YEM Author Interview: Alma Alexander chats about her book Cybermage

Alma Alexander is the author of Cybermage. Cybermage follows Thea Winthrop as she comes into her new powers. The novel explores tragedy, betrayal, as well as friendship. YEM was able to speak with Alma about her inspiration for Cybermage, her writing process, and her favorite part of writing for young adults.

Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first know you wanted to become a writer?

Alma Alexander: I did not “want to become” a writer. I was always a writer. I taught myself to read at age 4; my first preserved poem was written at age 5, my first (bad betginner) novel at age 10, my first decent novel at age 14.  It isn’t a matter of becoming. It’s who I *am*.

YEM: Cybermage as well as the rest of books from the Worldweavers series has many magical elements, What was the inspiration for this?

Alma: Part of it I drew from the mythos of the American Southwest – Coyote the Trickster is a character in this and he has become one of my favourites amongst all the characters I’ve ever written. Part of it was inspired by Nikola Tesla and his improbable life. A lot of it came whole cloth out of my own imagination. I live in weird worlds inside of my head.

YEM: Have you always had a creative imagination to be able to create books such as Cybermage?

Alma: Yes.

YEM: What is your writing process like, and how long does it take for you to write a book?

Alma: ..For which book? Every book is different. I once wrote a 200,000 word novel in less than three months. Another one, just over half that size, took me a year to finish. It entirely depends on the context and the subject matter. And sometimes when i am sitting at the computer staring into space… I am ALSO writing. The process isn’t just typing words on the page, they have to be created and woven inside my head first which can take its own time…

YEM: Why do you choose to write books that are series? Do you like creating books that continue into each other?
and do you have all of the series planned out before you start or does it come to you as you write?

Alma: I do not choose stories, stories choose me. Sometimes they happen to come in a series, and sometimes they do not. It isn’t something I plan, really. That said, my historical fantasies (Secrets of Jin Shei, Embers of Heaven, Empress) all take place in the same background of an alt-history world even though they aren’t strictly speaking a “series”. I take connections where I can find them.

YEM: What do you hope your readers can take away from reading your book?

Alma: You know, all a writer can hope for is that they have created a world that a reader wants to linger in and characters about whom the reader cares. Beyond that, it is up to destiny, really. I do not control what individual readers might bring with them to any given book and those readers, all of them, will find something different in that book, sometimes surprising me with what they find. But I do not write to “teach”, or to “entertain”, or otherwise to any kind of market. I write for the readers to find me. Really, the best that a writer can hope for is that what the reader takes away from reading one of their
books is a desire to read the next one.

YEM: What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author one day?

Alma: Read voraciously, practise writing a lot and realise that your first drafts are not unalloyed gold and take advice as to how they can be improved, and do not succumb to the hubris of thinking that your work is ready for the world before it really is because you will be doing yourself no favours. When you’re ready to take the step from being a writer to being a published author, carefully consider your choices and if you fall on the side of self publishing for the love of all that is holy make sure your book is professionally edited and spend a bit of money on a decent formatter and as good a cover artist/designer
as you can get for what you can spend on one. Most people think they can do design for book covers with their eyes closed. The book covers designed by people who think so but are wrong definitely look like there were closed eyes involved…

YEM: What is your favorite part of writing for a young adult audience?

Alma: Young readers have no polite filters installed like adults to. When they hate your work they will let you know and when they love it they will astonish you with their enthusiasm and devotion. I am still in touch with several young readers who picked up my books when they were young teenagers and who are now in grad school and STILL reading what I write. That is a vote of confidence that I cherish…

YEM: Do you have a favorite line or quote in Cybermage?

Alma: I seriously love all of that book – it is the heart of this series. I might quote you ALL of it if you let me. But you do have to start at
#1, “Gift of the Unmage”, and #2, “Spellspam”, before you get to the third book in this series…

YEM: What are you planning on writing in the future?

Alma: I have several things that have been bubbling but my life in recent years has been complicated by caregiving for loved ones and then a lot of grief and loss. I haven’t been doing a great deal of writing in that period. I hope to go back to it. Soon. I”ll pick a project and run with it, at that time…

Follow YEM on Twitter to see Alma Alexander take over our account!