Alexandria is the author of the critically acclaimed middle grade fantasy adventure, The Witch, the Sword, and the Cursed Knights, and the upcoming sequel, The Beast, the Queen, and the Lost Knight, available to pre-order now.
A Wisconsin native, she now lives in Edinburgh with her husband, daughter, and dog.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
I’m very lucky. Star-touched lucky. I’ve never not known what I’m meant to do. I’ve never really needed to figure it out. My heart has always belonged in fantasy tales, and it likely always will.
I’ve meandered a bit, maybe been afraid of it at times, as featured in hilarious old journals where I’ve lamented my indecision over what to do with my life on one page, and plotted out a book on the next. But if I ever stopped and really listened, I knew.
But in terms of when I truly listened to that voice and took it seriously, it was about 2010, when I changed college majors from theater to English. And I started actively trying to get published in 2015. It took me three and a half years to get an agent, and then a bit over a year to sell my first book, which debuted in 2022.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Sometimes, a little-known historical story will pop into my life, like through a podcast or a book, and it will be so strange, beautiful, or terrible, I’ll need to find its origins and give it space to breathe in its own tale. Sometimes a phrase will pull me in a riptide, and a character will begin to speak. I do my best to stop and listen. Traveling nearly always inspires me, whether in rainbows glimmering in waterfalls or tales of fallen heroes, buried beneath cobbles of ancient cities.
But most often, my best ideas come when I least expect them. Listening to music, out for a hike, staring at a painting, contemplating the crucial decision of what to eat for breakfast - the everyday moments.
What books inspired you to be a writer?
There are so many that I’m now wondering if there are any that made me NOT want to be a writer. That would be more interesting.
I have always been a voracious reader. Characters are my friends, castles that come alive at midnight my home. I’ve given my heart to a lot of stories. In no particular order, and by no means comprehensive: The Wizard of Oz series (all thirteen, obviously), all of Gail Carson Levine’s books, Harry Potter, Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest chronicles, the Nancy Drew series, Tamora Pierce’s fantasy books, The Hobbit, Esperanza Rising, East, The Mists of Avalon, Rosalind Miles' Tristan and Isolde series, and many of Shakespeare's works, particularly A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth were some stories that first kindled my love of writing.
The Star Wars movies, Ever After, The Mask of Zorro, A Knight’s Tale, The Princess Bride, The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns, Practical Magic, The Princess Diaries, the Lord of the Rings movies, and many Disney movies also significantly contributed to my love of storytelling.
In more recent years, I’ve added authors like Sharon Kay Penman, George R. R. Martin, Khaled Hosseini, Sarah J. Maas, Roshani Chokshi, and Shannon Messenger to my ever-growing list of favorites.
What is your writing routine?
My answer to this used to be very regimented, but everything has recently changed. As a new mom of a sweet little baby girl, I try to start my day at 6:00 am before she wakes up. Writing in the quiet dark with no one to disturb me (other than the dog who occasionally paws me in attempts to persuade me to feed him early), I'm entirely alone, which is pure bliss. The baby and I have our little morning routine, and them I'm back into writing mode for a few hours. I like to reserve my afternoons for admin and evenings for family time. The biggest thing I've learned from my daughter though is how to go with the flow. Some days I write, some days I don't, but it all balances out in the end.
I want to be a writer. Do you have any advice?
First, the very wanting of it is huge and wonderful and exciting. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s silly or unrealistic or that the genre you love won’t sell. Someone once told me writing fantasy made my a cheap writer, and that I would always be “lesser” for it. Even then, I didn’t believe him, but if he’d told me that when I was younger, I might have, and how terrible is that? For where would the world be without Daenerys’s dragons or Sauron’s ring? Or Shakespeare’s fairies or Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage? So, believing in what’s in your heart – in the tale you truly want to tell – is step one.
Step two, read and read and read and read. Study how stories rise and fall. How characters reveal their secrets and flaws and imperfect beautiful hearts.
Step three, practice. I wrote a book one summer many years ago just to teach myself how to do it. It was….so bad. So horrendously written, I fear Microsoft Word will become so intelligent over the years, it will know it can release that story to the world for a laugh. And that’s okay! (Maybe not the evil intelligent Microsoft, but the bad writing part). Let your writing be bad. You have to start somewhere.
Step four, find writer friends. Attend classes. Get eyes on your work. Whatever you need to do to learn how to take constructive feedback. Great feedback is such a gift, so it’s important to be able to take it and run with it.
Step five, learn to listen to your writing intuition. I generally just know what’s best for my books when people offer feedback. Which isn’t to say I always get it right the first time or can concoct a beautiful, complex story without spending months revising and thinking about it. But I know my tales well enough – and have gotten to know writing well enough – to intuitively sense when feedback will or won’t work. You’ll hear a lot of opinions as a writer. Nearly everyone you meet will just want to help, and their advice might be really good! But then what if someone else offers you advice that’s just as good but completely different? All of the reading and writing and practicing and getting to know your characters better than anyone else will serve you very well in discerning what feedback to listen to and what to kindly ignore.
Step six is the most important of all. The one piece I could not have lived without in the years and years it took to leap from where I was to where I am. And that is knowing that if you truly wish to be an author, and truly wish to put in the work to becoming one, it will happen. Do not give up; the world needs more beautiful voices.