Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Author Take Over: Alyssa Cooper - interview

Hi everyone! My name is Alyssa Cooper, and I'm today's guest blogger here on Sabina's Adventures in reading. I'm just a weird Canadian girl with a life-long passion for the written word and a fretful lack of time. I'm the author of Salvation, a piece of literary fiction wrapped in a vampire story, and Benjamin, a story of love, loss, and psychedelic drugs due to be released next month.

These days, you can find my poetry and prose all over the place. Check out my website for a full list of published works!

I figured the best way to talk about myself too much without feeling like I was talking about myself too much was to let you guys ask the questions. This author interview was compiled by my friends, fans, and wordweaving colleagues - thanks so much to all of them!

"What inspires you the most when writing?" Kirstie Herrington

I think the one thing that has always inspired me the most is humanity; the human experience, the human condition, the polarities between our deepest emotions. There is something so compelling about pure humanity - it is what gives a story meaning. Romances, tragedies, and even horror, they're all about humanity. Even in a story like Watership Down, where rabbits are the key players and humans appear only as shadows in the background, it is still the rabbits' humanity that draws us into their tale. We wouldn't empathize with those rabbits if they were simply rabbits. We love them because they act like humans. Because they're people, with families and feelings and lives. And that's what inspires me the most.

It's human feelings that inspire me to write, human experiences, but not just my own. It's almost as if my own pain is too close to be seen quite clearly. It's so much more beautiful to observe someone else's pain from across the room, some pain that I can see but can't quite understand, and to appropriate it. To distill some other life in the labyrinthian corridors of my own mind, and find a new world waiting on the other side.

“Do you work out any real life issues in your writing that you are aware of, like friendships of the past, or people that annoy you?” Tara Hall

I definitely draw inspiration from real life, I think it's something that every writer does. Writing can be an extremely cathartic experience, but I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm working out my issues. It helps me to explore my issues maybe, and come to conclusions that sometimes surprise me, but the kind of thought that goes on when I'm writing is very different from the introspective thought I have when I'm figuring out my problems. Real life just happens to be the best fodder for fiction.

Visit Tara's website at

“What do you hope to accomplish through your writing, whether change the world or even just impact one solitary reader?” SS Hampton Sr.

I'm sure this is going to sound typical, but I started writing just for me - there were stories I wanted to hear that hadn't been written yet, and I took it upon myself to create them. I wasn't interested in changing the world, or in being 'famous' (as famous as we writers get). I just wanted to tell the tale. I had words inside me burning to be free.

That being said, if I didn't want readers, and if I didn't want to impact them, I wouldn't have tried to be published. I wouldn't have worked so carefully with my editors to be sure that my character's were well-met and my plots perfectly clear. Every passionate reader remembers the moment that they were struck by a story for the first time, what it was like to slip inside a character's head and go through every motion with them. To live that tale to the very last page, and to ache down to your bones when it's over.

And I won't lie - it would be amazing to make someone else feel that way.

“How do you determine what you name your characters and how important is that to you?” Melissa March

There are a couple websites that I spend way too much time on when I'm in the planning stages of any character; and So yes, I have to admit that my characters' names are of the utmost importance to me. It's a subtle way to slip in description and definition that the casual reader will never overtly notice, but may subconsciously take note of. Once a character earns a name, that name will shape every other detail in their development. In Salvation, my lead character renames herself and choses Maya, a name that bears two contrasting meanings in two different languages - mother in Greek and illusion in Sanskrit - portraying the violent turmoil between the two halves of her being.

Benjamin, the title character of my upcoming novel, also bears a name ripe with meaning, but it's one you'll have to decipher for yourself once the book is released. The name Benjamin is a corrupted form of the name Benoni, son of my pain. But literally translated from Hebrew, it means spirit man.

Vist Melissa's website at

Do you write the story first then research it or the other way around? How do you allow the creative process to flourish if you do the research first? Outline maybe?Joe Morgan

Research is an important part of every writing project, especially when you start getting into long stories and novellas. At the same time, though, you want your stories to read like stories, not like research papers. Personally, I feel like when I start the research too early, I end up writing to display this new knowledge, instead of writing to tell the story. I prefer to write until I come across a scene in which my characters know more than I do - then I can pause, do a bit of research, and write that scene with the proper perspective. When the scene is finished, I can go back to writing my story, at least until it happens again!

"What's the BIG thing that non-writers don't get that bugs you, and how do you set them straight?" Beth Fowler

One day I came home from work, and my partner had gone through my anthologies to read every poem of mine that he could find. And he looked at me, and he said, "I'm sorry that you're so sad." And I just didn't understand what he meant!

Too often, people read a quick cross section of my work, and assume that I must be depressed and suicidal, living my own tragedy. They don't understand that because I write about those things, those feelings, I don't have to feel them anymore. I don't write sad things because I'm depressed; I write sad things to keep myself from being depressed.

Vist Beth's website at

I guess that's it for now! Big thanks to Sabina for having me, and all her fans out there for reading! Come visit me on my social networking pages, I always love connecting with fellow literary enthusiasts, and maybe consider checking out one of my titles below for the holidays.

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