My guest today is Alan Nayes, a Texan living in Southern California. I hope you enjoy learning about his writing process!
1. When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing stories for several decades now. After I moved to southern California in the 80s I decided to take a creative writing class at a local community college. I’d written some music in college but when I realized I couldn’t sing real well—not at all actually—I switched to stories. After several failed attempts at breaking into the screenwriting business I decided I would have a better chance at novels. Not much better, but I am making progress. My mantra—every day write something—even if it’s only a grocery list.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
A little of both, I think, Jen. Before I start a novel, I know in general terms what direction the story is going to go, major plot points, and when they are supposed to happen. Having said this, however, the story never completely follows the broad outline—which is good I think—and there are always changes that spring up, either in character development or plot, that seem to take on a life of their own. That is the fun part of creating a story—fun only when it turns out to make the story better, of course. If the change becomes a deadend—well, that is what trash cans and the delete button are for. I do a lot of cursing too when this happens.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
I get words down on the page by pealing away very tiny layers of my brain and smearing them on the paper—not really, but that is what it feels like sometimes. Writing does not come easy to me. That is why I try to be very disciplined and write every day, even if it just turns out to be a page—and a crappy page at that. But words on paper or a screen are what make a novel. Once I have an idea, I try to run with it—some days I don’t run far, or fast, but other days I feel like the sprinter Usain Bolt, especially when I’m nearing the final stages of my first draft. If the story is really flowing and coming easy, I know I’m on to something.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
I’m spired by many successful authors, no one specific stands out over any others. I read their books and find myself thinking “why didn’t I write this?” I’m partially kidding—but they do inspire me to write better stories.
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
My latest project is THE LEARNER. This is the story of an alien who is sent to Earth on a mission and ends up falling in love with a human. I’ve written horror, thrillers, and romance, but always had this nebulous idea of writing a novel involving an alien being from deep space who visits us—but I never had anything specific to put down on paper. Would it be science fiction or horror or thriller or some combination of the three. I couldn’t decide so I kept shelving the idea and went on to other projects. Then one evening I was driving home late at night through the hills near my home and the road was virtually deserted. I had this weird thought of what if I suddenly looked ahead and accidently hit someone, a young beautiful woman—yeah, I know weird. I would stop, but when I went to where the person was supposed to be, she was suddenly gone. I know I hit her, yet she’d vanished! That’s when my opening scene to THE LEARNER hit me. This imaginary beauty had been an alien and she’d healed herself and then vanished because she didn’t wish to be discovered by an Earthling. After that night the story took on a tangible shape and focus. The opening scene was changed eventually to a terrible bus accident, but after that initial impulse idea, I finally had my story.
THE LEARNER Blurb: An alien from the dark side of the universe is sent to Earth on a mission. Her name is NayéLi and she’s called a Learner. When NayéLi falls in love with a human—which is against her specie’s covenants of exploration—her rulers order her to leave him. NayéLi refuses, risking not only the successful outcome of her mission on Earth, but also her life as well as the life of the man she loves.
6. Any tips for new writers?
Three words—persistence, persistence, and…persistence. Also, as long as you believe in your project you should never give up. Ideas come to you at the strangest times—don’t ignore them.
7. Any tips for old writers?
Lol. Probably the same three words. And maybe some vitamins to give you the energy to be persistent. I know I take them!
My links: Website http://anayes.com/