Allison Maruska is a writer and blogger whose debut novel The Fourth Descendant has been on Amazon best seller lists since April.
Which is impressive in itself, but even more impressive when you realise the book was only released in February…
Firstly, thank you for agreeing to the interview, Allison. I know you’ve just started watching The Walking Dead so I appreciate you wrenching yourself away! Any favourite characters so far?
Thank you for hosting!
I just started season 3 today! There’s something to be said for putting off a show for a long time. None of this have to wait a week between episodes nonsense.
Favorite character…hmm. I like Daryl a lot but I think everyone does. I’m really drawn to Glenn. He was pretty vanilla for a while but has stepped up to the plate in recent (to me) episodes. And I keep an eye on the internet so I know something is up with him in the current season. NO ONE MAY SAY ANYTHING!!
Ok, I think we better move on. I’m worried I’m going to say something I shouldn’t (and then get angry emails..!) So you started your blog in 2012 as a humour blog, how did that come about? Had you always been interested in writing?
I kind of stumbled into blogging. I was on vacation with my family and couldn’t sleep one night because I had a funny story in my head. So I hopped onto my computer and wrote it down, then decided I wanted to share it. That turned into almost daily humor posts about parenting, teaching, or whatever else came to me.
I was perfectly happy just being a blogger for a year, until the idea for my first novel popped into my head.
It’s funny because my route to, well, wherever exactly we are (!) was the opposite – I wrote novels/short stories first, then started blogging. So how did you approach writing your first novel?
How did I approach it….let’s say blindly. Ha.
I had three characters in my head for a long time – maybe a year. They were siblings. I tried putting them into five different stories. They all sucked. Then as I was at work one day, their story randomly came to me. It turned into a YA trilogy, the first of which is with a small publishing house (hence the lack if specific story details).
I say novel writing happened blindly because I attacked it backwards – I wrote the book, then learned best practices for writing a book. Fortunately, I’ve been an avid reader my whole life so I had a sense of flow and plot points already. The importance of writers being readers cannot be overstated.
Yes, I agree. And it’s interesting what you say about a sense of flow and plot points, as I think in a way that’s more important than obsessing over the ‘rules’ before starting. It reminds me of that Stephen King idea of ‘absorbing’ the rules of grammar.
So, how do you structure your writing time? Would you say you’re strict or fairly relaxed?
I’m still restructuring, as I’ve only been a “full-time writer” for a week. But my most productive hours are in the morning. I set small goals, and they aren’t always about my own writing. Sometimes it’s writing a critique for a CP or chatting with another author about their project. Once I get used to this schedule, I plan to read for fun much more frequently.
Sounds good. So in terms of blog posts, are you finding you need to schedule them in advance now, or are you writing whatever comes to you and uploading it there and then?
I usually post and publish as I get ideas, but sometimes I schedule ahead if there are two close together (like a short story and a writing post in the same day).
I’ve never mastered publishing at the same time every week thing. It stressed me out when I tried – instant writer’s block!
Yeah, same here. I’ve given up trying to post things on a schedule now! Congratulations on your books The Fourth Descendant and Drake and the Fliers by the way, the reviews are really great. How are you finding the whole promoting/marketing ‘thing’?
Thanks! Descendant has found its groove, for which I am grateful. I don’t have to promote it much anymore and still have good sales with it. Drake is still brand new, and it’s in a totally different genre, so I’m having to do more to establish myself as a YA author. The story is solid and original, so it should catch on eventually.
I don’t know if you’ve had to build a campfire before, but I’ve found that to be a good analogy for marketing. You have to set up the fuel just right, and then the kindling just right, and then hope the kindling lasts long enough to light the wood and create a sustainable fire. Sometimes things just don’t cooperate and getting the thing going is a lot more work than it should be. But if the fuel is good quality (content) and the kindling does its job (initial marketing strategies) the fire (consumer interest) will catch and burn with little intervention from you. I’m still working on getting Drake the right kindling.
That’s where the analogy ends. I don’t want to promote book burning.
Haha! Yeah, historically book burning has been kind of… well, let’s say ‘frowned upon’…
Thank you again for agreeing to the interview Allison, it’s been really interesting. And congratulations again on the success of your books!
Thanks for hosting! This has been a fun interview.
You can find Allison at: