Are you an indie author or a traditionally published author?
At its most basic, indie author means there is no separate publisher involved, but there has been a blurring of the line between indie author and indie publisher that seems to be mostly related to the size and scope of the business. For myself, I’m published through a small independent publisher and take on the responsibility for marketing, etc. So, in a broad sense – I am an Indie Author.
Tell me a little about your writing journey, thus far.
I started writing seriously around the age of fourteen, when I began struggling with depression and anxiety. Ideas came to me faster than I could put them on paper, and it was around this time I wrote the first book in my husky/wolf series – Akea.
I spent some time with a freelance agent who helped polish my work. Sadly, through no fault of his own, he was unable to keep trading, and I was on my own again.
Publishing myself looked a scary business. Major publishers only seemed interested in known authors, but there is so much to organize for self-publishing – beta readers, proofreader, editor, and cover designer, to name just a few. To do it properly would require a lot of work, time, and money. In the end, I approached some hybrid publishers. Some of these are money-grabbing con-artists, but a proper proofreader and editor are going to cost something, and there are a lot of books on the market that could have done with both of these. My work had already been vetted by an agent, so I knew I wasn’t going to be one of them.
Finally, we chose a small publisher who took time to talk and explain the process when we needed it. I’m now editing the sequel and hope to have this ready for publication later this year.
Do you write under a pseudonym? If so, explain why.
I wanted to keep my writing separate from the other things I do, so I decided to use my middle names. This makes perfect sense until someone calls my author name in public, and it takes me a moment to realize they are talking to me.
What genre do you write and why?
When I started writing at fourteen, I was reading mostly animal-based children’s stories such as the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels. I have always had a natural rapport with animals, but due to being autistic, I struggled to understand people. So, for these two reasons, animal-based children’s books came naturally to me. While I am a children’s author at present, I hope to expand my writing into other areas at some point.
What are you currently working on?
I have a very busy mind and always have several things on the go at the same time. I am currently editing the second book in the Akea series and have written parts of books 3, 4, 5 and 6. I’m also working on another animal-based story, a metamorph story, an anthropomorphic story, and my first people-based effort.
What inspired you to write your books?
The idea for Akea itself came purely by accident. I like to work with a photo or illustration of my character in front of me. I was searching for an image of a husky for a story idea I had involving a Dalmatian, where the Husky was a secondary character. I came across a particular photo which felt like the husky was looking at me and telling me her own story. The sensation was so strong that I had to write it for her, and ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’ was born. Incidentally, the Dalmatian story was never written.
Some stories come from sketch ideas for characters I’ve created, some from ideas for other stories, from games I’ve been playing, or like Akea, from photo’s or video clips I’ve seen.
What are your top 5 favourite books?
I’ve really enjoyed Brian Jacques’ books, particularly ‘Redwall’; Books by Erin Hunter; Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park; most books based on Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek; Roots by Alex Haley – which also made a great television series, and Pride and Prejudice – particularly the audio version read by Joanna David, who played Aunt Gardiner alongside Colin Firth’s memorable Mr. Darcy.
What does literary success look like to you?
Someone once told me they could imagine ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’ as a film. That has to be the ultimate in success as an author. Failing that, being able to make a living from writing would be amazing, but as I have zero confidence in my work, just knowing that people have enjoyed reading it counts as success to me.
How many hours a day do you write? What is your writing routine?
This is a tricky one. I’m not actually in control of when I write. My brain decides when it wants to write something and which particular story it wants to write at that specific point. I can spend the best part of the day writing, none of the day writing, or end up writing in the middle of the night. Somehow, my head keeps track of it all and can pick up where it left off with any story it wants to.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it be and why?
I love authors who can mix two of my favourite things – animals and fantasy – into a compelling read, so I would probably say Erin Hunter, Brian Jacques, or Jack London. The funny thing is I hadn’t read Jack London’s books until someone pointed out the similarity between my book, Akea, and Jack London’s White Fang. That’s probably as flattering as being told your book reminds someone of a JK Rowling’s novel.
What advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?
When I first started writing, I had this weird idea in my head that chapters should be a specific length, and I would write until I had reached the number of pages designated to the chapter. This was extremely limiting and not a mistake I will repeat. I would advise people just to write and keep writing until the story is all there in front of you. Also, don’t be distracted by research – unless the information is vital to the progress of the story, leave a note to come back to that point later, so you don’t lose your flow – unless you are like me, of course, then you can do three things at once anyway.
And finally, make sure your work is properly edited – your reputation could depend on it.
Alyssa Rose – www.alyssarosebooks.com