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Rogers

Alexandria

Alexandria is the author of middle grade fantasy adventure, The Witch, the Sword, and the Cursed Knights, coming out February 8, 2022.

After receiving her master’s degree at City, University of London for her non-fiction book on the romantic mythology of Paris, she acted, modeled, and wrote in Los Angeles. Eventually, she discovered she preferred drizzly days to eternal sunshine, and that she didn’t want anything to divert her time from writing.

Now the Wisconsin native lives in Edinburgh with her husband and dog, in eternal search of excuses to visit Paris.

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.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Sometimes, I’ll be struggling with an issue in my personal life and realize how similar the feelings are to those of a character I’m writing, allowing me to sharpen and wield those feelings as tools. Sometimes a little-known historical story will pop into my life, like through a podcast, and it will be so strange or terrible, I’ll need to find its origins and give it space to breathe in its own tale.

But most often, my best ideas come when I’m relaxed and listening to music. Feeling pressured stresses me out, and stress makes me distracted and somehow convinced that if I don’t get up from my chair to get a snack THIS SECOND I will, in fact, die. So, stress doesn’t work for me. But if I let my mind go quiet and play some music, the ideas come.

However, I do my best to fill up the creative well outside of that quiet writing space, like going on long walks, playing piano, reading everything from the latest middle grade fiction to 13th century French poetry, listening to podcasts, visiting art museums, and generally exploring the rugged beauty and historical sites around my home. I believe all of that helps put me in a creative space to be able to tap into whatever I need to tap into.

But listening to music and taking care of myself so I’m not overly stressed is the real key.

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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. Meaning 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, Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest chronicles, the Nancy Drew series, Tamora Pierce’s fantasy books, The Hobbit, Esperanza Rising, Number the Stars, East, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream 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.

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What is your writing routine?

I like to book-end my days with writing, leaving my afternoons open for admin (and naps). I am 100% not an early riser, so I like to mosey on over to my desk by 9:00 am, and then write through the morning for the next two to three hours. By that point, I’ll normally have reached a pretty good stopping point, so I’ll take a break to walk the dog or work out.

 

Then, I’ll check my email and address any immediate admin work. It helps that I live a few hours ahead of my agent and publisher, but I have found one of the best ways to start my day involves zero email checking until after getting some solid writing time in. That way, if something does come up that I need to take care of the rest of the day, I don’t feel like my writing time has been completely derailed.

 

I follow that up with another hour or so of writing and then I inevitably hit a creative tired wall, so I read/nap, and eventually switch over to the business aspect of writing (website upkeep, my newsletter, etc.). That takes me into the evening. Another walk/some yoga, dinner/family time, and then I write for another couple hours in the evening, going to bed around midnight. I find that going to bed writing helps me wake up thinking about writing, and creates a healthy cycle that fits in well with my naturally tired afternoon brain.

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. I had a college professor tell 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, so that when an editor gives you notes someday, you can see how completely reconstructing 100 pages of your book can make it so much better. 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.

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