Alanea Alder is the author of the new Bewitched and Bewildered series, which is her second following the Kindred of Arkadia. The books in this new series have all been self-published by the author, through a number of different venues, primarily Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iTunes. Alder’s stories easily fall under several categories or genres, including fantasy, paranormal, comedy and ultimately romance. Every book builds off the last, and characters from previous installments make regular appearances in subsequent stories.
On March 5, 2015, Alder’s third self-published book, My Healer, hit the USA Today Best Seller List. This was the author’s first time hitting a list, and she landed at 126 on the 150 book list. In order to appreciate just how impressive a feat this is, one must understand that this means that her book was 126, out of every single book ever published and currently being sold. In fact, the first three books in the series have well over 300 five star reviews on Amazon alone. Alder is currently working on the fourth book in the Bewitched and Bewildered series, My Savior.
Following her appearance on the USA Today Best Seller List, Alder took time out of her schedule to speak with The Guardian Liberty Voice about her writing, herself and the books that are garnering her rave reviews.
GLV: Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to actually pick up the pen/grab the keyboard and write?
Alder: I have always enjoyed writing even as a child, but was not encouraged to write because it was not considered a lucrative career choice. I attended a Siren convention and got to listen to Heather Rainiers’s speech about her own revelation in regards to writing. This speech made me think that if she can do it, then so can I.
GLV: Where did the concept of the Bewitched and Bewildered Series come from?
Alder: With the Bewitched and Bewildered series the story actually started with the city. I like getting the chance to play with paranormal aspects and of course the world building. Once I know who lives within the city that has been created, then a plot has a chance to form. The intrigue and the drama kicks in.
GLV: What is your inspiration for your characters?
Alder: All of my characters really have aspects of me in them, and I enjoy letting some of the little facets of myself come out. Meryn is one character where I was able to come out a bit more, and yet she is also a character that can say whatever she wants. I like being able to write characters that are easily identified as real people, dealing with real situations, even in a paranormal story.
GLV: Do you have a favorite character or characters?
Alder: Meryn from My Commander would be one of my favorite characters, because she was essentially created as someone who was able to say whatever she wanted. It is liberating as the author and even as a reader to see a character in a book who does not conform to the usual stereotypes. Instead, Meryn is a real character, with real words coming out of her mouth.
GLV: What authors inspire you to write?
Alder: Anne McCaffrey and Tamora Pierce are definitely inspirational authors because of the world building they incorporate into their stories. They were the first authors that I read, where women were portrayed in a role of the hero, and they were still the main characters.
GLV: What writing advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Alder: Find something about what you want to write that is different. It is important to find your niche or what it is that makes your book special. Find your twist and then blow it up. It is always important to have fun with the writing. Have at least one scene that you write every day that is exciting or that you look forward to writing. In My Commander I had a tampon scene that was my reward for plugging away at the writing. Even if there is just one sentence that you look forward to, then make that a goal. Do not sit down with a set goal of how many words you need to write a day. Instead, if you are excited about what is being written, then the words will happen. If you do not want to write the topic, then the readers will not want to read your story.
GLV: Do you have any strange writing habits?
Alder: Between books there are cleaning projects, like cleaning out a closet. Cleaning is a project that has an end goal, it is mundane and monotonous and therefore allows the mind wander. I love organization, so cleaning and organizing is a task that has a start and a finish, so it also reinforces the idea that this is something that can be controlled. When one is writing, you are not always in control, but a small to do list is something that allows a measure of control. As things are finished they can be checked off the list. Small tasks make the larger tasks not seem so large, and as the small tasks get completed, then something has been accomplished already.
Another strange habit that pops up is that the farther into the writing I make it, the more snack food that appears. Hard shell candies are especially vital when writing, because it keeps the fingers clean and can mindlessly be popped into the mouth. This does not distract from the writing. Plus caffeine levels increase as the book progresses too.
GLV: You often make references to certain aspects of pop culture, such as Doctor Who, Twister, Star Wars, etc., do you feel like this contributes to your writing success?
Alder: These references make it so that people can relate to the characters. It makes the reader feel like they have an in, or that they have a sense of ownership. It also helps when people have a point of reference to something they might be able to relate to.
GLV: If you could trade places with one of your own characters, who would it be and why?
Alder: I would have to say it would be a character I have not even started writing about yet. The character would have to be Korina “Kori” Winter and she will have her own series of books. It will be a paranormal, with a mix between romance and crime fighting. Although there will be romance, that is not the emphasis of the story. I chose her because she will end up being a character who grows the most. She will grow into her magic, experience devastation, she will have to overcome certain problems, and the romance is one where she will be caught between two men but not necessarily have to choose between the two. The focus of the story will be on the precinct work and cases that need to be solved. Personally I would want the powers (witchcraft), and the possibility of profiling work is fascinating since it is the idea of solving a big puzzle. The series will most likely start in 2016.
GLV: Do you have any secret talents beyond the writing?
Alder: I have a high IQ and feel like I know just enough about everything, but tend to lose interest and cannot focus long enough to perfect things. I feel like I am as random as a Google search bar. I am also able to retain knowledge. I have a desire to learn about a lot of things, from photography to makeup to anything in between. The random interests help to form story ideas.
GLV: Is there something crazy or out there that you want to accomplish before you die?
Alder: Not really crazy, but I want to travel. The most outlandish thing I would want to attempt is training to be a burlesque dancer. Plus I was an actress in high school, and would love a chance to be in a production locally. I also trained to play violin (started in 4th or 5th grade) and want to play again. It is a chance to be more expressionistic. In fact, we did a piece in high school, that consisted of the choir, orchestra and band, and it felt like how McCaffrey described flying on a dragon. I would love the chance to experience this feeling and rush once more.
GLV: What do you want to have written on your tombstone?
Alder: I would want to have a riddle on my tombstone, perhaps one that pointed to a buried treasure. It is all about thinking outside the box.
GLV: You also write mixed pairing relationships, what inspired you to start writing gay romance?
Alder: I was a big gay romance reader prior to ever starting writing books for publication. As a reader I gravitate to the guy, what is he thinking and what motivates his actions. Then when I started writing, it was a chance to explore what men do, and how they act. It was always hard for me to connect with the female characters when I was reading growing up. Sometimes it was easier to connect to the men, instead of the women.
GLV: Can you tell readers what they can look forward to from you in the future?
Alder: There will definitely be more gay romances in the future. There are also more Bewitched and Bewildered books coming. The Bewitched and Bewildered short stories are also being completed. I have a paranormal mystery series coming up and the Kori series with 20 plus books planned. Another series in the works is the zodiac matchmaker, which will have mixed pairings, each of the books will play off the zodiac signs. The zodiac books will also have a spin off series as well.
Interview by Kimberley Spinney
Interview with Alanea Alder