An interview with Alexandra Livingston
Recently I have had the pleasure of reading no less than three new books from a self-published, up and coming young author: Alexandra Livingston.
You can learn more about Alexandra right here, in particular:
What influences her?
What motivates her?
What future projects (if any) does she have in the pipeline?
This is a fascinating insight into the world of self-publishing and what makes a hungry writer tick. Read on and learn more about the emerging talent that is Alexandra Livingston.
Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
I began writing my senior of high school and finished my first novel, Defy the Gods, during my first year of college. It wasn't until 2005 that I would officially publish it as an ebook. Having completed such a long story, I found I had other stories floating around in my head from other worlds that existed as vivid as any movie I'd seen. I wanted to share those stories as well, but I also wanted to challenge myself as a writer while doing it.
When I began writing my second novel, Warriors of Sirei, I decided I would try a first person perspective. Its challenge was presented in how I illuminated what I wanted the reader to know through the only set of eyes I had, the main character: Zyan. The world was already partially comprised from a fanfic I'd done on fanfiction.net a year before. I had a wondrous time expanding it and illustrating it with my meagre artistic talent.
Rising Moon, along with its companion novel, Falling Sun, challenged me because I wanted to create a magical system from scratch, explaining all of the intricacies smoothly and still keep the readers' interest. I've learned a lot through my experiences as a writer through reading other author's stories, as well as teaching creative writing workshops and heading my town's local writers group. There's no better way to perfect an art than to try and teach it to others...trust me in this.
Your books deal with growing up, taking on responsibility, coping with loss and finding love. How important to you are these themes in terms of your written work?
The morals I weave into my novels, through my characters, are the soul of why I write. Many children during their adolescence, or coming of age years, do not have the role models of good, caring parents. Sometimes, even if they do, the parents are ill equipped to deal with everyday drama and trials modern day life and school can create.
Problems such as being who you want to be despite adversity, losing a loved one, or dealing with bullies; these are harsh life lessons teenagers go through and sometimes reading about other people, even fictional characters, can be a light in an otherwise darkened path.
I myself dealt with bullies and often thought about Harry Potter and how great it would be to see those who picked on me turned into a rat or ferret. Also, taking the courage to stand up for what you believe it is something even adults find difficulty doing. In Rising Moon, Kilik dealt with being told what he had to be when he grew up.
Those with overbearing parents, wishing for their children to follow in their footsteps, would be the parallelism I would draw for that. Going against those who raised you and telling them you want to be something else can be very difficult. I only hope to grant others the power to forge their own destinies.
Could you tell us anything about any future projects you may have in the pipeline?
I am writing two trilogies simultaneously.
I've done this throughout my writing career simply because whenever I run into writers block, I can switch up stories and keep the creative juices flowing.
As I've said I like to challenge myself, so my first trilogy tentatively titled Legend of Riyen, is a much darker story aimed for high school and above. Along with that, I've set this one to include intrigue, which I've found very hard to do effectively. Leaking only some information I want the reader to know, while sometimes sending them astray, and in the end having it all come together with interlocking beauty.
Two childhood friends, Kaleo and Leina, are separated for over a decade and while one becomes the bringer of death as an assassin, the other one fights for justice as a paladin.
Their story becomes interwoven into a much larger world where I've created several races, all with their own customs and laws, along with a three pronged government called the Trinity. It's comprised of The Imperial Family, the House of Chaotes, and the Assembly of Nobles. The magic users, called Chaotes (because they study Chaos Magic) are ruled by a twelve member council each representing one of the Zodiac. Chaos magic is in fact an Indian belief (India not native American) and the astrology I borrow is called Jyotish mythology.
The second story I've been working on takes place in my current hometown of Kingman, Arizona. It's that town everyone passes through but no one wants to live. I've noticed mainstream young adult surreal fantasy often takes place in a small town no one cares about: Twilight in Forks, Washington, or the House of Night series in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Writing fantasy in a world that already exists and melding it was the challenge I set for myself.
Kingman is rich in mining history and it has the ever protective Hualapai Mountains watching silently over it. Thus I created a parallel medieval world full of magic that has the same topography as Kingman and is connected by the thousands of abandoned mineshafts that actually exist out in random plots of land all over Mohave County.
There is also a legend about a large blue glowing rock that kills on contact and has history with the local Hualapai Indians.
The main character Theia Lavania Ellis grows up in San Diego, California, until she inevitably comes to Kingman for her senior year. She begins noticing people she thinks she recognizes from San Diego and learns her boyfriend, Levi, isn't who she thought he was. Worse yet, she isn't even who she thought she was. She must survive until she's eighteen in order to touch the rock that kills and accept her inheritance. It's tentatively titled: A Kingdom of Arie Story: The Legend of the Rock That Kills.
When do you plan to release these novels?
That's the tricky part. When I wrote Rising Moon and Falling Sun, the story was completed before I even released the first half. With Legend of Riyen going to three books and Kingdom of Arie looking to be something like five, I'm weary of releasing the first one until I've written the last one.
Writing such long stories, I constantly have to go back and reread the details so it's consistent. I have one novel already completed for each series, and half of the second, but I probably won't release anything until May next year.
I see the first book of Legend of Riyen coming out first. Even the titles: Legend of Riyen: Chaos (book 1), Vortex (book 2), and Balance (book 3), involve their plots and the chaos magic belief about reaching a balance within to find peace without. The symbol on the cover art will also have great significance to the story.
What do you wish to achieve as a writer? Do you have any particular goals in mind?
My sole desire is to have my novels reach as many people as possible, so that the morals my characters go through can be received by all who need the guidance. I've noticed many times people speak of their favorite books and characters: Harry Potter and his magic, Legolas and his bow, Percy Jackson and his power of water, but not often does one remember who brought those characters to life.
I want Kilik's journey, Zyan's love, Akki's courage, Leina's determination along with Kaleo's support, and Theia's unwavering will to do what is right to survive in the hearts of all who read my tales. I self publish because the market is so tight and my drive to spread these character's journeys of self-realization cannot be contained. I'm one who looks into the future and smiles because one day I'm going to read them to my children and I strive to have others do the same too.
I also have fantasies of having a book-to-movie adaptation (or TV series, maybe BBC, I'm not picky), but thus are the delusions of grandeur that keep a gal like me going.
Thank you so much for your time Alexandra and good luck with the novels and book-to-movie adaptations!