Question and answer with ~ Alyx Dellamonica.
I am pleased to welcome the author of Blue Magic (just released by Tor) and it’s predecessor Indigo Springs, to answer a few things I think about when reading a book:
Why she chose urban fantasy as a genre when writing; where her creative sources for this intriguing two book series came from; and what was her publishing process like, particularly in relationship with Tor. I am sure many of the writer/readers who read our blog are just bubbling to know.
We also have more info about Alyx, including social media links, a blurb for the novels, and links for excerpts too. I just started Indigo Springs and think that what’s inside its pages feels as promising and fun as the irresistible covers that are so notorious at Tor books.
Let’s welcome Alyx!
First, my favorite question: why write urban fantasy?
I write in a number of genres: science fiction, alternate history, horror, and even mystery and literary fiction, but most of my work has been fantasy of one stripe or another. It suits my imagination, I think: I like to start stories with images like girls eating grocery carts or guys seeing their dead lovers' ghosts in an array of festive balloons.
I haven't got the science chops to sell those sorts of visions as scientifically plausible, and I rarely want to in any case. What's cool about magic is that it *is* magic, as far as I'm concerned: I like to write stories where the impossible falls within some ordinary individual's grasp.
Always thinking about the reasons for the creative ideas when creating a novel: where did your idea for this two book series come from?
I found many sources of inspiration for differing parts of the Indigo Springs story--everything from seeing my partner edit a book on river repatriation to an up-close look into the soul of someone much like the character who is arguably the story's villainess, Sahara Knax--but I can recall a fair stretch of time where I was trying to start a piece about a source of raw magic oozing out of a crack in the earth. It was an image that wouldn't let go. To this day I don't know why.
Those early story attempts didn't work out all that well, though, until I figured out what could be done with the magic. That element came from a series of short stories I'd written about magical items called 'chantments,' little oddities that could each contain a limited mystical power, contained powers a person could safely wield.
As I wrote more about vitagua and began to understand its more dangerous effects--it's magical, but also acts as something of an environmental toxin, akin to radioactive waste--I came upon a house in Vancouver whose chimney had been painted up to the roof. The owners had slapped a layer of green paint on the house and just hadn't bothered to avoid the bricks. That gave me another little piece of the puzzle, and the house in Indigo Springs has the same slapdash paint job... but this time, it's for a reason.
And: what was your publishing experience like? (We have a number or writers, who read the blog and dream of working with Tor, who would love to know.)
I've only ever sold novels to Jim Frenkel at Tor, so to start I have to say I have no basis for comparison with other publishers, big or small. And like those readers of yours, Tor was my dream too, my first choice of market for Indigo Springs. They have such a fantastic reputation and so many writers I love are Tor authors, and back when I finished the book they were also running a thing called the Tor Women in Fantasy program that I quite admired. So getting picked up by them was an out and out thrill.
What's especially fantastic about Tor now is that they have made their web site a real showcase for writers and speculative fiction. Tor.com is like a goodie bag crammed full of neat fannish things, and they let writers play along. I'm currently rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (http://www.tor.com/features/series/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-on-torcom) and writing an article every week about that; last summer, I read some of my favorite Eighties horror novels, everything from Stephen King's It to V.C. Andrews's Flowers in the Attic. They've published some of my fiction, including a story set on Stormwrack, the world where my *next* three books will take place--it's called "Among the Silvering Herd" (http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/02/among-the-silvering-herd) –and this summer they're going to print a different story, "Wild Things," that ties into Indigo Springs and Blue Magic.
What I want, as a writer, is quite simply to reach people: readers, of course, and other writers, too. The Tor site creates this glorious synergy that lets me engage in conversations with the awesome, creative, fiction-loving people at Tor, with Buffy fans, with people who are into my books, with other Tor writers... it's the equivalent of a big noisy club. It's a veritable scene.
But that doesn't answer the 'what's it like' question, does it?
The part of publishing these two books that didn't involve my sitting at a desk writing them, happened at punctuated intervals. A lot of the time, I was busily writing other things in Vancouver while the books moved through the publication process in New York. Other people do so much for a novel--you can't imagine how much work it is to create a gorgeous platform for your story until you try it yourself.
So from Vancouver the process felt like this: most days, I'd get up each morning and write other things. Which is a big win as far as I'm concerned, because writing's what I love to do with my time. Every so often, I'd check in with Jim Frenkel or he'd check in with me about some aspect of where we were. He sent me editorial suggestions, for example, and I set the other stories aside and made changes to the book. Later he sent me copy edits, which for both books were handled by the meticulous and fantastic Eliani Torres. More time passed, and then there were page proofs. Since these were my first books and I hadn't worked with a four hundred page copy-edited manuscript before, there was some extremely patient teaching--hey, Alyx, this is how you copy edit, and this is how you correct a page proof. This happened twice, because enough time lapsed between the two novels that I'd forgotten a lot... and it's not an area where I learn fast anyway.
As for the gorgeous covers on both books, with which I'm entirely delighted, here's a link to an article I wrote for Tor about those. (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/02/covering-blue-magic)
What I'm trying to convey here is that I didn't have to do any of the things that I would have been terrible at: visual design, copy-editing, and proofreading are not my strong suits. But I did always feel included and consulted.
Gosh, I'm really happy with my publishing lot right now, aren't I?
Something that can get to people is that you wait for things, in publishing. You sell a piece and you wait for a contract. You get the contract done and wait for a cheque. You send the book in, and wait for editorial notes. Lather, rinse, repeat.
(And people who live outside the writing bubble don't always get this. I do a fair amount of fiction writing in a cafe, and three weeks ago one of the other regulars said to me: "Putting on the final touches?" He thought I was polishing up Blue Magic, even though he knew it was due to hit bookstores a week later.) So there's waiting. Then one day--at least if you're me--your shiny Tor novel's been out for three days and it's gorgeous, and people are Tweeting about it and reviewing it and OMG, you've got a launch to plan and wonderful publicists to work with (publicists plural, yes, because I have one on either side of the Canada-U.S. border) and total strangers are sending you lovely notes about appreciating story elements you worked really hard on... and it's amazing.
So that's what it's like, at least today as I write this. Which is a longwinded way of saying: seriously, it's great.
Alyx Dellamonica lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she sings in a community choir and takes thousands of digital photographs. In 2003, soon after finishing her first novel, Indigo Springs, the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled in favor of legalized same-sex marriage. A month later, she achieved a lifelong dream by marrying her long-term partner, writer and wine critic Kelly Robson, at one of their favorite places, the UBC Botanical Gardens. She also has a fabulous “Buffy Rewatch” series on Tor.com.
To find out more about Alyx link to her Official Site: http://alyxdellamonica.com; Blog: http://planetalyx.livejournal.com; Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AlyxDellamonica
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/AlyxDellamonica; and G+: https://plus.google.com/106086459950640246872/posts
Here are links for excerpts for these two latest novels located via the titles: Blue Magic (April 10, 2012), the sequel to the critically-acclaimed, Sunburst Award–winning contemporary fantasy debut, Indigo Springs (November 2, 2012.)
Here is a bit about – Blue Magic: This powerful sequel starts in the small town in Oregon where Astrid Lethewood discovered an underground river of blue liquid—Vitagua—that is pure magic. Everything it touches is changed. The secret is out—and the world will never be the same. Astrid’s best friend, Sahara, has been corrupted by the blue magic, and now leads a cult that seeks to rule the world. Astrid, on the other hand, tries to heal the world.
Conflicting ambitions, star-crossed lovers, and those who fear and hate magic combine in a terrible conflagration, pitting friend against friend, magic against magic, and the power of nations against a small band of zealots, with the fate of the world at stake. Blue Magic is a powerful story of private lives changed by earthshaking events that will ensnare readers in its poignant tale of a world touched by magic and plagued by its consequences.
Thanks once again for reading!