1. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?
Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I was a very happy high school teacher. I taught both English and Spanish, so obviously words were my thing. I still miss my students and colleagues, very much, but I am truly blessed to have the time to write, every day. There is nothing better than being able to sit down and lose oneself in a new world that never existed before.
2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how did you pursue that dream?
I always made up stories and characters, ever since I was six. My sister and I spent long summers with our grandparents without television - we were only allowed to listen to one radio program a week. That left huge stretches of time that we had to fill on our own. One way we entertained ourselves was by creating long stories for each other.
And, of course, during that time we read books and books and more books. So I suppose you could say we had a modern version of the Bronte sisters' upbringing, without the moor and the strange brother.
3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?
I couldn't have done any of this without my husband. He introduced me to computers, cheered me on, and gave me time to write. I owe everything to him. My sister, of course, has been a constant friend, as well as my cover artist, Lisa Daly (who just happened to be one of my best friends in high school.)
As well, I have a very dear group of writers who help me with critiques, covers, blurbs - everything. They are my extended family.
4. What authors influenced your writing style and format?
Without a doubt, Enid Blyton was a huge influence. Yes, she was a product of her times, and some of her books are cringe worthy when you see the old-fashioned attitudes reflected within. But Enid could create adventures like no other. I wish I could be a more modern Enid.
I also love Philip Pullman for his concepts and Anne Tyler for her characters. I have some new favorites as well - Ross Kitson is amazing, as are David Wong and Dwight Okita. Honestly, there are too many to count. And may I add here that traditionally published authors are incredible (I'm looking at you, Karen Thompson Walker) but Indie authors are like undiscovered nuggets of gold (Marilyn Rucker and Johanna Garth.) It's such a thrill when you find a new, wonderful writer.
5. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career, which you only learned through experience?
Take that leap of faith. Don't second-guess yourself. Just do it.
6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?
- Come up with a concept (can vary from long development to being struck with a bolt of lightning.)
- Sketch out idea and add to it (either through very specific outline or story mapping.)
- Research, research, research.
- Begin writing. Don't stop for several months.
- Finish first draft. Let it "marinate" and write something else - a story or a novella.
- Go back and reread first draft. Curse at self for obvious logic flaws and grammar errors.
- Edit and send out for beta reads.
- Re-edit and send out for professional edit.
- Another round of beta reads.
- Final edit.
- Begin cover concept - a REALLY FUN PART of the process.
- Format the manuscript.
- Put novel up online and start to market it.
7. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?
I do have an incredibly eclectic playlist which includes Angelique Kidjo, a Benin singer who inspired Night Watchman, as well as 50's jazz, 90's rap, disco from anytime, lounge music, the Stones, classical (Bach is a fave) - I'll listen to anything. Except that Call Me Maybe song.
8. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?
Absolutely! Miriam, my main character, is solid flesh and blood. She's a bit prickly and has a temper, which is a wonderful thing. Simon, the boy who eventually attracts - and is attracted by - Miriam is also very human. He was stuck-up at first but had a serious come-down in Devil's Kitchen. I love all my characters - even Barbara, my villainess.
I'm still in the middle of their story, but I do see glimpses of their futures. Just as I used to imagine what Mr. Darcy's and Elizabeth's Bennet's marriage would be like, I can picture Miriam and Simon's deepening relationship.
9. What is your favorite character you have created and why?
That would have to be Mana, my beautiful governess. She is from the islands, so she has dark skin. Yet, she is a governess in Edwardian England and, therefore, she has to face the social strictures of the time. Mana negotiates society with dignity and intelligence. Without a doubt, she is the most unique and most beloved character I've created yet.
10. What was your favorite book to write so far and why?
That's hard to choose - like choosing a favorite child! I really enjoyed Lamplighter's Special, though. It was told from the point of view of a maid who had very poor eyesight, so she had to grope her way through a fuzzy world. As a girl who had horrible vision growing up, I can really relate. As well, I did a lot of research about ladies' maids, the clothing of the time, steamships, and quantum computers for that book. Thanks to my wonderful editor, it all came together and was a blast to write.
11. What books are in process for you? Can you tell us anything about upcoming projects?
Yes, indeed! I'm almost finished with the rough draft of the final book in the series, The South Sea Bubble. It ties a lot of loose ends together, and I can promise some more romance along with loads of adventure.
Once that's done, I have a diesel punk book on the back burner, called The Gramophone Society. It's set in World War II and follows a group of displaced London children in a huge country mansion. I can't wait to get back to it.
12. Many of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?
Honestly, fighting pirates is like fighting hydras. Cut one head off and two grow back in its place. I think the same happens to traditionally published books as well, though. I do try to keep my prices low (less than a cup of coffee!) to combat piracy. As well, I have faith in human nature - hopefully, people will for the most part do the right thing and buy books through the proper channels.
13. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so or have someone do so for you?
Honestly, no, I don't. Must add that to the To-Do list!
14. What inspired you to join the ever growing legion of Steam Punk writers and what do you think makes your novel distinctive in such a popular genre?
I was always a huge admirer of Verne, Wells, and Doyle. When I wrote my books, I didn't have "This will be a steampunk series" in mind. It was only later that I looked back and thought, hey - this is my genre!
15. What were some of your favorite authors in your teen years who helped shape you?
I went through a classics phase in my teens. We were still staying with relatives and had little access to television, so I read most of Dickens, Hemingway, Dumas, the Brontes, Austen… I became fascinated with the literature of the Spanish Civil War. Laforet's Nada was amazing - I read it and reread it. I also loved the Irish writers and went through a serious James Joyce phase.
16. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?
I just finished John Dies in the End by David Wong and I simply ust read the next one, There Are Spiders in This Book. I will read anything by Haruki Murakami, thanks to my brother giving me The Wind Up Bird Chronicle a few years ago. I loved The Age of Miracles, and I am in the middle of Gone, Girl now. As I said, there are amazing Indie authors out there as well - Cypher Lx, Shaun Allan, Connie Jasperson, Rachel Tsoumbakos, Catherine Stine, and Tom Harris (The Amber Room - don't miss it!) are just a few of the writers I follow.
And, I'm enough of a kid to still read Harry Potter, the Narnia books, and The Hobbit over and over again.
17. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?
Learning how to think is a very good thing! But, for me, higher education meant a huge range of exposure to different writers, painters, musicians, mathematicians, and scientists. As well, I had the chance to meet people completely out of my realm in my little Pennsylvania home town - veterans, hippies, protestors, conservatives, students from Iran and from North Korea… For me, it was like a huge window on a new, previously unimagined world.
18. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy?
American Horror Story! It's so creepy and brilliant. My husband and I just saw Inception and loved it. I'm a sucker for anything space related - From the Earth to the Moon… Apollo 13... I'm a big Avatar fan, and I loved the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. As well, the new Sherlock Holmes series is amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch can come to my house for tea any time
19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?
OH MY: that is a tough one.
1. A blank journal so I could keep writing.
2. Kafka on the Shore - Murakami
3. The Prospect of My Arrival - Dwight Okita
4. The Hobbit
5. The Order of the Phoenix (my favorite Harry Potter book)
6. The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
8. The Narnia Books - I have to have them all in one heavy volume. Sorry.
9. The God of Small Things
10. Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell - so large, so dense - I could read and reread this one and never grow bored.
20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?
Number One - protect yourself. As you negotiate social media, realize that it is a dangerous world out there. Don't write anything you wouldn't want your parents or, one day, your children to read. Stay away from conflict.
Number Two - Buy On Writing by Kind and The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Read them and keep them by your desk. And your bed.
Number Three - Butt-Chair = work. You won't reach your goals by not producing. Set yourself a daily word goal and try to reach it. If you do, great. If you don't, there's always tomorrow.
Number Four - Make certain you pay attention in English class (said the former English teacher.) That grammar stuff really, really comes in handy.
Number Five - Keep reading. A lot. The Twilight books are fine, but do branch out and read nonfiction, classics, and ethnic literature as well. You'll be amazed at the beautiful new worlds you'll find.
Thank you Alison for taking the time to interact with the readers here at Book Reviews and More and may we have many more new tales from you in the future. Alison can be found numerous places online haunting the net; her blog Fresh Pot of Tea, Facebook, Twitter and more if you do a little searching.
Books by Alison Deluca:
Crown Phoenix Trilogy
The Night Watchman Express
The Lamplighter's Special