What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
None, unless you count trekking two hours from my home in rush hour traffic, with three kids, to meet Julia Quinn. Although, I would love to see Jane Austen’s house in Alton, England.
What is the first book that made you cry?
A Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. His portrayal of humanity was heartbreaking.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
I haven’t experienced any that I would note here.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I find writing energizing. It’s the first thing I do every morning (with the exception of drinking coffee). It’s my favorite way to start the day.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
When I first began writing, I got stuck on editing during the story. While realignment is always a good idea, agonizing over one sentence (or one word), destroys your ability to write. It breaks into the muse and stops the words from pouring out onto the page. A bad page can be edited, but a blank page…
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I believe ego hurts writers. We should all be working together, supporting each other, and helping each other grow (especially indie authors). If ego becomes the driving force behind an author’s work, it bleeds into the prose and breaks through the story. Readers can tell.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Lack of coffee! I kid… sort of. Writer’s block happens to me when I don’t have a full picture in my mind on where the story is going. If it’s just an idea without an outline, I’ll sit for hours and not write more than a paragraph.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
No. I have a go-to set of authors and books that I’ll pick up when I’m not sure what I want to read (one of them is the Harry Potter series). It’s like visiting an old friend.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I do write under a pseudonym. As of mother with children, I wanted to keep this life separate from them as long as possible. They don’t need to explain to their friends (and teachers), that mommy writes romance novels.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I like to be original. I may ask my readers what genre they want to read next, but typically I write what I would enjoy reading. I’m not sure if that counts as original or just stubborn.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Emotions play a major part of storytelling. As a writer, I’ve cried numerous times writing my own stories (although maybe I’m overly emotional). However, I believe emotion can be described, even if it’s not strongly felt. If the writer doesn’t connect with the characters, I would recommend using that detachment as part of the story.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Although I’ve worked with many authors over the past few years, there are only a handful that I would call close friends. They are the ones who support you no matter what, even if you fall flat on your face.
My go-to author friend is Bella Emy (who’s also my co-writer for the Avalisse Ross Mysteries). She has strengths opposite of mine. Writing with her is an amazing experience because she pulls me from my comfort zone and forces me to try new things. Plus she’s a ray of sunshine.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I’ve made an effort to connect all my stories together. Most of them are stand-alone stories which reference characters and places from other books in the series, with the exception of the Wiltshire Chronicles; the first three books must be read in order (starting with A Perfect Plan), owing to the fact that when I first started writing this historical story, the book grew so big, it became necessary to split it up.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t stop writing, ever.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
When I first began writing, I wrote everything by hand and then entered the words into the computer. While this was a wonderful way to edit my story as I wrote, it was also quite time consuming. I changed the process for my second book in the Wiltshire Chronicles series, typing the full story, and then editing. Oh, and I hired an editor. You must hire an editor; writers are not meant to edit.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The best money I spent was to take classes on writing and marketing. No author is perfect and constantly working to improve yourself does wonders for your writing.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
I’ve never worked with an author I disliked straight off the bat. I don’t view people that way.
What did you do with your first advance?
Unfortunately, I have never received an advance. The publishers I work with are Indies and don’t have that kind of budget.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I wrote a poem when I was about ten which was about how adult’s words can affect kids and their actions (the perpetuation of racism). It was the first piece of mine which made me cry (the poem also won an award).
What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
I don’t subscribe to any magazines for writing.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
1984. Which actually shouldn’t be under-appreciated, but whenever I mention it, people just shrug. George Orwell had a startling and quite accurate view of the future. I recommend it to everyone.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
The only reader demand I receive is the request for minor characters to have their own stories told, which I try to do. In fact, the third book in the Wiltshire series will focus on Thomas, who is the hero’s younger twin brother.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I’ve always been partial to wolves, which is odd, since I don’t write shifter stories.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
My stories aren’t based solely on real people. They are made up of combinations of descriptions and quirks that people I’ve met possess.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have about four half-finished books, although all of them are slated for completion at some point in the next two years. I stopped taking on new projects so I could finish the ones I have.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success means that I can quit my day job and write full-time. At this point, I don’t earn enough to give up my corporate income.
What’s the best way to market your books?
I wish I had a clear-cut answer to that question. I’ve tried all kinds of marketing; ads, blog tours, take-overs, newsletters. I think a combination of everything is really the best bet.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Research depends on the type of story I’m writing. For example, I did extensive research for Wiltshire. I read about clothing, food, daily activities, amusements, class divisions, even when ice was invented. It’s actually really interesting learning about all these things. I even watched a Historical Channel special on hidden household dangers during the Victorian era (loved it).
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
I wouldn’t consider it to be spiritual. Writing is cathartic for me. I have so many ideas floating around, it’s necessary to get them out onto paper.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I actually enjoy writing from the male point of view. The only thing I have trouble with is how the guy feels during sex, because, I’m not a guy. I can only go off what I’ve been told (or what I’ve heard). That is always the most difficult part for me. Often I move into the heroine’s head when I’m writing those scenes.
How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
What counts as part-time? I write at least ten hours a week. In addition to that, I handle promoting/marketing, social media management, my newsletter, book formatting, ARCs, and anything else a PA would normally do. I’ve been full-time as long as I can remember.
How many hours a day do you write?
I write between two and four hours a day, depending on what other tasks are pending on my to-do list. I do aim for a minimum of two hours though.
What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
My heroines are in their twenties and thirties, depending on what kind of story I’m writing, and typically going through some kind of life-changing experience. On a side note, most of them have either lost a parent or are dealing with a parent who is incapacitated and no longer in the role of caregiver.
What did you edit out of this book?
According to my editor, my favorite word is “that”, so I removed as many of those as possible.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
When I was younger, I was not a fan of science fiction. My dad, who is, recommended reading The Crystal Singer series by Anne McCaffery (which I loved). That experience made me stop judging books solely based on their genre. Now I read (almost) everything.
What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
If you choose to write about a historical figure and have no intention of portraying true facts about them, you should note that your story is a “work of fiction”. You owe the reader the truth (even if it is your opinion of the historical figure, it is not fact).
How do you select the names of your characters?
I love naming characters, strange, I know. I like the names to mean something, even if the reader isn’t aware of it. For example, in Cursed, Rana is transformed into a frog by a vengeful sorceress. Rana literally means “frog” in Hawaiian.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I have a day job – I work full time at a chocolate factory. However, if I didn’t write, I’d fill the time with something creative, such as painting (which is just a hobby, but something I enjoy).
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I read them…even the bad ones. The bad ones always seem to affect me more than the good ones, which does seem a bit imbalanced. One bad review can haunt me for days, but I never respond, ever. I push it to the back of my mind and start writing again.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
All the time! There are Easter eggs all over my books.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The sex scene is always the hardest scene for me to write. In this book, I wrote the words “sex scene” and moved forward with the chapter in order to keep up with the flow of the story. Once it was finished, I went back and added the sex scene to the chapter.
Do you Google yourself?
I did when I first began writing. The pure joy of seeing my name show up under Google was incomparable. However, the newness has worn off. I couldn’t tell you the last time I searched for myself.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
I would give up chocolate. Yes, I really would.
What are your favorite literary journals?
I do not have any favorite literary journals.
What is your favorite childhood book?
My favorite childhood book is actually a series. I read every single Berenstain Bears book I could get my hands on. In fact, I had a full bookshelf dedicated to just those stories.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The most difficult part of my artistic process is the step of editing. After pouring over a story for hours and hours, a mean person with a red pen goes through and rips it apart (okay, so she’s not really mean). However, getting back the manuscript, dripping in corrections, is a blow to my self-confidence. I have forced myself to accept that I am never going to be a great editor.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
My mom did, but she passed away a little over a year ago. No one else in my family understands this burning drive I have to put pen to paper and create make-believe.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
In a heartbeat (as long as it was legal and not morally offensive).
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I average between 5k and 10k per week, depending on what other obligations are on my plate. At that speed a full length novel would take me 2-3 months.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes, the same way I believe in superstition. If you give it power, it will happen.
About the author:
USA Today Bestselling Author ALYSSA DRAKE has been creating stories since she could hold a crayon, preferring to construct her own bedtime tales instead of reading the titles in her bookshelves. A multi-genre author, Alyssa currently writes Historical romance, Paranormal romance, Contemporary romance, and Cozy mystery. She thoroughly enjoys strong heroines and often laughs aloud when imagining conversations between her characters.
Alyssa graduated from the University of the Pacific, with a B.S. in business and a concentration in French literature. Currently she resides in Northern California with her blended family, where she works full-time at a chocolate factory. She believes everyone is motivated by love of someone or something. One of her favorite diversions is fabricating stories about strangers surrounding her on public transportation. Alyssa can often be found madly scribbling notes on a train or daydreaming out the window as the scenery whips past.
A Perfect Plan
by Alyssa Drake
Series: Wiltshire Chronicles Book One
Genre: Adult Historical Romance & Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
An opinionated tomboy must navigate the dangers of society, unaware her brother’s killer is lurking in her midst.
When her brother’s ship sinks off the coast of France, Miss Samantha Hastings surrenders her quiet, country life to manage his affairs. Suddenly thrust into society, Samantha faces an unfamiliar world and the unnerving green eyes of Lord Westwood-her brother’s best friend and her new guardian.
Benjamin, Lord Westwood, never intended on following through with his rash promise to act as guardian to Edward’s bratty little sister. Upon learning of his best friend’s death, Benjamin’s intention was to marry her off to the first acceptable suitor. When he finds himself falling for Samantha instead, Benjamin alights upon the perfect plan; a marriage of convenience.
The plan, however, quickly unravels when they discover Edward’s disappearance was due to foul play. Now, Samantha is in more danger than either of them realized and Benjamin is running out of time. Can he save the woman he loves or will murder ruin his perfect plan?
If you enjoy the mystery and intrigue of Amanda Quick and Lisa Kleypas, dive into this spellbinding series filled with history, romance, and suspense.
To celebrate the release of A PERFECT PLAN by Alyssa Drake, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Alyssa Drake. Giveaway ends 4/6/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted.