Raised in the UK, Alannah lived in her Aussie birthplace for five years in her twenties, where mozzies regularly used her for target practice. She managed to return to Old Blighty devoid of shark or snake bite, however, and currently lives in picturesque Cornwall with her cycling-obsessed partner.
To date, she has two fiction series – the Campervan Bushman Mysteries and the Tales from Corny Cove novelettes – both of which are light, easy reads with a few twists, turns and tickles along the way. Her nonfiction titles span topics as diverse as capers in a campervan, the vagaries of living with an obsessive cyclist and her adventures Down Under.
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What inspires you to write?
An idea is sparked seemingly out of nowhere, so I have to follow it. I might get characters playing out in my head or scenes that call to be written down. I never ignore an idea – I always write it down somewhere – although not all of them will end up being written into a final story or see the light of publication.
I can get inspired by just about anything, although I often draw from things which have happened in my life, even though I often don’t set out to do so.
Tuning into a character’s perspective or emotions, or finding humour in a situation is what I love most, I think, when writing.
Tell us about your writing process.
I love to ‘pants’, taking have time and space to let my imagination take me where it wants to go. Having said that, I usually outline with my longer works in order to get a bird’s-eye view so I can see where I’m going and make sure I don’t write myself into a corner.
I’ve used various techniques for outlining. Most often when I’m getting the bones of a story down, I’ll take some time to let my mind open up and play, then scribble down the ideas onto paper. I much prefer writing (ie by hand) for this initial stage.
I like to use freehand mind-mapping, then once I’ve got the big picture, I outline in Word (contrary to popular belief, you can actually do this!). I fill in as I go and, if any new ideas come to me, I add them into the outline wherever appropriate.
As for character sketches, I’m not big into knowing every nook and cranny of someone’s life before committing to paper. I may have worked out a chunk of a character’s backstory and traits, but I also like to let things unfold as time goes on.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t normally talk to my characters – at least, I haven’t up till now (of course, I could always try that!) – but I do get inspirations for how they’ll interact. I’ve had times where I can’t sleep because the images are coming through thick and fast, and my characters are talking to each other. I have to write it all down.
What advice would you give other writers?
Keep at it. Stick with one project at a time, even if your mind feels like you’ve got too many things you’d like to work on.
Also, the journey doesn’t stop with getting one book finished. You have to keep going. I’ve learnt (and am still learning!) a lot about tenacity.
If you want to be self-published and earn a full-time living writing, know that there’s a LOT of work involved and it doesn’t always guarantee success. There’s such a learning curve, and many authors put themselves under way too much pressure with it all. So remember to set a pace that’s right for you. Self-publishing isn’t just about writing, it’s about being a marketer and business person. If that’s too heady for where you’re at, that’s OK! Just enjoy your writing process, put out books you love writing, and take the pressure off!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
The first few books I wrote weren’t in the mainstream. I started off with The Jacaranda Trail which is a journey to my Australian birthplace where I made some interesting discoveries. Little did I realise at the time that trad publishing would’ve given it a wide berth – not only was I an unknown writer, but it wasn’t even the kind of length they’d be after.
However, this was at the dawn of self-publishing, and after reading an article in a writing magazine (featuring JA Konrath), I was super-enthused. Once I realised I could create my own books, getting to work on it all was a no-brainer. I finally had the freedom to do something I loved and have control of the process. (Of course, that also means you have to make all the mistakes and learn from them as well.)
Some people are happy with the traditional route, but I love being an ‘indie’ and am not even sure I’d want to trad publish – even now that some of my work is in a mainstream genre. I pretty much love the whole process. OK, I don’t like marketing, but there are few of us who do, because it’s so much work and takes us away from writing – so I think I can forgive myself on that score.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I can’t help wondering how much writing, audio and movies will end up blending together. They’re all separate right now but some authors have tried adding effects to their books, for example, so will this escalate into the future? I have no idea.
It will be interesting to see where technology takes us, although as an author I hope things get easier rather than more difficult in terms of formatting your work and so on. Whether it’s adding visual or sound effects to your books or adverts, it does mean more complication for an author. Personally, I’m all for simplicity – but, hey, you can’t stop the future, whatever form it wants to take!
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Cosy Mystery; Short Contemporary Fiction; Satirical Non-Fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.