This week’s FIVE ON FRIDAY guest is Alexandria LaFaye, a multi-talented and award winning author, who not only possesses an uncanny sense of direction but can also pull off a fine Scottish brogue. Alexandria’s awards and honors for her works are too numerous to mention, even for cyberspace, so visit her website www.alafaye.com and see for yourself. And welcome Alexandra to FIVE ON FRIDAY.
I was a geek’s geek. The kind of kid who wore funny clothes (so I dressed myself, so what?), talked to myself (why not, no one else would), and told stories no matter what I was doing (eating, doing art, self-entertainment is highly underrated). As a result, I was not well liked in my small town school in Roberts, WI. I figured I was a pretty good person, so the problem was that the kids in my class didn’t know me, so I wanted to do something that would make all the kids want to get to know me. My big plan at 8 years old was to find a world record I could break. I didn’t find one. But I did find Dorothy Straight who published a novel when she was six. I figured, if a six year old can do it, an 8 year old can, right? Well, it took me twenty more years, but I finally published my first novel The Year of the Sawdust Man in 1998.
What book or writer/artist do you feel influenced you the most?
Anyone who knows me can tell you, picking “just one” of anything is near to impossible for me– I own over 500 movies, nearly 4,000 books and my house is filled with photographs of at least four generations of my extended family. So I’d have to say– I try to learn from every book I read. Still, I am particularly impressed by the writing of folks like Toni Morrison, Truman Capote, Patricia McLachlan, Gary Soto, Cynthia Rylant, Naomi Shihab Nye, Tim O’Brien, Flannery O’Connor, Han Nolan– to just start the list.
What book or books are you currently reading or have recently read that you’d recommend to others?
I Am the Messenger is wonderful– unique writing style, unusual premise, and compelling characters –the ending is a little quick, but it has a powerful message.
I’m currently reading The Shadow Thieves by Ann Ursu– a wonderful reality based fantasy novel with an excellent wry, narrative voice. I can’t wait to see where the adventure within leads me.
If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Back to that choosing just one problem I have again, so I’m going to cheat and offer three–
1. To be a great writer/artist, you have to be an excellent reader of text or images. So read anything and everything and study how the writer/illustrator pulled it off.
2. To be an excellent writer/artist, you have to practice, practice, practice! Whether it’s drafting a story or sketching on a canvas, all artists have to go through multiple drafts. In writing, revision is a huge part of the process that you should enjoy vs. fear.
3. Never give up. People may say you can’t do it, but you should believe in the gifts God gave you and keep going.
So my advice is read, write, and never give up!
Can you share with us your next project or any information about the next book you’re working on?
I have two projects in the hopper and several on the writing desk. I’ll soon be doing the audio recording to my newest novel Water Steps for Full Cast Audio and I couldn’t be more thrilled about the opportunity. My next novel Death Came Walking is finished and going into production at Milkweed Editions. It will be out next spring with the re-release of my third novel Nissa’s Place (the sequel to The Year of the Sawdust Man). Death Came Walking is a WWI era novel about a girl facing the death of her mother and the haunting possibility of seeing those who have passed on before they journey into the next world. I love supernatural novels, so next I’m venturing into a contemporary ghost story called Spirit 66.