Donna's Review for Elemental - HERE
Hi Alexandra! Thank you so much for joining us today!
Three Random Questions:
Three Random Questions:
Ooooh, start with the tough one! I’m fortunate to have travelled quite a bit and I’ve seen some amazing places but for very different reasons I would say Venice (Italy) or Morocco.
Greek or Middle Eastern
Red or Purple (If anyone hasn’t guessed already I’m a Libra!)
Describe yourself in three words
Small, opinionated (but) kind-hearted
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in southern Europe with my boyfriend of 12 years and two dogs. My parents live not too far away and I have one older brother who lives in the UK. Our family is quite small but we’re close.
My two dogs are my pride and joy and, if I ever made enough money from writing, I want to open a sanctuary for mistreated and abandoned animals. I’ve always wanted a goat so I could call him Billy.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I finished my first book in March 2011 and I was 39, I started writing the first drafts of the story in 2002 and dabbled with it every now and again. In 2009 I started looking at it again but seriously this time. I had the basics for the story but no real edge. Then I created Halíka Dacomé and everything fell into place. The first book published is 280 pages long, but actually the first story was about 2580 pages long!
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I’ve always wanted to write a story with a strong role model, someone who can influence others by her own actions, good or bad. In today’s society there aren’t that many good role models for teens. In real life most sixteen year olds want to be celebrities or pop singers, most won’t accomplish it or if they do it will be short lived. So I write about real present day characters and hope that their judgements and perception in every day life will enlighten others. So that’s really why I wanted to write YA.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I like to mix facts with fiction so for me as a history lover it gave an excellent base for the whole story. The UFO phenomenon surrounding Warminster is very true (look it up on Wikipedia!) Barry’s story about his encounter is true also (it happened to a friend’s father.) The black dog myths are true, as is the annual Skywatch event on Cradle Hill. The Priory monks really existed and communed in ruins under present day Longleat House and the Warminster Jewel is presently on exhibit in Salisbury Museum.
However, the story and characters are all fiction.
The only real life experiences that I brought in were my own memories of moving around a lot as a child/teen.
How did you come up with the title?
One of the most difficult things is to create a title that people will remember. Originally I wanted to call it The First but after many group discussions we decided it was too bland. The title had to have a deeper meaning sufficient enough to use throughout the series, so we looked at other names including The First Elemental. But it still wasn't catchy enough for me. Later someone thought about the colon (:). It hasn't been done that often so Elemental: The First was born. The word Elemental will stay prevalent while the ending will change, for instance, the next installment is called Elemental: The Circle of Fire.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
In my own series I plan to use all of my characters again. But I love ghost stories and gothic horror so I’m trying to think of a way to bring that into the story….hmm work in progress!
What was the most challenging thing you encountered when creating your books?
I’d already worked out the storyline for the series so I knew what would happen in every book to each character but the most difficult part for me was trying to fit just enough of the story and character building into the first book. That was my biggest challenge.
I’ve been criticised for being too descriptive but if I didn’t do this in the beginning I can guarantee nobody would have grasped the story as well as they have. And as this is a story over a few books the scene setting was essential. Now the scene setting is out of the way I can get on with the story. The next book is very quick and fast paced.
What kind of good or bad reception has your book received?
The surprising thing for me was how many readers actually understood and welcomed the story. In the beginning I imagined my books being sold in the bargain bins at clearance stores with everyone knowing me for writing those ‘weird’ stories about aliens from Warminster. But the praise has been amazing and it’s refreshing to know that I can open reader’s minds to something new and interesting.
The only bad reception I’ve had is when someone read the story and they don’t enjoy it because it wasn’t really their ‘thing’ to begin with.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I still have to keep a part time job but I write solidly on my days off and lock myself away from the world only to come out when I have to eat or use the bathroom (and occasionally socialise just to stay sane!)
I’m a bit of an insomniac too so I can be awake at 5am (like I am now!). I get in a few hours if it’s a work day or write until 12 or 1 in the morning if it’s an off day.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I spend time with my family, meet up with friends and catch up with the television shows I enjoy. I love watching sports, running on my treadmill and playing with my dogs. My life is very hectic but I’m organised so I do try and balance between writing and personal time.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do! I get emails every week. As a new author I was so surprised that anyone would want to contact me. But they always write about the characters. There's a lot of love for Aiden out there which took me by surprise. Nearly everybody loves Rose and they want to adopt Daisy as their grandmother. They send me ideas of who would play the characters if it was brought to film or tv.
Mostly the readers just like personal contact and I'm all for that so I always reply quickly.
What project are you working on now?
I’m in the closing stages of The Lost Dacomé Files #1 which tells the story of Halíka Dacomé from her point of view from the beginning. The story is finished, it just needs some tweaking here and there, and then it’ll be off to the editors. The LDF was only supposed to be a short five chapter book but it’s ended up being around 250 pages.
Elemental: The Circle of Fire is also nearly finished. I’m constantly changing my mind about what needs adding and what needs changing. But this one isn’t going to leave me until I’m 100% happy with it. The book is around 300 pages so far and I have two major scenes still to add.
The second book will also include an interactive aspect as well as Facebook pages for the lead characters so that readers can explore them in more depth..
The projected launch for both books will be 15th January 2012 but this may change. I’ll keep updating progress on Goodreads and Facebook.
How can I find out more information about the books?
Visit www.alexandramay.co.uk. I have an Author page on Goodreads.com. Or catch me on Facebook and Twitter.
Fantastic! Thank you so much for answering all our questions Alexandra!
Now onto the giveaway! See below.