Author Interview – Alison DeLuca of the “Crown Phoenix” Series

MRV: Hi, Alison! Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk with me and the readers at Split Horizons.
ADL: Thanks so much for hosting me, Michel! It’s a beautiful site.

 

Cover Art - Crown Pheonix Series Book 2: Devil's Kitchen

Cover Art – Crown Pheonix Series Book 2: Devil’s Kitchen

MRV: I don’t usually do author interviews, but I understand you’ve hit a special milestone. You’ve got your third book in your “Crown Phoenix” series out. Can you tell us how that feels to you?
ADL: Fantastic – unbelievable! And, it also makes me want to work harder. I’m close to the end of the final book in the four-part series, so I’m concentrating on the work ahead. Once that book, the South Sea Bubble, is up, I’ll have a host of other projects that have been tugging at my sleeve for the past year. I think that being an author is like being Agent Starling – you get to hear the “Silence of the Lambs” for a short while before the next story gets itself ready to be born.

MRV: My personal experience is that getting published really does fall under the heading of “Strange Adventures” … can you tell us a bit about your first project to the press and what it was like?
ADL: Isn’t that the truth? Those “Strange Adventures” involve spending time with people every day whom you’ve never met in person, doing business with companies (like Amazon) that are constantly changing the rules. We need the dexterity of tightrope walkers who can juggle to keep all the balls up in the air at once.

MRV: So you’ve got three books out now in your first series, “Crown Phoenix . Can you give us a 3 or 4 paragraph summary of the story arc so far?
ADL: Miriam Pearson is an orphan who lives in a large, country house with only servants for company. She has become almost feral in nature. When her guardians arrive with their son, Simon, they decide to hire a governess to make Miriam civilized.

The one they choose is Mana, a woman of color – a very strange thing in Edwardian England. However, Mana is very good at her job, and she manages to teach Miriam manners.

A group of thorough villains kidnap Miriam and Simon. The two don’t like each other at all, but they must forge some kind of friendship in order to survive.

MRV: So where did the idea come from?
ADL: I wanted to create a series about a group of Edwardian children who had adventures together. I also wanted to have a multi-racial cast of characters. I was listening to Angelique Kidjo’s music (she’s an amazing singer from Africa) and Mana sprang into my head – a beautiful, dignified, intelligent woman who was also a bit magical.

MRV: What sort of research have you done for your characters, your setting and your plot?
ADL: Research for a book is once of my favorite parts of being a writer. I’ve had to learn all about Edwardian society, of course – what they ate, how they dressed and spoke, what kids learned at school, what books they read and music they listened to. On top of that, I researched steam technology, bathyspheres, Edwardian medicine and hospitals, Victorian mathematicians, and the lost art of Bartitsu, the Victorian form of martial arts.

MRV: I saw that you’re currently in eBook format only right now, on Amazon. Where else can they get your eBooks? Are you considering a trade paperback edition?
ADL: As a matter of fact, Michel, I will announce here on your blog that I just finished preparing print editions of all three books today. They should be for sale in a week or so!

MRV: Will there be a fourth book in the series? Can you talk about it a bit, if so? Is this the end of the road for Simon and Miriam?
ADL: I certainly will – the fourth book is Crown Phoenix: The South Sea Bubble. I plan a lot more adventures, more steam, and some romance for that book. That’s the one that includes the bathyspheres, as well as an Edwardian hospital (rather like Downton Abbey.)

MRV: Any plans for a story not related to your current series?
ADL: Absolutely! I have a few in mind. One is a Dieselpunk story set in World War II about London refugees that involves a bit of time travel. That one is half-finished, just waiting on the back burner. I really look forward to getting back to it!

MRV: When you’re writing, what’s your “ritual” for getting words on paper?
ADL: Get my daughter off to school, and write a blogpost. Blogging has become my writing journal, you could say. As soon as that’s done I bring up my current MSS and dive right in. At that point I get lost in the movie playing in my head – that’s on a good day, of course. Some days are a bit harder, and I have to fight for the right words. I should mention that I always have a huge mug of tea at my elbow. That is a must.

MRV: What do you think of book trailers? Do you have one for either of your novels?
ADL: I love book trailers! I hired Dwight Okita (who is a wonderful author in his own right) to do mine. I wanted one that moved and didn’t just feature static images set to music. He and I have a wonderful working relationship, and he exceeded my expectations. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/CPtrailer

MRV: Alright; you’re an ePub industry vet. Can you offer four “do’s” and three “don’t’s” to aspiring authors?
ADL: I’ll do my best. The Don’ts first:

  • Don’t give out personal info on social media.
  • In fact, don’t let social media take over your life (or writing time.)
  • Don’t forget to have fun along the way.
  •  Do enjoy the camaraderie of the many supportive, talented, friendly writers out there.
  • Do read as many Indie books as possible; you’ll be charmed by the imagination and ingenuity available out there.
  • Do hire a good editor, format person, and cover artist for your manuscript, once it’s been through the beta reading process.
  • Do develop a thick skin. There is nothing more valuable that a well-written bad review. Everyone you know tells you how great your book is – the person who points out the flaws and offers suggestions is worth her weight in gold.

MRV: Who inspired you?
ADL: Enid Blyton, who wrote hundreds and hundreds of books for children. JK Rowling, of course. Angelique Kidjo, as I mentioned, and Stephen King, because I love his book On Writing. The other authors in my writing group, and wonderful bloggers (like yourself) who support us every day.

MRV: What convinced you that you had the chops as a writer to publish?
ADL: Honestly, I’m still not certain that I do. It’s a daily struggle. Sometimes I feel I’m doing okay, and other days I get depressed and want to chuck it all. I just love reading and writing too much to ever do that, though

MRV: Give us three other authors who are peers of yours that you think folks should pay attention to right now, once they’ve read your stuff?
ADL: GREAT QUESTION! Dwight Okita, without a doubt. (Yes, he was my trailer artist.) Anyone who likes Murakami would enjoy his stuff. Ross Kitson is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, and he just published a steampunk story that is amazing. Marilyn Rucker Norrod wrote an incredible cozy mystery that was a delight. It’s very hard to choose only three!

MRV: What’s the funniest thing that has come out of you becoming a writer?
ADL: I was doing a book signing in my hometown, and one woman screamed when she saw me and yelled, “You’re a rockstar!” Honestly, I’m the most ordinary person ever, so to get that reaction was pretty humorous.

MRV: So where do you hope to be a year from now?
ADL: I’d love to have all four Crown Phoenix books published and the dieselpunk book, The Gramophone Society, finished and edited. I’d like to be in the middle of the next project. Honestly, I’d like to be where I am right now, but with more books under my belt. I’m really a Very Happy Indie.

MRV: Get linky with us … how can readers and fans-to-be catch up with you on social media?
ADL: Very well, you asked for it! Here you are:

MRV: That’s it, we’re done. Any last words?
ADL: Absolutely – thank you so very much for the fun questions. This was a blast!

MRV: Thanks for joining us at Split Horizons!

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