Writer’s Desk: Alyssa Roat
Alyssa Roat lives in the cornfields of Indiana, but she hopes to soon discover a portal to a fantasy world where she will run a bookshop for magical creatures. Stay tuned. For now, she is a multi-published author and has worked in a wide variety of roles within the publishing industry as an agent, editor, writer, and publicist. She has two black cats who allegedly have never been fed in their lives and occasionally help her write by walking across the keyboard.
More about Wraithwood
An estranged uncle, a mysterious mansion, and Arthurian legend—together they lead to a world of magic and bloodthirsty wizards who want teenage Brinnie dead.
Brynna “Brinnie” Lane has always lived a quiet life under the watchful eye of her hovering mother—until she’s sent off for the summer to live with an uncle she didn’t know she had. While her parents get to travel across the globe, she’ll be spending three months in the middle of nowhere: upstate New York. It looks like she might spend the entire summer friendless with her nose in a book.
However, she soon finds that Wraithwood Estate, her uncle’s creepy old mansion, holds as many secrets as the man himself. When Brinnie is warned not to explore any of it, her curiosity only grows. As unnatural events take place and Brinnie hears whispers of a hidden war, she must unravel the truth about her family’s mysterious past if she wants to survive.
Something terrible happened at Wraithwood thirty years ago, and Brinnie is determined to find out what—even if it means confronting the possibility that magic is real.
Q&A with Alyssa Roat
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
AR: Like most individuals, I brush my teeth twice daily. Sometimes more, if I’m feeling adventurous.
TG: Where did you get the inspiration for Wraithwood?
AR: I grew up reading lots of old British children’s fantasy—Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, E. Nesbit, Diana Wynne Jones, Brian Jacques, and of course Narnia. I loved the mix of whimsy, danger, darkness, and hope, and the sense of the fantastical in the everyday. One day, for my own enjoyment, I sat down to write something similar in tone. Things got a little out of hand, and I ended up with a YA contemporary fantasy trilogy. But it all started with the idea of a mysterious mansion, an estranged uncle, and a summer filled with strange, possibly magical mysteries.
TG: Do you have any habits or rituals as a writer?
AR: I wish I could say I did, but life tends to be so busy, I write whenever and wherever I can. I tend to do my best writing late at night, laptop in my lap, snuggled in bed while everyone else is asleep. The liminal space of the late night, when time ceases to have meaning and I feel like the only soul in the world, provides a low-pressure environment ripe for creativity.
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be a more productive writer?
AR: Whatever works best for you! Some people do well with goals and deadlines. Some thrive on short writing sessions daily, while others do better writing for hours uninterrupted once a week. Find what works best for you and do that.
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
AR: Coffee. I love my coffee.
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
AR: Usually, I look at my looming deadline, realize I don’t have time for writer’s block and push through. Publishers are great for that!
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
AR: I edit as I go, and sometimes circle back to edit certain sections if I come up with something in a new section and want to foreshadow or change an element. It tends to make for a much easier edit once the first draft is complete.
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
AR: Focusing too much on one story. It often takes many finished manuscripts before your writing voice is honed and ready to share with the world. Don’t be afraid to set aside your book baby and work on other projects. You can always come back to it later once you have more experience, other publications under your belt, and/or some time away to look at the project with fresh eyes.
TG: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
AR: Learn the rules before you try to break them—be that in genres, tropes, sentence structure, wording… Beginning writers break the rules because they don’t know any better. Good writers follow the rules. And great writers know when to (sparingly) break the rules on purpose. (And the best way to figure out what those rules are is to read current books in your genre—lots of them!—that have been recently published.)
TG: What is coming up next for you?
AR: After the third and final book in The Wraithwood Trilogy releases in March 2023, Hope Bolinger and my fourth and final book in the co-authored Roseville Romances sweet Christian romance series with release in August 2023, and our chat fiction YA novel based on Greek mythology, Dear Hades, will release October 2023. After that, for the first time since graduating from college three years ago, I won’t have any more books under contract. I’m looking forward to taking some time to really dive into my love of speculative fiction and experiment with my writing.