M.C. Foley is the author of The Ice Hotel, which tells the story of the McGarity family’s grief over losing their eldest son and brother, Rossa. Upon invitation from long lost friends they soon find themselves in Sweden heading to the fascinating and mysterious Ice Hotel. We managed to steal a bit of M.C.’s time for an interview…
Where did the idea for the Ice Hotel come from?
The idea for THE ICE HOTEL came on swiftly. Like a flood. Basically, a friend of mine passed away. I’d seen him on a Friday and the very next day, I – like so many people I knew – got the call that he was gone. It was a shock to the system. He was young, in the prime of his life, and loved by so many. Over the next several days/weeks/months, I was surrounded by grief. It seemed like everyone around me knew him, and everyone was stunned. I think it was this mix of my own grief, and being surrounded by so many people who were haunted by his loss, that pushed the story out. Within a week or so of his death, I was overtaken by an idea and I just started slamming it out. It was the idea that I could somehow do in a book what I could not do in real life… bring him back.
I was drawn to base most of the story at the ICEHOTEL in Sweden for a few reasons. This hotel, which is the first of its kind, is built every winter from the frozen water of a nearby river. And every spring, the hotel melts back into the river from where it came. So, the hotel goes through the cycle of life – birth, existence, death – every year. Also, this ICEHOTEL is based in the Arctic circle, which is filled with a kind of magical energy that is also real. Everything from the huskies, dog sleds, ice hotel and ice church, the snow-covered pine forests and especially the aurora borealis – which are the northern lights that create undulating ribbons of color stretching clear across the dark sky – all those things make the environment around the ICEHOTEL a magical place. And it still blows my mind that this place and those things actually exist on earth.
Have you been to the real Ice Hotel?
Not yet. I intend to go in the near future.
The way the story is structured is very unique, like poetry, why did you decide to set it out/write it that way?
It’s odd, the only thing I decided before sitting down and actually writing the book itself – was the spine of the story – but the poetry, it just came out on its own. It’s kind of how my brain works. You see, for so many years, everything I’ve written has verse in it. This includes the poetry I performed on tours, the plays I mentioned earlier, a screenplay I wrote in LA that was optioned, a web series project I’m working on right now, and even some of the weekly articles I write for an online industry newsletter. Verse is ingrained in my writing muscles and brain because I love it. I love how it captures the essence of thought. Or rather, the distance between what we say – and what we actually think or believe.
What was your favorite moment to write?
Favorite moment in the book? That’s a hard question! Let’s see… if it has to be just one moment… and I don’t want to give any spoilers… it would be between three sections: 1) the prologue to the prologue; 2) the epilogue; and 3) a moment deep into the story when Poe blows his whistle, and then something supernatural happens that both he and Izzie can’t believe is real, and that makes one of their wildest dreams come true.
The Ice Hotel is being adapted for screen which is very exciting! What’s the process been like? Have you had much involvement in the project?
It’s just in the beginning stages right now – but yes, it’s so exciting! Basically, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, co-writers of the 2011 Oscar-BAFTA-WGA-nominated film, THE FIGHTER, are adapting the book to screen. Since we’re in the beginning all I can say is that yes, I’m involved – particularly because Paul and Eric, who are both phenomenally talented and incredibly driven, respect other writers. When they do adaptations, they like to work in close contact with the creator of the original source material. This is so important when it comes to book-to-film adaptation, as the original story can get lost in translation if care is not taken to protect that story from the very start. To be honest, it’s all been beyond surreal. In fact, from the very first call my manager, Marvin V Acuna made to me, telling me Paul & Eric were on board – (Marvin produced The Great Buck Howard and is also a producer on the film along with Peter Riche and Alan Riche, who produced films like The Mod Squad, The Family Man, Starsky & Hutch and have a number of upcoming films including Southpaw with Eminem and scripted by Kurt Sutter) – after that call, and for a month or so after, I almost couldn’t believe it was happening. I had to hear everyone say it over and over until I could finally accept that yes! this is happening. And it’s happening with people you not only like and look up to – but who you are extremely lucky and honored to work with.
What can you tell us about the next book in the series?
Let’s see… another hard one. Hard because I’m superstitious and I don’t like to talk about stories that aren’t finished yet.
I guess I’ll just say this – I love the McGarity family. I especially love Izzie and Poe. They are the heart of the story. And they are going to face even more dangers – challenges that all of us will face in some form during our lives – those things that give us nightmares and riddle our minds with fear. Or maybe, because I’m the writer, more specifically riddle my mind with fear. But just as all of us must do, they will be forced to stand in the face of that fear and go on another adventure.
Wow… I hate to sound so general… but like I said… I have to sound that way, for now. J
What’s currently in your to-be-read pile?
A few things: the scripts to a few of the 2011 Oscar nominated films, the second book in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy – Catching Fire (I stopped after book one because I had to finish Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret); Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief; and I’m re-reading the script to Up… one of my favorite movies.
And lastly, crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Crunchy! (I’ve abused hot coffee over the last several years – burned off all my taste buds. So *crunch* is very important…)
The Ice Hotel is available now via Amazon
Check out our review here