About Alina Leonova:
I have always loved reading and writing. My parents still have the first story I wrote at the age of five, with some letters facing in the wrong directions. However, I only did it for fun, and it took a pretty intense experience for me to start taking writing seriously and believe I could actually be a published author.
I was a political activist opposing the regime in Belarus where I was born. I was a climate activist with the Extinction Rebellion movement in Poland where I moved after I lost hope to change anything in my home country.
I've taught adults English and created my own course and a vocabulary workbook.
During the first coronavirus lockdown, life in the city has lost all its charm and has become quite oppressive, so my husband and I decided to escape and become nomads. Since then we've spent several months in the Polish mountains and in a Slovak village. At the time of the interview we live in a small Polish village. The house is in the forest, near a lake. We don't know how long we'll stay and what's next for us.
I've recently understood that most of the sci-fi (my favorite genre) I've read was written by men and decided to get to know as many female authors (all authors who aren't men, to be more exact) as possible. I started writing a blog, reviewing books of famous as well as indie and self-published authors.
What inspires you to write?
I've always had an urge to write, and I don't know what's pushing me to do it. Sometimes I'll just sit down and write a story with no beginning and no ending that I might or might not use sometime in the future. I guess it's just fun for me to create worlds, characters and situations.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
N.K. Jemisin, Lois McMaster Bujold, James S.A. Corey (a.k.a. Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), Yuval Noah Harari, Strugatsky brothers, Andrzej Sapkowski and more, but they are the first on my mind.
Tell us about your writing process.
I often start with a very vague or no idea at all about what's going to happen. The story seems to progress on its own, the characters do unexpected things and I might be as surprised by a plot twist as my readers are. I just need to sit down and start writing, the rest happens on its own.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don't talk to them, I observe them and let them make their own choices. I might have a plan for a character, but they might decide to go in a different direction. Does that make sense?
What advice would you give other writers?
Write systematically to hone your skills, give your book to beta readers before publishing and take their feedback seriously. There are always issues in your book that you haven't noticed and there are always ways to make it better.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I self-published an English vocabulary workbook before, so, I already knew how to do it. That's why when I finished my debut sci-fi novel, I didn't really consider looking for a publisher. Also, I might be wrong, but working with a publisher feels like working for someone, and that's what I've always wanted to escape. I know that publishers can take away a lot of mundane and confusing tasks and deal with marketing, but I also know they don't always offer fair contracts and can impose deadlines and limitations. Self-publishing, on the other hand, leaves you with no support whatsoever, you have to do everything on your own, and the chances of your book getting discovered are very low. In the end, I don't think one is really better than the other, it's up to you to decide what suits you best. I like doing things my way without anyone looking over my shoulder, hence, self-publishing is for me.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think self-publishing and all sorts of online services will continue to grow and develop in the future. Ebooks and audiobooks will become even more popular, but print books won't lose their appeal for a long time (maybe never if civilization doesn't collapse; they might start making them of something else instead of valuable trees though, maybe bamboo). There might be more websites for self-publishing, traditional publishers may turn into something else (for instance, consultants, author service providers, etc). There might be more subscription services for books, where you pay a monthly fee for unlimited access. More authors will probably also sell directly through their websites. Maybe some hybrid art will become popular with the development of VR, for instance, you'll listen to an audiobook while watching some visualization or walking through a world described in it, looking at a character, examining a murder scene, etc.
What genres do you write?: science fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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