About Alba Arango:
Alba Arango is the author of the Decoders series as well as the JJ Bennett: Junior Spy series. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she is a high school teacher. She loves coffee and chocolate (especially together…white chocolate mocha is the best!).
What inspires you to write?
I have always loved to write. My happiest moments, as well as the ones that inspire me to keep writing, are when kids tell me they love my stories. Hearing that I am a kid’s favorite author makes me blush and drives me to hurry up and get that next book out!
Tell us about your writing process.
Oh dear. My writing process? I sit on my couch, laptop on my lap, feet up on the coffee table, and write. Most of the time I have no idea where the story is going. In one of my first books, one of the adults came up to my main character and told him, “Your father is missing.” After I typed those words, I just stared at the monitor because I had no idea who took him!
I know other authors are planners. They outline and storyboard and write the ending before the beginning. I so envy them. I’ve tried it, but it just doesn’t work for me. Seeing where the story goes, day to day, is part of the fun for me. Granted, it also means I have to go back and make all kinds of changes when I’m done. In my last book, one character started off as Hans Schmidt in chapter 1 and ended up being Saul Mendoza by the end of the book!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I talk to my characters all the time. My poor computer monitor. I’ve even yelled at characters, telling them what horrible people they are. Sometimes, I ask my characters if they would really say those things. Imagining what the protagonists do on their time off (between books) helps me fully develop their personalities. I know who my characters are because I know what they do, even when they’re not in my books.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t give up. I’ve seen so many writers get excited about their story, then they hit a roadblock and just stop writing. No! Keep going. If you can’t figure out the next scene, don’t stop writing until you figure it out. Write a completely different, unrelated scene. Or, write the ending, and go backwards.
Setting goals can also be extremely helpful. If you have a crazy, hectic lifestyle (job, kids, dogs, etc.), then set realistic goals and meet them. Instead of 1000 words a day (which some days is just impossible, then you get frustrated and give up), set a goal of 3000 words a week. That way, if you can’t crank out any writing a couple of days, you can still reach your goal by cramming in some writing on the days you have time. And if you go over your 3000 word goal, treat yourself to something special…like an ice cream sundae. (nothing like a good old-fashioned fattening incentive to get those creative juices flowing)
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I spent several years exploring my options. Big publisher? Small press? Self-publish? Much of the research I did pointed to the reality that whichever avenue I chose to pursue, marketing and promoting my book would fall entirely on me. (Unless you are a big-name author, publishers do not spend the money promoting your book.)
After much research, I decided on the self-publishing route. I would advise all new authors to take the time and explore all their options. Traditional publishing may be a great fit for you.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
So long as there are readers, there will be books. Deep, I know. My personal feelings are that print books will never die. People love the feel of a book in their hands. But, at the same time, to shun digital publishing would be a monumental mistake.
I think in today’s market (and in the future market as well), most readers are like me. They have a Kindle (Nook, Kobo, iBooks, whatever) and they buy print books. I think the key to publishing now and in the future is versatility. All publishers, traditional and self, need to be willing to meet the demands of all markets, digital and print.
On a side note, as you go to purchase your print books, don’t forget about indie bookstores. We just got a new one in Las Vegas called The Writer’s Block and it is fabulous. Buying from indie booksellers is one way to support the publishing industry as well as small businesses at the same time.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: middle grade fiction, mystery, detective, spies, action adventure
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print