WG: Welcome Alyssa. Thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
AD: I had an interesting Air Force brat
childhood, living all over the word. A very nice man in Turkey
offered my father three camels and a goat for me once, so I’ve
always known my own value . . .
I am a proud grad of The Ohio State University (go, Buckeyes!) and summa cum laude (which means “with much student loan debt”) grad of Capital Law School. My husband, kids, two pugs, and I live in Virginia for 4 more weeks, then we move back to Florida. Moving every couple of years is a hazard of being married to an officer in the U.S. Navy!
WG: Let's talk about
your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
AD: Like most other writers, I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. But it took September 11 – and the fact that my husband was deployed to Afghanistan soon afterward – to get me to take the step toward publication. I was alone, working full-time, with two small children, and I kept saying “somebody should write a book about how hard it is to be the spouse at home when your husband or wife goes off to war.” That turned into “I should write a book” which turned into E-MAIL TO THE FRONT, a nonfiction autobiographical book that used our personal e-mails and essays to tell the story of war on the family.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
AD: I had the Cinderella story. The first agent I really wanted offered representation immediately, the first book sold within a couple of weeks, and my first novel sold within two weeks from submitting it, with interest/offers from several publishers. It was completely insane!! I did not know at the time how incredibly miraculous the experience was.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
AD: Again, back to Cinderella, above :). You sell nonfiction on a proposal and sample chapters, so I sold my first book on a marketing proposal and 5 short chapters. My first novel I sold on the first 42 pages and a 3-page synopsis. I’ve never actually written a book yet that I hadn’t already sold, but AMERICAN IDLE, my first novel, was almost done when we sold it.
WG: What changed most about your life as a direct result of selling that first book?
AD: My entire life changed. We were doing one of our Navy moves at the same time I was on the TV book tour for E-MAIL TO THE FRONT, from Seattle to Florida, and I decided to quit practicing law and write full time. I’ve never gone back to law, and I hope I never have to!
WG: What about your writing process: Do you have a group or individual you work with as you’re brainstorming and/or drafting your manuscript? If so, what do you look for in the way of feedback/input?
AD: I’ve only brainstormed as a group once, on a weeklong writing retreat with Christine Feehan, C.L. Wilson, and two other writers, and I really enjoyed the process. But mostly I do it all myself. I adore plotting and really have fun with it.
WG: Do you maintain a set writing schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
AD: I try to; but I have two children and things happen. I write as much as I can whenever I can and ferociously when at the final stages of a deadline. Several times I’ve gone to a hotel the last weekend before a book is due to work for 72 hours straight, only stopping for naps.
WG: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
AD: Yes!! Write a better book each time!! Meet the deadline!!
WG: Do you have a ‘mood setter’, something you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
AD: Sometimes. A wonderful friend, Barbara Ferrer, is a music fiend and builds me soundtracks for my Warriors of Poseidon series. They are amazing for evoking the mood of the book, but I usually prefer silence, so I’ll play music for 30 minutes or so and then turn it off.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
AD: I do tons of up front plotting and much revision of plotting all the way along. I love to have a map of the way, even though it usually changes daily as the characters take over the book.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
AD: Both. Character is everything and plot is everything. Each must grow organically with and from the other.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories.
AD: Yes, brave women who feel they’re in some way not good enough (trust me, I don’t want to know the psychological implications of that!) and warrior heroes who are protectors.
WG: What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?
AD: Plotting and humor are my strengths; delving deep emotionally is a challenge. I have to really work to get to the emotion and often it’s hard. I’ve found myself crying at the computer writing some of the scenes in my Atlantis series and it surprised me at first but I realized I’d really nailed the scene.
WG: Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?
AD: My husband is gone. A LOT. And I have two very active children. Life gets in the way of writing, sometimes.
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
AD: Just that when
it works, it feels like flying. It feels like the time I was in the
hospital for surgery and they gave me morphine. It’s floaty and
intense and the most wonderful, icy-clear, pure feeling. The story
is everything. I’m a storyteller, so when the story works, when the
process works, it rocks the world.
Oh – and that nobody should try to appropriate somebody else’s process. I’ve done that a few times, and it is death to creativity. Find your own and rejoice in every messy, wonderful step of it.
WG: When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?
AD: I read, of course!!! If you’re not reading, you’re not a writer. And I love movies. And I am a parent, which pretty much uses up all my free time for the next 15 years or so.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share
AD: Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda.
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
AD: I just finished writing ATLANTIS AWAKENING, the story of Prince Conlan’s brother Ven, the King’s Vengeance. I hope everyone loves him as much as I do. He meets a gem singer witch and life gets very dangerous – and very interesting!
WG: Tell us about plans for future books.
AD: I’ve just accepted an offer to write 3 more books in the Warriors of Poseidon series, so I’m thrilled to be able to continue writing in that universe. And I have a new urban fantasy series debuting in 2008 that is fairly dark, with philosophical underpinnings, that I am very excited about.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your fans can get in touch with you.