Interview with Alyssa James

What is your writing process?
My writing process varies. Sometimes I have a single idea in my head for a scene, other times I have a character who develops first rather than an actual plot line.
In Knight of Her Heart (penned as Alyssa James), the story evolved over eight years. It was a time when I wasn't writing due to the demands of a young family. I got to know the characters so well over that time! Surprisingly, when I sat down to write the book, there were some scenes that didn't go as I'd intended. It truly was as though the characters had minds of their own and were determined that their story should be written by them!!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
One of my favourite authors growing up was Enid Blyton. I loved the Secret Seven series, and it did have quite an impact on me! A group of us formed our own "Secret Six" club. At the time there were a number of burglaries in our town's main street. At age 11, I tiptoed out of our house, got on my bike after midnight and rode up the street to rouse the next member of our group and her brother. My friend Samantha woke up, but unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately! - her mum woke up as Sam was heading down the hall to wake her brother for our adventure and I was sent home!
Samantha and I started writing our own adventure stories together after that rather than trying to live them. I think I've wanted to be an author ever since.
How do you approach cover design?
Well, you know, that's a tough job, but somebody has to do it! It seems to take forever to scroll through stock images of gorgeous guys who may be likely candidates for my covers!
Apart from having a general author note on my contemporary romance covers for the Harlequin art department (novels written as Alyssa J. Montgomery for Escape Publishing), I haven't had any input. I have requested a couple of stock images be used for my January 2015 release "Roses for Sophie", so we'll see whether that eventuates.
Knight of Her Heart was a matter of trawling through images and finding ones I thought would suit the story. I always run images past my mum and my sisters. I sent off the images to Dawn Hickerson at Austin Designworks and she had the cover done for me in super quick time. She also designed my webpage, and I've been really thrilled with the way she puts everything together.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That's the toughest question so far.I had to go to my book shelves of 'keepers' and think really hard. In no particular order:
I love Laura Kinsale's "Flowers from the Storm". Wonderfully written, loads of emotion etc, but probably what stood out to me the most was the communication difficulties of the hero. As a Speech-Language Pathologist in my day job, this book really struck a cord with me.
"Lord of Scoundrels: by Loretta Chase is a fabulous beauty and the beast tale that was my introduction to this incredible author.
"Dark Lover" by J.R. Ward was a compulsory read for my writer's group. I would ordinarily never have picked up a Vampire book, but our group leader, Malvina Yock, has always been adamant that we'll be better readers if we read outside our comfort zone or normal genres. I'll always be thankful to her for recommending this book. (Actually, she recommended the former three as well, and the next one I'm going to mention...)
Jennifer Crusie's "Welcome to Temptation". My introduction to Crusie's wit and my first romantic comedy read.
Last, but in no way least, Sandra Brown's "Smokescreen". This book was a giveaway at one of the Romance Writer's conferences I went to. I can tell you that I have bought many more of her books since, and I don't go past one of her titles if I see it on the shelf.
What do you read for pleasure?
Romance is the first genre I'll pick up. I have to say that I'm so busy writing these days that I don't read anywhere near as many books. I used to devour a couple of books at least each week, now I'm lucky if I read two per month.
Outside the romance genre, Tom Clancy would have to be my favourite author. I also like John Grisham, Robert Ludlom, Lee Child.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I hope this isn't going to incriminate me!
I prefer paperback and will always be sorry that none of my books have made it into print.
My kids all have Kindles (what type I'm not sure, I'm a bit technophobic).
My youngest daughter downloaded a medieval romance series for me recently, but I haven't started them yet.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
It's such early days in my writing career, I haven't done any marketing.
Word of mouth seems to be the best way to sell books!
Describe your desk
Oh! It's a good size in my very own study set aside just for writing. It's timber with black leather insertI There are photos of it in interviews I did for Helene Young's blog and AusRomToday if you're really interested!
There's a photo of my children with a St. Bernard which was taken at the Matterhorn Mountain. There's another photo of the whole family which was taken in Thailand. I have a "Jade Lee Author" yellow mobile phone holder on it as well as a whole lot of assorted knick-knacks given to me either by my kids or my writer friends.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Rockhampton, Central Queensland.
I'm not sure how this influenced my writing. I don't write small town stories.
When did you first start writing?
When I was a kid, I co-wrote with a friend.
I started writing a romance when I was at University, following a challenge from one of my sisters, but didn't finish it.
I guess I went back to it in about 1994, finished a couple of stories and received rejections for all of them.
My first story was picked up by Kate Cuthbert from Escape Publications in 2013. 'Mistaken Identity" had finalled in an RWA (Australia) Emma Darcy Award under another title. It was published November 1st, 2013 by Escape.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Knight of Her Heart" is, I think, the story that I've loved writing the most. I've found with the historical writing, I've enjoyed the research and I've enjoyed making the villains really evil and the plight of the heroine a little more dramatic. Women didn't enjoy great rights back in those days and that has made the heroine's situation so much more desperate.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
"Knight of Her Heart" was submitted to two publishers. My publisher at Escape thought it was a little out of the boundaries that she was comfortable publishing. One editor loved the story but thought it would be a little controversial, another editor there loved the concept, didn't feel it would be too controversial, said she'd read it and didn't get back to me despite many queries. Because it was the story that I felt was the best I'd written, I decided to self-publish.
I'm very glad I did. The story was on the Amazon Best-seller list for 8 weeks for Medieval Romance!
Since I became an indie author, I've also seen the benefits of Indie publishing - being able to control the release date, the cover, the price (to name a few things) and also to have access to an author dashboard where I can see exactly how my sales are going on a daily basis. That's exciting!
Having said all that, I don't think I would ever have Indie published had I not had the validation of having my work accepted by a traditional publisher. I personally required that validation, and only considered Indie once I had four contracts under my belt.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Receiving comments from readers that they've enjoyed my stories.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! Of course I get my own pleasure out of writing, but having people appreciate the story as well gives indescribable satisfaction. I really appreciate getting feedback from readers.
What are you working on next?
I've just finished edits on "Roses for Sophie" which will be published by Escape in January, 2015, and I'm on the second draft of another contemporary romance. As well, the characters in the next story of the "Conquering the Heart Series" are in my mind, and their story is being shaped in both my conscious and subconscious mind right now!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Kids needing to get to school, animals needing to be fed! They're the reasons I have to get up when the alarm goes off, but at least now my elder daughter isn't doing 4.30 am wake-ups for swimming squad anymore, the alarm clock is going off at a more respectable hour!
What inspires me to get out of bed? Well, life is great. It's a full-on juggling act of so many different roles and it's interesting and satisfying and unpredictable. I love life!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work with children mainly and some adults in my Speech Pathology private practice, and spend a lot of time running my kids around to various sporting and extracurricular activities. We live a bit off the beaten track, so I also spend time driving them to and from school each day. Time in the car is great time to talk. I don't tend to have the radio on in the car until after I've dropped them off, because I want that communication time.

We have lots of animals to look after, and I love to spend time with friends and also to have a game of tennis or go horse-riding.
Published 2014-10-19.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Knight of Her Heart
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 101,330. Language: English. Published: October 18, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Historical » Medieval
"Knight of Her Heart" is the profoundly romantic and passionate journey of Lisette and Rowan - each vulnerable and less than perfect, yet worthy of finding happiness. It is a story of repentance and forgiveness; desperation and hope; and one in which loyalty, courage and love triumph over treachery and betrayal.