When I was abroad earlier this year, I got an ad from a company called Once Upon a Book Club, and they were selling a special edition of The North Wind, by Alexandria Warwick. I bought it purely based on looks alone- it remains one of the most gorgeous special edition books I own. Not only that, but the story was amazing! Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
Long before civilization, there were the gods. And before the gods, there was the earth, the celestial bodies, and air given flesh. They are the Anemoi—the Four Winds—and they have been banished to the four corners of the world.
Wren of Edgewood is no stranger to suffering. Her parents are gone. Survival is all she knows. For three hundred years, the land known as the Gray has been encased in ice, surrounded by a great barrier called the Shade, which protects the townsfolk from the Deadlands beyond.
But day by day, the Shade weakens.
Only one thing can stop the Shade's fall: a mortal woman taken captive across the barrier, bound in wedlock to the dark god who reigns over the Deadlands. He is the North Wind, the Frost King, an immortal whose heart is said to be as frigid as the land he rules.
And the time has come for the Frost King to choose his bride.
After reading it and falling in love with the story and the writing, I reached out to Alexandria Warwick and asked if she would be interested in being interviewed- she very quickly responded saying that she would love to! We had a great chat, and I encourage you all to give The North Wind and all of Warwick's other books a read- her writing style is dark and angsty and typically has a mythology element.
As always, I've linked all images of her books except the special edition TNW to my local independent bookstore- I encourage you to shop local this holiday season!
Without further ado, let's get into the interview!
Were you into writing when you were young or did that come later?
No, I was into writing. I remember I was in second grade and I made a “book club” with my friends, but we were writing books, printing them out on paper, and illustrating them. So I started writing from a very young age and that just came out of reading. I loved reading- I still love reading! But yeah, I wrote through elementary school and I really started trying to write actual novels in middle school. I never really finished a novel until high school, and that’s when I started writing longer works.
How old were you when you published your first book? What was that process like for you?
I was…27? About four years ago. So, initially, I had been going the traditional publishing route and around 2014 I started querying agents and I wrote the first book that I published, The Demon Race, in 2015, got an agent in 2016, and during that time I also wrote the first book in my YA series. But I guess as time went on, I started doing a lot of research on indie publishing and I started thinking about what I wanted for my career as a writer because I always wanted to be an author and for a long time, I went the traditional route because that’s what people know. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was seeking that validation of getting an agent and having a publisher pick up my book, it’s on a shelf at a bookstore, but the more research I did on indie publishing, the more My thought process kind of shifted and I thought “what do I really want? I want to be able to just spend all the time right and making up stories and I think I can make that happen much quicker if I go the indie publishing route.” I left my agent in January of 2018 and decided that September of that year was when the first book was going to come out. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I just decided that I was going to approach this like I was starting a small business and I understood that it was going to take time to gain traction and I was okay with that because I liked having control over everything.
Were you doing other work while you were doing that or was it solely writing? No, I had a day job. All of this was done in my spare time, time after work and on the weekends. I had to teach myself so many things and wear so many hats, so a lot of time was spent doing research and trying to figure out “how do I do this?” But I had a day job and I was writing on the side. That was the case until about a month ago, I transitioned over to writing full time. It’s definitely different- I feel like the less time I had, the more disciplined I was with that time because when I only had two hours, I had to make the most of it. But now that I have more time, it has been more of a struggle to figure out a routine and a schedule with my writing. And I’m starting to get into the swing of things now.
At what point do you think someone should call themselves an author?
If they’ve written a book, they should call themself an author. If you’re published, then you’re a published author, if you’re unpublished, then you’re an unpublished author. It’s hard to write a book, and the people who are able to finish writing a book, it’s hard and a lot of people can’t finish, so I feel like if you finish a book, you’re an author.
What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
To embrace the fact that it’s probably not going to be very good. (laughs) And to know that the most important thing is to finish the draft, you can always go back and edit but if you don’t have anything on the page, you can’t edit it. And I also say to read the types of stories that you like and want to write and analyze the structure that you enjoy reading- what captures your attention, what pulls you into the story and could you apply that to your own writing to improve your story? I read a lot and now when I read, I’m reading with my writer brain, not my reader brain, unfortunately. It doesn’t take out the joy of reading but it’s definitely different. You pay attention more but in a different way.
Who is your own favorite author and why?
My favorite author is Tamora Pierce. I started reading her books when I was in middle school and she was the reason that I wanted to become an author. When I first started actually writing novels, they were just sort of bad knockoffs of her books. She wrote a lot about young women mastering powers, becoming strong and paving the way for other young women to do these things, so that’s what I wanted to write about- I wanted to write about young women becoming really cool.
Did you find a community of writers before you published or after? I did find a community when I was going through trying to find an agent, I was spending a lot of time on the website QueryTracker and they have a forum there but people could post their queries or first pages and people could give feedback, and there was so much information about publishers, so I spent a lot of time on there. I actually still have one of my critique partners that I met there seven years ago!
Tell me about how you got a special edition copy of The North Wind with Once Upon a Book Club! It is my dream to be that cool, I’d love to have a gorgeous hardcover edition of my work in progress!
They reached out to me through my website, the book was on NetGalley and they read it and reached out to me and were interested in that book being in their romantasy box. So we just had to figure out the licensing details and stuff and they’ve been really awesome to work with! No confirmation on whether other books in the series will get the same treatment as they come out, but I’d love that. I still have three other books left to write for the series but the hope is that there will be a complete series of the special editions. They did a really good job with it!
How much research did you have to do for The North Wind?
So The North Wind is kind of based on Beauty and the Beast and Hades and Persephone and I mashed the two together because there are a lot of similarities between those two stories and I guess most of the research was trying to weave in little breadcrumbs for the Hades and Persephone myth and if you were familiar with the myth, you’d recognize the breadcrumbs, although they’re really subtle- a sentence here, a sentence there. I already did know a lot about the myth, but I had to do a little research on alcoholism, which is a pretty big theme, what is their life like, what kind of symptoms do they have, and what’s the recovery process like? But there wasn’t a ton of research because a lot of the focus was on the romance aspect. I leaned towards those tales because I write with a dark tone, my YA stuff isn’t light and fluffy either so I was like “okay, this works!”
One thing that I thought was interesting was Wren’s addiction and how different people in her life chose to handle it. How did you decide how the other characters would respond? I loved when Wren said that her sister didn’t get to use her faults as a scapegoat for her inaction.
So I guess when I’m creating characters, I think it’s really interesting when you have two characters who are like foils of each other because that really highlights the differences between them. I wanted Wren and Elora to be foils of each other, while I wanted Wren and Boreas to have a lot of similarities in their core values but how they expressed themselves was different. But when I first started writing the book, Elora wasn’t as selfish as I made her out to be but as I was writing, I realized that one of Wren’s battles was the thought that “If I’m not needed by someone, then that person is not going to choose me.” So I needed Elora to be that person for her, and that ended up with her being a really selfish person and taking advantage of Wren’s struggles.
How do you deal with rejection or criticism of your work?
When I was going through the querying process, I was attached to my email. Like, I could not go five minutes without refreshing my email. When I sent out queries, I was constantly like “oh my god, who’s gonna discover me?” For The Demon Race, I did have a very high request rate but regardless of that, some agents would get my manuscript and send out a form rejection email or just be like “that’s not for me…” and I guess over time you just kind of get used to it- you have to get to a place where you’re thinking “I care about this more than I care about getting rejected.” And then you take breaks if you feel like “no one’s ever going to love my book, I’m never going to get an agent, I’m despairing…” So I’ll take a break for a week or two if I need to and then I’ll come back feeling refreshed.
Do you read your Goodreads reviews at all?
When I first started publishing, yes, and I quickly realized that I probably shouldn’t when I was publishing my YA stuff. For The North Wind, I was up on NetGalley and I was curious about the initial response so I would look through some of the reviews just to see what people’s initial reactions were, but once the book was out, no, I didn’t check Goodreads. There will always be people who won’t like anything you put out and it’s all subjective, so I try to think that my true audience is the people who really connect with my work and feel changed after reading it. It’s a part of the business but it’s healthier for me not to check. As long as people are reading it and every once in a while, I’ll get a reader who reaches out to say they really loved the book and that makes everything worthwhile.
And there you have it! I've absolutely adored interviewing these authors so far and can't wait to share who else I've had the opportunity to talk to over the last few months, so stay tuned for that...
In the meantime, check out Alexandria Warwick and her books! I had such a great time chatting with her about her books and process!
Writers- I'd love to interview you too! Comment if you'd want to do an interview like this!