Today I have the privilege of chatting with an artistic young lady with some very adventurous plans, who apparently likes ladybirds.
Or they like her.
She agreed to answer a few of my questions, so here goes.
I was intrigued to learn, Alex, that you are writing a trilogy of supernatural, interactive fiction books – with a romantic subplot. Supernatural! And interactive?
Yes, I grew up with the Choose Your Own Adventure series and have a thousand alternative plots whirring around my mind, which I try to jot down in a choice tree before actually putting pen to paper. Then the reader creates her own story.
Your books have settings like a haunted mansion and a spooky swamp. Scope for a host of scary graphic scenes. What do you think of creating “trailers” for books. Will you be creating some for your own work?
Probably not. As a reader, I don’t pay much attention to trailers. The blurb and a sample of the writing is enough for me. I’m all for authors coming up with creative new ways to promote their work, though.
Let’s dream: If you won ten million dollars tonight, what would you do next?
I’d probably start by figuring out how much tax I’d have pay on it!
(I chuckle.) That’s very down to earth!
Then I’d buy a house and let my dad stay in it while I travel the world, just as I’d planned before I won ten million dollars. And I’d keep writing, of course. Although I’d like to be financially successful, that’s not why I’m in it.
You’ve written a variety of things. Do you let your work stew – leave it for a month or so – and then come back to it to edit?
I usually type it up shortly after I finish it …
Does that mean you first write long-hand?
I do; is that so strange?
I thought most everyone was digital these days. So what about editing?
I do an initial edit while I type it in. For a full length book this may mean it’s been a while since I wrote the beginning. Then I do like to let it stew for a bit before doing a second edit and then showing it to others. How long I let it stew depends on whether any deadlines are coming up, though.
Tell us a bit about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.
I don’t really brainstorm ideas unless I’m trying to come up with a story for a contest or anthology or something. Then I’ll write the theme or prompt at the top of a piece of paper and try to come up with at least 10 different ways to interpret it. Then I choose one or two that appeal to me most and try to develop them further. I’m often unhappy with these stories, however, because the deadlines usually force me to speed up my natural process.
My natural process is to wait until an idea comes to me. Usually this is just one element, a character or concept or setting I want to explore. Then, if the idea sticks, I write it down on my idea sticky.
Do you end up with a wall full of yellow labels, then?
Something like that. No, I mean the Sticky Notes extension for Chrome.
Aha. I’m behind the times…
I let the ideas mature naturally, whenever my mind wanders back to them. Once it starts looking a little like a plot, I fill in missing elements and start writing bits in my head. Pretty soon after that I’m ready to write a draft, but I pick the ideas that speak to me most to write first.
For a while I didn’t get many ideas using this method, but now I have a good-sized backlog and they keep coming.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
I never thought I’d say it, but the ideas. For 20 years of my life, before I decided to take up writing, I didn’t have any ideas for stories I wanted to tell. Now they won’t leave me alone.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Alex. Best wishes both for your writing career and your ambitious cycling plans.
Some background on Alex
Alex lives in Colorado in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. (That must be wonderful! I wonder why she’s so keen to leave, then.) She loves learning new things and meeting new people. These days she spends most of her time working on her visual art and writing – a trilogy of supernatural interactive fiction books with a romance subplot – and spends the rest dreaming about and planning her big trip bicycling around the world (Sounds exciting!). You can find her blabbering about her writing and visual art at alexschuler.com, travel (as Rebecca Jones) at snapshotsoftheworld.com, or follow her artist or travel twitter accounts.