I hope you all had a great Christmas! I know I did but I had to take a few weeks off interviewing to survive it, lol But it’s almost 2014 and there’s just enough time for one last interview before the year’s end!
I’m super-excited to welcome YA author and blogger Alyssa Auch to Dropped Pebbles. This young lady has so much great stuff to share that I can’t wait for you all to meet her, so I’m going to jump right into the interview. Here we go!
Welcome Alyssa! It’s so great to have you here today. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Sure! I’m a 24-year-old mother of three kiddos all of them four and under. I’ve been married to the world’s best husband for five years, and I’m also in my last semester of college, graduating with my Bachelors from Brigham Young University-Idaho. And, oh yeah, I’m a writer. I listen to techno music like Infected Mushroom, but I also like sappy stuff like Josh Groban. My favorite show is The Walking Dead, and although I have read and analyzed many works of classical literature, I’m generally not a fan of it because it tends to be depressing.
Love, love, love The Walking Dead! And I understand what you mean about classic literature being depressing…
Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing? What keeps you motivated/inspired?
I wish I was more of an artist—I dabbled in High School. I have an acceptably nice voice, and I love to sing, so that’s one thing. But I realized quite early on that my gift was in the more reclusive art of writing. I got a lot of praise when I was younger for my written work, and that, combined with my mother’s own gift for the written word, inspired me to cultivate the talent. I do it because, honestly, I’m good at it. It’s something I have the capacity to excel in, and I like excelling. Also, I often think of something I want to read, and as is usually the case, I can’t read it until I’ve written it!
What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?
I prefer novels, hands down. Every time I attempt a short story, all I can think about it making it longer. I probably wouldn’t ever write sexy romance novels. I can’t do the sex scene thing…wigs me out.
Lol! I feel the same way about writing sex scenes. I start giggling…and then have to drink a tall glass of cold water.
I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?
A good story is one that takes you into the moment. You begin to feel what the characters feel, see what they see, and take on their hopes and dreams. Usually, when I feel like hurling a book at the wall, it’s because an author has, yet again, done the thing where the protagonist makes a horrible decision, falls and burns, and then must rise from the ashes. I’m pretty tired of that, so I try to avoid it.
As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Elements that are crucial: Solid character development, a good pace, unique ideas, a balanced narrative that is not too detailed or too sparse (that’s where the writing talent comes in, I should think), and a satisfying ending.
My weakness? Satisfying endings. I learned the hard way with my first book that a cliff hanger might be dramatic, but not everyone loves that. So with its sequel I have made a point to give a nice, satisfying conclusion.
Hmmm. Very interesting point about the cliff-hanger.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?
The biggest influences in my writing come from books I learned from, I suppose. Lloyd Alexander and C.S. Lewis taught me that a world of fantasy can both help a reader escape, and enable them to face demons in the real world through allegory. Classics like Fahrenheit 451 showed me the practical application of literary techniques. I’m constantly learning and growing, and the best way to do that is reading and practicing.
What draws you to your preferred genre? Why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)
Ah, Young Adult. It is pretty popular, so I do have that going for me. YA Fantasy is a little less popular than, say, Dystopian or Urban Fantasy, I think, but it still has a following. The reason YA is so popular is because it appeals to many age groups. Teenagers aren’t the only ones reading the genre; adults and even younger children, depending on the book, are able to enjoy it. There’s something about the trials of youth that enthrall us.
Very true. YA has broad appeal and the comfortable reading level also makes it very accessible.
Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?
Love to! Lunula is my first novel, a YA Fantasy published by Malachite Quills Publishing. It is set in the fantasy kingdom of Irador, and tells the story of a young witch named Wynn, the only one born in one hundred years. Throughout history, the witch has always been hunted by a warlock of darkness; he is destined to find her, kill her, and take her power. So when Wynn accidentally falls right into his arms, she must hide her identity from him or risk unleashing a terrible power not seen in hundreds of years.
Why do you think it’s important to promote other writers on your blog?
Do unto others! When I entered the world of indie authors, I quickly discovered what an uphill climb it is. Even if you are published like I am, it’s still incredibly difficult to rise above the sea of fiction. Because I know this struggle first hand, I absolutely love to find indie writers with real talent who deserve to be buoyed up and spotlighted. There are lots of great books out there—perhaps even a favorite undiscovered. The only way to find them is if we talk about them!
So true! I feel exactly the same way.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
Probably the hardest part is marketing actually. Writing a book? I got that down. But selling it and marketing it? HORRORS. It’s difficult. I’d much rather be one of those lucky ones who wrote something, got picked up by an enthusiastic, rich publisher, and was catapulted into fame before I could get a blog going. *cough, cough* Stephanie Meyers.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
I already mentioned Lloyd Alexander, and he was my childhood favorite. I also really like historical romances by Deanne Gist. J.K. Rowling wrote my favorite book of all time, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Jane Austen takes the cake for classical authors, for me. Even though I write Fantasy, my favorite thing to read is historical romance!
What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?
If you want to be traditionally published, make sure your manuscript is already publish-ready. Publishers don’t want work that has some flaws that you expect an editor will take care of. My first round of queries for Lunula included an okay manuscript, but I assumed anything wrong could be fixed after the publisher or agent magically saw through them. Haaaaaa! I was fortunate to have an editor/writer in the family who tore through the manuscript and professionally gave it an edit. I got an offer from MQ right away after that!
Wow! That’s fantastic!
How can readers get into contact with you?
In whatever way strikes your fancy! Here are some links:
Some more about Alyssa…
Alyssa Auch was born and raised in Pennsylvania with loving parents and three hilarious younger siblings. Her imagination was sparked by the lush, green forests and bright colors of her home that often spoke of other worlds only found in the magic of writing. She brought that inspiration into the fantasy novels she so loves to create.
Currently, Alyssa is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho studying Marriage and Family Relations with a minor in English. She is married to her High School sweetheart, and they have three beautiful children who keep them both very occupied. Although her novels are often written in the late hours of the night and during cherished naptime blocks, she devotes a very special part of herself to the power of words and love of storytelling.
Alyssa, it was a real pleasure talking with you today. You’re energy and enthusiasm for writing is refreshing and your advice is solid. I wish you all the best with the release of your second book and in all your writing endeavors. Readers, I know you loved getting to know Alyssa as well. Please check out her books and other links, chat her up online and let her know how much you appreciated her interview. 😀
Have a great week everyone!