Interview With Author Allison Saft

Author Interview

Meet Allison Saft.

Social media links:

Hi Allison!

Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, Rae! Thank you so much for having me! I’m the author of Down Comes the Night, which is out in early 2021 with Wednesday Books. It’s a blend of YA fantasy and Gothic romance about two sworn enemies who must work together when a snowstorm traps them in a mysterious, crumbling estate. I’m inspired by real-world history and politics, vivid settings, and, honestly, anime. I was born in Philadelphia, but I’ve lived in Austin, New Orleans, and most recently, the California Bay Area. When I’m not writing, I’m usually hiking the redwoods, experimenting with new recipes, or practicing aerial silks.

The Interview.

Do you think your background in English Literature enhances or weakens your writing? Perhaps both?

When working within the conventions of a historical literary movement like the Gothic, I think a background in English Literature can be a huge boon! Gothic literature is more than just a flickering-candlelight aesthetic; understanding the economic and cultural factors that led to its popularity in the 19th century has been instrumental in telling a story that stays true to its roots while appealing to 21st-century readers.

I could see potential drawbacks to a literature background, too! When we treat novels as objects of study—as literary contraptions, as one professor of mine used to say—it can suck the joy out of them. Writing fiction, at least in the drafting stage, is a very emotional, intuitive, sometimes even spiritual practice for me; too much analysis can kill a project in its early stages. For what it’s worth, though, I think you can get roped into believing that all your academic friends will judge you if you write genre fic—or worse, young adult genre fic! But if you don’t respect what you’re working on, it won’t be any good. Besides, any friends who consider genre fic lesser aren’t worth listening to (and are missing out, honestly).

What kickstarted your writing journey and resulted in your debut, Down Comes the Night?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid in some form or another (mostly fanfiction…), but what really kickstarted my writing journey was a mentorship program called Author Mentor Match. Deadlines always motivate me, so I planned to rewrite a trunked project during NaNoWriMo 2017 and submit it to AMM in March 2018. By late November, I finished my rewrite. I printed it out, read it through, and immediately threw it in the garbage. It was entirely soulless—the book I thought I was supposed to write rather than a book I really cared about.

I didn’t have any other ideas, so I moped for about a week. Then I thought, well, what do I have to lose? Why not write something fun? Something that would capture the magic writing once had when I was a teenager with no ambitions for my work beyond entertaining my friends. Something romantic and dramatic and full of all the tropes I loved. I finished a draft of Down Comes the Night in about six weeks. I ended up getting into AMM with it, and the guidance, support, and feedback from my mentor and peers were invaluable as I revised and queried the book. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and I still count on them today!   

Name two things about Gothic literature that fascinate you.

Its relationship to the past—how it, by turns, expresses a longing to return to an unrecoverable time and stages hauntings from that which refuses to be left behind.

Its (sometimes hilariously) intense fixation on the emotional experience of the protagonist.  

As a writer, what has been your biggest struggle when drafting, revising, and editing?

Drafting: I’m a fast drafter—meaning I like to hurtle through a skeletal “draft zero” before I double back and fill in the details. Finishing that draft zero means I’m usually pretty sure a plot works in execution, but it also means the book reads almost like a screenplay. In those really early drafts, it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine how a project will come together thematically and emotionally.

Revising: Since I draft the way I do, my first revision pass is basically… actually writing the book! That’s the hardest part, although it’s the most rewarding. From there, it’s all about ironing out the details, large and small. Revising Down Comes the Night nearly killed me a few times. It has an element of mystery, and it was hard to get right. Planning out the reveals, streamlining the investigation, cutting unnecessary red herring characters, making sure everyone’s motives were clear… Tears were shed!   

Editing: The hardest thing about editing is learning to let go. I struggled with this during line edits for Down Comes the Night, and I’m struggling again during copyedits. I could tinker forever with line-level prose, but there comes a point when you have to cut yourself off and accept that you’ve done the best you can. That the book will just be different, not better, and you may do more harm than good if you start messing with things that don’t need messing with.

What makes the ideal monster?

I think a lot about “monster romances” and what makes them work. What does it mean for a character to be monstrous? What does it mean for a (physically) non-monstrous character to identify with the monster? To me, it’s notable that some of the most successful (in my opinion) monster romances are between human women who are marginalized in some way and monsters who are similarly, often wrongly, reviled. In Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, it’s significant that Miryem is Jewish—as significant as it is that her monstrous love interest, the Staryk King, rules over a fae-like people who are hated because they supposedly strike ruthless bargains and impoverish the kingdom in their endless quest for gold. It’s significant that the heroine of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is a mute woman named Elisa Esposito in love with a creature stolen from a river in Brazil.

However, I also think there are monsters who are purely reprehensible. Those that embody the ugliness in society or are clearly some cultural fear made flesh. I like them, too.

  • In terms of crumbly mansions, is there a real life mansion that you’ve visited or wanted to visit?

I’ve only ever been to the Newport mansions, which are stunning and ridiculous and the very opposite of crumbly. I’ve always wanted to see the real Allerdale Hall from Crimson Peak—but it turns out they built the entire set in the studio, which is wild to me!

What is the root of romance for you?

To me, a good romance has sizzling tension and also answers the question “why are these characters good for each other?” in a way that’s thematically satisfying.When I’m writing romance, I consider what the characters want and need individually—and how each character’s wants and needs both complement and complicate the other’s. I always try to write parallel character arcs for my romantic leads. Oftentimes, they both need the same thing; they’ve just developed different ways of coping with that lack and told themselves different stories about what exactly will make them happy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

While Down Comes the Night doesn’t come out until next year, there are some really exciting books coming out in 2020! I can tell you from experience that Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald and The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman are absolutely fantastic. Some of my most-anticipated reads are Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Barshardoust, The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson, and A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe.

Of Bells and Thorns Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal, Misc.
Of Bells and Thorns (The Rose Master #2)
Genre: YA Gothic
Release Date: November 28th 2017
REUTS Publications, LLC
Readers fell in love with Anne Tinning, a maid in 19th century London, and Lord Grey, the master of a haunted manor. THE ROSE MASTER sequel continues their journey in another hauntingly beautiful tale.
Blurb coming soon.
Previous book in the series (click on image for Goodreads link):
Summary:
The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that’s hardly the most upsetting news. She’s being dismissed from the home she’s served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she’s never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:

There’s something wrong with Rosewood Manor.

Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.

As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them–some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.

When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn’t prepared for. The creature is very real, and she’s the only one who can help him stop it.

Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she’s grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.
“In this Gothic fantasy, Cano evokes both Beauty and the Beast and Jane Eyre while creating something new and strange. Cano does a beautiful job of setting mood and atmosphere, and her characters dance around one another with relentless industry and brooding allure, fighting their inevitable attraction. This is a strong, satisfying effort.” ~Publishers Weekly on THE ROSE MASTER
About the Author
Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. She also watches over a veritable army of pets. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Of the Web.
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Dark One’s Mistress Promo

Blog Tour

DOM cover.jpgDark One’s Mistress
By Aldrea Alien
Genre: NA Gothic Romance
Release Date: October 31st 2016
Thardrandian Publications

Summary from Goodreads:

For centuries, the people have lived under the protection of their so-called Dark Lord. Now, with news of his death reaching the quiet village of Everdark, rumour whispers that his son, Lucias, is hunting for a mistress to beget him an heir.

Clara doesn’t put much stock in village gossip, until she finds herself forcibly taken to the Lord’s fortress. Escape is not easy. She has no way out and, against a man with magic, little chance of fighting back. But the Lords are still men and the death of Lucias’ father is proof that they die just the same. And yet, if Lucias dies heirless, his army will be free to terrorise the land.

Such is the goal of Lenora of Ne’ermore, an old enemy and ex-prisoner of the kingdom. She is sending a man to slaughter Lucias and, to ensure there’s no chance of an heir, his mistress must die as well.

Caught between regaining her freedom or losing it for the good of the kingdom, Clara struggles to decide her path before certain death breaches the gates.

 

Add to Goodreads

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

 

Excerpt:
A hoof scraped the ground behind her, the sound akin to the sharpening of a knife.
Clara froze, her heart thudding. Taking a deep breath, she stared at the empty road stretching ahead. She could even make out the doorway to home. Mind your own business, she reminded herself. She took a shaky step forward, steadfastly refusing to look behind her.
“You there!”
Unable to resist the cry, she whirled about to face them. The carriage, its black panels naught but a darker patch within the shadows, stood on the other side of the junction. One of the horses stamped a shaggy foreleg, the other bobbed its head as if in reply. How she hated the beasts. Unlike the dogs and cats she was more familiar with, horses always seemed to have a superior glint in their eyes, as if they were secretly laughing at everyone.
The driver gently pulled on the reins, stilling the creatures. He leant forward in his seat. Piggish eyes, dark like little coals, peered down at her. His lips twisted into a sneer. “She’ll do.”
Clara didn’t fancy waiting to find out why she’d do and what for. Dumping her burden, she ran down the street, racing for the shadowed doorway leading to safety.
The clatter of hooves followed her. Black horseflesh ran alongside her, then fast pulled ahead to let the carriage trundle even with her.
She glanced at the shut doors and grimy windows of houses flanking her other side, madly searching for a closer haven. Sudden movement on the edge of her vision drew her attention back to her pursuers. She caught only the briefest flash of a horse sliding to a halt right in her path before crashing into the beast, forcing the air from her lungs.

 

Teaser1.jpg

 

aldrea alien.jpgAbout the Author
Mother. Animal lover. Vampire. Fangirl.

Aldrea Alien is a New Zealand author of romantic speculative fiction of varying heat levels.

She grew up on a small farm out the back blocks of a place known as Wainuiomata alongside a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they’re just as human as the next person (especially the cats). She spent a great deal of her childhood riding horses, whilst the rest of her time was consumed with reading every fantasy book she could get her hands on and concocting ideas about a little planet known as Thardrandia. This would prove to be the start of The Rogue King Saga as, come her twelfth year, she discovered there was a book inside her.

Aldrea now lives in Upper Hutt, on yet another small farm with a less hectic, but still egotistical, group of animals (cats will be cats). She still hasn’t yet found an off switch to give her an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind, a list that grows bigger every year with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first. It’s a lot of people for one head.

Author Links:
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