Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Interview with M.K. England for Spellhacker


by M.K. England
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Release Date: January 21st 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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From the author of The Disasters, this genre-bending YA fantasy heist story is perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Amie Kaufman.

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure.

Can you briefly describe SPELLHACKER and its characters?

SPELLHACKER is the story of a heist gone wrong in a futuristic world with magic, starring a girl named Diz who is basically a cactus secretly filled with marshmallow. Diz is joined by her NB childhood friend Remi (who she is definitely not dating), her fierce bestie Ania, and her dad-friend Jaesin. I love the magic system, setting, and found family dynamics in this book, and I hope you do, too!

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

Oooh, so torn. Diz was a lot of fun to write because every human interaction is a landmine with her. She’s so repressed and hurt and angry all the time that the whole book was like slowly peeling away the layers of her pain so others could reach her. There’s so much of my young self in her. I also loved writing Remi for the total opposite reason—Remi is the self-assured enby royalty I aspire to be. They know exactly who they are and what they’re worth, and they refuse to accept any less. They’re also one of those people who unabashedly loves the things they love and embraces life with their whole heart! 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

The initial idea seed for this book came up during a tabletop roleplaying game session. I honestly can’t remember what system we were playing… Dungeons & Dragons? Star Wars? Pathfinder? But something in what we were playing made me think “magic hackers.” That’s all it was for the longest time. That tiny phrase sat in my google doc full of ideas until I was done revising The Disasters and needed something new to write. I poked and prodded at “magic hackers” until it became a fully-fleshed out book idea—Spellhacker! I found some great technology inspiration from the book Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku, and was generally inspired by my lifelong love of the Final Fantasy video game franchise, especially Final Fantasy VII. 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

“Like O, Like H” by Tegan and Sara is Diz’s theme song for sure, but I think “Hell” (also Tegan and Sara) is a great choice for the book as a whole. Playlist coming soon!

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Go pound an energy drink on an empty rooftop somewhere and look out over the lights of the city or the stars out in the country. Read the book by the glow of a phone or tablet screen. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish SPELLHACKER?

I think SPELLHACKER readers would love The Fever King by Victoria Lee. Now’s a perfect time to read it, because the sequel is out soon! I’d also recommend Warcross by Marie Lu, Want by Cindy Pon, and Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely as good comps. 

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

I’m the least observant person in the world, and for better or worse, I live very much inside my own head. So, I struggle with sensory detail. My early drafts are all action and dialogue, and I have to go back and do a really deliberate pass to add visual and other sensory details. 

What’s next for you?

I wish I knew! This was the final book of a 2-book deal for The Disasters, so I’m a bit adrift at the moment. I also have some major life/health things coming up soon, so I may take a bit of a break to focus on my day job and survival. I hope more of my stories will find homes, though! I wrote these books because they were what I wished existed on the shelves, and I hope I’ll get the chance to keep making shelves queerer and more full of sarcastic jokes in the future.

M.K. England is an author and librarian who grew up on the Space Coast of Florida and now calls rural Virginia home. When she’s not writing or librarianing, MK can be found drowning in fandom, rolling dice at the gaming table, digging in the garden, or feeding her video game addiction. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if you never speak of Sherlock Holmes in her presence. You’ll regret it. 

THE DISASTERS is her debut novel. Follow her at


  1. I'm a huge fan of this author and her writing. I loved The Disasters and the sneak peek of Spellhacker, so this book is one of my most anticipated books of 2020.

  2. An exciting magical adventure where the main character is a cactus full of marshmallow sounds new and creative and different! I look forward to this!