Author Interview | Author Q & A With Angie Gallion Author of Intoxic, Purgus, and Icara
Favorite Quote This is my current favorite quote, it’s from the third book in the Alison Hayes Journey, Icara. “I have always felt that I was cheated by not having a mother who was capable of mothering, but sitting with Cotton, with the heat warming around us, I realize I have had an abundance of mothers. Leslie, with her warm eyes and huge heart, who took me in when nobody else knew what to do with me. Lola, when I was in St. Louis, she cared for me like a mother, Janice at Life House, she was a mother to all of us girls. Even Vaude, Dylan’s mother, she was maybe my first other mother, all the way back when she taught me in junior high. My grandmother, Barb, who welcomed me in her home like the daughter she lost. Ina, with all of her lessens and wisdom, Vicki, sheltering me from the world in her fairy home. All of those women, those mothers, taught me the things my own mother never could.”
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a movie star, actually, I wanted to be Marily Monroe. Lucky for me that didn’t work out. Beyond that I knew I just wanted to be somebody my parents could be proud of. I was always a writer, but more for personal therapy. I was never very good about finishing stories I started until I shut off the voice in my head that said “nobody wants to read this” and guess what, somebody did want to.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book probably in junior high, it was called Jasalca Royalty and was absolutely Star Wars fan fiction. I probably still have it, somewhere, it it’s star battles and lazer guns.
How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
I was the youngest of four kids, and a little lost in the mix. I hadn’t found my “thing” by the time I was in third grade, and still felt pretty invisible in the world. My teacher asked us to turn our spelling words into a story, and I liked that, so I put some effort into it. She was impressed and asked me to read it in front of the class. She gave me both of my early loves, now that I think about it, the love of being on stage, and the love of writing. She was the first person to ever call me a writer and I have thought of myself as one ever since. It was the first time anybody outside of my family ever really noticed me.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I do something I call “Method Writing.” I very much become my central character and walk through their experiences. Sometimes, if it’s been an emotional day of writing, it’s hard for me to come back into myself and feel like me again. It’s a little crazy, almost like I’m chanelling somebody else and just transcribing their experiences. Those are the best writing days.
Do you like to create books for adults, youth and/or children? and Why?
I like to create books for people who have lived life. I like to break apart the should and look at the shards to see how that can ever be mended. I write books that have ‘real’ etched on the edges, and I try to always see all side of my characters. I thought I was writing YA, because this series is a coming of age work, but really my writing appeals to people who understand that sometimes plans go off course, that sometimes things don’t work out and you have to make the best of it. Alison Hayes, my protagonist, appeals to people who have scars.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written three book, Intoxic, Purgus, and Icara, collectively known as the Alison Hayes Journey. Purgus has a special place in my heart because a lot of very special people in my life walked with me through that book. When I published Intoxic I thought it was just something I had to do to finally finish something, but then people started reading it and asking me what came next. i didn’t know, Ihadn’t thought ahead. As more people asked I started thinking about Alison and what sort of people I hope she encountered to find a path to a better life, and people I love started populating the page, people who helped me when I was searching, people who imprinted my heart. So I started listening to Alison, i let her show me what came next, and it’s a book that I hold close.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Intoxic took about three weeks to write the first draft, and twenty five years to edit into what it is now. Purgus was a thirty day start to finish of first draft, and really very little changed through the edits. Icara took about two months, through first draft, a visit to the editor, and a second draft rewrite.
Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day to you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?
I work from the nanowrimo method, and try to write 1600 words a day. The last thing I try to think about at night is where I am in the story and what needs to happen next. Generally, I wake up with an idea of what I need to work on and I write first thing.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are all proud of what I’ve done. My husband is very supportive and has been one of my best promoters. My girls (7 and 8) are too young to read what I’ve written, but they are very proud of the attention it garners from their teachers and kids at school. They are both working on books themselves, and that makes me proud.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m a mom. I like spending time with my kids and my husband. I like talking to other aspiring writers about their journey. I’m always happy to talk to somebody about the process and why I chose to self-publish rather than seeking a traditional publishing house. I enjoy reading and do a regular blog where I highlight other small press and indie published authors that I think have done something of value. It’s on my website www.angiegallion.com and I call it Gallion Picks. There is a lot of talent and creativity in this segment of publishing and it is getting largely overlooked by the mainstream, because nobody knows it’s there. I’m trying to bring attention, one great book at a time.
What do you think makes a good story?
Relate ability. People have to be able to relate to your characters. I like stories that could actually happen. I like flawed characters, people who have scars and have made mistakes.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating/writing your books?
The most surprising thing is that people love Alison maybe even more than I do. People recognize her. They feel her in a visceral way. Also, that the voice my head, telling me nobody wanted to read it, was wrong. Yeah!
What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I love Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and World Without End because they are so beautifully normal. They are succinct (even in their magnitude) and they transport me into the world of the cathedral builders. I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series because of her attention to minute details. I love Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants because of the voice of that book. I hate zombie and vampire stuff but loved The Girl with All the Gifts because it was surprising and made me think.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do hear from readers, often times in person, and what they most often say are “what happens next” and “you made me cry.”
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I am fascinated by cross generational stories, how one generation impact the next and how we repeat the parent generations mistakes or how we blaze a trail of our own. I’m always fascinated by people who have lived through great tragedy or loss and found a way back from the ledge.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they
Read everything, you learn what works by reading what others have done, read the type of books you want to write. Then write. Write. Write. Then write some more. Don’t how to write books, just do your kind of writing your way, tell the story that speaks to you. Then get a good editor and trust them.
Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or similar events?
I do, but I’m still pretty new so the word is still spreading. I do a lot of local library Author Showcase events. I love them. I like meeting people and talking about their goals and and sharing my own experiences. I always did love being on a stage.
Tell us about your most resent book?
My most recent book, published June, 2017, is Icara, book three of the Alison Hayes Journey. At the biginning of this novel Alison is set to flee or fly and travels across country on the heels of her friend Cici, in search of a better life, or at least a soft place to land. This book spans about three years in her life and she really matures a lot. She is still seeking a path, and begins to understand that she has some demons of her own that she must confront and be responsible for as well as coming to terms with the demons others brought to share.
What’s more important: characters or plot?
I think Character is more important. At least that’s how I write. I know essentially, the arc of the book, but the character absolutely drives me through it.
How do books get published?
There are so many options for publishing these days. Of course there is the traditional path, find an agent to represent you and present your work to one of the traditional publishing houses. There are small traditional publishers that don’t require an agent, but their sphere of influence can reach is smaller. you can use a hybrid publisher, who will work with you on getting all your details right and put the book out for you (usually the author retains all rights to the work but pays a nominal up front fee). Or you can self-publish, which is what I did, which gives my a lot of control but requires me to overcome the prejudice associated with self-publishing. Self-publishing has become much more respected over the last fifteen years, but there are still people who put book out that have never even had a second look through, bought with errors and mistakes, that give this segment of the industry a bit of a bad representation.
Do you write every single day?
I don’t write every day, I often take weekends off entirely to be with my family. There are days when life just get in the way, and the writing doesn’t happen. I don’t stress about it. I write because I love to write. I set my own deadlines and those can be flexible.
Ballpoint, uniball or fountain pen?
I love a good fountain pen.
Any writing rituals?
I follow the nanowrimo method of getting it down and dealing with edits later.
What’s the worst job you’ve had?
I hated being a waitress. I wasn’t good at it and I really hated dealing with other people’s food.
Tell us some more about your book/s.
Alison Hayes is a fictional character who has walked with me since a creative writing class in college. I was invited back to the university the following year to complete a master’s program in Creative Writing and Literature, with Intoxic being the creative portion of my masters thesis. I worked really hard that next year and completed my coursework with no problem. I worked really hard on my novel that year, too, but when it came time to hand it over to a panel of professors for judgement I wasn’t ready to share. I wasn’t ready to set Alison free into the world, I wasn’t ready for her to be judged. I walked away from my masters program with my coursework complete.
I put Alison’s book in a drawer and once or twice a year I would bring it out and make changes and over the years it transformed. There is very little resemblance now to the book it started out to be. It is a much more mature book, because I have enough experience now in living to see life without being sentimental. A couple of years ago, I reread the book, and realized that I was finally ready to share it. Through sharing it with the right people and connecting with my editor, Janet Fix at thewordverve.com, we brought Intoxic to press in August of 2016. At that time I thought I was done. I had finally completed something, and for the rest of my life I could say that “I wrote a book” and be satisfied. What I wasn’t expecting were the reviews. I wasn’t expecting for people to feel about Alison the way I do, after all, she had been a part of my life for years. The most frequently asked question about Intoxic was “What happens next?” I began to realize that I needed to know too. I started listening again, to Alison in my head, and thinking about the people who could help her find a path. Once I started listening, I started writing and the second book was completed in 30 days. It was an incredible, cathartic experience, writing that book. I sent it to my editor, and, she like me, felt there was something special in Purgus, something powerful. We released it in December of 2016.
I started work on Icara in February of 2017, and all through the writing I hedged, walking with Alison up to the ledge and turning her away. I had a really hard time writing the story she was telling me, because it wasn’t what I wanted for her. I wanted this third book to show that she had found a path, that she was making good choices, and that her life was better because of it. I finished it and sent it to Janet, who said what I already knew, “You didn’t tell the story you needed to tell.” How she knew that there was conflict in me about this book I will never know. She was right, of course. Janet has incredible instincts. I got the manuscript back and did a ninety percent rewrite, and I let Alison tell her story without me interfering. It was better, much better. My editor agreed, even though it was essentially a different novel for her to edit. We released Icara in June 2017.
I am really proud of this series. I don’t know that it will ever get widespread attention, because it’s hard for people to become aware of it if they aren’t somehow in my circle. If you haven’t read my books, I hope you will. I think they are powerful. I think they will take you into canyons and lead you to flight.
When Alison Hayes walked into her storm darkened trailer the evening of her fifteenth birthday she had no idea that it will the be the beginning of a year like no other. Her alcoholic mother is passed out at one end of the trailer, having been fired from yet another job. The best of the revolving door men that they’ve ever had is on his way out, and Alison just wants to be clean.
How can she ever know how to do anything right, when everyone around her has made nothing but bad decisions?
When Alison finds herself suddenly set free to build her life out of the crumbled ruins of her childhood, she must come to terms with her own demons before she can make her way out of the charos left by her mother’s life.
Were people right to think she would follow the same road her mother traveled, or would Alison be able to forge a new path? Alison will face some of the hardest decisions of her life as she reaches out into the wide unknown world.
Alison is set to fly or flee. When she follows her friend, Cici, to Californis she hopes it will be the beginning of a new, perfect life. She has spent her days trying to do something better, trying not to repeat the mistakes made by her alcoholic and broken mother. Yet, she is haunted by the only “right thing” she has ever done being the one thing she couldn’t keep.
Can Alison create a new, charmed life in a land where nobody knows her history? Can she soar to the elusive “something better?” Or, as she fears, will the cracks in her foundation break through and send her careeening to the ground?
Are you planning to adapt any of your stories to the screen?
I have been approached by a screenwriter out of California who thought Intoxic has potential. Perhaps that is something for down the road, but right now I want to focus on having them appreciated in their first, primary form.
How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?
I am fortunate that I am not trying to support my family with my writing. I am only supporting my writing with my writing. My husband works very hard and provides us with everything we need, and gives me the ability to focus on the girls and my writing. I am beyond appreciative of his hard work and dedication to our family. Making writing a lucrative career is on par, in my mind, of breaking into Hollywood or winning the lottery. Can it happen? Sure, there are always success stories, and of course, I’d love to be one of them, but I’m not counting on it, I’m a realist. I’m going to keep writing as long as people what to read what I am writing, or until I have nothing left to say.
Any last thoughts for our readers?
Thank you for taking your time with me today. I hope you will read my books, and if you do, I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to contact me.