Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday TAG! - Ali Cross

Ali Cross is an amazing author that I found first on the Indelibles blog and I've followed her personal blog ever since. I'm a Writing Ninja thanks to the site she came up with and because of that site, I found out about NiNoCon, attended AND won three awesome books. One of those books was Become by Ali Cross. She is a fantastic writer and a genuinely nice person. Ali tweets @ali_cross, she's on Facebook, and Goodreads.

1. When did you start writing?
I started writing my first book in October of 2002. I remember exactly when it was because...

2. What made you want to write?
My family and I were driving into the mountains for a weekend getaway and I was telling my husband how much I loved Guy Gavriel Kay’s books THE FIONAVAR TAPESTRY and how I would love to be able to write a book as beautiful as that one day. We brainstormed ideas, and by the time we got to the resort we were BOTH ready to start writing our own books! And we did!

3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published? (As opposed to writing just to write)
I think wanting to be published went hand in hand with wanting to write from the very beginning. I never wanted (and have never envisioned having) great success—like, I never thought “I want to be a famous author like J.K. Rowling!”. But I did want to be read. I wanted people to receive the story I was sharing, right from the very beginning.

4. What genre(s) do you write?
I write dark urban fantasy, dystopian, and science fiction for teens and adventurous fantasy and science fiction for middle grade readers.

5. Why that(those) genre(s)? Ooh, good question. I write dark stories for teens because that’s what I know from my own life. I tend to write about the power of hope—and there’s no doubt I’m writing to the girl I once was (and someone else like me) with the desire that I can give her hope that things can get better.
I write fun, adventurous middle grade stories because I’m a mom of boys so I often think of stories they would like. These stories are still pretty emotional, which seems to be a constant in my stories, but they are definitely geared toward active boys.

6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
I do a particular type of outlining which is like storyboarding a screenplay. I’m very visual so not only does it help me to visualize my story as if it’s a movie, it helps to have the storyboard in front of me when I’m writing. I don’t need it there all the time though (I can write virtually anywhere, anytime), but the exercise of putting it together really cements the story in my mind. Then, I just write like a crazy madwoman. I don’t stop to second guess myself or to question what I wrote—that comes later!
My revision process tends to be long and arduous, lol—probably because I write like a crazy madwoman!

7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
Ha! Yes indeed, as I mentioned above! I am a 100% firm believer in the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. It’s a screenwriting tool, but it works really well for me.

8. Is there something you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-computer, pen, paper, etc)
Nope! I used to eat Mike ‘n Ikes like they were going out of style, but I write so often these days that if I always ate candy I’d never be able to get out of my chair. :) I do really enjoy my super-comfy-awesome-fatabulous headphones and Pandora. I <3 Pandora.
9. Do you write out your story on paper and then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
One hundred percent on the computer. Drafting is always done that way because I tend to write very, very fast and there’s no way my penmanship could keep up with how fast I draft.
But I tend to do all my revisions offline, pink pen to printed manuscript.

10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those you wrote and then thought-what the hell?)
I’ve got seven full-length novels written and one short story. :)

11. Is there, or has there been, anyone in your life (real or online) who thought you being a writer is/was just another hobby? Or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
Ha! That’s such a good question. My whole life my family has pretty much thought I was just a dreamer and tended to discount most everything I did. However, when it came to writing, people have been very supportive. Almost like they all went, “Writing? Huh. Now THAT’s something I can see Ali doing!”

12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones? If not, why don't you?
Yes, I do, albeit badly. I blog, which I love. I’ve tried not blogging (because it’s so time consuming), but gave up. I need blogging. It’s like air to me. I Tweet—pretty much love that, too. I love the connectedness it gives me. I’m on Facebook and Goodreads but I’m sure I don’t utilize either of them like I should. And I’m “on” Google+ but I’ve spent even less time figuring that out than I have Facebook and Goodreads!

13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (I know there is some cringe-worthy advice still worth following, so only advice you don't follow.)
I often received the advice, “Don’t stop querying! One day you will find an agent/get an editor/get published!” Sometimes, you DO need to stop querying. Sometimes I think it’s best to take your career into your own hands. Not every story gets it’s day by traditional means.

14. Have you always been interested in Mythology or is it something that piqued your interest when you started writing?
I love mythology. I studied Latin (with all its accompanying history) for five years through high school*, then Russian and Slavic history through university. I am fascinated by all mythologies and love learning even more through my eleven-year-old son who is just as crazy about it as I am! *Where and when I lived in Canada we went to grade 13 in high school. Oh the horror!

15. Become is not the typical YA (meaning your supernatural element is not what you usually see in YA), what made you want to write about the devil's daughter?
Do you want the standard answer? Because I thought it would be cool, a neat twist on the usual wanting-to-rebel-against-your-parents kind of teenage angst. If you want the real answer, then I’d say, because I am a girl who has often had to face her past. I’ve often wondered if it’s possible for a person like me to move forward, to truly be worthy of good things. BECOME is my answer to those fears.

16. Are you completely self-published or are you Indie Pubd?
I am completely self-published. It’s all me, myself and I. :)

17. Why did you go that route?
I didn’t initially choose this route. BECOME was contracted with a small publisher and should have been released in July of 2010. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Then I had a New York agent who turned out to be a flake so . . . It was either go independent, or go back through the whole arduous process again. I decided to jump in with both feet and do it myself.

18. What inspired you to create the Ninjas Write site?
I’ve been into martial arts for a long time and think that the black belt mindset is wholly relatable to what it takes to be a published author. For the past year I’ve done all the ninja stuff on my blog, but it’s grown a little too big for me to manage on my own, and I didn’t want my own personal “room” in the blogosphere to be cluttered with We Love Brandon Mull posters. So now Ninjas Write (or the writer’s dojo) is my “office” where we get to go all swoony* over all things author-ish, while my home is where I get to hang loose and just be me. *I had no idea this was an actual word, but apparently it is!

19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
Read, read and READ!!! I also love to watch a ton of movies—they are inspiring to me!

20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
Hmm. I guess my word of wisdom would be to love what you’re doing. If you’ve lost the love for your story, it’s okay to put it away (for a while) and write what’s calling your name. Sometimes I think we writers feel we need to power through and not “give up”. But I don’t think it’s giving up—I think it’s responding to the creative inspiration in us to go where our muse takes us. Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood lest anyone think I’m advocating story-jumping. There are times when we need to press on, even when our story is giving us fits. (Probably lots and lots of times, honestly). But there’s a difference between pressing on and denying our creative instincts.
This is probably a very good reason why I don’t often give advice because it tends to be convoluted and confusing!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ali IS the original Ninja Captain!
Save The Cat! Awesome book.
And I couldn't do it without an outline either.
Great interview, ladies. Ali rocks!

Kela McClelland said...

Alex-Yes she does rock! :)

ali cross said...

Thanks so much for the fun interview Kela! I appreciate you!

C. K. Bryant said...

GREAT Interview!! Learned some new things about my BFF. NICE!!

Sarra Cannon said...

Great interview! And I totally agree about the advice to keep querying. Ugh. So annoying! You are doing awesome on your own!

RaShelle Workman said...

Great interview. Ali is awesome!

Kela McClelland said...

Ali- Thank you for doing it. :)

C.K.- It was a fun interview. Thanks for stopping by :)

Kela McClelland said...

Sarra- Completely agree with the advice :)

Rashelle- Thanks for stopping by. I agree-Ali is awesome :)

Laura Pauling said...

When I read Become that's exactly what I thought. What an original twist on the whole angel/demon genre. I loved it!

Angela Carlie said...

I enjoyed the interview! Ali's awesome. :) Thanks for sharing.

T. Roger Thomas said...

Writing seven novels certainly is impressive

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Ali is made of awesome. :)

Lisa said...

Great interview, Ali! I loved reading your reasons for writing Become.

Kendra503 said...

The answer to the final question is something I've definitely needed to [read]. All this time I've felt so guilty about leaving my third WIP unattended while I work on other things, but now I don't feel so bad. (:

Nicole@The More the Merrier said...

Great Interview! I always love reading about why a writer writes as well as the process they go through to get their work out to the public.