Today RA Lewis, a YA fantasy writer, tells us about her writing:
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about eight years old. I couldn’t stop writing and telling stories. When I was twelve, I wrote my first book in my head while on a trip and then went home and wrote it down. But then college and life expectations saw me going into a career that drained me of all creative drive, so for a long time I barely wrote. About nine years ago I started doing Nanowrimo and that helped me to rediscover my love of writing. And in January of 2019 I took the plunge and began publishing. My style has absolutely changed over the years, and the more I write, the better I get at writing. It truly is a craft and skill that you hone. What keeps me writing is that I have stories that need to be told, I love writing, and I want to do this full time.
I had some traumatic things happen when I was young, and as a child, I used stories as a way not only to make sense of what I was going through but as an escape. I have an extremely active imagination that began when I was very young and I’ve never lost the knack of using it. I still use storytelling as both an escape and a way to make sense of my life.
I write Fantasy, primarily, although occasionally I branch into Dystopian or Post-Apocalyptic. My first book was a NA Fantasy but since then I’ve written mostly Young Adult Fantasy novels.
I collect ideas for my writing from a number of places. You always have to make sure you are refilling your creative well. And I do that in a number of ways. I read other books, listen to podcasts and music, watch TV and movies, get outside in the woods and let my imagination run wild, or go to a coffee shop and people watch. All of these often spark story ideas which then go into my idea notebook for later use.
My main characters often contain a piece of me in them. My last main character shared a panic disorder with me. The one before that had some shared experiences with me. My new main characters (they are twins) each have a piece of me in them. I can’t write about something or someone I don’t identify with or understand.
As for settings, my Fantasy novels are almost always set in made-up worlds. But my apocalyptic and dystopian novels almost all take place in the Pacific North West, which is where I’m from.
Parts of my novels will get people thinking, and all of my novels are an adventure. I want my novels to be an escape for people, with just enough of an emotional roller coaster to keep them coming back for more.
My writing routine has recently changed and so far, it has been amazing for my productivity. I write every night, at least 5-6 days a week from about 8:30pm until 10:30pm or 11pm. My husband is asleep by then, the house is dark and quiet, and I can just get into the zone without any distractions. I write in my office at my desk primarily, but occasionally I’ll write at work, or head to a coffee shop or a book store to write.
What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I adore writing the first draft. Sometimes I get impatient and want the story to be done, but I love the discovery of the first draft. I don’t like editing quite as much.
What is the hardest part of being a writer?
The business side of things is definitely harder than the writing part, but I’m learning and enjoying the learning part!
And here’s RA Lewis on reading:
I am an avid reader of both fantasy, adventure, dystopian, and apocalyptic books. I absolutely believe that a writer has to be a reader. How else will you know how your story holds up against other stories? Or what the popular tropes are in your genre? Or what will appeal to readers? If you are writing just for yourself and you never plan to publish, then it is not as important to be a reader, but when publishing it is imperative to read.
I love reading. I have spent almost my entire life with my nose trapped in a book. I get through about one book a month, usually audio books these days as I’m very busy, so it can take me a few weeks to finish a book.
I read primarily Fantasy of some kind, but I do also read dystopian, adventure, apocalyptic, sci-fi, and a few others I’d dabbled in. But Fantasy truly does have my heart.
I find new books by looking around a bookshop or looking at those that are recommended by Facebook reader groups or by friends. When I’m choosing a book, the cover has to catch my eye first. Then I’ll read the blurb. I prefer longer books and I don’t mind if it’s a stand-alone or part of a series, depending on my mood at the time.
There are more books on my TBR than I could ever read in a lifetime but I would like to see more books with LGBTQIA+ characters in it. I’d also like to see more books with plus sized characters. And books where the main love story isn’t romantic but platonic or familial. I want heart-warming stories that are an escape.
The things that really put me off books are choppy writing style, or if the world or characters don’t pull me in after the first chapter or two.
I don’t have an all-time favourite because there are just so many amazing books, and it certainly does change over time. But if I had to list my top favourites, it’d be these:
Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix, Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Gentleman Bastards Series by Scott Lynch, and A Darker Shade of Magic series by V.E. Schwab.
There are SO many more, but these are some of my top favourites.
All of these books made a big impact on me, but one book is what made me really fall in love with reading and Fantasy: Ronia, Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren. I loved that it’s a rollicking adventure full of love and friendship.
It's been lovely hearing your ideas today.
I’ve enjoyed myself, too. Thanks so much, Trish.
To find out more about RA Lewis and her books, take a look here:
Facebook Readers Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1195756157302077/
Newsletter Sign up: http://eepurl.com/gfgIaD
Links to my books
And here are some of the books mentioned: