1. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I love telling this story. I was seven, and I had a dream I was so certain I never wanted to forget, so I asked my dad to set up a word document so I could type it up. (Such a child of the technology age--the idea of handwriting it in a notebook never crossed my mind. To this day, I rarely handwrite, and only if there's absolutely no other option and I'm desperate as hell.) Of course, looking back, that story was awful, but it opened the gates and the rest was history.
2. Do you believe in "Write only what you know for certain"?
Absolutely not! Because if I believed that, I wouldn't be able to write much at all, since I'm young and haven't had many life experiences. But for a more thoughtful answer, I'd say that I think anyone can use what they know in combination with a vivid imagination to write whatever they want. You certainly don't see anyone arguing that fantasy authors shouldn't exist because no one knows for certain what it's like to ride a dragon or cast spells. Even if the plot is all grounded in reality, a great writer can put themselves in the headspace of whatever character they've created, no matter how far removed the character's circumstances may be from the author's own life.
3. Was writing "Finding North" easier or more difficult than your first book?
Well, there are different levels of difficult. Did it take longer? Yes, but that's because it was a full-length novel as opposed to a novella. In fact, I think I wrote the first draft of Finding North more quickly (relative to its size) than I've ever written anything. But then I spent almost a year editing FN before deciding to publish (admittedly, part of that lag time was because publishing is expensive, and I had to get the money).
4. Any advice on how to get rid of a case of writers block?
I wish there was some magic formula--if you find one, please let me know! What works best for me is just having multiple projects going at once, so if I get stuck on one, I can switch to something different. (It's also the only way I'll ever possibly get everything I want to write written.) But even then, sometimes the muse is just not cooperating, and you have to wait for another spark of inspiration. I read or watch TV/movies, and sometimes the strangest little things will get you back in the game.
5. I know that "Finding North was just released, but have you started anything else? Or do you plan to?
Currently, I'm working on book 2 of the Compass series, which I'd like to get out by fall 2015. My "writer's block prevention" second project switches out a lot, depending on what plot bunnies are bothering me the most, but right now, it's an NA urban fantasy/PNR with a very underutilized supernatural creature as the male lead.
6. Who was the most challenging character you've ever written?
Well, writing Reynan's POV (since Finding North is in dual first-person) was certainly different; I love first person, but I've only recently experimenting with the male voice. But in terms of most challenging character? Definitely Valentine from Darkest Legacy. Because you think you know him, but then when you see things from his eyes, it's a whole different perspective and you actually start--gasp--falling for the bad guy. It's a bit of a mindfuck, I've been told, as a reader, and to set the record straight: it was that way for me as the writer, too. Hehe.
7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Don't give up. I could go on for pages and pages, but really, that's what it boils down to. Don't give up on your dream. There are always going to be obstacles, so don't fall into the trap of "oh, well maybe in a few years it'll be better" or "maybe when I pay off my student loan debts" or whatever the problem is. If writing is what you love, keep at it, and if you want to be published, there's always a way.
It was a pleasure to have you Allyson!
Check out more on Allyson and her books here!