Author Interview: Justine Alley Dowsett

Welcome, welcome.  Come on in, and find a comfortable seat.  Today, we’ve Justine Alley Dowsett from Windsor, Ontario Canada down to visit with us.  Justine, do you mind starting us off with a little bit about yourself and where you are from?

  • I’m an author and publisher and one of the owners of Mirror World Publishing.

Do you remember what sparked your interest in writing, and what led you to start your journey?

  • I began writing seriously when I was fifteen.  I wrote two novels while in high school. They were terrible, but great learning experiences. I started writing because all I’ve ever wanted to be was an author.
  • I’ve always read a lot, in both French and English. I can only presume that’s what caused me to want to be an author.
  • My first published book is Neo Central. It’s a YA dystopian science-fiction adventure with a bit of romance thrown in. I wrote it with the help of my sister and a mutual friend of ours. It started as a game actually. We wrote the first draft on a role-playing forum and later through extensive edits, I re-wrote it as a novel.

A fellow gamer-turned-author!  Never expected to meet another one.  Must sit down one of these years and compare notes.  As you progressed through your writer’s journey, do you have an instance that you look back at and say, “There!  That’s when I became a writer.”?

  • A writer, always, but an author… it wasn’t until I had published my first book and was holding the paperback in my hands.

::Chuckles::  Publishing anything is an accomplishment, and to get it into hard copy is even better.  Are you working on any projects that you can share with us?

  • My seventh novel, Unintended launches August 17th! It’s a Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about the unintentional consequences of good intentions.
  • Well, releasing Unintended on August 17th , then working on a top secret writing project while I focus on the rest of Mirror World’s Summer of New Releases. We have a handful more books slated to come out this year.
  • Of course! Here’s the short blurb:
    Four people. Four very different lives. Four tales interwoven.Meet Kenzie en Shareed, the High Clan Chief’s daughter who is sent south to fulfill a treaty by marriage only to marry the wrong man; Kadrean Authier, the Crown Prince who must come to terms with his new bride, even if he doesn’t much like the idea; Garron D’Arbonne, a noble Lord who has been commanded to marry a cool and aloof princess he doesn’t love; and Vivianne Chappelle, a young and ambitious woman who is in love with her abusive father’s manservant and must find a way to avoid having her entire future decided for her.Fate and wills collide in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

I’m intrigued by your titles.  Do you have a method to select them, or do they develop organically as you write?

  • I have seven novels… most of the titles are a result of brainstorming, but a lot of the finished novels ended up keeping their working titles. Neo Central is the name of the city the story is based around and Unintended came about as a result of the unintended nature of the story. My sister, who is my co-author, and I didn’t know it was going to be such an unintended success.

With all the reading I’m sure you do as a publisher, has this affected your writing style, or do you manage to keep yours unique?

  • My writing is very focused on the characters and the dialogue. I like both to be believable and engaging. My novels are also pretty much always set in a fantasy setting. I like books that can take you away to other worlds. That’s why I opened Mirror World Publishing, so I could offer just that.

Sounds like you manage to keep your reading from affecting your writing.  Do you have any books or authors who’ve helped shape you into the writer you are today?

  • Anything by Anne Bishop. Her dark fantasy worlds are inspiring. Brandon Sanderson for his action sequences and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for her romance and sense of realism.

Are any of these someone you’d consider to be a mentor figure for you, or is there someone else to fill that role?

  • David Eddings. His Belgariad series really got me thinking about world building.

I loved that series too.  It sounds like you’ve got a hectic schedule.  Do you find time to read for fun in there?

  • The Family by Choice series by Caroline Frechette. She’s an author and publisher like me, based out of Ottawa, Ontario.

Sounds interesting.  Is she the only indie author who’s caught your attention, or are there others?

  • Many! Mirror World Publishing just took on a whole slew of awesome authors. Sharon Ledwith for one, Rita Monette, Elizabeth J. M. Walker, Matthew Freake… the list goes on. They are all awesome and you can find them on our website. http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

From everyone that you’ve read to date, who’s your favorite author?

  • Brandon Sanderson, currently. His action sequences and world-building skills are unparalleled. If you like fantasy, I suggest his Mistborn trilogy.

I’ve had someone else recommend that series.  Definitely need to look into it.  Going back to your work, do you ever weave in messages for your readers to find?

  • As with all of the novels we publish, we just want to offer readers a chance to escape the mundane by offering them an alternative world to visit. Hopefully they learn something while there, but that’s not always necessary. My novels specifically tend to share a theme of overcoming adversity.

A message well worth delivering through any media.  Do you ever draw from your own experiences or reality to help give your work an edge of realism?

  • Um… very little of my books are realistic. The characters act like real people would, but the settings and the circumstances are often fantastic.
  • [As for using my experiences:] Only loosely. Sometimes I base characters or character traits on those I have observed in others, but most often everything I write is completely made up.

Do you have a non-family support group to cheer you on when things get rough?

  • It’s still family, but my co-author is my sister. We’ve been through it all together from the first book until now. We are both just hoping that Unintended will be a big success for us.

From where you are now on your writing adventure, do you feel that writing has become your career?

  • Yes and publishing.

If you were to start the journey over again with all the knowledge you’ve gained along the way, would you do anything different?

  • Absolutely not! I love the way Unintended turned out and so did the BETA readers. We’ve gotten some great feedback and I’m really excited about this new release!

What about the challenges you’ve faced along the way?  I’m sure there were more than a few lessons mixed in as well.  Any you can share with us?

  • Not really no. After seven books, I feel I’ve gotten it down to a science. Of course, I’m always learning and improving, but the basic skills are there now. Writing isn’t the hard part, marketing and getting the book to its audience is.
  • Staying focused. It’s all too easy to let a busy lifestyle get in the way, but it’s important to write every day or as near to it as possible to keep your head in the story.
  • [I learned] that I write better when I’m having fun with it. Writing Unintended was a blast and the fun my sister and I had is now filtering through to our readers.

All lessons I think every writer has to learn in their own time.  And, I’m sure many writers have to face sooner or later.  Did you have any challenges with the covers, or did you work with someone to have them designed?

  • Various artists. My favorite to work with is Sara Biddle. www.salizabeth.net. She’s done Mirror’s Hope, Mirror’s Heart and now, Unintended.

Last big question:  What advice would you pass on to your fellow authors?

  • Write every day. Seriously. It’s the best way to stay focused and motivated.

::Looks away a little too innocently::  Hmm?  I do agree, however about keeping your focus when you’re writing.

Justine, thank you for coming over.  Before I close out the interview, any final words for our readers?

  • Give Unintended a chance. I promise you will love it. It’s comedic, romantic and a true escape from reality. Go read it… go on, go. I’ll wait. J

I’ll help spread word as best I can.  Thank you again for stopping by.

If you’ve enjoyed the interview, and wish to connect with Justine, you can find her on the following sites:

Website, Blog (Mirrorworld Publishing), Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

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