Welcome to our stop on the Sound blog tour hosted by Rock Star Book Tours!
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Release date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
SOUND is the stand-alone companion to Alexandra Duncan’s acclaimed novel Salvage, a debut that internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins called “kick-ass, brilliant, feminist science fiction.” For fans of Beth Revis, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica.
As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole—along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia—embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever.
Today we welcome Alexandra Duncan for an interview!
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since before I could actually write. When I was a kid, I carried around a notebook full of pictures I had drawn, and I would try to persuade the adults around me to write down the stories I would tell them. I didn’t figure out writing was an actual career until around fifth grade, though, when our class wrote stories that our teacher had bound into books. Suddenly, I realized there were real people writing those books I checked out from the library, and I could do that, too. I was a lost cause after that.
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
There are a lot of stops and starts along the process, but it usually takes about two years. I’m generally editing one book while drafting the next one.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I keep a list of interesting things and ideas I come across in daily life. Some themes come attached to those ideas naturally. For example, it’s next to impossible to write about a male-dominated polygamist society like the one in my first book, Salvage, and not also talk about women’s rights. Other themes come out of the interactions between the characters. For example, a big theme in my current book, Sound, is trust. That grew out of the fact that many of the characters were lying or telling each other half-truths as the plot advanced.
Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I have a day job as a librarian, so I usually write on my lunch break, and then again when I get home in the evenings and on weekends.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
I won’t lie – it’s hard. Up until this past December, I was juggling writing books, my full-time day job, and grad school. You can burn out really quickly when you have that many balls in the air. Fortunately, I finished grad school and now only have work and writing to juggle, which seems like smooth sailing in comparison to what I was trying to do before. Also, I have a really supportive husband and cats instead of kids. I don’t know how people who have children handle writing plus kids, much less writing plus day jobs, plus kids. They have my utmost respect.
What elements do you think make a great story line?
Anything can make a great story, so long as your characters are thrown out of their everyday routine. I’m also partial to explosions, chase scenes, fantastical technology, and monsters or ghosts, but that’s just me.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
It’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s making sure your plot and character development align. Ideally, they should each affect one another, so that your story is snowballing as it rolls forward. However, sometimes a plot element that I’ve had in mind from the beginning stops making sense in light of how I’ve developed the character, so I have to go back and make adjustments to one element or both.
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve written three books. The first two, Salvage and Sound, are out, and the third one is in the editing process. So far, my favorite tends to be whatever I’m working on at the current moment, so right now it’s the mysterious book I’m editing.
Do you have a favorite character?
I really love Miyole. She was so much fun to write as a kid in Salvage that I knew she needed her own adventure as a teenager. That became Sound. She’s a little nerdy and socially awkward, which I was as a teen, and still am today.
Where do you write?
I have an office and a writing desk, but half of the time, it’s completely covered in stacks of books or papers, so I end up carrying my laptop into the living room or sitting at the dining room table, instead. I also write at my desk at work on my lunch breaks.
When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
When I first started writing, I wasn’t aware that self-publishing was an option for me. Platforms like CreateSpace and Amazon’s Kindle Direct didn’t exist yet, or hadn’t hit the mainstream, so I went through traditional publishing channels. I wrote short stories for several years, which helped attract the attention of an agent, and then I ended up writing books. Ultimately, I think traditional publishing would have been the right approach for me, either way. I’m shy and a terrible salesperson, so the amount of self-promotion I would have had to do as a self-published author would have spelled disaster for me.
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
My family is really sweet and supportive. My dad is a huge sci-fi fan, so he’s my natural audience. My mom, who is a nurse, doesn’t really understand why I like sci-fi, but she reads my books anyway, and she’s been a huge help when it comes to the medical science in my writing. I’m always most excited to hear what my siblings think, though. The youngest is 14 and the next oldest to me is 23, so they’re in the same age range as my characters. They’re all at an age where they’re a little taciturn, so when they tell me they like something, I take it as high praise.
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I love listening to podcasts and watching weird documentaries. I also like trying out crafty things, like wood-burning or leather-working. My husband and I live near a ton of self-pick apple orchards and natural blueberry fields, so one of my favorite things to do when the weather is nice is to go out and pick fruit, then come back home and make more pastries and pies than any human could realistically eat. This might be why my diets consistently fail.
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Surround yourself with other people who love to write. Writing seems like a solitary profession, but you need the support of other people to make it through the times when you get rejected or are full of self-doubt. You’ll inspire each other and grow your talent and careers together.
What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
My all-time favorite author is Ursula LeGuin. I love her anthropological approach to worldbuilding, and that’s something I’ve tried to emulate in my writing. I also find Kelly Link, Karen Russell, and Nnedi Okorafor really inspiring to read. They’re the kind of writers who inspire me and make me want to push myself and experiment with prose.
Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
I’m lucky to be surrounded by a really awesome group of supportive writers in the town where I live. We’ll often read each other’s work and meet up to have coffee and talk about our projects.
Are you working on anything now?
Right now I’m working on a near-future dystopian thriller where corporations are the only ruling force in the world. The main character is a guard who spares the life of a boy and girl her age and sets off a series of events that threatens to tear apart the world she knows. It doesn’t have a set release date yet, but I hope that will change later this year. The working title is Blight.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Alexandra. So great having you here!
Title & Series: SALVAGE (Salvage #1)
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Release date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook
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