Everyone give a warm welcome to Alexa Piper! She’s stopped by today to chat with us a bit about her writing and give us a bit of insight into what it’s like to be an author.
Do you remember when you completed your first book or novella? What can you tell us about it?
ALEXA: Yes! This is an interesting story. I always liked “Dracula,” the epistolary Bram Stoker novel, and my very first completed novelette was heavily influenced by that. I started work on that in 2010, and two years later, a fantasy genre zine was interested in publishing it. At that point, the romance elements in it weren’t very strong.
That zine folded though, and I kept sitting on that novelette for a while. I knew it was good though, and I was not happy with it never getting published. I then decided to completely rework it and turn it into erotic romance, dark erotic romance. It became novella length, and because my skill as a writer had grown, better. So in 2017, Loose Id requested the full, but before they could offer me a contract, they too closed.
At that point, I didn’t know what to do with a story that really had potential but was maybe too dark for most publishers. So that tale of a strange castle and its even stranger master sat and waited.
When I started working with the Changeling Press team last year, I found out Margaret Riley had some ties with Loose Id, and after she signed me for Changeling with Fairview Chronicles, I asked whether she wanted to see “A Tale of Honey and Garnet Wine.” She said yes, and I am delighted to announce it will be forthcoming from Changeling soon! That story waited a long time, but it’s like good wine that only grows stronger, earthier, darker as it ages. You’ll enjoy it!
When you’re writing, do you prefer writing longhand or using a computer or other electronic device?
ALEXA: I write on my laptop, and when I don’t have that with me, I use my phone. It’s just faster, and it allows me to use my commute or really any time during the day I can spare. I also always have my phone on me, and I think it’s good to take down an idea when it develops so you don’t lose it. Making changes is easier this way, and keeping an eye on word count is also something that I find helpful.
Is there a movie or book that influenced you the most? Something that kickstarted your decision to write and publish a book?
ALEXA: Not as such, but basically all other media I consume are filtered through a writer’s eyes. I look at plot and dialogue and ask myself what I like about it. I take note of what works and what doesn’t. If the visuals in a movie are striking, I try to imagine ways to do something similar on the page.
When I read, it’s sometimes even worse, because the enjoyment of a book almost comes second to me. Instead of just reading for fun I take note of too much exposition, typos, pacing even if I haven’t necessarily mastered any of those myself. Especially recently, this has made me very choosy in what I read, because I simply don’t have any time to waste on a book that doesn’t pull me through to the end, and I’ll just stop reading. After all, there is writing that needs to get done and the day only has so many hours.
What genres do you write? Are they all under the same pen name?
ALEXA: I write paranormal romance as Alexa Piper and fantasy and science fiction as Alexandra Seidel.
When you’re writing, do you need absolute silence or background noise? If you like noise, what’s your preference? Music, movies, traffic…
ALEXA: I find quiet works best for me. I can do a little bit of background noise, like when I write on a train, but writing with music like some writers do just doesn’t work for me at all.
How long does it take you to write a book? Does it require a lot of research?
ALEXA: That depends. Sometimes, when the story just flows out of me, I can write pretty fast. For instance, I wrote 15,000 words this weekend, simply because the story was just there and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. At other times I can get frustrated with something and then I will put it aside and come back to it later once I know how to fix what didn’t work before. Or I have a paragraph of what I think will make a good story, but it turns out I was wrong, and there really isn’t a story there at all.
I research as needed. The good thing about fantasy and space opera and writing that leans that way is that you can make up a lot of things so long as the story is engaging. In a sense, you can be very creative in these genres.
What do you think makes a good story?
ALEXA: I think there are lots of technical details I could list here like plot, pacing, character. And these are all important pieces that make up a story, but for the writer a good story is one that they are passionate about. If and when they are, it will always be easier to complete it, and it will be easier to get others to be passionate about it as well. Passion always gets through to the reader.
Do you ever hear from your readers? How did you feel the first time a reader contacted you?
ALEXA: I love to hear from readers! The first time was in a comment someone left on one of my (Alexandra Seidel’s) short stories. It was a very sweet comment, about how the story had helped the reader in a dark period of their own life, and as you can imagine, that one really made me happy.
When you’re writing, what comes first? Plot or characters?
ALEXA: Neither. I either have a specific image or a line, and when I dig down on it, I find there’s a story attached to it. “A Taste of Magic,” for instance, started with a cool line, and at the point I had none of the characters, setting, or plot, I just knew I wanted to get that cool line on paper.
What’s the most difficult part of writing (for you)?
ALEXA: Sometimes I will write something, and I think it’s really cool and awesome. Then when I give it to a beta reader, they tell me it doesn’t really work for them. At other times, I’ll have a story where I’m sure a certain aspect doesn’t work, but the betas don’t see it that way. So it’s really understanding and anticipating the reader reaction that I have a hard time with.
While writing your books, are there ever any surprises?
ALEXA: All the time! I don’t outline, so when I start, I have a general idea of what is going to happen, but more often than not it turns out I was oh so very wrong. That’s what makes writing fun for me, I just like experiencing the story and letting it simmer in my mind even when I am not writing.
Be sure to check out Alexa’s release on January 30th at Changeling Press —A TASTE OF MAGIC which will kick off a brand new series for her — Fairview Chronicles.
You can find Alexa online at: http://www.alexapiper.com/