This week I will be hosting a few guest bloggers, fellow authors, and just smoe rally great people. Kicking off the week is Alexandra Lanc.
I got a chance to interview the great Alexandra Lanc author of the bestselling series The Snowflake Triplet, or you may know her adult ficition work, published under her pen name, Crimson Sterling, with her new book, Break (Exe Lore #1).
Alexandra was kind enough to answer some questions that I think all of her fans, along with anyone looking to start writing, want to know the answers to...(FYI my questions are in orange, while Alexandra's responses will appear in white :)
We started with something very direct, yet personal, the simply stated request of, tell me about your writing process.
I love receiving a new idea for a book! When I get an idea, I write it down in a notebook, and sketch out some of the plot, the characters, and the title (sometimes, too, I literally sketch characters and places; I’m an artist, as well). Then, I sit down and begin typing, often with another notebook next to me, to take down world-building notes while I’m writing. I never plan everything, and allow the story to grow on its own, and then when the 1st draft is done, I send it to friends and BETAS, and get to work on sewing all of the pieces together. My writing process is an adventure, very in the moment, and the books grow somewhat like vines creeping up a house.
With so many published works, I needed to ask, out of the books you've written, which is your favorite?
That is a very difficult question! I have written quite a few books, and published quite a few, too, and they are all special to me in different ways. If I had to name a favorite, however, it might be Clara Claus, my first book published. Not only was it my first book to be published, but it is also very special to me because it’s a book about Christmastime, which I love. That book was my first in many ways: my first book published, first book to reach best-selling status, first book I wrote a sequel to, the first book I received fan art for. The characters and story are very dear to me, but the fans, and the way the book has been accepted and loved by people other than me, have made it all the more special.
And because we all have our favorites, I wondered, which of your characters is most like you?
This is another difficult question! I believe, as authors, we put a bit of ourselves into every character we create; they all reflect us, in different ways. But if I had to peg one character, I would say the character most like me would be IxBryn, from my upcoming novel, Midnight Terrors. She has had a lot happen to her in her life, has had many struggles, and yet she still keeps pressing forward, and trying to find herself. I relate to her because she’s not the heroine everyone would expect – not physically strong, or on top of everything – but she is loyal, and kind, and is learning to stand up for the things she believes in, and become who she has always wanted to be. I have had to face many trials in my own life, quite a few similar, and I am not your “typical heroine”, either, so I relate very heavily to IxBryn.
Alexandra was probably the most down to earth person I've encountered during this entire process of self-publishing, so I had to know: You're a best-selling author, do you think that's effected your writing or creative process? If so in what way?
Yes, I definitely believe it has had an effect, in some ways for the good, in others for the bad.
Writing is a very intimate process, between the author and their characters, and once you add reviews and reader opinions, it can change things – sometimes for the worse, if you let it. It is very hard not to fall under pressure of your next release, wondering what your fanbase will think of your new work, and it can be very daunting to overcome that fear if you do fall prey to it. But, we are all human, and of course we want our stories to be liked. Last year, I can definitely say I fell prey to the fear of expectation, and I struggle with it even now, but I’ve also learned that in the end, you as the author have to be happy with your story above all else – and if you are happy, your readers will be, too.
Everyone has different likes and dislikes, and it’s impossible to please them all, though of course we wish that we could. I love hearing from my readers, and I do take their responses into consideration, and have worked them into my writing (for example: many people like my Snowflake Triplet short stories, and asked for me to write more, so I did), but in the end I have to keep my inner creator happy. The person who said “if you don’t like your story, then no one else will” was definitely right, because the words always reflect the author’s mood and feelings.
My motto has become: if you keep your inner reader happy, your outer readers will be happy, too. I try to write by that, and so far my fans have shown that it’s true.
The idea of having a pen name has crossed my mind and luckily Alexandra provided some insight when she answered this question, you've recently adopted a new pen name for your adult fiction; do you feel that has created a new fan base?
I definitely think so, and hope so! I have not had my new pen name for very long, but I have already met some wonderful people – authors and readers alike. I myself like to read both Young Adult and Adult fiction, but not everyone likes both genres, and that is part of the reason why I adopted the new pen name. I have many interests, and write in many different genres, and it’s been fantastic to explore new worlds with new readers, and unleash some of my pent-up creativity. I definitely look forward to growing my Adult fan base, and giving them new and exciting worlds to become immersed in.
Authors often deal with the issue of being "pigeon hold" which led me to ask,you seem to like to explore different genres when you write, is that something you plan ahead of time or does it "just happen?"
It’s a bit of both, really. As I said above, I have many, many interests, some I have yet to write about, and some with books that I have yet to release. I don’t usually plan ideas, but sometimes I do try to construct an idea around an interest – such as vampires tales, or fairytale retellings. I’m a big fan of Psychology and Philosophy, so I try to tie those in, too, and what I’m reading always has an effect on what I want to write at that moment.
I believe the more that I learn, the more interesting the world and its people become, and that makes me want to write, to tell stories about what I observe, believe, and the magic I think appears in our every day lives. I like to take real people, with real emotions, and put them in worlds where everything is extraordinary, to try and reflect the extraordinary in real life.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Alexandra Lanc's work, she actually published her first book at age 19, and I asked her if she was hesitant to do so and considered waiting until she was a bit older before publishing.
No, actually, at least not at the time. I finished my first (not terribly wonderful) novel at age 12 or 13, and sometime after that my father had an editor look at it, and he loved it (though of course, he said I had much room to improve). It was sometime after that, around 14 or 15, that I really started thinking about publishing. I went to college early, and was always very career-minded. I knew I wanted to write ever since I started forming words back in Grade School, but it wasn’t until my teenage years I decided that I wanted to do it full time. I began sending out query letters, and getting serious about publishing around age 18, when the market wasn’t quite so (sadly) kind to Indies, but upon a fateful meeting with an Indie author, I finally decided to publish Clara Claus around a year or so later.
I missed the self-publishing boat in some ways, and looking back, I wish I had waited another year and did some more business research, but in the end I’m glad I had the experience. I’ve learned so much from my publishing experience, and I wouldn’t trade that knowledge for the world. I’ve been published for a little over 3 years now, and I believe the mistakes I’ve made, more than the success I’ve had, has shaped me into a better author and businesswoman.
For you fans out there, the following questions, were a fun way to get to know a fellow author, and hopefully provide some insight into your favorite author.
What's your favorite book turned movie?
Howl’s Moving Castle, one of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. It’s completely different from the book, by Diana Wynne Jones, which I absolutely adored, but it’s a fantastic film I could watch weekly. I would recommend reading/watching both.
Besides writing what are your other passions?
I love anything artsy, really. Aside from writing I am also an artist who paints, sews, draws, and occasionally makes jewelry or other crafts. There’s nothing more relaxing or freeing for me than taking my easel out and painting, or drawing with charcoal or fine ink pens, or crafting stuffed characters with felt. I’m also a fan of screenwriting, though I mainly only dabble in it at the moment. I love to watch British Drama, and I’m a fan of Doctor Who, too…and I’ll admit I love a good cartoon! Yoga is another one of my favorite things, and makes for great stress relief and fun.
Do you have advice for new authors?
My best advice is: be yourself, always, and don’t give up. They don’t tell you how hard writing is in the media, or even in writing classes, but it is hard; it’s not the easy pastime people seem to think. Writing can be frustrating, and heartbreaking, and stressful – but it’s also wonderful, and fun, and uplifting. Figure out why you write, and make that your motto, and stick it near your desk, so when you are having a hard time, you never forget it; if you don’t have a reason for doing it, if you don’t have something to say with your words, then it isn’t worth doing.
Fun fact: my reason for writing is “I write to disappear, to allow another world to take over. I write to get people to think, to feel, to question; I write to change things, to make a difference. I write because I have to – because that’s who I am. I write to be.”
There will be times when you want to quit, but don’t give in, and don’t let others dictate what you write. Allow yourself to be creative in your own way, and don’t apologize. We all have something unique to bring to the writing table, and that should be celebrated.
Know that, no matter how you plan to publish, it’s not going to be easy, but just as with writing itself, it’s a journey, and it’s rewarding. Tell yourself regularly that you will prevail, that you will create something amazing, and you can’t lose.
WOW! What a great interview, and it was great getting to interact with another writer, especially one as amazing and talented as Alexandra. If you weren't already a fan, I've included links to her work, both under her YA name and adult fiction name. Along with links to her blogs which are fun and informative if you're a writer or a reader. Happy Reading!!
Crimson Sterling blog: http://www.crimsonsterling.com/blog.html
Alexandra Lanc blog: http://www.alexandralanc.com/blog.html
More about Alexandra Lanc:
Crimson Sterling's given name is Alexandra. She has been writing ever since she could pick up a pen, finishing her first novel at age 12. Writing throughout grade school and college, she explored the literary arts, graphic design, theatre, and dance as she was getting her education.
Further knowledge of the writing craft and a passion for books led her to publish her first book, Clara Claus, at age 19, under the name Alexandra Lanc, and she has been publishing ever since. Since then, her books have been on several bestsellers lists, and have been enjoyed by fans all over the world.
In 2013, Alexandra decided to spread her love for writing from the Young Adult spectrum to Adult fiction, and thus Crimson Sterling was born! Alexandra published several works, including Break, which reached the bestsellers list for Sci-Fi shorts on Amazon, under Alexandra Lanc before transferring them to her new pen name, where she begun expanding the worlds of her stories, creating the Convergent Kingdoms Universe and Exe Lore alike.