Today we have something special; an interview with published writer, Alexis Radcliff. This is the first interview on my blog, so if anyone has any requests or suggestions for future interviews, please leave a comment.
I met Miss Radcliff via Twitter, where we have been discussing various aspects of writing ever since. She is very professional, knowledgeable and has a lot of insight in this business, which she shares in the following interview.
Short Bio: Alexis Radcliff is an author, gamer, unashamed geek, and history junkie who spent the better part of a decade working in tech before dedicating herself to her first love, literature. A VANISHING GLOW, her debut novel, is the opening book in her MYSTECH ARCANUM series, an exciting blend of steampunk and flintlock fantasy with mature themes.
Published Works: A Vanishing Glow (The Mystech Arcanum, #1)
Current Projects: Book Two of The Mystech Arcanum, and a top-secret piece of dark literary fiction
When did you begin writing?
I started writing at a very young age, dabbling here and there, but spent most of my childhood and teen years voraciously consuming more than creating. It wasn't until I was out of college that I began to take my writing seriously and work harder at developing my craft.
Did you receive any special training or attend a school?
Not for writing, no. You have George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Michael Crichton, and Anne Rice to thank for my literary style. I see, I (try to) do. I'm a huge proponent of self-learning, actually. When I was first getting started, I sat through all of Brandon Sanderson's excellent online lectures. I also read just about every craft book I could get my hands on while writing every day to put what I was learning into practice.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Mostly they're plucked from the ether of my mind after it's had some time to cook on interesting ideas for a while. I'm an infovore -- constantly on Reddit, Feedly, Twitter. Every few days some cool thoughts coalesce and hit me out of nowhere, and I rush to write them down in a little red book I carry everywhere in my purse. I skim the best of them off the top and work on whichever projects I'm most excited about at the moment.
Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)
Absolutely! Did I mention I'm a geek? I write all my prose in Scrivener, I use ProWritingAid.com to weed out obvious issues in drafts, I'm a big believer in the Pomodoro Method (using my favorite timer app, Tomighty), and I look for cover artists on DeviantArt. I also enjoy my thesaurus, and recommend its distant cousin The Emotion Thesaurus as a great reference for making sure you don't re-use the same emotional cues too often.
What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?
The most important thing to remember is that you're running a marathon, not a sprint. You're not finished until you're finished, and editing will always take longer than you expect. No matter how much time you have to work on it or where you are in the writing process, keep chipping away and don't lose hope. It can be easy to feel like your novel is a never-ending slog sometimes, but just focus on what you're doing now, do it well, and get it done. Eventually you'll have a book you're proud of.
What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?
For me the hardest part is deciding that the work is done, because I'm such a perfectionist. I'm never happy with the work no matter how often I go over it. You can't help but compare yourself to your heroes, you know? At some point, you just have to decide that good enough is good enough and move on to the next project. It's all about the journey. I think I found the right balance of that with A Vanishing Glow after five or six drafts. For a debut novel, I'm very proud of it and very excited to release it.
Did you use an agent, and how did you get your book published?
I don't have an agent. I'm completely self-published, by choice. When I first set out to become an author, I weighed all the pros and cons of seeking a traditional publisher and self-publishing, did a bunch of research, and finally came away persuaded that the wave of the future is self-publishing for people who want to own and manage every aspect of their writing like a business. I love being self-sufficient and doing all of it myself -- the marketing, the copy writing, the cover design (and of course the writing of the book itself). I wouldn't trade that for the world.
Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?
I hired a freelance editor whose work I liked on Reedsy.com and was very happy with the results. I also had several friends who are authors and bloggers go through with a fine-toothed comb and give me their feedback (and I really owe them for it, since the final draft weighs in at over 115,000 words).
Do you handle your own marketing?
I handle all of my own marketing and maintain an active blog and social media presence to assist with those efforts (plus I love connecting with other authors and fans). As for marketing, I plan to use the usual suite of options you see recommended: Facebook ads, giveaways, my mailing list. It's really easy to connect with people who are passionate about the type of work you do these days.
What is your best marketing tip?
Don't be spammy. It doesn't work. If your Twitter feed is endless retweets and your blog is just curated lists of reposts, you should rethink your strategy. It's important to be genuine and actually talk to people if you want to make friends and fans (and you should!).
What advice do you have for other writers?
Keep writing and don't lose hope! When you finally get the book out the door, it's such a great feeling. It's definitely worth the sweat and the tears. And there will be some tears, I promise. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going.
Until next time,