Author Interview: L.A. Wasielewski

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Be sure to check out The Alchemist on Amazon!

Interview:

1.      Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

Up until recently, I preferred only paperback.  There’s something so wonderful about holding it in your hands, sniffing that unique paperback smell (especially old ones!).  I couldn’t read on a kindle for a very long time because it hurt my eyes, but with the new one we purchased a couple of years ago, it doesn’t seem to bother me as much anymore.  Now I really like the ease of e-book, but I still will never pass up a paperback!

2.      Pick a genre, any genre!

Fantasy, for sure.  I grew up reading it, and naturally just fell into writing it!  Playing fantasy-based video games like Elder Scrolls and old-school RPG’s also had a lot to do with my love of fantasy as well!

3.      What is the first book you remember reading?

The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs. I checked it out so many times from our elementary school library!

4.      What book shaped your childhood most?

I don’t know if it shaped me in any way, but I would spend hours reading my Shel Silverstein poem books.  I just remember them always making me feel safe, calm, and happy.  Very comforting, even though I had read through them all a bazillion times.

5.      When did you first start writing?

Back in the 90’s, in high school.  I was bored in a 7am economics class (Sorry, Ms. B!) and started writing a story about a video game I loved, Phantasy Star IV.  This was before I even knew fanfic was a thing!  It was terrible, but I was proud of it!  (It is socked away in my house and will NEVER see the light of day ever again.) When I got into college and realized there was a whole community that wrote stories like mine, I was hooked and pretty much never stopped writing (except for the years I had a newborn/toddler.  Those years are a blur … lol).

6.      What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

In the beginning, with fanfic, it was to tell stories that were either never covered by the games/movies, or give the existing characters new adventures.  When I transitioned into original fiction, it was kind of the same feeling—except now the characters are mine and I’m creating EVERYTHING for them!  And it definitely still holds true, because I love building worlds, creating characters, crafting stories.

7.      What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

I have a book releasing Spring 2022 that’s a backstory novel for a character in my Alchemist Trilogy.  It’s by far my favorite thing I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait to share it with the world!

8.      Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

My first actual book?  Definitely to share with the world.  There are a lot of fanfic ideas that I’ve tinkered with over the years, however, that were only shown to a select few people, or that I just kept for myself.  

9.      How many books/collections have you published so far?

I have a completed adult epic dark fantasy trilogy, The Alchemist Trilogy, and another book ready to go for a Spring 2022 release. (It just needs a cover!)

10.   What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

Right now it’s epic fantasy, but I have a “dink around with” project that I hit on from time-to-time that’s sci-fi.  I think it’ll make a cool series someday, but that’s a long way off.

11.   Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

Since I write fantasy, you’d think I don’t have to research a lot since it’s all fantasy-type stuff and I can just make everything up, but I surprised myself!  I’ve researched everything from poisons to lockpicking to swords/armor to warfare to, ummm, grisly ways to die and torture.  The list goes on and on!

12.   To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I MUST have an outline.  I plan chapter-by-chapter, sometimes scene-by-scene.  A lot of the time, dialogue comes to me first, and then I craft a scene/chapter around it.  But that doesn’t mean I’m stuck to the outline.  There are plenty of times where I’ve changed or deviated from what was originally planned, and I always leave room for changes and new ideas.  (The biggest instance like that was a character that was added *during* the writing of the 1st draft for Dark Horizon [after I had a completed outline], who ended up being a fan favorite, filled a plot hole I didn’t realize was there in the beginning, and became integral to the entire storyline.  He’s … the one getting a backstory novel in 2022!)  

13.   What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

I originally queried my first book out to almost a hundred agents, but soon after I sent the first batch, I realized I wanted to self-publish.  So, the remainder of my query journey was half-hearted and I wasn’t really into it.  I knew that if I self-published, I’d have complete control over everything, and that was very important to me.  That’s not to say self-publishing hasn’t been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done (and I had a kid who didn’t sleep through the night until well into his sixth year!), but the reward of knowing that I did this all by myself (and with a trusted group of test readers, my wonderful husband/editor, and a fantastic cover artist), is all I could ever hope for and more.  It has been very empowering knowing that I did this on my terms.

14.   If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

I’d love to live on Krynn, from the DragonLance novels.  Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman fostered my love of fantasy, and it was their books that ultimately had a hand in inspiring me to write my own fantasy books.  Krynn seems like a cool place, mean-ass dragons notwithstanding. 😉 

15.   Do you currently have a WIP?

I have a few!  Writing has taken a back seat this school year, as I’m homeschooling our child, but I try to find time when I can.  I have two Alchemist Side Projects in various stages of completion (look for them in 2023), as well as a new fantasy project starring a group of bad-assed ladies in their late-thirties/early-forties.  I’ve written six chapters of that project so far, and I’m LOVING these gals.

16.   Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

Ooof, that’s hard!  I’d have to say my main character in my Alchemist Trilogy, Ryris Bren.  He’s a lot like me in some ways: he suffers from anxiety that can be very detrimental to his life from time-to-time, and I found through writing him, I was also finding ways to deal with my own anxiety.  If Ryris was having a “bad day” on page, I knew I could help him through it because I’ve been there many times, and if I was having a bad anxiety day in real life, sometimes writing Ryris helped me work through my problem by allowing him to have some fun/be relaxed.  He’s grown so much over the course of my series, and he’s my cinnamon roll for sure.

And I’m picking a runner-up because I want to, haha!  Mercer Nox, who appears in Dark Horizon (Book 2), has wormed his way into my heart.  He’s a sassy, snarky, asshole and very much a combination of me and one of my dearest friends.  I pretty much wrote this guy just to entertain us, and it’s been so wonderful hearing how many readers just LOVE him.  

17.   What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

Wow, that’s a tough one.  I think I’m actually going to choose the largest fanfic piece I ever wrote.  Weighing in at over 250K, it’s a Final Fantasy VIII story named Phoenix.  It took me almost four years to complete and I’m so very proud of it.  The reviews and praise I received for it still make my heart happy to this day.

18.   Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

Yes, but it’s classified for spoilery reasons.  😉 

19.   Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

I used to need silence.  But when I was struggling with the third book in my Alchemist Trilogy, my husband suggested a few Pandora channels with moody music and it actually did the trick!  Now I usually write to E.S. Posthumus and other music of that type.  It’s especially good for fantasy battle scenes.  

20.   Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

I do!  My dear friend Kristin (https://twitter.com/KMKWrites) did some incredible drawings!  She messaged me one day and told me she was inspired to do some fan art and I was BLOWN AWAY. She captured Ryris perfectly.  

Link to image one and description. | Link to image two and description. | Link to image three and description.

21.   If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

You don’t have to write every day.  Sometimes we all need a break, sometimes life gets in the way, sometimes we really just don’t feel like writing.  Forcing yourself to write every day because you feel you “just have to” isn’t the answer.  I’ve taken days off, weeks, off, HELL, MONTHS off.  I haven’t written anything more than a paragraph or two in months because of family commitments and no time, but I know when I finally do get the time to sit down and really work again, I won’t see any negative effects from not writing every day.

22.   Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!

Several years ago I entered a regional fanfiction contest.  The pieces couldn’t be more than 600 words long, which for me was TORTURE because I’m very long-winded. It was an ultimate challenge for me.  I entered two pieces: A Star Trek AOS story, and a Final Fantasy VIII story.  My Star Trek story made the top 20 out of 500 or so entries, so I was very proud of myself! I didn’t get any type of prize for my placement number, but the pride I felt was prize enough.

23.   Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

Trad pub: Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.  Their fantasy novels/worlds are what drew me into the genre in the first place, and have had me consistently reading their books for 34 years now!

Self/indie pub: Mason Thomas, Dan Fitzgerald, Deck Matthews, Lilith Hope Milam, Kristin Kuffner, Rob Nugent, and Sean R. Frazier.  

24.   Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorBebedora

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LAWasielewski

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18538281.L_A_Wasielewski

Book Link: http://author.to/LAWasielewski

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