This week, I have something a little different for you all: an interview with Alexandra Engellmann, author of the Sky Ghosts series.
You currently have two books out on Kindle, Sky Ghosts: All For One and Sky Ghosts: Marco, both of which are part of your Sky Ghosts series. When did the idea for the series first hit you and how has it evolved since you began working on the series?
At first, it was just one scene and four characters, and the idea to turn it into a trilogy formed while I was finishing the first book. After I published it, I came up with side stories, and seeing how many scenes I had for the future books, I realized that side stories would be a great way to take some of the weight off the trilogy while keeping all clues intact. I’ve already talked about it in my interview for Leon’s Indie Fiction Blog, but here I’d like to add a few words for beginning writers, since so many of them worry about finishing their book and lack of ideas at the start. If you have an idea, and you like it, give it a chance. It doesn’t matter if you only have a couple characters and scenes. Let this idea live in your head for a while, and the story will soon snowball. It’s been almost two years since I’ve finished my work on the book one, and from the 6 scenes that I initially had in mind, I’ve got about 70 now; from one twist, I’ve got 23 for two books. And that’s just the chapter outline, I haven’t started writing yet, I’m just letting them evolve in my head.
Both books fall into one of my favourite genres of recent years, Urban Fantasy. Are there any particular Urban Fantasy authors or characters that you’ve found particularly inspire or influence you?
Actually, I wouldn’t say that I’ve read that much Urban Fantasy; just a couple of series. I didn’t really choose my story’s setting. But I can tell that Sergei Lukyanenko’s Night Watch (that was my first favorite series when I was a child) has certainly influenced me. I think that his Gesar was actually the inspiration for Peter’s character, particularly, his father-like care for his fighters and his guidance rather than taking matters in his own hands. But most of the inspiration has come from movies, DC, Marvel, Joss Whedon’s work. The sarcastic tone of these movies/series was actually what has influenced me the most. I’ve always paid more attention to characters than plotlines. Now, thanks to my restless, trouble-finding, a-bit-insane characters, I have enough turns and twists for a dozen plotlines, if I wanted to break the series into smaller novels.
You previously worked in IT for six years before making the decision to quit your day job and pursue writing as a viable income. That must have been a pretty scary decision to make. Do you have any regrets over that, or would you do it all again in a heartbeat?
You know, it wasn’t only about writing. I just found out that I could make money in a dozen different ways, and it would be enough for a living because of the dollar/ruble difference. It was the idea of showing some creativity and seeing what I could do on my own instead of working full day. The realization that I can make money doing what I love, that there’s a demand for it. I’m very happy I did it. I have full control of my life now: if I need money, I dedicate some time to work, and I enjoy it. If I have enough for now, I can focus on my writing, drawing, blogging, and I enjoy it even more. I have time for taking care of myself and my family. I know all about the possibilities out there, and getting back to day job now looks like the most cowardly decision. And just to clarify: I had a good job, a job that many young people would kill for.
Your current home is in Stavropol, Russia. If the city were to close and you were told that you could move anywhere in the world, and the Government would fund the relocation, where would it be and why?
I’d actually stay in Russia because life is cheaper here compared to most places, but I’d move closer to the sea. It’s a pain, living 5 hours away from the sea and not being able to go there that often. I like the peace of the small town, and even a small village by the sea would be enough for me now. I don’t dream about big cities anymore – they’d be distracting for my overly-anxious mind. I’d rather live in a cave with Wi-Fi than have to be a part of society.
The gates of Hell have been flung open and the world hangs on the brink of destruction. You have, by way of a clerical error, been assigned the task of forming a five person team to stand against the coming horde and fight for the continued existence of the world as we know it. Which five people, real or fictional, will you choose?
The Winchester brothers, for sure, knowing their experience. Buffy and Spike to kick some ass. And my mother to rule them all.
She could actually do it alone, but well, if it has to be five people…
Aside from writing, you are also an artist, creating not only the covers for your own books but various other works through your Patreon account. Can you tell us a little about your influences as an artist and if you have any particular artists that you aspire to equal?
I can’t say there are any influences at all – I’ve only started drawing because of my books. I wish I had more time to learn how to do it better, but not now. I do enjoy creating book covers, and working in the minimalist/1D style is my way of relaxation. Complex artwork like I did for my own books is a struggle, and my stubbornness is the only reason why I can do it. If you look at my gallery of the Sky Ghosts artwork, you’ll see how different they all are, because I work solely on inspiration to draw some new piece in some new style.
A law has been passed whereby all people are required to, when meeting someone for the first time, introduce themselves through poetry. You’ve just met a down-on-his-luck ex-policeman. Describe yourself to him using the medium of Haiku.
I’m afraid it wouldn’t come to any describing with only three lines, but I’d start like this:
It’s nice to meet you, mister
Here, have a candy
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions Alexandra. For those who wish to know more, you can find Alexandra and her work in the following places:
And of course, you purchase Sky Ghosts: All For One on Amazon.com