Posted By: Shopprice South Africa
Over the past years, I spent a few months lectureship English to pensioners, which required me getting up at 6am to walk the dog before work. You get all sorts of ideas when you’re walking in perfect darkness, no lanterns, and loads of mysterious sounds reaching you through thick fog. Half the story came to me then and there. The other half I owe to a friend who caught me writing ‘leftover bear’ instead of ‘leftover beer’.
The Back Flap
Alice is a high school princess. Blonde. Beautiful. Shallow.
Until she meets a little white rabbit, and her world turns upside down. The line between reality and fantasy blurs, then vanishes altogether.
And Alice becomes a girl who attracts Trouble. Trouble with a capital T.
About the book
What is the book about?
My name is not Alice is a YA urban fantasy, centered around a 16-year old girl. Lizzy, as she calls herself, starts out your typical high school princess: blonde, beautiful, and shallow. Only when she finds herself in one of the tightest possible corners, does she realize there’s more – more to the odd things happening around her, more to the people inhabiting her world, and more to herself. Magic is real, but so are the dangers – and the responsibility – attached to it. Soon enough, Lizzy finds herself having to deal with witches and werebears, unusual forms of dieting, murderous teenage hassle, canvas shoes, carving knives, and Trouble, capital T. Oh, and white, fluffy toy rabbits.
When did you start writing the book?
In January 2015. It began as a short story for an anthology, but by the time I realized I had missed the deadline, it had taken on a life of its own, and before I knew what was happening, I had written a complete novel.
How long did it take you to write it?
Just a few weeks. Seriously, the writing itself never takes long. It’s the editing and rewriting and begging beta-readers for advice and rewriting and editing again that always takes months. Sometimes even years.
Where did you get the idea from?
From a walk in the park and a spelling mistake. Over the past years, I spent a few months teaching English to pensioners, which required me getting up at 6am to walk the dog before work. You get all sorts of ideas when you’re walking in perfect darkness, no lanterns, and loads of mysterious sounds reaching you through thick fog. Half the story came to me then and there. The other half I owe to a friend who caught me writing ‘leftover bear’ instead of ‘leftover beer.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Of course. The story isn’t exactly linear, with some people knowing more than others, and Lizzy herself knowing next to nothing. If you’re writing a book in first person, it’s always a bit of a struggle to convey information to the reader without letting your main character know.
What came easily?
The magic, the music and the romance, and the way the characters evolved and changed throughout the story. My characters tend to run away with me, and it’s always a thrill to see them grow, emerge from the experiences I’ve put them through, and come out better, or worse.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
The disclaimer says they’re entirely fictitious, but I do admit to having borrowed certain traits, looks, and even names. The people in question know about that, and have given their permission to be used by me. For example, one of the cops showing up later in the story is the person who caught my spelling mistake.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Thinking about it, I suppose Neil Gaiman is the writer who has influenced me most. Not with the stories he writes, but with the fact that he never writes the same book twice. Many writers stay within a certain genre, and on familiar ground. Neil Gaiman has spread himself across genres, and has experimented with different approaches, even as he remains loosely attached to the fantasy genre. I like to think I’m doing the same.
Do you have a target reader?
Yes. You. And you. And you, too.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I can try…usually, it starts with an innocent idea. I let it stew for a while. Sometimes, that’s that. Other times, it grows and grows until I feel my head will burst if I don’t go and write it down. Then I’ll go postal. Means I’ll write and write and be snappy and irritable if life gets in the way. You’d better not approach me if I’m like that, unless you have coffee and maybe chocolate-covered gingerbread pretzels. When the first draft is done, I go back to being sweet and kind. During the editing and rewriting I’m usually approachable and only slightly annoyed.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I don’t. Not a bit. I fly, as you say, by the seat of my pants. Only when the plot gets so complex I fear I’m losing control do I start a sheet to jot down who is where and when doing what taking how long, to avoid having characters show up in two places at once.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
The real editing has to wait until I’m finished, but since I’m a writer who lets her characters take over, I’ve been known to scroll back and forth and add here and delete there, because some wise guy in chapter X decided to do that, which requires Y information in chapter Z to better justify his stupidity.
Did you hire a professional editor?
No, but I force myself through an extensive editing process. Most of my beta-readers are writers themselves, and we line-edit for each other. Sadly, many self-published books lack a good editing and sport unprofessional amounts of typos and repetitions. The instant I think I’m finished, I still let at least three other people check it, then check it again twice myself, including a print copy, as typos have this nasty tendency to render themselves invisible on screen.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
Totally not. I’m so very much into music, it would distract me too much. I’d listen to the lyrics and fly into another world. Sometimes, though, when I write a scene, some song will pop into my mind like a soundtrack. I’ll pop over to YouTube for a few minutes then, listen intently, and go back to writing with renewed energy.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
Yes, in the beginning I did submit a bit. I think I tried four or five agents and publishers all in all over the years.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
It was a spontaneous decision, born of ‘Let’s see if I can do this, it looks like fun’ and ‘Life’s too short to remove USB safely, thus too short to wait another half year for an agent’s reply’. I’ll probably never be famous this way, nor widely read, but I’ll have the rights, the final say in everything, and I get to do funny things like book covers and trailers.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
I do my own book covers. They were pretty horrible in the beginning, but I’m learning and gradually getting better. I’m pretty proud of this one, I must admit. You can have so much fun with GIMP.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I do have a marketing plan. I copied it from a British friend of mine. She calls it SFA, which is short for Sweet Fanny Adams. Which means nothing at all. In other words, I’m totally winging it. I’m not in it for the money or the fame. I want fun, and since marketing is something I don’t enjoy, too much of it would take all the fun out of the whole endeavor.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Sure. Do it. Don’t do it. Do whatever you feel like. Make sure you have enough coffee, and go and meet other writers. Mutual advice, mutual editing is worth its weight in gold.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. Yes, my mother tongue is German. Or Germanish. The Germans don’t always agree that the Austrians actually speak German.
Where do you live now?
In a small town in the North of Germany. I like it. It’s very green. I sometimes miss my family, though.
What would you like readers to know about you?
Should we ever meet…I like chocolate-covered gingerbread pretzels. And coffee.
What are you working on now?
I should be writing the sequel to My Name is not Alice, and to another book of mine, my apocalypse novella You Used to Hurry Home, but it’s all very slow going at the moment. Life keeps getting in the way. Very soon, though – Halloween, to be precise – I’ll publish an anthology with a group of other writers, known as Cake & Quill.The anthology’s title is Gifts from the Dark – A Miscellany of Dread. It’s a collection of stories and poems on the main theme of dread and anxiety, and proceeds will go to a mental health charity. By the time you read this, it’s probably already been published.