Brand new author Alexandra Gardner is one of our own here at the King County Library System! By day, Alex serves our library patrons in southeast King County, but by night she's been feverishly building a magical world of her very own. She's recently published her first novel, King's Chaos, a teen fantasy romp that kicks off what is sure to be an epic series. First, we'll learn a little bit about the author and her very first published book. Then, we'll talk about her writing process and what we can expect to see from her next.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I enjoy writing new adult fiction, specifically of the paranormal and high fantasy genres. My reading and writing interests include gods, demigods, chaos, cheeky dialogue, action, adventure, and slow-burn romance. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English, a minor in Writing, and a Masters in Library and Information Science. I enjoy jitter-inducing coffee, have two cats that like to impede my writing, and know far too many anime quotes.
Tell us a little bit about your book:
King's Chaos is about the infamous Sibyl of myth and legend. Hunted for her power, Sam is constantly on the run, ducking and dodging spells, potions, and magical energy blasts. But then the unthinkable happens: she's saved by the enemy--or so Evander says. Things get worse when his boss, Jeph, discovers her hiding in his compound and the ancient magic of Chaos pulls Jeph and Sam backward through time. Now, they'll be forced to work together to stay alive.
What inspired you to begin writing?
For as long as I can remember, books have fascinated me. From the time I could write coherently enough to do so, I was crafting my own stories. Heck, in the 1st grade, I wrote my own illustrated version of The Little Mermaid for a project. Since then, I've collected an array of unfinished original and fan-fiction stories, outlines, and even character designs--complete with sketches! Believe it or not, I convinced myself I wanted to be a dozen different things when I grew up, none of which included writing. Thankfully, I came to my senses in the 9th grade after reading and falling in love with the Twilight saga. That's right--Twilight. Since then, I've read over 1,300 books in my pursuit of bettering my reading, comprehension, and writing skills. Now, people can barely tear me away from my laptop--no, really. It goes everywhere with me.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Style and the ability to tell a story well. While grammar is important, a good editor will help an author fix their errors. An even better editor will catch plot holes and logical fallacies long before the novel hits the press. Ultimately, however, it's up to the author to tell the story and tell it well. Style plays a big role in getting and keeping a reader's attention. Bland sentences might get the job done, but variation is the key to holding your audience's attention. Long sentences, short sentences, compound sentences, the knowledge of how to properly use grammar--and then purposely breaking those rules beautifully. Style also factors into world-building and immersion. But no matter how good your style or grammar, a story is a bland story if it doesn't flow or make sense--if the characters don't make sense. If your reader doesn't relate to, or invest in, something in your book--the characters, the plot, or the goal--then you're not doing your work justice.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
There are secrets galore throughout my series. For example, anyone who knew me growing up will pick up on subtle nods to some of my childhood passions and hobbies. Besides inside jokes and actual phrasing I've been known to say--a lot--there are also a lot of "Easter Eggs" hidden throughout about characters, events, and more that will appear in the series later on. If a person, place, or event is mentioned more than once, you very well might see it/them pop up in a future novel. The foreshadowing is strong in this series.
How many unpublished or partly finished books do you have, and what can we expect to see from you next?
Currently, I have eleven manuscripts drafted and three half-manuscripts started. Four additional manuscripts are outlined and waiting to be fleshed out. Don't ask me how many additional ideas/series I have planned; I might cry there are so many. That said, the second book in the Light of Chaos series is fully drafted and just one read-through away from being passed onto my editor for publication in March 2020. Visit agardnerbooks.com for more news and updates on the series.