About Alison McBain:
Alison McBain is a Pushcart Prize-nominated author with over two hundred short stories, poems, and articles published worldwide. Her books have been honored with gold in the Literary Classics International Book Awards, as well as being finalists in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards and IAN Book of the Year. Her forthcoming novel, The New Empire, won gold in the When Words Count Pitch Week contest and will be published in October 2022.
When not writing, Ms. McBain is the associate editor for the literary magazine Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, co-editor of Morning Musings Magazine, and pens an award-winning webcomic called Toddler Times. She lives in Alberta, Canada.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is like breathing. I can't NOT write. There are a million stories going on every day around us, and the only problem I find is not having enough time to write them all down.
For example, you might be driving to the grocery store and stop at a red light. A woman walks across the street hand-in-hand with a young child. What's her story? Is she the child's mom or aunt or teacher? What will the child grow up to be? Will the child be the first person to land on Mars? A doctor who cures cancer? There's a story there, and it is just waiting to be told.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
There are so many authors who've been an inspiration to me, but a few writers whose work always inspires me: Tanith Lee, Guy Gavriel Kay, Langston Hughes, Ray Bradbury, Octavia E. Butler, China Miéville, Amy Tan… the list goes on. But the one key element I find is that my favorite authors all have poetry in their soul – they evoke emotion in every phrase, create pictures of their words, and sing their stories onto each page. They create magic in every story, and that is felt when you sink deeply into the worlds they've created and come out the other side feeling as if you've been on a journey yourself.
Tell us about your writing process.
I'm a pantser – I write by the seat of my pants. However, that doesn't mean that I just sit down and write blindly. I don't outline in the traditional sense by putting the bones of the story down on paper, but I might be thinking about a story for days – or months – or sometimes years before I sit down and write it. Once I have many of the details worked out and the general shape of where the story needs to go, I start typing.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don't talk to my characters, but I picture them in scenarios that don't ever make it into the book. I'll take them on adventures in my head, and that helps me know them better and be able to write them convincingly in the book. If the author doesn't know their characters – their motivations, what makes them tick, what they're fighting for – it shows.
What advice would you give other writers?
There are two pieces of advice that are the only way to become a published author. The first is obvious – WRITE. Don't talk about writing, don't think about writing, don't dream about writing – just sit down and do it. And it might be crap when you start out, and you may hate or love what you put on the page, but at least you did it. It's a muscle that improves with practice, but you have to put in the hours of practice to really be able to lift that weight.
The second is tied to the first, and that's be persistent. There's a lot of rejection in the industry, and you just have to pick yourself up and keep going. You WILL find the editor/publisher/reader who loves your writing as much as you do. You just have to not give up.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I started out with self-publishing through my small press, Fairfield Scribes. It was a way to have more control over the finished product – I'm an editor by trade and know how to navigate manuscript formatting, so I was a one-woman show and could produce a professional product on my own. And self-publishing is MUCH faster than traditional publishing.
But my newest book is traditionally published through Woodhall Press. And I would definitely suggest for new writers who don't have an editorial or publishing background to consider either hiring editors/publishers to help them navigate self-publishing or try for traditional publishing. The last thing you want is to produce something that shows a lack of professionalism or looks amateurish. If you want to compete on an equal footing with others who have a whole team behind them, either build your own team or learn to be a team of one person.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Publishing has undergone some upheavals in my lifetime that are very exciting. With the advent of eBooks, the popularity of audio books, and the ease of self-publishing, I feel we truly live in a golden age of authorship. Traditional publishing houses are no longer the monopoly they used to be – there are other options, many small press publishers, online publishing, and self-publishing.
But what that means is authors have to wear a lot of hats themselves. So the new super author who fits into traditional publishing is the one who can navigate social media with ease, be a whiz kid at interviews, and be up on the latest trends in books. No author is an island.
So the future of publishing will continue this trend of moving away from hardcopy books in bookstores and into the cyberworld. Books will work best when they're interactive, easily accessible, and engage all the senses. I'd call the next age of publishing the Age of the Small Press – and by "small," I simply mean independent presses who aren't part of the Big 5 but can still be a larger umbrella for authors who can't wear all the hats by themselves of editor, publisher, website designer, and author. Some small presses are actually getting quite large and quite respectable, since they're up on the latest trends and doing things better, faster, and cheaper than the Big 5. They're more willing to take a chance on a work that's unique and outside of the box, which means they are more likely to have the Next Big Thing that takes off.
What genres do you write?: fantasy, science fiction, literary, poetry, short stories, horror, romance
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, 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.