Welcome to Day 5 of the Espionage blog tour!
Today, I'm happy to welcome A.L. Sowards to The Book Bug as part of the Espionage blog tour. (For a full list of tour events, click here).
Now you have two chances to win a copy of Espionage! Enter my giveaway here and then enter I Am A Reader, Not A Writer's giveaway for another chance to win!
Book Bug: Tell us a little about yourself.
A.L. Sowards: I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Moses Lake, Washington. Then I came to Utah to attend school and ended up staying. Books have always been an important part of my life. I remember writing self-illustrated storybooks at my grandparent's house when I was in elementary school (none of those made it to publication for many good reasons) and attending my first writer's conference when I was in third grade.
Another big part of my early life was swimming. I swam for the Big Bend Manta Rays, the Moses Lake Manta Rays, Moses Lake High School, and Brigham Young University. In addition to swimming, I studied Political Science and English at BYU.
Now I'm a busy mom of twin toddlers. I still love to read and I also love to write. I'm usually reading a couple books at once and working on multiple writing projects too. Other than that, my life is pretty ordinary. I'm grateful for that. I'll let the characters in my books have all the adventures.
Book Bug: That's why books are the best! Still get the adventure but from the safety of our own homes!
What can we expect from your books?
A.L. Sowards: A little mystery, a little history, a little romance, and a lot of action, adventure, and suspense. Primarily, I write to entertain. I also hope my books will teach readers something new about history or about life (anything from the wisdom of wearing your seatbelt to the truth that it's never too late to change). You will find no printed profanity in my books, and no sex. Espionage takes place during the largest war in the history of the world, so there is some violence, but it's not gory or excessive. My goal is for my writing to be thrilling, clean, and uplifting.
Book Bug: And I so appreciate the "clean" part! It is hard to find that in genres other than LDS fiction.
When and why did you begin writing?
A.L. Sowards: I started writing stories at about the same time I learned to ride a bicycle. I was never very good at riding my bike. Espionage is my first published work, but I like to think I’m better at writing than I was at biking. I write because I love it.
Book Bug: What book(s)/author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
A.L. Sowards: When I was younger I loved Tom Clancy, Alistair Maclean, and Jack Higgins. Lately I’ve tried to pick up all those classics I’ve never gotten around to reading—turns out they’re easier to put down when I have to go be a mom, and I’ve really loved some of them. I’ve also been reading a lot of military history lately. I started reading it to help with the research, but now I like the genre for its own sake, especially Stephen Ambrose and Cornelius Ryan.
Book Bug: What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?
A.L. Sowards: For me, writing is like putting together a puzzle. I start with a general idea of what I want it to look like when I’m done, but I don’t always know all the details or where each piece goes. Putting it all together is part of the fun. I don’t have a regular routine—I try to write while my children are asleep.
Book Bug: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
A.L. Sowards: I always have plenty of ideas for the next book, but sometimes I get stuck on a specific scene. When that happens I usually just go work on a different part of the book. Maybe someday I’ll write a book completely chronologically, but I doubt it. You know how some readers like to read the last page before they really get there? I like to write the last page (or the last chapter) before I really get there.
Book Bug: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
A.L. Sowards: Sometimes the research was difficult—there were some holes in my early research and it was a lot of work to find the information I needed.
It was also hard to finally be done and realize I couldn’t make any more changes, even if I thought of a great line or a better verb or some cool new historic fact. I had been tweaking Espionage for years, so it was kind of an adjustment when the book was typeset and off to the printer. Exciting, but hard.
Book Bug: I always admire authors who write historical fiction. I love to read it but I know the research involved must be very extensive.
What do you think are the most important elements of good writing?
A.L. Sowards: A good plot, well-developed characters, and lots of revision work.
Book Bug: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A.L. Sowards: I love spending time with my family, reading, going on walks, and swimming.
Book Bug: What book are you reading now?
A.L. Sowards: I’m reading Black Lamb, Grey Falcon, by Rebecca West. It’s a history/travelogue about Yugoslavia right before WWII, and it’s giving me good background information for my work in progress. I’m also reading some Whitney nominees. I’ve finished the mystery/suspense finalists and now I’m reading the historical fiction finalists.
Book Bug: There are some great Whitney nominees this year! Hopefully, you'll be one of them next year! (I'd vote for Espionage!)
What are your current/future projects?
A.L. Sowards: I recently submitted my second novel, a sequel to Espionage. I’m just calling it book two until the publisher picks the title, because the titles I come up with are never very good. Now I’m focusing on finishing the third book in the series.
Book Bug: Do you have any advice for other writers?
A.L. Sowards: Don’t give up. Sometimes writing is hard. Give yourself a break if you need to—work on a different project, or just put writing on the back burner for a while. And when you do pick it back up, work on making your writing better. Read books on writing, attend conferences, and analyze the novels you read and the movies you watch to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Book Bug: Thanks so much for being with us today! I'm totally loving the book and hosting the tour!
Sowards loves hearing from readers and can be found at ALSowards.com, Facebook, or Goodreads.