Friday, 25 April 2014

Interview: Justine Alley Dowsett

What have you had published?
Mirror’s Hope is my fifth published novel. The first was Neo Central; a love story and coming of age novel set in a futuristic dystopia. After that, I wrote and published the Crimson Winter trilogy which follows a Japanese high school student named Yukari as she is transported to another planet and told that it is her destiny to save it from a man known only as the ‘Vile Emperor.’

What genre(s) of book do you write?
Most of my books are a blend of science-fiction and fantasy. Mirror’s Hope is my first romance, but it is still set in a dark fantasy world. I prefer to write books that are set on another world or that are a re-imagining of this one.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve been writing a long time, but usually it is role-playing with friends that inspires me. I bounce ideas off of my friends and come up with vivid worlds and characters for them. Usually if they really like what I’ve come up with then I know that I have the beginnings of a good book. My first published book, Neo Central, I wrote with my sister, Murandy Damodred and a friend of ours, Lori Rule. We wrote it as a conversation on an internet forum and it evolved from there into the full length novel it is today.

How long did it take you to write “Mirror’s Hope”?
Three months. It’s about three hundred pages and my sister and I set ourselves a goal of a hundred pages a month. We mostly kept to that goal and had a complete story after three months. The editing and re-working took longer, of course.

What is the working title of your next book(s)?
We’ve just finished writing the sequel to Mirror’s Hope and it’s called Mirror’s Heart. It’s going out to test readers now. As of the other day we’ve begun brainstorming for our next book, but it doesn’t have a working title yet; it’s still too soon for that. However, we will be blogging about the world that we’re developing for this next story which will be fantasy/romance as well. At the moment we’re planning what I’m calling a ‘letter campaign’ which will showcase letters sent from one character to another each week on our blog.

When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always wanted to be a published author. It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember. The first novel I ever wrote was when I was fifteen. It was about anthropomorphic cats. It was terrible, but I learned a lot from the process and in the end that’s what matters.

Do you self publish your books or go through an agency?
I started by self-publishing and learned a lot doing it. I’m still learning, but with the launch of Mirror’s Hope, Murandy Damodred and I have opened up our own publishing company, Mirror World Publishing and we’re happy to be accepting submissions from other authors and helping them to do what we’ve always wanted to.

What part of writing books do you find the hardest?
Keeping your momentum. I don’t tend to do a lot of planning before starting to write and whatever planning I do is usually in my head and not on paper, so I find it important to write as often as I am able to keep myself ‘in the story.’ If I take too many days off I find it difficult to pick up where I left off and the writing goes slower as I try to get back into the swing of things.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love to role-play with friends. I have a background in theatre and am fortunate to have made friends with very creative people. I also like to sew and I try to make time to make at least one mascot costume each year.

Who is your favourite author?
Anne Bishop, Melanie Rawn, and Brandon Sanderson are my top three at the moment. Anne Bishop for her dark fantasy, Melanie Rawn because her books are fantastic and I feel she’s underappreciated and Brandon Sanderson because I haven’t read anything of his yet that I haven’t liked.

What’s your favourite genre to read?
I prefer reading epic fantasy or historical fantasy/romance. I like books that take me away to other worlds and times. I also like my fantasy books to have aspects of other genres in them like science-fiction, romance, or adventure.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you have a story you want to get out of your head, then KEEP WRITING. Don’t second-guess yourself or try to edit as you go. Write every day, or as often as possible, and keep getting the story down on paper. Once you’re done, feel free to criticize yourself and re-work what needs re-working, but in the writing process it’s more important to write than to do anything else.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Mirror’s Hope is a full length novel set within a fantasy world and is now available through most major retailers. It has witty and modern dialogue, a fast paced plot and strong romantic elements. So if you're the kind of person who likes to escape into or is looking for a novel that is both inspirational and entertaining as it takes you through a what-if scenario in an exciting world filled with interesting and believable characters, then Mirror’s Hope is the book for you and we hope that you will not only read it but also help me spread the word about it.

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