Today I’m here to introduce you to a wonderful rookie author who last week just released her first novelette, BLACK MAGIC & MOJITOS, and who by the way is one of my amazing critique partners. Please say hello and welcome Alexia Chamberlynn.
So Alexia will be here any moment. I’ve asked her to sit down for a virtual interview…because those are so much fun…in an effort to find out more about her. Also, when we’re finished, Alexia will be more than happy to answer any of your own questions you’d care to leave in the comments. Oops…I think that might be her now.
DL: Hey Alexia! Welcome to my humble blog-cave. How’s the novelette launch going?
Alexia: Wonderful! I am SO happy to finally be sharing my stories. It’s a truly great feeling.
DL: That’s awesome. Are you ready to get down to it?
DL: What inspired you to become an author?
Alexia: I can’t really say I had a single moment of inspiration. I started writing stories when I was about five and never stopped. At around ten I submitted my first story to a magazine (Ranger Rick!) and got my first rejection. At twelve I attempted my first novel, which was about horses. After that it was copy-cat versions of high fantasy such as Tolkien and the DragonLance books. I wrote all through my teens, then life intervened and I took about eight years away from writing. All that time though, ideas turned in my head. By the time I was able to start writing again, it was a torrent (and man did it come out messy – still trying to rework that first novel). That was about six years ago and I’ve never stopped since. BLACK MAGIC AND MOJITOS is my fifth completed book.
DL: BLACK MAGIC & MOJITOS is a novelette you’re releasing ahead of a full-length novel. What made you want to go this route?
Alexia: I thought releasing a novelette with the same characters as the novel would be a way to test different marketing strategies before the novel came out, an appetizer before the entrée. I’ll tell you in a couple months how that worked out! Writing the novelette, which takes place about five years before the novel, allowed me to deepen my relationship with the characters and their connections to each other. Also, as Mojitos unraveled for me, it ended up having interesting plot parallels to MARTINIS WITH THE DEVIL, the full length novel. These tie in perfectly as a lead-in to the full length novel. Also, my muse threw in a great twist at the end that I had no idea was coming, which is going to lead to what will probably be the third novel in the series. It was a fun process.
DL: Great strategy. Tell us about your main character, ZYAN STAR.
Alexia: Zyan eats souls to survive, she is an eternally damned soul thief. When I tell people this, their eyes widen and they’re always like, “and she’s your heroine?” She’s definitely a very flawed character. However, she chooses to prey on scumbags and criminals and stays away from innocents, though their souls are of course much cleaner and more pleasant to eat ☺ She’s a bit over two hundred years old, so she’s definitely become jaded and sarcastic about her existence, and has some major trust issues. She doesn’t take much seriously – she bar tends most of the time, and is a supernatural bounty hunter on the side. Zyan cusses and drinks cocktails and runs around with a katana. She’s a super fun character to write – I absolutely adore her. Her voice comes to me more strongly than anything I’ve ever written. Hmmm, what would Freud say??
DL: Don’t ask me, I always get into trouble when I quote Freud. Ahem. How many versions of BLACK MAGIC & MOJITOS did you go through before you felt it was ready?
Alexia: I have five drafts of it in my folder, though within some of those I did multiple mini-rounds of edits looking for specific things. Especially once I get to the polish stage I have a checklist of things to look for. So, five big rounds of edits, and maybe nine including the minis? With my novels I do more, but the good thing about a novelette is that shorter = less potential for plot hole and pacing issues.
DL: What's your favorite part of the writing process? Idea nurturing...outlining...1st draft...revisions...editing...something else entirely?
Alexia: Definitely first drafts. A lot of writers say they hate staring at a blank page. I love it. A blank page means endless possibilities. I have to have a light outline, but then I let my creative juices flow and jump into it. I absolutely adore that raw, creative state of a story. When my muse jumps in and surprises me mid-scene? The best.
DL: I’m the same way. On a personal note, you’ve been an invaluable member of our critique group, but tell me, what would say is the most beneficial reason to be part of one?
Alexia: Thanks ☺ You and the others are amazing as well. For me, I think the main benefit is simply that you need other people to point out things you were too close to the story to see. No matter how good a writer or editor, with your own story you will miss things that made sense in your head, but didn’t translate well to paper. It took me a really long time to join one because I needed to feel I could trust the people I was with – when I saw you announce that you were starting a group, I knew that was it. You guys helped me shape up the beginning of my fourth novel, HUNTRESS FOUND, and I went from getting no requests to the most requests I’ve ever gotten. Sometimes it’s just little things to take a book to that next level.
Also, there’s this sense that I’m part of some secret, elite club… like writing ninjas or something. That’s cool, too ☺
DL: Ha! We need to get everybody a pair of Nunchucks or something. ☺ There isn't a writer alive who doesn't struggle with their self-confidence at some point. How do you deal with that?
Alexia: I write horrible stuff all the time – that’s what editing’s for! And of course even after editing I worry it won’t be good enough. I think that’s the crux of it for me – I worry I’ll only ever be a good and decent writer, and I want to be breathtaking, earth shattering and brilliant. How’s that for narcissism? LOL – another classic writer trait! I think a lot of it is recognizing what type of writer you are. I write fun, kick ass urban fantasy. Nothing serious, nothing fancy. I won’t ever win any major literary awards with it. You probably aren’t going to weep with emotion at the beauty of my story. Neil Gaiman is my most favorite writer, and I can appreciate the skill of someone like Margaret Atwood, but I just don’t write stories like that. At least not at this point in my life. I think we evolve as writers as we learn and grow in life. For now, I can only hope my writing entertains you. I had fun writing it, so I want you to have fun reading it.
DL: It certainly entertained me! If you have to pick one tool, or reference guide, that you most benefited as you wound your way along the writers path, what would you say that would be?
Alexia: Wow, this is hard. I’ve used SOO many. For writing craft books, I quite like Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer, although this is written specifically for sci-fi/fantasy writers. So in general I’d say The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. As for querying, publishing, etc., Guide to Literary Agents is great.
DL: Your plan is to have ZYAN STAR…the main character in BLACK MAGIC & MOJITOS MOJITOS, be featured in a series. What advice would you offer other aspiring novelists about writing multi-book series?
Alexia: Make sure you really love your characters and your story! I hear a lot of writers say they get burnt out on series. If you have a defined number of books in the series, say a trilogy, I think you need to do some major plotting and outlining to make sure all your plots and subplots, character arcs, etc. tie out within each book, and also over the course of the whole series. My Huntress books are a trilogy and I used (gasp!) spreadsheets to plan out books two and three before I edited the first one. My Zyan Star series is open-ended. I have an overarching plot that evolves over the course of each book, but each book will sort of be its own story, with its own plot.
DL: Any last nuggets of advice you’d care to pass along to my readers?
Alexia: Write what you love. This is not new advice, but it remains true. I wrote MARTINIS WITH THE DEVIL in 2010. It had a lot of agent interest, but the agents all said urban fantasy was super hard to break into with the Big 6 because they were inundated with it, and to send them my next book. I wrote more books, which I also loved, and had lots more near misses with agents. Huntress is my most recent book, which still has some agent interest (fingers crossed – supposed to hear back next month!). But what I decided earlier in the year was that even if I get an agent, I still want to write and share my Zyan Star books, because I love them. And that’s why I decided to self-publish – I didn’t want to wait until urban fantasy becomes popular again to do what I love. Do what makes you happy. It will carry through to your readers.
DL: Excellent advice! Thank you so much for dropping by. Best of luck with the Novelette launch and Zyan’s continuing adventures!
Alexia: Thank you so much for having me! It was lots of fun!
Here’s some more information about Alexia and her Novelette.
Alexia Chamberlynn lives in Florida. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found playing with horses, eating chocolate and other delicious things, drinking wine, traveling to the next place on her global wish list, or maybe doing yoga. Connect with her at www.alexiachamberlynn.com.
BLACK MAGIC & MOJITOS, A ZYAN STAR NOVELETTE
Release date: August 7th, 2015
Only 99 cents!
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Magic-Mojitos-Zyan-Novelette-ebook/dp/B011VYHFM4/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Zyan Star’s latest job is turning into a real nightmare.
When supernatural bounty hunter Zyan Star jets down to Rio to meet a prospective client, everything goes as planned initially. That is, until she finds out the person hiring her is Raoul Cabrera, the half demon/half faery supernatural overlord of Brazil, who rubs elbows with Lucifer himself. And that he’s hired another bounty hunter, Donovan McGregor, to work with her.
Their target is a herd of Nightmares, horse spirits that torment people with visions of their worst fears before devouring their flesh. Zy and Donovan head out on the hunt, but it quickly becomes apparent that their client hasn’t given them all the facts. There’s a pissed-off, powerful witch summoning the Nightmares, and she’s out to exact some serious revenge on Raoul. Zy soon realizes she’s caught in the middle of a lover’s spat between two immensely powerful supernaturals, and it’s not clear whose side she should stand on. As if that weren’t enough, pulling off this job is going to require her to relive her worst fears and summon her own long-suppressed magical powers.
Let the supernatural Carnival begin.