocked down. It’s not giving up when you make mistakes but carrying on. I hope I’m able to capture the readers’ imaginations and create a sense of magic for them, an escape, a little vacation from the daily grind.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always been keenly interested in the supernatural, the paranormal, and magic. I’m especially drawn to stories where the supernatural walk among us. I think that’s because I would love to possess those supernatural abilities—oh, to be able to fly! And when supernatural beings are hidden within everyday society, then maybe—just maybe—they really exist. That feeling of possibility is what I want to create in my writing. It’s escapism, and we could all use a little more of that.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d like to sit down with Jolene Reynolds. She’s the woman who gifted Emelynn her supernatural abilities. When Jolene gifted Emelynn, she risked her own life. The transfer would have left her physically weakened and the odds are against her survival. The books haven’t told Jolene’s story (or not yet!) so if she survived, I’d like to ask her why she gave her gift away. I can’t imagine the emotional struggle and the pain she endured to get to the point where she’d give away such a wondrous gift, and risk her life to do so.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

It’s difficult to trace where the readers originate. My two main platforms are Twitter and Facebook. I probably have more engagement on Twitter, but people know me better on Facebook. So, it’s a tossup. Writers who are wiser than me suggest sticking to one platform that you enjoy and giving it your full attention. Wish I could be more helpful.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write what you love because writing takes endurance. You’ll need to love what you’re writing to push through the inevitable difficult patches. And don’t wait for a big idea or the entire story. Write that one scene that is stuck in your mind or create that one character. You’ll be surprised how that simple act will spur your creativity.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yes! I’ve just finished writing a new book called Blood Mark. It’s the story of a young woman who bears a chain of scarlet birthmarks. The birthmarks are disfiguring, so she’s thrilled when, one by one, the marks begin to disappear—until she learns that the hated marks protect her from a mysterious and homicidal enemy. Now, she’s in a race against time to find this dangerous enemy before her last mark vanishes.

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About the Author

JP (Jo-Anne) McLean is an urban fantasy and supernatural  

thriller author best known for The Gift Legacy series. The  

first book of the series received Honourable Mention at the  

Whistler Independent Book Awards. Her short story, Boone  

Park, won Honourable mention from the Victoria Writers’  

Society. Reviewers call her writing addictive, smart and fun.  

Her books include endorsements from Ethel Wilson award 

winning author Jennifer Manuel and bestselling author,  

Elinor Florence. The series has been described as fantasy  

light and is a good introduction to the genre for the  

uninitiated. 

JP’s body of work was included in the centennial anthology  

of the Comox Valley Writers Society, Writers & Books:  

Comox Valley 1865–2015. She is a member of the  

Federation of BC Writers and the Alliance of Independent  

Authors. Her articles have appeared in WordWorks  

Magazine, Wellness and Writing hosted by Colleen M  

Story, Mystery Mondays blog hosted by Kristina Stanley,  

and others.

Jo-Anne holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder  School of Business, is a certified scuba diver, an avid gardener, and a voracious reader. She had a  successful career in Human Resources before turning her attention to writing. 

JP lives on Denman Island, nestled between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island.  Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP has lived in various parts of North America from Mexico and Arizona  to Alberta and Ontario before settling on Canada’s west coast. 

You can reach her through her website at jpmcleanauthor.com

Secret Sky (The Gift Legacy #1) by J.P. McLean Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman finds her life literally taking flight as she must contend with shocking abilities and a secret society that challenges her to question whose side they are on in author J.P. McLean’s fantasy romance novel, “Secret Sky”. 

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The Synopsis

An intrepid young woman. An incredible gift. A terrible price to pay.

Emelynn Taylor’s gift didn’t come wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow, nor can it ever be returned. Now, it’s taken over her life. It strikes without warning, strips her of gravity and sends her airborne, unchecked.

Haunted by terrifying flights she can’t control, Emelynn vows to take command of her dangerous gift. She returns to the seaside cottage where it all began. Here, she discovers an underground society whose members share her hidden ability, and a man who sends her heart soaring.

But the deeper Emelynn gets pulled into this secret society, the more she questions their motives. Are they using the gift for good or for evil? Unravelling the truth will plunge Emelynn into a fight for her freedom—and her life.

The first book in The Gift Legacy series, Secret Sky is a thriller that skirts the edges of reality in a world within our own. Buckle up and escape the ordinary: take flight with Emelynn Taylor.

(Secret Sky was previously published as The Gift: Awakening)

The Review

One of the more unique fantasy-driven narratives I’ve read in a long time, this was a remarkable opening chapter in a new fantasy series. In the first of six books, the author introduces readers to quite a unique world, where the gift many people around the world have always said they’d want is a reality for a select few, but it isn’t always the “gift” people assume it would be. 

The core of this novel resides in the protagonist, Emelynn. Her journey hits instantly when readers find her being transported to a hospital, and only gets stranger and stronger as time goes on. The mysterious circumstances of how she got her power, her wild introduction to the Fliers, and the complex web of emotions as she is introduced to new friends, new romance, and freedom she never knew before make her an engaging protagonist.

It was an especially inspired choice to set this story within the real world, and not an original land or world like many fantasy stories like to do. It made the inclusion of thriller and suspense elements in the narrative feel more natural and dynamic. The action and shocking twists and turns as the final pages came made this one of the best reads in the fantasy genre in years. 

The Verdict

A powerful, character-driven narrative like no other, author J.P. McLean’s “Secret Sky” is a must-read. The suspense and thrills that this book produces are equally balanced with the more fantastic and romantic genres this book inhabits, while the mythology and protagonist the author crafted help not only draw the reader in but keep them invested throughout the entirety of the novel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this amazing read today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

JP (Jo-Anne) McLean writes contemporary fantasy thrillers with a provocative edge. She is best known for The Gift Legacy series. The

first book of the series received Honorable Mention at the WhistlerIndependent Book Awards. Reviewers call the series addictive, smart and fun.

Her books include endorsements from Ethel Wilson fiction prize winner, Jennifer Manuel, and Globe and Mail bestselling author,Elinor Florence, among others. The series has been described as fantasy light and is a good introduction to the genre for the uninitiated.

Jo-Anne neglects the gardens and housework to write full time from her home on Denman Island, off of Canada’s west coast. She writes best when she’s within sight and sound of water, even if it’s just a fountain, and hopes never to stop reading, writing or imagining the impossible.