Sunday, July 13, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: A.R. Williams, Author

A.R. Williams created The Camellia Trilogy as a result of a conversation with a friend about superheroes and their origins and the realization that “There's always some accident, some government-engineered scientific mishap.” Reviewers of the first book in the trilogy, THE CAMELLIA RESISTANCE, say it’s an entertaining and interesting read… of mystery, survival, conspiracy, and adventure” and “a dystopian future in a society obsessed with hygiene.”

A.R. Williams has always wanted to write, and she embraces the politics and available opportunities offered by living in Washington, D.C. She also appreciates making a “killer” salsa.



Q: How did you conceive of the plot line for THE CAMELLIA RESISTANCE? Is it a story that has to be told?

A.R. Williams: THE CAMELLIA RESISTANCE started as a strange conversation with a friend back in 2009.  We were talking about writing naughty stories and he suggested superheroes having sex.  As the conversation evolved, that turned into superheroes and their origin stories.  There's always some accident, some government-engineered scientific mishap.  Why not a virus, and since we're talking about superheroes and sex, why not a STD?  

I wish I could claim JK Rowling's discipline when it comes to plotting, but the plot and the ideas behind it have evolved over time.  I started writing in November of 2009 and the last big idea fell into place in the beginning of 2012.  As a writer, this is the story that hasn't let me go. From my perspective, it had to be told.  

Q: What draws you to write in your genre? Would you characterize THE CAMELLIA RESISTANCE as SciFi, fantasy, dystopian fantasy?

A.R. Williams: It is probably a cop-out, but I never set out to write in a particular genre.  It was the characters and the world they live in that came first.  Then it was a focus on "oh dear, I've got to live up to this concept."  Where the book would fall in the groupings at Barnes and Noble was the last thing on my mind, at least while I was writing it.

That being said, it turns out that the trilogy falls solidly in the dystopian fantasy genre.  

Q: How do you create credibility for a world set in 2044? How important is back story?

A.R. Williams: Back story is crucial.  Where we come from sets us the parameters for where we can go next.  Our history informs everything.  Our assumptions about the world we live in, the things we take for granted, everything rests on the foundation of what comes before.  In the writing process, the back story weighs as much as the current activity.  I think that will become more evident as we move into the second book.

As for creating credibility, I may have taken the easy way out.  A pandemic flu wiped out most of the population in 1987, an event that was followed by the disintegration of the constitutional government of the United States.  That's pretty much going to grind technological progress to a halt. I didn't put myself in a position of having to build a world where flying personal space suits are the norm.  I think that puts the burden of credibility with the characters living in the culture with its norms and expectations instead of adequately describing the technology.  

Q: What makes us care about Willow Carlyle as a character?

A.R. Williams: Well, I've found out that Willow isn't universally likable.  She's been a bit sanctimonious and judgmental, she doesn't understand herself very well, she thinks she has things under control and she doesn't.  But what happens to her - not just the specifics, but the experience of hitting rock bottom - is a pretty universal experience.  She gets to this thing that she never thought would happen to her, this experience that is the end of her world, and it doesn't kill her.  Much to her surprise, she keeps going, imperfectly, of course, but she keeps going. 

Some readers can't stand Willow, but really like one of the other characters.  Which is okay with me, because although Willow is the introduction to the world of the Camellias, it is a bigger world than just her.  

Q: Are there villains in THE CAMELLIA RESISTANCE? What makes an effective villain?

A.R. Williams: There are villains, but it depends a little on your perspective.  There are people in the book who do bad things, who hurt other people carelessly, who kill.  Back when Veronica Mars was still on TV, the actor that played Logan (Jason Dohring) said about his character "no one thinks of themselves as the bad guy."  The quote is paraphrased because it's been so long ago even Google is having trouble finding the exact quote, but that idea really stuck with me.  I think he was right.  We all do stuff other people don't like, but none of us thinks of ourselves as bad people.
From the internal perspective of a "villain," you're just doing what you have to do, right?  We all have our reasons.  When you cut someone off in traffic, you never think of yourself as the asshole, it is always the other schmuck that wouldn't let you in.  

So to me, an effective villain has some ambiguity, believes in whatever course of action he/she is pursuing, and has moments of likability.  

Q:  Why write a trilogy instead of just a standalone book?

A.R. Williams: There are two answers to that question, one has to do with the story itself and the other has to do with impatience.  

The trilogy structure, at least as I'm planning to use it, allows me to widen the aperture to this world a little with every book.  Willow's perspective is the first one we meet, and THE CAMELLIA RESISTANCE is about her understanding of the world she lives in. Books two and three will each take a step back, widening the perspective until the whole big world, back-story and all, comes into view.  

As for the impatience, my experience with the real world has taught me about the importance of getting started.  You can do something now or you can wait and do everything later, but if you're going to do everything later...  well, later never shows up.  Now is here.  Now is about all you can count on.  I've spent too much time waiting for the perfect conditions, waiting to have everything 100% ready, and really, that's just fear talking.  Do what doesn't take permission.  Do it now.  To quote Janis Joplin, tomorrow never happens man.    

Q: Do your characters push you around and lead you to write something you never intended? Or do you stick to your outline?

A.R. Williams: I'm not much of a planner, but I did start out with ideas about who my characters were - and pretty strong ideas at that.  Sometimes they comply, sometimes they don't.  Ianthe started out as a side-kick, Marshall started out as a nice guy 100% of the time.  Warren, at least, was always Warren.  And then some characters showed up wholly formed without invitation.  I keep talking about Morrigan, who shows up in the last half of the book.  She arrived all by herself and pretty much pointed her cane at me, waved her joint around, and said "listen lady, this is how it is going to be."  A lot of things have happened in the process that I didn't intend, but that's why you write...  as much as the reader, I want to know what happens next.  

Q: Do you write to entertain your readers and/or do you want to deliver a message or educate?

A.R. Williams: The two aren't mutually exclusive in my view.  We engage with stories to entertain ourselves, but that doesn't mean that the entertainment doesn't contain a thread of truth or doesn't serve a purpose in our lives.  Some of the best stories we've got teach us that we can survive, that others have experienced what we're experiencing - again, rock bottom is pretty universal - and have found a way to carry on.  Other authors have been with me through that rock bottom experience, have held my hand and shown me that it is possible to keep going.  If I can be that for someone else, even just a little bit, then I can count myself as a success.  

So if there's a dogma to be found in the book, it is in the value of showing up, as imperfect as you are, as ill equipped as you may be.  It is in making peace with the way life is inevitably going to scar you, and learning to find the beauty and the strength in those scars.  It is that living unafraid is going to get you hurt, but hurt and alive is better than walling yourself off from everything because you're afraid of pain.   

Q:  What’s next?

A.R. Williams: I'm about 75% done with the next in the Trilogy - The Camellia Reckoning.  Then there is the editing and the re-writing and the early reader feedback and the perfecting to do.  That should keep me busy for a while, and when I'm done with that, book three.  I'm booked for the foreseeable future.  Literally.  

Q:  Tell us about A.R. Williams. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A.R. Williams: I'm afraid the most interesting part of me is what happens when I'm not paying attention to what the thoughts in my head are up to.  Other than that, it is all pretty normal.  Work.  Swimming.  Music.  My 13 year old dog that has no idea she can't see, can't hear, and can't smell anymore.  Making a killer salsa.  This is another quote I can't find, and I don't even know who said it, but it applies: I live a restrained life so my imagination can run wild.    

About A.R. Williams

A.R. Williams is obsessed with language and myth, not just playing with words and making up stories, but with the real-world impact that our words have on the way we live. Words are the only puzzle that never gets boring, and writing is the only thing she has wanted to do consistently. Other interests, such as sewing and photography, become alternate means to feed the writing habit.

Ms. Williams feeds her obsession with curiosity: people, philosophy, technology, psychology, and culture. Living in Washington D.C. is a good source of inspiration. From the sublime heights of arts and achievement available for free at the Smithsonian to the bureaucratic banality of Beltway politics and scandals, it is a great city for fantasy, possibility, power, and consequence—ideal fodder for the fictional life. She lives between an ordinary external life filled with time cards, meetings, and deadlines; and an extraordinary imaginary world where anything is possible and everything is fueled by music.


2044. Willow Carlyle is the youngest cultural epidemiology research director in the history of the Ministry of Health and is on the fast-track for further promotion until a night of passion shatters her carefully constructed life.

Marked and unemployed, Willow falls in with a band of dissidents. Everyone wants something. In the process of discerning friend from foe, Willow begins to unravel secrets that will shake the New Republic of America to its foundation. 

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Follow the entire Camellia Resistance tour HERE   

* This tour is brought to you by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours *





Monday, July 7, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Morgan Bell, Author

Morgan Bell, Author
SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS
Australian author Morgan Bell offers SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS, a group of short stories of  “bizarre medical conditions, industrious creatures, conniving cops, killers, dead bodies, a rescue mission, homoeroticism, nonchalant students, a secret garden, and the road to hell.”  Reviewers praise the “many layers,” and “great characters.” Bell says, “it’s a little book of feelings told through the tears of a clown.”

Many of Bell’s short stories have been featured in various publications. She plans to release a second book of short stories later this year and is working on a speculative fiction novel. When she’s not working or writing, Bell likes to go to the movies, live theater, and drag shows. Born in Melbourne, she currently lives in Sydney.

Don't miss the brief excerpts following her interview.

Q: How much and/or did your upbringing, current surroundings, or life events influence your stories in SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS?

Morgan Bell: Many of my stories feature overt Australiana, such as eucalypts and butcherbirds in Telfer Speck, some feature real places, such as Stockton in Granted, or my old front fence in Newcastle in Shark Fin Soup. A lot of dialogue is expanded fragments of real conversations from real life. Stories like The Package and Mini Play are based on real exchanges, just extrapolated out and with some invented backstory or motivations.

Q: Reviewers say that there are “many layers” to the stories in SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS and were pleased that they are thought-provoking. How do you provide multiple layers in a short story? Did you intend to deliver a message with your stories?

Morgan Bell: I am a believer in the saying: a good story reads you. It is the ultimate compliment that my stories have been interpreted in so many ways. I find that is part of the craft of writing, leaving enough negative space that any reader can relate. I keep my stories concise and my dialogue and descriptions pointed. Rather than telling the reader what to think present a situation of moral ambiguity and let them draw their own conclusions.

Q: What makes your stories unique?

Morgan Bell: They come from a unique place, within the world, within society, and within my perspective. They do not conform to short story conventions, in structure or in length. They also have a common narrative and themes running through them as a collection. I write entirely in third person, and I have a strong voice, its like being led into the wilderness by someone you trust.

Q: Reviewers also like the range of stories – from the “rather amusing, to deeply disturbing, and even heartfelt.” Were you trying to evoke reaction to various emotions?

Morgan Bell:  Absolutely, it’s a little book of feelings told through the tears of a clown. The face of it is quite funny, but like most comedians there is an underbelly of hurt and sadness. Many of the stories are about not fitting in and the general unease that comes with forming an identity relative to other people.

Q: I was interested to see that your reviewers appreciated your characters. How do you develop multiple engaging characters in a series of short stories?

Morgan Bell: To see the best or the worst of a character you need to put them in a character defining situation. I don’t put them through an obstacle course like a mad puppeteer, I just introduce them to one scenario and let the camera rest there while tensions boil. I also like to present queer characters, characters of various ages and socio-economic groups and stages in life, and present couplings where the relationship is not defined. The reader can observe the dynamic and decide for themselves.

Q: How important is setting to your stories? Could they occur anywhere?

Morgan Bell: Most of the time the setting is not very important, it can be anywhere from a faraway land to the house next door. As a default I will set them in Newcastle Australia, but often the location is not even named.

Q: Can you explain the meaning and significance of the title SNIGGERLESS BOUNDULATIONS?

Morgan Bell: It is a non-sense phrase that stuck in my mind while I was half-asleep. It sounded to me like something the Dormouse from Alice In Wonderland would talk about in between tales of treacle and drawing a “muchness” from much of a muchness. Linguistically it translates to a calculated series of steps forward. I like the riddle quality and the weightlessness of the phrase.

Q: How relevant is the concept of “hero” vs “villain” in your stories?

Morgan Bell:  To think there are no good people and bad people, just people capable of doing both good and bad things depending on the situation. Someone like Constable Skillion in Telfer Speck may seem like a villain in some lights, or maybe he’s lonely and socially awkward and just trying to do his job. The young woman in It Had To Be Done acts in a way that may negatively impact another person, but what motivates her is more defining to her character than the end result.

Q: What’s next? Will you write more short stories? A novel? What genre interests you next?

Morgan Bell: I have another collection of short stories coming out later this year, called Laissez Faire. I am also working on a speculative fiction novel, it is bare bones at the moment, but it will have various female protagonists, the working title is Daughters of Mallory.

Q: Tell us about Morgan Bell. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Morgan Bell: I love watching movies, especially at the cinema, and watching tv series like Game of Thrones, Girls, Shameless, True Detective etc. Recently I began a class in mosaic, which has been fabulous. I also like going to see live theatre and drag shows, and dining out and in with friends. I am a bit of a people-watcher so I just like being out in the community, listening and observing.

About Morgan Bell

Morgan Bell is a young Australian woman, born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1981. She attended school in regional areas of New South Wales, including the Northern Rivers, the South Coast, and Newcastle. She currently lives in Sydney and works in Local Government as an engineer. Bell is university educated in civil engineering, traffic engineering, technical communications, linguistics, and literature. She is a member of Hunter Writers Centre, Newcastle Writers Group, and Newcastle Speculative Fiction Group.

Bell’s short story “It Had To Be Done” was first published in the Newcastle Writers Group Anthology 2012, and her short story “Midnight Daisy” was published by YWCA Newcastle in 2013 as part of the She: True Stories project, with live readings on ABC 1233 in February 2014 and Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2014. In March 2014 Bell’s short story “Don’t Pay The Ferryman”, an anti-travel piece, was shortlisted for the Hunter Writer’s Centre Travel Writing Prize 2014. Bell’s short story “The Switch”, based on Germanic folklore, is featured in Novascapes, the 2014 Hunter Speculative Fiction Anthology, alongside award-winning authors such as Margo Lanagan and Kirstyn McDermott.


Debut collection of short stories by indie Australian author Morgan Bell. A cross-section between dreams and reality. An examination of the horrors of life, with plenty of peering, in the form of vignettes, micro fiction, flash fiction, and short stories.

Themes include fear, time, aging, anxiety, and jealousy.

This collection of fifteen stories contains bizarre medical conditions, industrious creatures, conniving cops, killers, dead bodies, a rescue mission, homoeroticism, nonchalant students, a secret garden, and the road to hell.


“Her eyes were itching and beginning to water, she pawed at them with the backs of her hands until they went red. A mosquito buzzed in her ear, she trod on a bee, and a single line of tiny black ants curled up around her flamingo shin. She began limping, her foot swollen, shaking the other leg like a cat who had stepped on sticky tape.” (Tiptoe Through The Tulips)

“The tune was the call of his love, a tune only he and she knew. But it was different, peppered with some menacing mannerist malice. Constable Skillion swaggered out from the scrub with a shovel slung over his shoulder, tobacco smoke unfurling. He spied Telfer lingering over the dirt mound and stopped his whistling. Telfer snapped to face the silence.” (Telfer Speck)

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Twitter: @queenboxi



Monday, June 30, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Sarah Elle Emm, Author

Sarah Elle Emm, Author
HARMONY RUN SERIES:
PRISMATIC
Sarah Elle Emm has authored the HARMONY RUN SERIES, a fantasy dystopian four-book series for teenagers and young adults. PRISMATIC, the first of the series, features Rain, a multiracial girl who joins with friends in a segregated country to fight a dictator. Reviewers tout the book as a “truly original, unique and inspired storyline” with “vision and imagination” and “very emotive, truth-drawing and utterly thought-provoking” and an “unexpected and quirky twist within the plot.”

Emm loves to write, and she enjoys exploring the “what if” scenario offered by dystopian fantasy because she gets to create her own “rules” for her world. However, she also has written a lighter novel, MARRYING MISSY, and appreciates that genre as well. She plans to publish the third book in the HARMONY RUN SERIES:  CHATOYANT this summer and is currently finishing the fourth book in the series NACREOUS —in between fighting off fake lizards placed in her bed by her kids, taking photos, and cooking. She is well-traveled and currently lives in Florida.

Don't miss the opportunity to enter a giveaway following the interview.

Q: Reviewers of PRISMATIC praise the novel as “truly original, unique and inspired.” How did you conceive of the story? What makes it unique?

Sarah Elle Emm: From what I’ve seen in the reviews and from the emails I’ve received, people tend to agree that one of the reasons my story is unique is because the protagonist, Rain, is a multiracial girl. While multiracial fiction is out there, it isn’t the largest genre.  The story takes place in the future, in a newly segregated country, under the ruling thumb of an evil dictator. Rain and her friends, who are from varying ethnic backgrounds, take a stand against their oppressor when most of the adults have lost hope and given up. This story was inspired by real life events in history such as the Holocaust, slavery, apartheid, and segregation, to name a few. It was also inspired by my own childhood and life experience. I have multiracial relatives, cousins, friends, and children, and I’ve seen prejudice and racism in my travels around the world and in the U.S.A. I decided to write a story where multiracial teenagers could try to help spread the word that we are all just humans.

Q: How did you draw readers into the dystopian, fantasy world of PRISMATIC? How did you make the world believable? Do you think believability is important?

Sarah Elle Emm: The cool thing about writing fantasy and dystopian is that as the writer you get to create your own rules for your world, which is nice.  But as far as making it believable, I think the most important thing for me is making the characters seem real.  As far as setting goes, this futuristic society of mine has droid technology, hover technology, and many technological advancements, but most important is that you believe Rain and her friends are real. I don’t just want you to enjoy her as a fiction character, I want you to care about her, to carry her with you in your mind when you aren’t reading the story, and to think about her after you’ve put the book down.  Let’s be honest, this is a four book series, and I’m currently writing the final book, so these teenagers are very real to me. Still, while the reader may never be able to care about them as much as I do, I still have that hope, and that’s my goal. So yes, believability is important!

Q: A reviewer called your protagonist, Rain, “a worthy heroine.” How do you make her engaging?

Sarah Elle Emm: Rain’s character is good. She cares about her brother and her friends.  She cares about her family. She’s not afraid to stand up to injustice, but she still has fears. The story takes place four years after her family has been sent to this deplorable, walled city, so she still remembers what life was like before. I think that desire to get her freedom back makes her even more engaging. She wasn’t born into this undesirable society. She was sent here. She’s also just your average teenage girl in the midst of a scary place. She wants the same things other girls might want, who don’t live in a world like this. She jokes around with her friends, has arguments with her mom, and even falls in love. But you’ll have to read PRISMATIC to find out more about her crush…

Q: Is the concept of “hero” vs “villain” relevant to PRISMATIC? Do you need a villain in order to have a hero?

Sarah Elle Emm: Yes, I definitely have a hero vs villain in this story. Rain is one tough female hero, but she definitely has the help of her heroic friends, and they are waging a war against the worst of the worst as far as villains go. While there is actually a person who is the villain in this story, I think in other stories it is possible to have a hero without having a person as the villain.

Q: You describe PRISMATIC as a dystopian fantasy for teens and young adults. How do you direct the story to that segment? Do you believe older readers would enjoy reading PRISMATIC?

Sarah Elle Emm: While PRISMATIC is technically a young adult and teen story, I have found that a lot of adults are reading it too. For one thing, adults these days are reading more and more teen dystopian than ever. I’ve heard from some adults who say they like to read what their kids are reading, so that is the interest. I’ve also heard from adult readers of my series who say they enjoyed the history in my story. Older generations can pick up on the WWII parallels in this series that young adults haven’t even learned about yet in school. A lady in England emailed me that she was sending PRISMATIC to her son’s school in hopes they would add it to their history lesson. I’ve met with young adult readers who’ve read PRISMATIC, and they tell me they can relate to the characters as far as the conversation goes, their sense of humor, and the teenage feelings of love. So, I hope PRISMATIC can entertain young adults and adults alike. 

Q: Did you write PRISMATIC strictly to entertain? Or did you want to also deliver a message?

Sarah Elle Emm: Both. I wanted to entertain readers with Rain and her story. I want people to care about her, to root for her as she stands up for her rights, and as she falls in love. But this series has a very simple, but important message. We are all just humans, regardless of our outward differences. We should celebrate our cultural diversity, yes, but in a positive way, and we shouldn’t label each other because of how we look on the outside. 

Q:  You have also written a novel, MARRYING MISSY, which is not a fantasy/dystopian story. Which genre do you enjoy writing more? 

Sarah Elle Emm: I enjoy reading lots of genres, which is why I think I enjoy writing in more than one. Personally, I loved writing MARRYING MISSY because it was so light and fun. Sometimes, I’m in the mood for light, and sometimes, I’m in the mood for more intensity. Of course, I just love a good ‘what if’ scenario like you can find in dystopian fiction. I’m not going to say I enjoy writing dystopian more because to be honest, I just love to write, but I will tell you I’ve been taking notes for another YA dystopian series I’d like to write. 

Q: Do your characters ever take over your writing, or do you stick to your outline?

Sarah Elle Emm: I take notes and plan plot points, but sometimes my characters do take over, and suddenly I’m going on an adventure I hadn’t planned at all. 

Q: What’s next?

Sarah Elle Emm: My current project is to continue and finish the fourth book in the HARMONY RUN SERIES, NACREOUS.  The third book in this series, CHATOYANT, comes out this August, too.  In between writing and promoting, I’ll try to keep up with my kids. I emphasize the word try. They like to play tricks on me every single day. I don’t care how many times they pull the same prank on me, when I get into bed at night and feel a lizard under or on my pillow, I always have that moment where I forget it’s their fake lizard and scream. The fake lizard is their favorite.

Q: Tell us about Sarah Elle Emm. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I love to cook. Since I made a healthy lifestyle transformation a couple of years ago, I’m cooking vegan food these days. I like to take traditional recipes, like my grandmother’s banana bread for example, and convert them into healthy vegan recipes. I love speaking Spanish and try to stay in touch with my native Spanish speaking friends, I go to church, stay active, and I love to read. I also dabble in amateur photography, and Florida has so much for me to photograph. When I can, I post Florida photography at my blog, Sarah’s View from the Bottom.  (www.Sarahsviewfromthebottom.com)

About Sarah Elle Emm

Sarah Elle Emm is the author of the HARMONY RUN SERIES, a young-adult fantasy and dystopian series, released in May 2012 by Winter Goose Publishing. (PRISMATIC, May 2012, OPALESCENT, February 2013, CHATOYANT set for release August 2014, NACREOUS release TBD) Her debut fiction novel, MARRYING MISSY, an Amazon Best Seller in marriage, was published by Bird Brain Publishing in October 2011. Sarah is a graduate of The University of Evansville. She has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, England, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has traveled extensively beyond. Her love of journal writing, travel, and multicultural experience have all influenced her novels. Sarah lives in Naples, Florida with her family. When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship or snapping photos of Southwest Florida scenery, she is writing.

About PRISMATIC


Rare glimpses of birds are the only reminder of the freedoms Rain Hawkins once had. Now segregated into a mixed-race zone within the United Zones of the Authority, under tyrannical rule of President Nicks, Rain is forced to endure the bleak conditions set upon her. The possibility of a way out arises when Rain discovers an organized resistance called The Freedom Front, and learns that she, along with many other multi-racial people, has special abilities. Determined to overcome her situation, Rain sets out on a mission with the resistance that will fill her life with wonder, romance, and the undying hope for a better world.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Alysha Kaye, Author

Alysha Kaye, Author
THE WAITING ROOM
Author Alysha Kaye will release her novel, THE WAITING ROOM, on July 1 - a romance about an ordinary couple, Jude and Nina, who are in love. When Jude dies, he awakens in a room that looks like an airport terminal where he waits for his name to be called out of a group of souls. But his name is not called. Instead, he waits for Nina. 

Kaye—who has a BA in creative writing—teaches in Austin, TX, a vocation she enjoys as much as writing. When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys exploring the restaurants, bars, parks, and museums of Austin.





Q: How did you conceive of the idea for THE WAITING ROOM?

Alysha Kaye: I offhandedly wrote my boyfriend a cheesy poem about waiting for him after death—being reborn together again and again. For some reason, it stuck in my head and I started writing about it more. I never thought it would turn into a novel!

Q: The story of the death of a loved one is not, well, pleasant, nor would it be a topic many would consider reading. How or why is THE WAITING ROOM inviting to read? Do you consider it a romance?

Alysha Kaye: It is definitely a romance—I think that’s what buffers the obvious element of death and mourning. Jude and Nina lose each other, yet time and time again, they reunite.

Q: How do you engage readers to care about your main characters, Jude and Nina? Is there something special about their relationship? Are they just normal, every day people?

Alysha Kaye: They’re very normal—they fight quite a bit actually! Although they are the only couple in history who have been able to wait for each other after death, and to be reborn together—they are not “more in love” than any other couple in the universe. I like the idea that they could be any couple—the fact that they were somehow chosen to wait for each other feels more like happenstance.

Q: How important is credibility to the story? What will make readers believe that there is such a place as a “waiting room?” Can they appreciate the story if they don’t accept the premise?

Alysha Kaye: The room is very “real”—it actually looks exactly like an airport terminal, as you can see on the cover. There are characters that arrive in the waiting room who are of every age, race, and religion. The book invites readers to believe their own interpretation of what the room could mean.

Q: Did you write THE WAITING ROOM to entertain readers? To deliver a message? To educate?

Alysha Kaye: I think the age-old question of “What happens after you die?” will always appeal universally. There are three parts of myself that struggled with the main purpose of this novel: the creative writer wanted to solely entertain, the middle school English teacher wanted to deliver a message about equality and loyalty, and the curious philosopher wanted to explore the endless questions I have about love and death.

Q: Is there a “villain” in THE WAITING ROOM? Do you believe that you need to have the conflict between a villain and a hero to have an entertaining story?

Alysha Kaye: There is no real “villain”. Some characters definitely feel contempt and frustration for whomever/whatever is “running” the waiting room, but the conflicts are clearly internal. I think the most interesting stories involve that struggle within—in real life, everyone is a hero and a villain at times.

Q: Did your characters lead you to write what they want? Or did you draft an outline and stick to it?

Alysha Kaye: I am not really an outline kind of writer, although I encourage my students to use them all the time! I started writing about Jude and Nina and it became a rabbit hole of discoveries.

Q: I notice that you have a degree in creative writing. Did you always want to be a writer? And you also have a degree in education. Do you enjoy teaching? Which do you prefer?

Alysha Kaye: I’ve been writing since I was very young. I was an only child and writing was definitely a creative escape for me. I never thought I would feel more passionate about anything, until I began teaching. My kids are amazing. They inspire me to be a better writer, and hopefully I do the same for them!

Q: What’s next?

Alysha Kaye: Well, the novel will be released in July. I can’t wait. I’ll continue teaching and hopefully start writing my second novel soon! Quite a few ideas brewing.

Q: Tell us about Alysha Kaye. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Alysha Kaye: When I’m not teaching or writing, I’m probably exploring Austin with friends. I moved here recently and it seems there are endless restaurants, bars, parks, and museums to check out. It’s an extremely creative, eclectic city—I love it!

About Alysha Kaye

Alysha Kaye was born in San Marcos, TX, where she also received her BA in Creative Writing from Texas State University. She worked in marketing for a brief and terrible cubicle-soul-sucking time until she was accepted into Teach for America and promptly moved to Oahu. She taught 7th grade English in Aiea for two years and also received her Masters in Education from University of Hawaii. She now teaches in Austin, TX and tries to squeeze in as much writing as possible between lesson planning. She dreamt about THE WAITING ROOM once, and offhandedly wrote her boyfriend a love poem about waiting for him after death. Somehow, that became a novel.


About THE WAITING ROOM
To be released in July 2014

Jude and Nina are the epitome of that whole raw, unflinching love thing that most people are jealous of. That is, until Jude dies and wakes up in The Waiting Room, surrounded by other souls who are all waiting to pass over into their next life. But unlike those souls, Jude’s name is never called by the mysterious “receptionist”. He waits, watching Nina out of giant windows. He’s waiting for her. What is this place? How long will he wait? And what will happen when and if Nina does join him? THE WAITING ROOM is a story of not just love, but of faith, predestination, and philosophy, friendship and self-actualization, of waiting.

Links

Twitter: alyshakaye7