Imagine, if you can, a world of clans of cats, prophecies and struggles for power. A world where magic truly does exist and mystical elements create choices of love, family and friends.
This is the world of the Twelve Element Clans series, volume one of which – Journey to my Heart – is available in Grand Cayman from Books & Books and Book Nook.
But this isn’t the latest bestseller of JK Rowling or Terry Pratchett – it’s the work of Margaux Maes, a Cayman Islands resident. Not only is Margaux only 14 years of age – the book was written when she was 13 – but she also handled all the editing and publishing herself. Weekender spoke to the writer about this tremendous feat.
Margaux, who is Belgian by birth and moved to Cayman with her family three and a half years ago, says she has always been intrigued by magic and mythology.
What was the inspiration in writing the novel?
“When I read the Stravaganza books, an idea of twelve Clans of cats just popped into my mind and I began writing down every detail about them: their home, their rules, their powers. I spent four days behind the computer, just typing out the basic idea and description.
“After that I made it into an online role-play … I have four very loyal members on that role-play and the stories we write about our favourite characters are what has inspired many events that happened in Journey to my Heart,” she tells us. Margaux also credits her brother, Max, as being a source of constant inspiration and story suggestions.
The tale concerns a character named Silainé, a beautiful but dangerous hot-headed Shadow Cat with serious social issues.
“She was so much fun to write about and her life had gotten so interesting that I wondered if I could make it bigger, give her the spotlight. So I began planning her story, writing down a timeline and estimating the length of it.”
Weekender, as a confirmed cat-lover, is happy to see the fab felines taking their place in the sun. Margaux agrees that they are graceful, mysterious and cute.
“I have a thing for cat eyes: when you look into them, it’s like they hold the key to another world, a magical world. I have six cats at home and they all have beautiful eyes, each in their own way.”
One thing the world needs is more magic, says the author.
“Hasn’t everyone ever had a dream of flying on a dragons back, taming a unicorn or using magic to teleport anywhere they wanted to?
“I would hope for it to be the good kind [of magic] rather than the kind that I like to write about. Let’s make sure evil magic remains for books and movies only.”
Cayman, says Margaux, is so serene that it is a perfect atmosphere in which to sit and write.
“One other thing I love is the underwater aspect of it. I love swimming, especially with my head below the surface. It gives me such a feeling of freedom and clears my head from any negative or stressful thoughts.
“Sometimes I wish I was a mermaid, just to be able to breathe underwater so I could stay under for hours,” she tells us.
Of course, all successful authors are usually rapacious readers too. We wonder who Margaux’ favourites are.
“I don’t really have a favourite author, but there are several series that I really like: Warrior Cats, A-List, Blue Bloods, Septimus Heap, Princess Diaries, Nikki Heat and plenty more,” she muses.
The sequel to Journey of my Heart is on the way, says Margaux, and it will be titled Revolution. So what advice does she have as a successful young writer?
“I would like to reach out to anyone with a dream,” she declares.
“Don’t listen to other people when they tell you that dreams are just a child’s fantasy, that this is the real world; only those who are willing to follow their dreams are the ones who achieve them. Never give up on your dreams.” It’s that kind of attitude that makes magic happen.