#LoveOzYA Author Q&A With Alysha King
Alysha is an Indie author with two books currently published and another five at least in the works. Her background in languages and linguistics has come in rather handy with her writing, allowing her to develop a whole new language for her current series, The Rose Chronicles. When she's not writing or reading, she cosplays with her two kids, adding steadily to her over-stuffed costume cupboard.
Welcome to the LoveOzYA blog, we’re so happy to have you here!
Let’s go back to the beginning…have you been telling stories since you were a kid or was writing something you fell in love with as an adult?
I've been a lifelong story teller. I remember wandering around the backyard when I was in primary, coming up with stories and running through scenes in my head. Some I’d write down, others I’d discard, but the stories never stopped coming. This was pretty much how I came up with the initial idea for The Rose Chronicles. I was camping over on an island near our hometown in QLD during the 2000 Olympics and I spent the entire weekend climbing the rocks down by the beach, constructing my characters and basic plot in my head. It was then that I knew I had to write that book.
Tell us about your new book.
The Dragon's Heart is the second in my YA fantasy series, The Rose Chronicles. It follows on from the first book, The Order of the Rose, and the main character, Carey Lee. It’s all magic, adventure, evil Empire, and prophecies with a little romance thrown in. I don’t want to say too much given it’s the second book in the series, but I’ve had some fantastic responses to it so far so you can bet it’s going to get to you.
Did you have a favourite OzYA book when you were growing up?
I loved Looking for Alibrandi. It’s still one of the only YA contemporary books I genuinely adore simply because it feels incredibly authentic and probably because it reminds me exactly of what it was like at high school in Australia. I also really enjoyed the Tomorrow When the War Began series. I read those as they were released and they were huge at our school.
Did you have anyone that encouraged your love of books, reading and writing when you were younger?
My grandmother Nancy was the biggest reader and she would always have something for me to read at her place. That’s where my love of Enid Blyton started. With regards to my writing, I started when I was 15 and I’ve never had anyone in my life who wasn’t been supportive of it - my music teacher in grade 11 and 12 would even let me bring my massive foolscap binder in to write when I had nothing else to do!
What do you think sets Australian YA stories apart from those set internationally?
For me it’s the humour and authenticity that really sets us apart. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and that bleeds through into what we write. Just thinking of writers like Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann – there’s just that underlying current that make me feel like they’re just having fun with it all and it’s that which make reading their books so much more enjoyable.
Do you have a favourite bookshop or library?
I love my local Harry Hartog in Woden, Canberra. The way they’ve designed it makes it all so cozy that I wouldn’t mind curling up in a corner of it and reading all day.
What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky. I absolutely adore this series by Mackenzi Lee and this one had me howling with laughter. It’s only a novella, but honestly, I would go back and read it again and again. It’s funny, awkward, and genuinely so sweet.
Aside from writing, what else do you like to do to explore your creativity?
I cosplay with my kids for one. We’ve been cosplaying at our local con for the past 5 years and it’s so much fun. I also design and sew clothes for myself, sketch and draw when I have a spare moment, love photography (although I haven’t had much time for that recently!), and make the odd YouTube video. My husband will tell you that my list of creative hobbies is perhaps a little mind-boggling, but if I see something that looks fun to make, I just have to try it out!
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?
Oh man, good question. Best piece would be how to not get overwhelmed with the madness that is writing an actual book. Look at the trees, not the forest – take one chapter at a time, one paragraph at a time. Do that and you’ll soon have a whole book. If you try to tackle it as a whole, the sheer volume of work and expectation will drown you fast and it’s not a fun feeling.
The worst piece… I honestly can’t think of a single bad piece of advice I’ve received with regards to writing. I’ve always taken any advice with a grain of salt and I’ve learnt something from every piece, regardless of whether it was relevant or not. I think I’ve been pretty lucky that way!
What do you love about OzYA?
Like I said before, the humour and authenticity I feel when reading aussie YA really sets it apart and I love it when I come across a story that I can connect with because of it. It’s really just that feeling of not taking things too seriously that I adore. That said, when things do get serious, it’s believable. It’s not stylised or romanticised which I find so often in YA and I really appreciate that style of writing.