Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Not spiritual exactly, more like an outpouring of a stream of consciousness that begins when I imagine a character and begin to envision that character’s predicaments, thoughts, and the insurmountable problems they face. Writing is a sort of compulsive relationship between your fingertips placed on a keyboard and a conversation with yourself that unfolds in real time.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Generally no. I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to write them, but a bad review can really take you down and make you feel judged as less than, and a really positive one can give you a false sense of accomplishment. So there’s really no winning! In one example last year, a woman left a horribly negative review on Amazon, Goodreads, and her blog, citing she threw the book in the trash but also citing that her 9 year old son had loved it and begged her to take it out! Well, given that my books are for kids, it was a toss up how I felt! Very rarely does a child leave a review, so I think it’s particularly difficult for middlegrade authors to get relevant feedback from their target audience.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
There is the raw creative process which can go very quickly. I write on average 1,000 words per day, and so an 80K word novel, my typical length, takes about three months. But it can take another year to get through rounds of brutal edits. I begin by editing it myself, then send it to outside editors for content edits and then detailed line edits. There is no shortcut to creating a well written book and anyone who thinks their first draft is “genius” is probably kidding themselves.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Writers tend to be lonely people! I do a lot of mentoring and coaching for new authors but don’t belong to a community of writers. The people who help me become a better writer are definitely the tribe of editors I use.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
My spirit animal would probably be a Bengal cat. They’re fickle, keep to themselves, need very little attention, are incredibly picky, and yet have a grace and style which is innate.
About the Author
I grew up in an old Quaker town called Whittier in Southern California. For college, I attended the University of Southern California where I wanted to be an English major, but my family convinced me to become an accountant so I could help run a family business. I spent the next few decades trying to get back to writing instead of balancing budgets. After leaving the family business behind in 2008, I started a foundation focusing on global poverty issues particularly their effect on children. I pursued a Masters Degree in Diplomacy and took several field visits with UNICEF, visiting schools around the world. After seeing the importance of education and literacy in the battle to end extreme poverty, I began to shift the focus of my foundation to improving and supporting literacy efforts. In 2009 I was invited to teach a course on social entrepreneurship at Chapman University and joined the full-time faculty for the next five years. Along the way, my passion for literacy and children came together when my 12-year-old son Alex challenged me to write a book he could read. I began writing the Legends of Orkney book series and haven’t stopped writing since that day. In addition, I have a new picture book coming out, The Coal Thief, based on stories from my father’s life growing up in Pennsylvania at the turn of the century.
Having been an avid reader my entire life, books based on mythology have always fascinated me the most. I think it’s the idea of magic and the unlimited potential behind the surreal. Building an entirely new world like the fantastical realm of Orkney in my series has been a wonderful challenge. When I think of stories that don’t involve some element of magic it feels dry and boring. I love characters that are deeply flawed and full of emotions like anger and frustration and a burning desire to understand why it is they are so flawed. There are so many wonderful writers out there that entertain children and adults alike, but my all-time favorite book is River God by Wilbur Smith because it tells such a powerful story of life in ancient Egypt and you can’t help but be swept back to that time and place.
When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m out hiking somewhere in the world or hanging out with my three boys who are my greatest joy. Thank you for visiting my page. I hope you enjoy reading these books as much as I enjoyed writing them for you.
To learn more about my foundation visit: www.riseupfoundation.org.
– Alane Adams
Alane is proud to be a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the International Reading Association, The Literacy Research Association, and the California Reading Association.