Happy New Year! At last my book Talon, first of the Singing Sword Saga, is close to ebook publication. I will advise on the date soon.
Having to change my mindset and writing style over the years from writing short stories to a full-length fantasy novel was difficult. My very first novel was far too long—160,000 words. What this meant was my Saga was written fully but as an outline. All I needed to do was to make my characters come alive; to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’.
Thankfully my publisher Ballad Press were able to keep me on track. However I missed a couple of vital checkpoints along the way which added to the delay. I have done many revisions of my original story.
Covid-19 in Australia has had its effect on our lives and what we are able to do. The good old in-person book signing is a thing of the past. My editor has suggested a digital book launch which sounds great. Will keep you in touch and announce it very soon!
Today I’m interviewing Alex Dalton, who is the author of the upcoming historical novel A View From The Mountain. Alex interviewed me about my new release, Talon, on her blog. You can click here to read more.
1. How long have you been writing?
Alex: I’ve been writing on and off about twenty years! But mainly short stories and poems. This is my first novel, which is based on the many stories my grandmother and mother had told me over a long period of time. I even convinced my mother to record her recollections on a tape recorder.
2. Have you always wanted to be a writer?/ What was your dream job when you were younger?
Alex: No, I wanted to pursue a career in music; I loved playing the piano, and became eventually a piano teacher. Writing was just a hobby I enjoyed occasionally.
3. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Alex: For me, I think character development first, then structure and plot. I think characters drive the story; their feelings, decisions and actions determine how the story unfolds.
4. What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
Alex: I don’t have a particular schedule. I write at odd times. Sometimes even at 3 AM! Usually, when my mind is full of ideas. Late afternoon is a good time for me in general. I am not an early morning person.
5. How much ‘world building’ or research takes place before you start writing?
Alex: Quite a lot! Even when I am in the middle of writing, and suddenly realize I need to know more about a subject. Although I always run the risk of getting side tracked and start researching unrelated subjects.
6. What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
Alex: I discovered that when I write, I get so involved I don’t realize how fast the time flies. Also, how much more I needed to learn to write a novel, after concentrating on only short stories and poems before. It has been an exciting and interesting journey.
7. Who is your favourite character?
Alex: I have two favourite characters! Anna, whose personality is based on my much admired and beloved grandmother, and Evelyn, my equally loved mother. In fact, I love all my characters, flaws and all.
8. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb) you can share with your readers?
Alex: The book is written from two perspectives, a mother and a daughter. I felt it was more appropriate to write the second part of my novel from my mother’s point of view, as that was based mainly on her own experiences.
9. If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
Alex: For the main character, Anna, I would probably choose Georgina Verbaan, a Dutch-Indonesian actress with extensive film and TV experience. For her husband, I would choose charismatic Australian actor Simon Baker. And the American actress Dove Cameron for Anna’s sister and antagonist.
10. What are you reading now?
Alex: A great non-fiction book by Tim I. Gurung: The Gurkhas––A True Story. A comprehensive history of the brave British-Indian soldiers from Nepal, an institution which goes back 200 years. Including many personal stories, it documents their influence in the community and the whole nation. I am extremely interested in this book, as I had mentioned the Gurkhas in the second part of my novel. It describes the experiences of my mother and grandmother during WW2 in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.
11. Which do you prefer? Paperback or eBook?
Alex: Definitely Paperback! I have had so many books in my hands from early youth. I do read eBooks too, but nothing beats the feel and smell of a real book.
12. Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter?
Alex: An endless summer would be my preference! I grew up in the tropical climates of Indonesia and West Papua. I spent about six years in Holland and although I loved it there, the winters were unbearable. The Sunshine Coast here in Australia has the perfect climate for me.
13. Tell us about A View From The Mountain
The official blurb:
1902. In tropical Malang, Indonesia, Anna’s family owns a coffee plantation. But despite their opulent lifestyle, shy, sensitive Anna has always felt like an outsider. Haunted by dreams of another life, she craves the acceptance of her mother and self-absorbed sister, Lily.
Facing discrimination for the colour of her skin, Anna wants to change the lives of Javanese girls through education. Despite the hurdles in her way, she pursues the life of a teacher.
But as the war looms, and her marriage turns deadly, Anna will need to draw upon her inner strength and bravery to not only survive; but to unearth the truth of her past.