Interview with Alexis Donkin

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Pennsylvania pops up so often in my stories is because my extended family is there. There's a soft spot in my heart for Western Pennsylvania. While I was born outside of Philly, most of my formative years were spent in Albany, NY. At the time, Albany was a very artsy place with a vibrant music and art scene. My parents are both ordained clergy which forced me into a lot of volunteer situations and social justice thinking. The combination has definitely driven a lot of themes and locations for my books.
When did you first start writing?
Well, there are two answers to this question. The first is, I've been writing since I could. I think I first began through journaling as part of a sort of homeschooling-vacation agenda my mother drafted for me when she took me out of school for a week in third grade. About the same time, my elementary school had a "Living Literature" week which included writing, illustrating, and binding our own books. Every year I looked forward to this. My books always needed several bunches of pages. That should have been the first sign...

The second answer is I didn't see writing as a career until I didn't have any career options. When the world strips you down, it becomes a lot easier to play with ideas. I was in my second year of marriage, unemployed, and despite my best efforts, couldn't find a job. But I did have this idea for a story...and I'd been wanting to write a full novel forever but had always made excuses. So after a week of 15 hour days writing, I completed THE BROTHERS. Having written one novel, I realized I couldn't stop. So I kept going.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I believe, in the depths of my soul, everyone has a distinct purpose in life. For some time I've known that my purpose is to be a voice. It doesn't matter if I am only heard by two people or if I'm blessed with touching the lives of millions. If what I say is heard by one person, and it changes that person's life, then I have done what I was meant to do.

While I have been very open about my books being books I would enjoy reading, complete with happy endings and fun plot points, they touch on topics that I feel are essential for everyone to discuss. Whenever I read a news article about climate change, war, or women's rights, I think about how I engaged with issues as a teen and it wasn't through the news. It was through other people and through books. If I can help a few people talk about tough issues or become actively engaged, that is just amazing.

On a less grand scale, I do just like the act of letting the story pour out. It's satisfying to let the thing develop and see it to the end.
What do your fans mean to you?
I LOVE my readers. They are what keeps me going. I'm a pretty fragile creature so if I go for any length of time without affirmation of my craft, I start to wonder and doubt. Before I know it I'm questioning whether writing is a good use of my time...and then a reader contacts me. When they tell me they couldn't put a book down or read it through in a night (despite needing to go to work the next day) a huge grin spreads across my face. When I hear that someone has read and re-read my books several times, itching for the sequel, I get stupidly giddy. I love hearing what readers think about different characters and series directions. I love my fans and love interacting with them!
What is your writing process?
Usually I get an idea for a story and it simmers for a little while. It's not a fleshed out idea, just a kernel. I talk about it with my husband and then inevitably in a flurry of frustrated escapism I decide to start writing. Once I start, I try to give myself a daily word count goal. I keep writing until I get stuck. Once I get stuck, I let the story rest for a little while (sometimes months if it's particularly bothering me) and talk about the story with my husband. Usually this conversation yields enough ideas to finish a vague plot arc in my head, and I'm able to finish the novel.

Then i read through it once and make some corrections/revise as I see fit.

Once the second draft is complete, I send it to a few beta readers to check for errors and continuity issues. When they get their comments back to me, I do anywhere from one to several revisions. When I feel like it's as good as I can make it using my budget of zero, I publish.
How do you approach cover design?
As someone who went to art school for a couple years, I think my perspective on cover design is a little different than the average indie author. I really hate the over-produced stuff that seems to come from a sort of stock of designs that every other author has. They all look the same to me and it bugs. I'd much rather see something like Shel Silverstein's scratchy drawings (or the cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid) than these formulaic covers.

Also having no budget to pay someone else to do it makes a difference. The result is I use the skills and tools at my disposal. While I like the ink drawing I did for THE BROTHERS, it was definitely a first effort. I didn't know what I was doing. I just needed to start *somewhere.* As I've published more books, my cover art has gotten better. I look back at my first book's art and writing and see it as a good first effort. When I look at recent work, I grin. I've gotten better. I've learned from my mistakes. It might have made an impact on early sales, but I still feel good about my improvement and I know I'll only get better.
Who are your favorite authors?
I should say, I don't have so many favorite authors as favorite works, though there are some exceptions. Juliet Marillier is probably my favorite. I love her descriptions and how she pulls you into the thoughts of the narrator. I also really enjoy how she weaves together fantasy and history.

I've reread Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE an embarrassingly huge number of times. Though generally, I like the voice of her work and the delicate way she handles socio-economic and gender difference.

Beyond those two ladies, there are a few specific works that have grabbed my attention. I'm a fool for Anne McCaffrey's Pern series (re-read many of those books multiple times). That was probably the beginning of my descent into fantasy, especially when coupled with Piers Anthony's Xanth series (which I read sporadically through my junior high years).

I also love, love, LOVE Harry Potter. Really. I like the playful world development and wit that comes through in J.K. Rowling's writing. Honestly, I haven't read any of her other work, though I'm curious to see how I would feel about it.

Most recently I read Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books, which I really enjoyed. A LOT. I enjoyed diving into Percy's mind. The voice was pretty convincing and I just *love* that.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
These days I spend a lot of time with my new son (picking him up, talking with him, singing to him, aspirating his nose, wiping his butt, cleaning spit up off of my shirts...and pants...). I'm also reading a LOT more about writing, marketing, success, and of course, sometimes I even read FICTION (amazing I know!). I've also started working out a bit more (working off the baby weight). Between these things, eating and sleeping, I'm completely booked!
Published 2013-12-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Transform To Thrive: 32 Days From Victim To Superhero
Pre-release—available June 15, 2015. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 5,880. Language: English. Categories: Nonfiction » Inspiration » Meditation, Nonfiction » Inspiration » Daily affirmations
Choose to be a superhero in your own life. Transform yourself in 32 days using this journal guide. Everyday, spend a few moments examining a different part of your life. Use the writing exercises to change your perspective. Repeat the daily mantras to lock your new perspective in place. See the resources you have at your disposal already and recognize that you can be the hero in your story.
Thrive: How I Became A Superhero
Pre-release—available June 15, 2015. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 37,850. Language: English. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / General, Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
Anyone can choose to be a victim or a superhero. THRIVE is a true account of one woman's suffering which she transformed into opportunities for empowerment. Learn lessons and get specific guidance while reading stories on topics from molestation and homelessness, to race relations and unemployment. THRIVE helps readers take control over their lives and transform into everyday superheroes.
The Path to Total Equality: A Social Revolution
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,080. Language: English. Published: January 27, 2015. Categories: Essay » Sociology, Nonfiction » Social Science » Women's studies
Sexism is alive and well. Women still make less money than men, remain objectified, and still lack control over their bodies. There are calls for equality, but what would that mean? What would need to happen in America for total sexual equality to be realized? This essay is a blueprint for the specific changes required to realize complete sexual equality.
Unexpected Symptoms: Postpartum
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 14,980. Language: English. Published: May 10, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Parenting » Pregnancy and Child Birth, Nonfiction » Parenting » Reference
Why is it that no one tells you about all the weird stuff that happens to women's bodies after childbirth? Most women are so focused on birth, they forget to think about all the changes that will happen afterwards. This irreverent book gives you an overview of what to expect, how to cope, accept, or even embrace your body's changes.
Unexpected Symptoms: Pregnancy
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 14,370. Language: English. Published: May 6, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Parenting » Pregnancy and Child Birth, Nonfiction » Parenting » Reference
Why is it that all pregnant women wonder if their experiences are normal? Unfortunately, something is always missing from pregnancy resources. Get the nitty gritty details so you can recognize your symptoms as normal, as well as tips and tricks to cope with annoying symptoms, plus ETAs for when you can expect them to disappear! Know even unexpected symptoms can be normal!
52 Lists from Pregnant to Parent
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 6,070. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Parenting » Pregnancy and Child Birth
Wouldn't it be great if everything you needed to be organized from pregnancy through baby were in one place? Trying to figure out your diaper bag? What about some date ideas to rekindle your relationship after baby is born? How about nursery essentials? It's all here and more! Minimize stress with these helpful & fun lists!
Zephyrs
Price: Free! Words: 6,680. Language: English. Published: December 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
Hundreds of years after the tragedy of Uruk, the Otherworld is divided into what will become the Seelie and Sidhe. Meanwhile the young poet, Zephysus, wonders about the legend of that ancient village. By a stroke of fate, he meets two of Lilith and Ammon's children. But they don't compare to the person Zephysus meets that night, which changes the fate of the entire Otherworld
Below the Belt
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 77,430. Language: English. Published: August 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
Alisa Greer excitedly begins her doctoral program in anthropology when she meets Dr. Corwin Pierce. As Alisa gets closer to Pierce, bizarre things start happening on campus and at archaeological sites that all link back to him. She can only begin to guess who or what he is, but the truth is more disturbing than she can imagine...
Lilith & Ammon
Series: Khloe Alwell, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 80,130. Language: English. Published: September 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance
At the heart of the division under the veil is a legendary story of forbidden loves, betrayal, and jealousy, that shows a path to redemption. By learning the history of the legendary Lilith and Ammon, Khloe Alwell discovers the root of the Otherworld conflict, and just how tangled good and evil can become.
Uncertain Transformation: Poems Written in Crisis & Hope
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 2,450. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Female authors
Imagine being seven months pregnant and your husband just lost his job, and with it his insurance. This was poet and author Alexis Donkin's situation in July 2013. In an effort to understand and come to terms with the stress of her situation and the normal discomforts and pressures of her pregnancy, Alexis wrote this collection of poems.
Jeremiah: The Rollins Pack
Series: The Rollins. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 67,870. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Social Issues, Fiction » Romance » Paranormal
Jeremiah Rollins has it all. As heir to the Pittsburgh werewolf pack and a thriving conglomerate, with good grades and playing the holy trinity of sports at his exclusive school, Jeremiah wants for nothing. Except he wants none of it. In his quest for freedom, he sets off a chain of events that will change his life, and his family forever.
James: The Rollins Pack
Series: The Rollins. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 79,900. Language: English. Published: May 3, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
After the bubble burst on his father's business, James and his alpha family find themselves in an old farmhouse in Vermont, fantasizing about the life they left behind in Pittsburgh. In light of his werewolf transformation, pack politics begin to upset his life, his love, and his family. Follow James as he comes to terms with just what it means to be an alpha of the Rollins pack.
Lovers and Rivals
Series: Khloe Alwell, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 137,840. Language: English. Published: January 22, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
At sixteen, Khloe Alwell's world gets turned upside down when she discovers her Otherworld heritage. Now she stands in the middle of the ancient and violent conflict. To find peace, Khloe must struggle to learn the ways of her father's court, deal with heartbroken boys, navigate a complex relationship with her new weapons instructor, and come to terms with her destiny.
The Brothers
Series: Khloe Alwell, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 133,920. Language: English. Published: August 2, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
Khloe Alwell is about to turn sixteen, find her first real friends, fall in love, learn that every legend is true, discover her parents are living a lie, and one more thing. She's not human. Follow Khloe as she struggles to understand her place in the Otherworld, deals with the worst and best of boys, and finds out just how similar people can be, supernatural powers or not.