7 Questions With Author Alexis Leia
Alexis Leia is a 23-year-old author from a small European country who just recently became a self-published author. Her debut novel, “If You Come Back” follows two young people who grew up together in the same foster home. Life decided to separate them a decade ago, but a strange set of circumstances brings them back together. Chris, the hero, is a broody, tall, dark, and handsome type you’d love to hate and hate to love.
Still, just like the heroine, you’d be unable to resist him. Selene, the heroine, a newly elected mayor of their hometown, is the type of girl you’d love to have as your friend. Not to mention the supporting characters, who’d have you laughing out loud with their antics. Equally emotional and light, If You Come Back is written to emphasize the importance of love for the path we all take at least once in our lifetime: redemption.
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Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Oh, how I wish I could say I’m a plotter, but in reality – I am such a pantser! It’s like the part of my brain dedicated to writing immediately decides to enter a looong creativity block whenever I decide ‘okay, I’m going to write for at least two hours today’.
I guess my creativity can’t be restricted by deadlines and carefully elaborated plans. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to be a self-published author, instead of searching for some publishers. The other reason is the difficulty to find a publisher who’d respect your budget, creative processes, and wishes. The third reason: I’ve got 99 problems, and money is one.
What’s your definition of the first draft?
I go by a simple logic: write as if nobody is ever going to read your book. If you start overthinking how a reader would react to your writing, the plot, the characters and all of it combined, you’re in for a rough ride consisting of anxiety attacks, frantic editing, and basically rethinking your entire life. So, the first draft would be a carefreely written, grammatically incorrect, oftentimes illogical mess. You know it’s true.
It should be a raw product of your imagination which you enjoyed writing, instead of burdening yourself with how a potential reader would react. All the other drafts are meant for overthinking. For the moment being, enjoy what you wrote and be proud of yourself for accomplishing what the majority of the population can’t.
What are some common stereotypes related to the genre you’re writing in?
The romance genre is one of the most popular among readers. Sure, the general idea is a couple looking for their happiness, facing some (un)predictable challenges, and finding eternal love. Let’s face it – we all want that kind of undying love. However, people who haven’t read romance or were unfortunate enough to stumble upon some really bad books, are now hardcore skeptics who perceive romance as cheesy, predictable and sometimes downright uncomfortable. So let me list and deny some of the most common misconceptions:
1) Sex. No, not every romance book needs to have sex scenes. Personally, I prefer reading and writing them, simply because I find it a great way to elevate the connection between the characters. In addition to that, if we’re being super-realistic, sex is an important aspect of relationships. If you only perceive it as a bodily release, of course it’d be uncomfortable to read some of the books. If you see it as something more – a sign of sexual attraction or/and love – it can be a great addition to the plot.
2) Happily ever afters. No, not every romance book has to have a happy ending. I love HEAs, both in reading and writing, but if your personal preference aims towards a cliffhanger or absolute separation of the characters, you can find such books too. Also, not every HEA has to be unrealistic as in ‘and they lived happily ever after’. There are amazing books with great epilogues that offer a glimpse into the future, where characters are still very much real people with real challenges. ‘THE END’ doesn’t signify an ending, but a beginning you’re left to imagine.
3) Romance is not equal to erotica. I absolutely love to read a good erotica book here and there, but to think every romance book is erotic is another misconception. This confusion has to do with the first stereotype I’ve mentioned. The definition of erotica is “any literary or artistic work that deals substantively with subject matter that is erotically stimulating or sexually arousing but it is not pornographic”. The definition of romance says such literary art “places its primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people”. You can often find books overlapping in genres, but in general – no, they’re not the same.
4) Romance authors are either inexperienced in love or live in a dreamland. Dudes and dudettes… Fact is, as I’ve already mentioned, we all want this undying love that’s capable of surviving all the obstacles, unflattering personal traits, and life’s challenges. Most often, our personal experiences teach us what to run away from and what to search in people. A good romance book can even be a great lesson in life, so don’t be quick to judge! As for the dreamland… romance authors are probably one of the most realistic people I’ve met. We simply believe in love!
5) Romance books aren’t complex at all. This is probably my favorite stereotype I’ve encountered. To glorify one genre over the other is to underestimate the authors of both. I’m a fan of Tolkien’s work. The genre is fantasy, and I’m amazed how one man could create an entire literary universe (including imaginary languages!) and gain so much popularity.
A human mind is truly a magnificent place, capable of wondrous achievements. However, despite your personal preferences, it’s important to realize it’s equally difficult to write a book in every single genre, especially when it comes to human character. There are romance authors out there, especially in the romantic suspense genre, who can turn your world upside down with the complexity of the plot and characters. Give it a shot, people. You’d be surprised.
6) Romance is for women only. You’d be surprised at how many men would be willing to give it a shot. Although there are some gender-based preferences, I don’t believe in ‘sticking only to what you know’. That would imply women should stick to romance and “gentler” genres, while men should only read crime and horror novels. Hell no, people! Let’s be diverse. One of the heroines in a book I read lured hey boyfriend into reading Twilight by promising him there’ll be lots of sex. Sneaky and cunning, but effective. If it sounds stupid but it works, it ain’t stupid!
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your journey?
Don’t expect too much. It’s the same advice I’ve been trying to follow ever since I decided to go public with my writing, and I’m more-or-less sticking to it. Of course, it’s hard to accept the fact that people won’t hear of you overnight and that you have to invest a lot of time into reaching out to people to actually give your book a shot. It can be frustrating at best and depressing at worst.
So, Alexis – and every other author out there – don’t expect miracles. Not saying it can’t happen, but it takes a lot of time and dedication. Also, don’t expect to make a fortune. Keep in mind writing is your passion, and if you’re doing it for profits only… Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t bet on driving a Ferrari anytime soon if I were you.
What would you do if you wouldn’t be writing?
Maybe I’m still too young and naïve, but I believe my career and writing aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m a political scientist by education, which is the field it’s easy to imagine myself in. In addition to that, I’m an English language lecturer who tries her best to transfer knowledge onto people who need it. I try to combine my knowledge with my career choices, and there are many!
How do you manage to juggle life and writing?
As I said in the beginning, I’m such a pantser. I go with the flow and write when inspiration strikes. However, life IS the main source of my ideas. A conversation I overhear, my own experiences, people I’ve met, dreams I’ve dreamt, even dialogues happening only in my mind are the main source of inspiration.
When it comes to obligations, I always do what I absolutely must, and then I switch to writing. In the meantime, any idea I have always ends up written in my phone notes or even napkins. You can never miss out on a good idea!
How do you imagine your target reader?
A person who’s willing to go through an emotional journey. An individual who loves escapism or simply enjoys getting drawn into a story full of relatable characters and easy-to-imagine settings. One who loves happy endings and is ready to laugh, cry, frown and even get annoyed sometimes. Someone who isn’t afraid of OTT situations, because – contrary to popular belief – life is full of those.
What should readers expect from your next novel?
Laughter, humor, action, and romance. If you think those four categories are unmixable, think again! The story revolves around Chastity and Xander, two New Yorkers who are forced to work together in the same bounty hunting/private investigations company.
Chas is there to teach Xander a very important lesson; looks are deceiving, and people who look least like it can kick your ass the hardest, especially the people you want the most. Xander is there to teach Chas something important as well; it’s okay to give yourself in to someone else, to someone who earns your trust and watches your back every step of the way.
I pay a lot of attention to supporting characters, and as you get to know them, you’ll want to read their stories too. Luckily, this will be a series of standalone novels – each character gets their own story. As for the main characters… they’ll make you laugh, swoon, frown, maybe even cuss. But you’ll love them anyway.
Find Alexis here:
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And check out Lost in Amber: An Out Of This World Paranormal Romance if enjoy girl power, adventure & a toe-curling love story.
She just wanted to mope over her breakup but the universe had other plans for Zoey Mills.
Read the full blurb here.