Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Alison Strachan author of the coming soon fantasy novel with the tentative title The Divided. Alison is a fantasy writer who believes in the power of story-telling. She is passionate about the environment and speaking up against abuse of animals. Her novel in progress explores these themes and those of identity and belonging in a world where men and women live separately. She invites you to read the prequel to her novel and excerpts on her blog.
Hi Alison, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Tell me a little about yourself and your background? What were you like at school? Were you good at English? What are your ambitions for your writing career? Which writers inspire you? or something that you feel you need to share?
As a whole I am a tree-climbing, cat-loving woman with a wonderful family, a roof over my head, clothes on my back and a computer to write on. What more could a girl want? 🙂 Seriously though I am a very lucky wife and mother to two young girls who has an incredibly supportive family. These are not all things that everyone can say they have in life.
Like most writers though, I struggle a lot trying to find the balance between my family and work responsibilities, my children and my reading and writing. I believe that if you really want something you make time for it. You do what you can to make it happen because if you don’t do that – deep down you don’t really want it.
As far as my writing goes I guess I’m still a newbie. I’ve been writing for myself for a very long time. As a kid I was making my own picture books, writing and illustrating them myself and even sought feedback for one. How brave! Until recently, when I gathered a few of my online peeps to join a critique group, not very many people had seen my work.
- What was your life like before becoming an author?
I probably watched more television and had more spare time!
- Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
I guess that depends largely on the project. I began my WIP because I wanted to explore a world where men and women lived separately. The characters that spawned from there were a product of brainstorming those ideas.
- When did you decide to become a writer?
I think I was about 18 when I answered an ad in one of the major newpapers here calling for ‘amateur writers’. At the time I thought that would be cool, and it turned out to be the chance of a life-time. I was selected to join a collaboration of fantasy writers to write a series of novels. I met some wonderful writers and have forged lifelong friendships but sadly that collaboration fell apart when the director had to take leave to look after her terminally ill mother. Being accepted into that group though was a defining moment for me and it was then that I knew I had to pursue my dream.
After fits and starts with a publishing business after that, I decided to begin taking my writing career seriously again at the beginning of 2012 and I began blogging and writing on a more regular basis. I began the Writing My Truth blog to keep me accountable to my writing. It’s a place where I share my work, my experiences, discuss the writing industry and craft with fellow writers and readers.
- Why do you write?
I believe that telling and retelling stories is one of the most important things we can do as humans. A great story can bridge divides of race, age and gender. Not only that, it can open people’s eyes to new cultures and enlighten them to different ways of thinking and bring comfort, hope, inspire empathy and so much more.
Being a great story-teller is something I aspire to be. I don’t aspire to be a writer, I know I am already one of those. But creating stories that really move people, that is something I want to be remembered for and it is the reason I write.
- So, what have you written?
I am writing my first fantasy novel which explores themes of identity and belonging in a world where men and women live separately as well as the affect we have on our environment. The story will (hopefully) make you think about the way we view our world, and our gender as a product of the society we are raised in.
I’ve also written a children’s series aimed at early school age kids. These stories are about a young girl called Sarah who likes to tell Tall Tales and the sticky situations she lands herself in as a result. I have had one or two short stories published under my maiden name some years ago in a couple e-zines, but those publications no longer exist.
- Where people can buy or see them?
- Give me an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Breanna Essran is a free-spirited and passionate young woman who feels disconnected from her Sisters because of her upbringing. She has inherited her mother’s Neci Gift (with fire) and her control over this is tenuous at best which means it often gets her into trouble.
- What sparked the idea for your book?
With the tentative title The Divided, my current WIP was sparked by an idea and then asking what if? What if men and women lived separately? What if it wasn’t always like that? What would make them decide to step apart from their brothers, their husbands, their lovers, their sons and their sisters, their wives, their mothers and daughters? What would that do to society?
The children’s book I’m working on was sparked by a character that my audience can hopefully relate to, and the urban fantasy anthology has so far been sparked by a mixture of character and setting.
- How do you market your book?
As yet I don’t have a book to market so I am still busy soaking up all the info I can on this. I plan on experimenting with different techniques like posting work on Wattpad, using Pinterest to generate interest in my characters and my world, as well as programs like Amazon’s KDP Select. That’s the great thing about being a self-published author – you have all the control!
- Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Having had no experience in this yet I would just say – be open and honest and giving in your approach to promoting yourself and promoting others.
- What do you do to get book reviews?
I would consider offering a limited amount of free copies of my book to readers in exchange for reviews. I have been approached to do this before and I was happy to do so. I am unsure as to what else I would do at this point – suggestions welcome!
- What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
If you are really serious about writing then you have to make time, you have to write everyday and finish what you start. You also need to join a book club/critique group or find one or two people who are willing to give you some honest feedback of your work.
- Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Thank you so very much Meggie for inviting me over to answer these questions!
- How can readers discover more about you and your work?
It was a great privilege for me to get to interview Alison Strachan, who has inspired me in many different ways. Thank you Alison!!! Good Luck with everything!