Interview with J. Aleksandr Wootton

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing (or managing the business surrounding writing, which is its own full-time job on top of writing itself), I am often found reading, cooking, catching up with friends far, hanging out with friends near, playing ultimate frisbee, walking to a library or perusing a used bookstore, studying martial arts, in a pub, or in church.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do! I was 8; it was terrible.

It began with some vague notion of being an Argonauts-type epic sea-quest with monsters to battle en route, then got all Sinbad-like in an Arabian desert with an attempted betrayal and theft of a genie's locket, and finally - in the twist that nobody saw coming - became, in its final sentence, the worst Star Wars knockoff imaginable.

Needless to say, publishers have been hammering at my door ever since.
What is your writing process?
Thanks to a year of studying under Ian Caldwell ("The Rule of Four"), my planning phase for long-format fiction takes as long or longer than the actual writing.

I develop a robust outline, jotting down ideas while researching, organizing and rearranging scenes, writing up bits of dialogue or description whenever they become sufficiently vivid.

Then the writing of the book itself begins. Now that I'm doing this full-time, my goal is to write one chapter or scene each day, a minimum of three per week. Whether part-time or full-time, I've found that the key to finishing a book is to consistently write a modest amount on a regular schedule. I resist binge-writing: it tends to cause burnout, and its results rarely turn out to be as good as they seemed when first written.
How do you approach cover design?
I outsource my covers entirely - first to an artist, and then to a graphic designer, and although I do give input I try to keep out of their way as much as possible.
What do you read for pleasure?
Everything.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I seem to get the most sales (so far) from being genuinely and organically active on social media. I connect with other artists and art lovers over art on DeviantArt, with other readers over our favorite books on Goodreads, with real-life friends on Facebook over trying to make sense of current events, and with other writers, reviewers, and other people interested digital-publishing on the Book Blogs ning. Look me up, I always go by some variant of Mr. Wootton.
Describe your desk
My desk is an IKEA corner desk purchased at 75% off from the bargain section for some minor damage sustained during shipping. Apart from the space needed for hands and keyboard, it is invariably cluttered with story and research notes, to-do lists, and piles of languishing correspondence.

My green-cheeked conure has recently taken a fancy to napping atop my desktop monitor. No matter how many times I tickle her feathers to make her turn around, she insists on sitting with her long red tail covering part of the screen.
Who are your favorite authors?
My mother grew up in South Africa and attended a British-style boarding school there, so I was introduced to English children's classics early on – Beatrix Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Edith Blyton's Famous Five series, The Wind in the Willows, Robin Hood. Moving on from there to Lloyd Alexander, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, J.R.R. Tolkien, Homer's Odyssey, Les Miserables, Stephen Lawhead, and (eventually) everything else C.S. Lewis ever wrote, was only natural.

I'm afraid I wasted a lot of time on Star Wars novels in middle and early high school; Timothy Zahn, Aaron Allston, Michael Stackpole, and A.C. Crispin are author stand-outs there.

More recently, T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton, Ursula K. Le Guin, Thomas Lynch, Peter S. Beagle, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and graphics novels like Alan Moore's V for Vendetta and Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, have also found much-deserved places on my shelf of favorites.
Published 2013-09-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Forgetting: Impressions From the Millennial Borderland
You set the price! Words: 9,100. Language: English. Published: December 9, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
Exploring subjects as varied as mutiny, sex, the heat death of the universe, fairy abductions, and the similarities between women and walnuts, Wootton's debut poetry collection returns again and again to muse on remembrance and forgetfulness. Sharpen your eyes and deepen your wits, for this is a book of spells, conjuring forgotten things best remembered.
The Eighth Square
Series: Fayborn, Book 2. Price: $3.48 USD. Words: 48,520. Language: English. Published: September 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Literature » Fairy tales
(5.00)
Fayborn, #2 - Dodging unwelcome encounters with the supernatural is making Petra Godfellow's freshman year very difficult. Emissaries from the imprisoned Faerie Queen are looking for her. Members of the Green Kingdom Militia watch her everywhere she goes. Worst of all, servants of James Oberon keep trying to kidnap her. All because they believe that Petra is a direct descendant of Robin the Puck.
Her Unwelcome Inheritance
Series: Fayborn, Book 1. Price: $3.74 USD. Words: 59,060. Language: English. Published: August 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Literature » Fairy tales
(4.75)
Fayborn, #1 Petra Godfellow is ready – a little nervous, but ready – to grow up and leave home. She doesn't know the family secret... about the man who loved her mother, who couldn't accept that it was over... who's crazy enough to believe that he's the rightful king of Faerie. Her mother wants to keep it that way, but just after Petra's high school graduation, James Oberon finds her family again.