About “Changeling” from McKenzie Rae
There were a few pieces of inspiration that sparked the idea for Changeling. I can remember tagging along to my mom’s book club when I was younger—the group met at Borders, back in the day when that was still a thing. While my mom met with her book club in the café, my sister and I often wandered around the bookstore. Like many bookstores, there was at least one shelf full of staff picks. I recall seeing a book on one of these shelves, and the cover art caught my eye. The book jacket had a picture of a bell tower on the front. I don’t remember the title of the book or the author’s name anymore, but what I do remember is the scene that this book cover inspired.
When I saw this cover, I pictured two little girls in dresses at the top of the bell tower. One of them was dangling over the edge while the other child held onto her arm. The girl being dangled from the top of the tower was obviously scared to death, but the other little girl still thought they were playing a game and didn’t understand that the game had gone too far.
Mind you, none of that was actually on the cover of that book. However, it had painted that very vivid scene in my mind, a scene that eventually made it into my book Changeling.
After that day, I had started to imagine the bare bones of what would become Changeling one day. But the final spark of inspiration I needed came from one of my family’s cats.
Our cat hated to use her litterbox. She preferred to do her business in our backyard, but that became tricky in the winter. I live in Minnesota, so snow and cold temperatures are to be expected here. Our cat wasn’t a fan of Minnesota winters. She wanted to go outside but she didn’t want to get cold and wet, so she misbehaved until one of us got so fed up with her that we tossed her into the backyard for a few minutes. It was on one of these occasions that I had a thought: What if something had a human being as a pet and simply tossed them outside in the middle of winter? What would happen?
And that turned into the basis of my book Changeling. Faeries steal humans to be their pets, but they really aren’t very good at taking care of them. Faeries are cold and ruthless, seemingly heartless much of the time. They don’t understand that humans need love and warmth in order to thrive. This is how the Fairchild clan has treated their human pets over the years, creating a deep hatred for all faeries in the hearts of their changelings. So, it really isn’t that surprising when one of the Fairchilds’ changelings, a girl named Annabelle, murders most of them in their sleep and then kills herself, leaving only two surviving Fairchilds: brothers Rush and Leon, who were away on a trip at the time.
Maggie and Max, along with four other changelings, are then left to fend for themselves. With the Fairchilds either dead or out of town, the changelings have to figure out how to feed themselves now that their source of enchanted food is gone. They also have to prepare for Rush and Leon’s imminent return. As they attempt to survive, tempers flare, and it becomes increasingly clear that Maggie is keeping secrets. Without a clear leader, the changelings are left vulnerable to Rush and Leon’s retribution. However, when the inevitable confrontation arises, Rush’s allegiance to his family is called into question. As Rush tries to help both his brother and the changelings, Maggie and Max are uncertain of whose side Rush is actually on, or if he is playing both sides with an ulterior motive all his own.
The imbalance of power that I had imagined when I saw that book cover and when I saw my cat getting tossed out into the snow can be felt throughout Changeling. People who feel like they have no power in a dangerous situation will do dark and desperate things, which can be seen in these characters as they make questionable decisions. Changeling is not a happy story about a protagonist that overcomes their trials and tribulations. It is about a protagonist who fails to do the right thing in an impossible situation. While there will be hope and redemption in the following two books, Changeling mainly focuses on characters making mistakes and the consequences that come from them.
To see more from McKenzie Rae check out where to get your copy of “Changeling”
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Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B077SN8176