Tuesday, December 27, 2016

WOTP Interview: Alexandra Moon, Young Adult Author

Our last (but not least!) in Writers Yet to Query or Be Published is a writer I've known for a long time, Alexandra Moon. She delves into her novel that's been years-in-the-making and shares background information about her life as a multi-talented college student!

To start things off on a personal note, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well, I’m both a musician and writer. I’m currently in my third year of college, pursuing a BA in music therapy. Which, by the way, I LOVE.  (If you’re curious as to what a music therapist is/does, check it out here).  That being said, I live a pretty busy life.

I’m a vocalist. I have a heart for the stage, and spent most of my high school and now college career appearing in various plays, musicals, and operas.

I am a fantasy writer at heart. I’ve always loved stories that deal with the otherworldly. Whole societies and peoples and cultures that are different from our own. That’s not to say I don’t read non-fantasy (one of my favorite books ins Rainbow Rowel’s Fangirl), but dragons and mermaids and princes (oh my!) make me squeal like a child.

What novel are you currently working on? And what is it about in a few sentences? (Feel free to list as my novels as you like, if you’ve written more than one. I’ll tweak the question.)

My current painintheneckbutiloveitanyway  baby is an YA fantasy called THE BLOODSTONE.

Ms. Moon in perfect concert form.
As I said, I’m a sucker for high fantasy so naturally I decided to take a crack at one for myself. THE BLOODSTONE takes place in the realm of Vurga. A thirty year war is raging, pitting the four “Continental Kingdoms” against the Dragon Kingdom. And the Dragons are winning. The story follows Arielle, a trick rider employed by the Elf Queen, and Cayden, a musician hired by an Elf noble. When Cayden is kidnapped by an unpredictable Dragon, who claims to be doing so for Cayden’s own safety, Arielle is commissioned to rescue Cayden. What ensues is a dangerous quest into the very heart of the Dragon Kingdom itself. A quest that reveals the stakes of the war are higher than anyone realized.

If you can remember, where did the idea for THE BLOODSTONE come from?

So, I have this interesting habit of creating the characters, then their worlds, then the story that I feel like best shows off these worlds. So, I actually created my two MCs, Cayden and Arielle, in eight grade. Obviously, I’ve developed them a great deal since then, but I fell in love with those two and their relationship. I kept trying to find a perfect world for them but none of them felt right. Around the same time, I created Vurga, a world for which I had no characters. It didn’t take me long to realize I’d created the perfection solution to my problem. Cayden and Arielle were meant for Vurga. And so, the BLOODSTONE was born.

Who is your favorite character from your novel and why?

Vurga’s Dragons are born human and gain the ability to shift to their serpentine form over time. The aforementioned “unpredictable Dragon” is my unquestioned favorite character. Her name is Oki Dane and she is a ball of energy and snark. What I like most about her is how confident she is in herself. She knows who she is and she won’t let anyone else’s ideas about her define how she views herself. This is a characteristic I’ve always admired and always wanted to cultivate in myself. Plus, she looks so darn cool (I may be a bit biased here though!). 

When she isn’t a gaint fire-orange dragon, she is cinnamon-skinned and yellow eyes. Her hair—as all Dragons—matches her scales. Basically, Oki is five-feet, ten-inches of orange-haired, yellowed-eyed sass.

And the one-liners.

Oh the one-liners.

Do you have any tips for people who have “always wanted to write” but have never actually attempted it?

It’s hard to begin, but honestly, just start writing with reckless abandon. Don’t start out trying to create a serious project at first. Write for fun. If you’re in class and get an idea for a character, write it down. Do a brief sketch. Start getting a feel for how you find inspiration and your process. You’ll start to realize things will begin to come together. The more your write, the better the words will flow. The more your plots and characters will work with you. But you’ve got to be willing to experiment, to try and fail sometimes.

My early stuff is a mess—heck, some of the current stuff I turn out is a mess. But, the beauty is it
Alexandra performing in Carats and Crumpets
keeps getting better and better. Seeing improvement from one draft to the next is amazing.

Writing is a craft, that is carefully honed. Like a musical instrument, it takes practice. And practice takes a willingness to not sound so hot for awhile.

Be patient with yourself. You’re not going to turn out your magnum opus on your first try. Or your second. Trust me, I’ve written stuff I thought was a Shakespeare and then gone back and read it years later and…..oh my. But, I am grateful to those cringe-worthy little 1,000 word stories because they got me started. And as long as I’m writing, I’m learning.

How do you find the time to write? Do you give yourself a strict schedule or do you have a different plan of attack?

Finding time to write is a CHALLENGE as a full-time music major. I don’t know if any of you have heard the rumors about music majors having no life outside the practice room…

I can conform those rumors.

So, I mostly write on weekends during the school year. And, of course, things like Fall Break, Thanksgiving Break, etc. All this means I can’t be a “fast drafter,” which is annoying for someone who used to be able to sit down with her laptop and binge-write 10,000 words in a single sitting without breaking a sweat. Still, I take it one day at a time, and I have to make sure not to put too much pressure on myself. I love my life as a musician just as much, so I don’t mind taking a little extra time if it means I get to do both.

Finally, what are your future aspirations as a writer?

Short term, I want THE BLOODSTONE ready for querying by March. Which, I think is pretty realistic given my current pace. If that falls flat on its face, I have a couple projects in the kettle cooking and I’ll tackle them as soon as query letters go out.

Long term, I want to hold a book in my hands. I want to know people are getting the same joy from my worlds and characters that I get from the worlds and characters of my favorite books.  That is what bring me joy. What makes me excited to do this. 

This was such a fun chat, Alexandra! I hope to see THE BLOODSTONE on shelves in the future (who doesn't love a snarky dragon?!). 

If you want to stay up-to-date with Alexandra's exploits follow her links below:

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