This week’s #SPFBO interview is with Aldrea Alien. She lives on a small farm in New Zealand with her family, including a menagerie of animals, most of which are convinced they're just as human as the next person. Especially the cats. Since discovering a love of writing at the age of twelve, she hasn't found an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind, all of them clamoring for her to tell their story first. It's a lot of people for one head.
What drew you to self-publishing?
Control. It's always about control. Two of my three full-length books were originally published by two different publishers. One even did fairly well considering I did no marketing. But, through no fault of either publisher, I felt... constricted.
Everything came to a head when I particular incident happened and, even though I wasn't directly involved, I wound up on the brink of my first panic attack in years (and a vastly cleaner house). Getting my rights back and being able to do as I wished with my books severely eased that feeling. Since then, I've not even considered doing anything else but self-publishing.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Aldrea Alien is the pseudonym I write under. I've had the name for some years as it was my gaming handle, but I started to go by it in writing when I discovered there are a few other authors with my real name. I figured it'd be easier for people to find me and my works if I was the only me.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Of unpublished books... None, really. I'd one moldering in the back of my HD for a while before putting it up online. It's a little raw, and I will eventually get back to it, but in the meantime, I figured it can entertain a few people. There is one other complete story, but that's busy in the editing stage.
When it comes to half-finished books, there's over two dozen as I find the best way to focus entirely on one story is to jot down all the bits and pieces that pop up for others in my downtime. About half of those stories are in one series, so yeah... I'm going to be busy for a while.
Why did you enter #spfbo?
Because it looked like fun. There's the exposure, too, but I'm a terrible cynic, so I entered mostly because it looked unique. I've not come across a contest quite like it. I consider it a bonus in that I've already found a couple of books that seem like they're going to be my cup of tea and I hope to discover a few more.
What did you edit out of this book?
I don't do too much in the way of removing scenes when it comes to editing, but only because most of that happens in the first draft. In Dark One's Mistress, I had originally plotted a sex scene to happen near the end of the book. I'd plotted a number of things that didn't transpire, but I was determined to have this piece. I got part way through writing it and was really struggling as I went before I stopped fighting to put in something that just didn't fit there. That was also about the time that I knew my standalone was meant to be part of a series.
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 do try to write things to stand on their own, but I have a deep love for series. I hate to let go of characters that I've become attached to and that always seems to wriggle its way into my writing. Even when I finished my last novel and knew it was going to be 100% a standalone, my muse couldn't help but flit about with teases of ideas of a sequel. But, currently, none of the books I have out are connected to each other.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Most of the time, research happens while I'm in the middle of writing the book. I'll wonder if a certain thing is possible, or I'll change something on a split-second whim and need to double-check the facts. I've accumulated a fair bit of knowledge on swords, fighting, castles and the like over the years as they've always been of interest to me, but I still like to check up on details. The most I've ever done before I begin writing a story was looking up historical dress, the MC of Dark One's Mistress is the daughter of a seamstress. Parsing out the facts from the fiction took a bit of digging, especially when it came to corsets, but it's become a lot easier these past few years.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It depends on the scene. For a large chunk of a book, I'll find myself so hyped up on what I'm writing that I'll forget how long I've been sitting there. Then there are the difficult scenes, the ones where I have to hurt my characters in some way. During those times, I'll come away from the keyboard absolutely exhausted.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
A year. Although, the last book I wrote was 308k and that took around two years. The fastest was my paranormal, and that took a couple of months.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Sort of. Much of the time, it's more a problem with the plot that keeps me from writing on. When that happens, I tend to take a step back from the story and focus on another or just take a complete break from writing for a few days. Sometimes music helps, other times I'll pick my partner's brain for a little assistance in working through a tricky spot. Having to explain why something is a certain way to someone who doesn't know the whole story can lead to a number of revelations.
To learn more about Aldrea and her upcoming projects, check out the following links: