A.A. MacConnell (Twitter handle @macconnell_a) is our first indie author guest here (thank you!) and has a book series, a standalone book, and even a book of poetry awaiting new readers! Welcome, and tell us a little about your writing!
MacConnell: My books border on fantastical, whether in a completely made up world or in an urban environment. Or both. But they are always about people and their interactions with each other. Family, friends (and enemies), people are much more complicated than we really want to delve into in reality. In books it is easier to consider.
The second book of Spear’s of the Lel’ult came out last month, and the third book should be out later this year! (Ooh, this sounds interesting, and I’m sure you’re looking forward to it! Now, onto the questions!)
1 – Does writing energize or exhaust you?
This is a complicated question. I love plotting. I can ramble on and one with potential ideas for the world, characters, so on. And I love organizing it all. I also love to edit – must be a part of my love of organizing. When everything is written down, making it better is my jam.
The writing of it? Oh, that is exhausting in a way. Energizing in others. It is probably my least favourite part of the process, but it depends on the day. On the story. I’ll say probably a 75/25, from exhaust to energize.
2 – What is your writing Kryptonite?
Descriptions! I have a mild form of aphantasia. It is very hard for me to have images in my head, and never anything with detail. I usually have to go through the entire book and put them in before I can get to editing. Otherwise everyone would always be in empty places.
My other is intentional humor. I love comedy and wish I could write it more deliberately. I’ve been told some of what I have written is funny, but so far I’ve only managed that unintentionally. It is very strange.
3 – Do you believe in writer’s block?
Not anymore. Which is hard to say to other writers, especially when they are mourning being in the middle of one. I don’t want to say it isn’t hard, very hard, sometimes. But I have to admit I do see a lot of people claim writer’s block and I bite my lip from saying that they are making up an excuse.
Last year I had the opportunity to listen to Dean Wesley Smith talk about the attitude of a fiction author. A lot of what he had to say could really apply to more subjects than writing fiction. However, not everyone likes the “shut up and write” or “dare to be bad” message. Of course there are times I don’t want to write. Where I might not know where the story is going, or how to get the characters out of something I hadn’t intended for them to get into. Yet that doesn’t mean I can’t write. I can skip that, come back later. I could write something else. I could (and often do) start rambling out all of the potential things to do until something clicks.
Writing isn’t good. Stories are good. Few people can have an initial draft that could be published immediately. I might even say no one has that (though I’m prepared to be wrong).
If you don’t want to write, that is all right. If you choose not to write, that is also okay. But if you give yourself a writing goal, don’t feel like it, and don’t make yourself? Perhaps that is a writer’s block, but that is a block you make yourself. And there is a difference between not feeling like it and not doing it because of health.
4 – As a writer, which animal do you have as an avatar? Do your books have a different animal?
As a member of my writing group, Paper Wings, I have developed the birdsona of a crow. Perhaps because I want to be known for my intelligence. However, I can indeed say I am adaptable. I do my best to be open.
5 – What’s a favorite quote from your book?
Argh, the hardest question of all!
“How many spears have you made in your life?” Talei asked, fending off sleep for a little longer.
Adanech hummed, thinking about it. “Now? One more.”
That was fair. There was the potential the answer was more than Adanech could say. Talei could only imagine.
6 – What would you say your interesting writing quirk is?
I edit by reading aloud. Which means I must find a place to hide away from everyone, because no one can hear that. I have reached the point where I can write in public (even if I prefer having my back to a wall), but I must edit alone.
7 – Which is harder to write for you, plot, pacing, or characterization?
Pacing, most definitely. I enjoy lots of different kinds of plots and stories and… perhaps some of them aren’t as good together to other people as they are to me. I put in slice of life aspects because exploring the characters and the world is the most important part of a story for me. That might mess up what people expect of pacing.
8 – What book are you currently reading?
I’m currently making my way through the Discworld series, as I finally have most all of the books. However, I’ve picked up more indie books as of late. Next on my list is Lunae Lumen, by Lanie Goodell.
9 – What readers do you think will enjoy your book best?
Those who love character and world building, but don’t actually want too many pages of description.
10 – The age-old question – do you consider yourself to be a plotter, a planner, or a plantser?
I used to be a panster. Then I was a plotter. Then I mixed the two. Now I have to say, I can do any of those. I can write without planning, I can write following a strict outline, and I can write following general points of an outline – adding more or going off track as I feel. I’m most productive with an outline, but my most creative ideas come from pantsing. Combining them is for the best.
11 – You have a series and a stand alone book. What is your favorite part of them?
My favourite part of my standalone, I have to admit, is the art I got to go along with it. My regular cover artist made so many pieces in the style of the original art for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and I love them.
For the Spears of the Lel’ult? I like how I have implemented repetition. There is an art to repetition – of ideas, of phrasing, of story beats – that can be powerful. I don’t know how well I’ve encompassed it, but I’ve had a few readers come back to me in tears (good tears), which I attribute specifically to that. Not overdoing it, but… to make everything better.
12 – What are you working on now?
A few things! Another tip on productivity from Dean Wesley Smith is to be working on different projects at the same time… as long as they are in different phases. I’m plotting a huge story that I plan on making with @borzoieyes about a crumbling world that is rather based on the first two Golden Sun games. I’m writing the fifth book of the Spears of the Lel’ult series. I’m editing the third and fourth books of the Spear’s series. And I’m trying to market and promote the first two books of that series. It means if I’m not up to do one of those things, I have something else to do. Being productive.
Baker’s Dozen bonus – What’s something I haven’t asked you, but that you want to say?
Tea or coffee? Drinking tea, smelling coffee. I’m allergic to the latter, but the smell is amazing.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, and I enjoyed reading your answers. May caffeine, in whatever form, guide your words, and best of everything going forward!
Interested in some new books? Looking to support an indie author? You can find A.A. MacConnell’s books on Amazon, or click the links under the covers to buy them in the format you prefer! (And follow on Twitter, @macconnell_a, for the the latest news)