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Drunk On Ink Q & A with M. J. Irving and ‘Nova’s Quest for the Enchanted Chalice’, a novel

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable, a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan

M.J. Irving has always followed the advice that if you believe in something, it can come true. M.J. has spent life following this philosophy which has brought her to this point; where she can share the magical worlds in her head with you. M.J. is a Canadian of Jamaican, English and Irish descent currently living in London, England with her significant other. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of British Columbia and has led a career in research, marketing, sales and strategy management at one of the world’s leading media companies in the events industry. She has travelled to over 50 countries and many of her experiences have helped in shaping her writing. When M.J. is not writing, she enjoys countryside walks, playing board games and eating chocolate. She has a fascination with the unknowns of the world and the universe and her mind is quite often in the clouds.

About Nova’s Quest for the Enchanted Chalice

When a comet lights up the night’s sky, an ordinary boy from a small town in Dacaan begins to see that everything in his world is not as it seems. A secret that he didn’t know about himself becomes exposed and he finds himself running from the clutches of his enemies as he embarks on an adventure with his best friend to a mysterious land of magic called Happenstance. It is not long before he realizes that he has a bigger place in the world than he could have ever imagined. It is up to him to fulfil his new quest and challenge everything that he thought was good around him. But, the path is not so easy to travel and there are challenges, lies and betrayal in its wake.Nova’s Quest for the Enchanted Chalice, is a story of a world after magic has been banished and evil resides. A powerful regime that rules Dacaan uses social media, a virus and other invisible shackles to keep its citizens in their districts as ignorant hostages. But, as Happenstance begins to vanish and magic is lost forever, it is up to its inhabitants to fight back and they know that Nova is their only hope to save their world of magic and Dacaan.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

M.J. IRVING: I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with Margaret Atwood, her writing is so readable and she tackles the big issues but with the simplest and most poetic language. More recently, I would say that a few of my new book loves outside of Margaret Atwood include Scythe by Neal Shusterman and the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I love both dystopian fiction and fantasy novels. My all time number one book that I can’t speak more highly of however is Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Ok, don’t scream in frustration when you hear this but I like decaf coffee. I used to drink coffee, coffee and it made me feel sick in the afternoons and now I am obsessed with decaf. I also love both milky tea and herbal teas but nothing beats a large glass of wine at the end of a busy work week.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

The Handmaids Tale / Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I think it is so important to read dystopian fiction and understand just how fragile our political systems can be in the face of fractious leaders. The more that we can understand the possible, the better we can all be at pushing forward the right sorts of ideals and asserting ourselves at the right moments in our lives.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

I love the classics and have read almost all of them. I read Rebecca just a few years ago and really wish I had of read this earlier in my life as it was just brilliant.

Favorite quote from your book 

I’m going to cheat because I have more than one!!!

“I’ve been writing your story as you’ve grown Nova. We are just getting to your quest, and I believe it should be a fantastic one.”


“Happenstance is fading, magic is fading. Lady Luck’s prophecy is coming true, and she saw you, Nova.”


“You destroyed our homes here on Earth, you killed our people and then you made us a myth. You made us something imaginary and unreal to the people of Dacaan. You made us in to your monsters when, look at you, you are the monster. Now you are stealing our magic.”

Favorite book to film? And why?

Wonder (watch trailer) It is such a beautiful story in any case but watching it is just an absolute dream. I don’t usually like books to movie but this one is incredible!

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

I am honestly loving all of the indie authors on bookstagram and that is my newest bookstore. I encourage you all to follow unknown authors, there are some incredible things happening off the high street ?

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

I’m going to cheat again haha. So, the first thing is that it isn’t as hard as it looks if you just believe in yourself and try. I was always afraid that I couldn’t do it because it is only for the special few but its like riding a bike, if you practice hard enough and then take the training wheels off you will eventually succeed and once you’ve learned the skillset, you can ride a bike for the rest of your life. The second thing is that it can be really testing at times and there are so many parts to not just writing the novel but setting it up so that you can get published and engage the right communities so its important to lean on others from the writing community and just take your time.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

I honestly really hope so. I feel that once you’ve got things set up the first time or you learn what you need to do then it should all fall in to place for the future books. I’ll get back to you on that in June when I release book two – Nova’s Quest for the Spellbound Elixir!

Dog, Cat, Or?

Both, the more animals the better. I would own a zoo if I could! I particularly love orangutans and sloths at the moment and support wildlife charities so that I have lots of pets since I currently live in a flat/apartment so have no room for a pet.

Ideal vacation?

Iceland, I went last year and I am still not over its beauty and how magical it is. But, also Bora Bora or somewhere hot and beautiful with lots of beaches, coconuts and palm trees.

Favorite book cover?

Nova’s Quest for the Enchanted Chalice – obviously haha! It is the most gorgeous book cover that I have ever seen. I tried to make sure that it would fit with other covers in its genre but stand out and I really feel it does. It is something of a mix between the cover for Priory of an Orange Tree, Nevernight and a Harry Potter cover which is what I was looking for and my designer and illustrator are all to thank for it!

Favorite song?

I’m a 90s girl so anything No Doubt or Ace of Base are absolutely amazing in my eyes. I also really love Jewel and some country music classics.

Last impulse book buy and why?

I bought Good Omens based on a book recommendation from a bookstagrammer/author and can’t wait to get stuck in. I was looking for a good read that would make me laugh as I loved Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy so I’m looking forward to reading this recommendation.



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