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Interview with Alina Martyn

A Little Something About Alina Martyn:

Alina Martyn is from the Midwest. She grew up overseas where she had amazing experiences and was able to travel all over the world. She's been married for 5 years, and we have one beautiful child and one on the way! She loves to read romance (fantasy romance, paranormal romance, dark romance, etc.) is her substance of choice. She's been writing on and off since she was in grade school, always making sure to have a notebook around. It’s absolutely been her dream to be a published author since she was young, and she's blessed to be able to pursue it.

Questions and Answers:

1. What made you want to be an author?

I’ve always wanted to be an author. I used to write stories in notebooks and diaries, having multiple story lines going through my mind at all times. And still do. I typically always have a notebook and pen on me, but the notes app on my phone is also bursting with ideas.

2. Typically, what was the timeframe it took you to write your books?

It took me about 3 months to write my first full novel, another 3 months to complete editing. My second novel took longer. Secretly Born took about 6 months to write, then another few months to edit and publish. My current work in progress (the sequel to Secretly Born) has taken me roughly 5 months to write and I’m in the process of doing edits right now! The more novels I write, the more I get the hang of the process and hope to, in time, be able to work on more than one project at a time to crank out my stories faster. I have at least three standalones on the backburner with about 20,000 words in each so I’m able to jump from one book to the next one in the lineup while my current book is with my editor.

3. Are you a planner or pantser?

I would say that I’m a pantser, with a planner structure. I can’t really tell you where the chapter or story is going to go, but I have a general outline of what I want to happen going. I found that when I outlined with great detail, my characters didn’t speak to me as clearly. Usually, if I can’t sit and write for a long period of time but my characters demand attention, I’ll write a summary of what happens so I have a mini outline to work on when I can sit to write it all out.

4. What would you say is your unique writing style?

I try really hard to let my characters have great tone. I want them to be held in your heart and keep you thinking or wanting when the story is done. I’m obsessed with those kinds of characters myself and when I’m writing, I try to let their voice be heard. I’ve been told that my descriptive ability is strong, and I hope that’s true! My main goal is to give tribute to the story, the worlds, the characters, and their journeys as best I can.

5. Whether it be traditional, self, or story book apps. How did you find the publishing process?

So, I’m in the process of querying for traditional publishing my very first novel – a YA/NA magical realism novel. It’s…been a journey in and of itself. It’s been about a year since I started the whole process of querying and reaching out to agents and no success thus far. I did take about six months off of querying. I’ve heard the querying process can take years so I’m just keeping my head up.

I have self-published my adult contemporary magical romance novel, Secretly Born, and that process is/was intense! There is a lot to learn and just because I have one book out there does not mean I know much about the process itself! There are many, many things you’re responsible for and have to do to create the best version of your novel to market to people.

6. How much of your process includes doing research into your subject matter or plot?

Eh… For my three completed novels, I created the world that they are in. Both series start in New York City and then move to a unique world where I was in charge of making everything from scratch. There are some things that I researched (magic connections, hierarchy structure, medieval customs, etc.) but most of it, I tried to stay true to the situations and what the story called for.

7. How old were you when you first discovered your passion for writing?

I started writing early. Always keeping a diary or some kind of idea journal on me as early as seven years old. My grandmother is a published poet and I loved working with her, typing on her typewriter and creating my own poems. Eventually, I found stories hold my interest more. I didn’t feel that poetry was my strong suit. All through grade, middle, high school and university, I would make notes of stories that I would come up with but never really felt like I was good enough to write and pursue publishing any of my work. I wrote a screenplay or two in college, I didn’t like that process much. I would enter my writing in school competitions and usually did quite well, but I didn’t know it was a career I had a choice to pursue.

When my son was born, I decided to try NaNoWriMo and my first full length, completed novel was created. Since then, I’ve been continually chipping away at this hobby turned passion of mine.

8. When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing with your time?

Mainly, I spend as much time with my family as I can. I have a little boy at home who I gladly give as much time as I can to, a husband who’s my best friend and a little girl on the way. I’m also really close with my parents and siblings. I’m the second oldest of six girls and one brother. Other than that, I read. I read a lot. I have the Kindle app on my phone and usually have one paperback I’m reading as well.

9. Is your family supportive?

Very. My hubby gives me as much time as he can to let me write without my little helper pulling at my computer.

10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books (characters, location, plot)?

I don’t really know, if I’m honest. If I look back at the novels that I’ve written, I realize that I’ve added in magical components when the story could survive set in the real world. I choose to add a magical element of some sort in them. I think it adds a deeper level of ‘coming of age’, it adds a deeper level to the characters.

My next book I’m going to push myself to stay in the real world without bringing magic into the equation.

11. What is your favorite component about the genre you write?

I love the way that two (or more) people are able to create relationships that withstand terrible, awful things and the individuals become even closer. I love how the words spoken between characters can make my heart ache or beat faster. And I know that some people don’t like it, but I like that this genre almost always has a happy ever after ending.

12. What advice would you give to help others become writers?

The best advice I’ve gotten is to simply write. It’s easier to edit something than stare at a blank screen. Make some way to write every day, even if it’s only 500 words. Little bursts help in the long run.

13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

No, I don’t hear from readers much. I have a couple reviews out that are favorable, but that’s about it 😊 I’d love to be able to talk more with people regarding my book, I always like knowing what others liked versus what I could work on!

14. Do you like to create books for your target audience?

I do! But more than that, I write books that I want to read. I tend to go between (in both writing and reading) magical realism/contemporary romance and series work, to dark romance and standalone stories. It definitely keeps me on my toes, but you never know how or when inspiration will strike so I try to write stories that I like and that others would as well.

15. What pulls you in about a book? Do you read a book based on the cover or the summary?

Hahaha, I love this question. Everyone has heard the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but for me, that’s extremely hard to do. I can remember walking the aisles in the library of my middle school and pulling books out and putting them back simply based on the cover. I don’t think it was until high school where I read a book with a ‘boring’ cover and was completely intrigued. I read the 500+pg book throughout the school day and got in trouble with at least two teachers because of it.

As a self-publish author who has a little bit more control and communication with my cover designer (who is utterly fantastic by the way), I have to consider what covers in my genre are doing. What kind of look is selling well versus what isn’t? Personally, I like the sleek, discreet paperbacks on my shelf, but my kindle is full of half-naked men and provocative ladies.

16. How do you handle writer's block and what do you tell other aspiring authors who may be fighting or fearful about hitting that wall?

Oh gosh. Writer’s block is awful. It’s so hard at times to pull yourself out of the writing rut and get back into it, but that’s where the advice I try to follow comes in. Just write something down. Write a few hundred words daily and eventually, that triggers a scene to play out in your mind that brings you right back into the obsession. On the other hand, I’ve taken months off from writing, especially when my personal life gets more and more hectic, but what’s important is that you keep going, you keep adding and working to tell the story that deserves to be told. Even if you have to ‘force’ the writing, you can always, always, always, go back and edit it.

Final Note:

Alina is my new favorite indie author. I am reading Secretly Born right now and I am obsessed! Her world building, her character development, her lore development is on par with my favorite author -- Anne Rice, yes, I said it -- I put her in the same category as Ms. Rice. This is not a vampire erotic thriller. But her technical writing skills and nuance is up there in my opinion. You must check her out. You won't be sorry.

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