Interview with Alannah Foley

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love it when inspiration hits of its own accord - although it has been known to keep me up at night!

My favourite thing to write is fiction - short stories - I love exploring the things about the characters that 'tickle' me. I really don't spend enough time developing all the ideas I have housed in my filing cabinets... I sometimes think they're like hairy monsters dwelling in a cave deprived of light that poke their heads up now and then to say, "When are you going to get round to writing me?"

I also love creating book covers - whether it's the artwork or the blurb. They're enjoyable to do in themselves, but they also pave the way for you to put your work out there as a finished product. If I work on a book cover before a manuscript is finished, it gives me increased motivation because I can visualise my goal better.

So I guess I have two great joys when it comes to writing - the journey of writing what really inspires me, as well as creating book covers and reaching the end point when you can stand back and say, "Great! That's done now and I've finally got it out!".
What is your writing process?
I'm a big one for listening to inspiration! Whenever ideas come to me, I make sure I write them down. You rarely remember them later, even though you think you will. I listen to the words that yield themselves to me effortlessly, and some time later, I sit down and spend time developing them.

With non-fiction (such as my CAMPERVAN CAPERS book), I get a 'pure inspiration phase' followed by a more practical phase in which I have to develop and organise all the inspired writing that came my way. The practical phase is heavier and more time-consuming, and I much prefer pure inspiration - but, in order to get your book out there, you have to follow through!

It's important to think ahead and plan; and it's useful to ask some questions... When do I concentrate best? What other commitments have I got coming up? When can I realistically put in some writing time (even half an hour can be productive)?... I write best in the mornings, and have realised over time that surfing the net and checking emails in the morning is the worst thing I can do if I want to actually get any writing done! So I avoid those and leave social networking-type activites till later in the day or allocate a specific day to publicity work.

At any given time, I normally nominate one project as my main work-in-progress in order to keep me focussed. But if inspiration strikes, I allow myself to add to any other works I might have going on the sidelines. Whenever I'm coming to the end of a project, I usually start thinking of what I'm going to work on next, otherwise there's a lull in which you can easily lose direction and momentum. Still, it's nice (and can be useful) to take time out now and then. You can then go back to your writing with a full tank.

I'm lucky in that I have a filing cabinet full of ideas which have just come to me without effort, so I'm never stuck for an idea. I just pull the next idea out that inspires me the most, or the one that has been bugging me for the longest time.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'd sent off work to various publishers and agents, often without even the courtesy of being sent a reply. (No doubt there are a few publishers out there making a huge saving by using the stamps on would-be writers' SAEs!) In any case, it was a rather off-putting task. I heard about many other authors' experiences and didn't relish going through the same.

At the end of the day, though, I think one of the other main motivators towards indie publishing was realising that a lot of my work so far was fairly 'niche'. For example, I wrote about living with an obsessive cyclist in CYCLING WIDOWS; I wrote about my travels in CAMPERVAN CAPERS; and I wrote about discovering long-lost family & my other adventures in Australia, in THE JACARANDA TRAIL. As far as publishers were concerned, these wouldn't be mainstream. The top sellers were things like romance, detective and vampire novels. I had no interest in switching genre just so it would increase my likelihood of selling. I wanted to write things that 'tickled' or inspired me. Being an indie author allowed me to do that.

'Back in the day', I created my own books by using a binder or stapling pages together & covering the spine. Although not bookshop quality, it helped me put my work into some kind of readable format. I had a lot of skills when it came to putting a book together, and was looking for a channel for my work, so when ebook technology came along - as well as companies like Smashwords to steer it - it was just what I'd been waiting for all this time!

Nowadays, even though it's more time-consuming to do everything myself, I love being an indie. I have full control over the publishing process and can do what I want, when I want.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Believe it or not, I don't have a TV, yet my time is always filled. I go out for walks in nature - the sky is different every day where I live in England, and the seasons bring something new all the time - and I grow a bit of veg in my garden. I like cycling & running, reading, learning languages and playing music on my ocarina, recorder or keyboard. I also love visiting caves and am fascinated by megaliths, ancient structures and 'earth mysteries'.

My partner & I have a camper and like to go travelling. And whenever I have time or am inspired, I get out my camera. I've done a fair bit of photography on our travels, but most of all, I enjoy pictures of nature - especially those of the smaller things that often get overlooked, like flowers and insects.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords was the first platform I chose to publish with - for various reasons. I liked the fact that they offered your books in a variety of formats (having printable as well as downloadable formats was also important to me); would distribute your work to a number of other platforms; and allowed you to offer your work for free.

I like that Smashwords are passionate about and supportive of indie authors; and they help make your work easy to find.
Published 2014-01-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Cyclopathic Tendencies
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 58,330. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2014. Category: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Welcome to Masterton Training Facility… where breeding the perfect cycling athlete takes on a whole new meaning! Hopeful Tour de France contender, Mark Bradley, arrives at Masterton Training Facility to train alongside hero riders like Larry Legstrong. When the team manager pressures him to take drugs, trouble ensues and he finally discovers a deeper conspiracy. But will he live to tell the tale?
Beastly Encounters
Price: Free! Words: 15,910. Language: British English. Published: June 25, 2014. Category: Fiction » Holiday » Humorous
BEASTLY ENCOUNTERS Tale #1 from Tales from Corny Cove... Beastly Encounters is the first tale in the author's novel-length book, TALES FROM CORNY COVE (Life in a Cornish Paradise… What could Possibly go Wrong?) released here as a free ebook.
Tales from Corny Cove
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 63,140. Language: British English. Published: July 6, 2014. Category: Fiction » Holiday » Humorous
TALES FROM CORNY COVE (Life in a Cornish Paradise… What could Possibly go Wrong?)... When Henry & Margaret move down south to run a campsite, it turns out that 'living the dream' sometimes involves dealing with a few nightmares too! "Tales full of twists, turns, and tickles", with the bespectacled Henry having a hard time from the obnoxious farmer next door as well as brutish & unruly campers.
Under an Australian Sky
Price: Free! Words: 8,050. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2013. Category: Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues
Born in Australia, the author was raised in England of British-Australian parents. In her twenties, she sold everything, ditched her plans and travelled to her birthplace – a five-year journey she wrote about in The Jacaranda Trail. Under an Australian Sky features some short original reflections on the author's life Down Under, not included in The Jacaranda Trail book.
Campervan Capers 2
Series: Campervan Capers. Price: Free! Words: 13,610. Language: British English. Published: July 4, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Travel » Camping and RVing
The Ongoing Adventures of a Campervanning Couple... With a first year of adventures under their belt, the campervanning couple embark on another year of mini capers. In this sequel to Campervan Capers, the author continues to blend travel tale with humour and practicality as she and her partner explore more sights (and sites) after the maiden year in their camper.
Campervan Capers
Series: Campervan Capers. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 51,600. Language: English. Published: April 21, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Travel » Camping and RVing
Campervan Capers - A Couple's First Year Exploring the World of Campervanning... What do you do when you've got itchy feet but don't want to uproot your life? Buy a campervan! At least, that's what this couple did... Campervan Capers follows a capering couple through their first year of owning a camper, & blends travel tale with humour whilst also addressing some of the more practical aspects.
The Welsh Leek Conspiracy
Price: Free! Words: 4,450. Language: English. Published: March 10, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Travel » Camping and RVing
Wouldn’t you think you’d be able to find at least ONE leek in Wales? After all, it IS their national emblem!... The Welsh Leek Conspiracy is a short light-hearted travel tale adapted from the author's Campervan Capers book.
The Jacaranda Trail
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 37,480. Language: English. Published: November 2, 2011. Category: Nonfiction » Travel » By region
THE JACARANDA TRAIL - A Journey of Discovery Down Under... Would you just sell everything, ditch your plans and buy a ticket to the other side of the world? In her twenties, the author did just that – and got much more than she could ever have bargained for ...
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 20,230. Language: English. Published: October 16, 2011. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
SHADES A Collection of Short Fictional Works... This collection of nine fictional works comes in a range of shades, from the light-hearted to the 'darker of spirit', and includes shorter pieces of micro-fiction as well as longer short stories. Featuring: Slipper Island, Living with the Enemy, The Intrepid Adventures of Ralph Ingleton, and more...
The Intrepid Adventures of Ralph Ingleton
Price: Free! Words: 7,530. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2011. Category: Fiction » Adventure » General
Ralph is an adventurer at heart – but his imagination certainly can get him into hot water at times. A tale with a twist or two in it.
Cycling Widows
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,030. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2011. Category: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Bicycling
CYCLING WIDOWS Lifting the Veil on Living with an Obsessive Cyclist Written by a long-suffering Cycling Widow, this is a satirical look at the world of cycling, and might just save a few marriages – as well as many a bike from being fed into the garden mulcher. A 'must read' for fanatical cyclists & Cycling Widows alike.