Today I am welcoming Alanna Irving in to the Indie Spotlight!
Alanna (rhymes with Hannah) was born and raised in Nottingham, England. After completing a Bachelors degree in Classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge, she lived and worked in Sydney, London and Nottingham before moving to Barcelona to do a Masters in International Relations.
She now works at the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association in Barcelona, implementing EU-funded projects in economic development in the Southern Mediterranean. She speaks Spanish, is learning Catalan, and enjoys travelling (when COVID allows), scuba-diving and salsa-dancing.
Hi Alanna! What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication
I think, like a lot of writers, I had always had the dream of contacting an agent, being taken on, forming a best-friend/fiercest-advocate type relationship and soaring to success. Obviously the ratio of writers to agents, and of books written to books published, means that that was never likely. There’s a lot of prestige and a certain validation that comes from the traditional publishing model, so I always stayed away from the idea of self or independent publishing before. But I think that kind of snobbiness isn’t necessarily helpful for the industry and as a business model it’s becoming more and more outdated. A lot of art forms are moving away from these kinds of gate-kept models and towards a more “democratic” way of getting content to audiences – look at Spotify and YouTube, for example.
I wrote Abolish the Rose a few years ago, and hadn’t managed to get anywhere with it. I actually started writing a different book last year, and I was really enjoying it, but Abolish the Rose was still niggling at the back of my mind – it didn’t feel like I was done with it. So, I left the new one half-finished, and went back to Abolish the Rose. I decided I felt it was a worthwhile enough book to take a chance on, to try something new with, and that I’d give indie publishing a go. It definitely felt like an experiment, and I went in with my expectations quite low, but it also felt really good to invest in myself and give myself that vote of confidence I hadn’t found elsewhere.
What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?
I don’t tend to stick to one genre either in what I read or what I write – in both cases, it depends what grabs my interest. The first book I wrote was fantasy, the second historical fiction; I’ve tried a more suspense/crime one, and Abolish the Rose is more literary – it just felt like the right direction for the concept.
Do you only read the genre that you write?
Nope! I read a bit of everything, except romance and horror. I love contemporary fiction, fantasy, some sci-fi, historical… I just want a good story, well told.
What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?
I’m currently reading Breasts and Eggs by Meiko Kawakami, and enjoying it so far. I’m watching the final season of Brooklyn 99, because I’d never seen it and I started watching it when I was in isolation with covid. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics while I’m writing, but sometimes I put on lo-fi electronic or drum ‘n’ bass because the beat keeps my momentum up. For inspiration though, I love piano music – the first time I listened to En Un’Altre Vita by Ludovico Einaudi, in a period of writer’s block in a novella, it inspired me so much I started re-writing the whole novella from the beginning. It came out in a completely different style and I loved it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I think any advice I could give will sound clichéd. Keep writing. Be hard enough on yourself to keep improving, and soft enough on yourself to keep enjoying it.
In general I don’t think there are many rules for writing (or at least, for every rule, there are times when you could or should do the opposite) but one thing someone told me that I’ve personally found helpful is: if a scene doesn’t achieve anything – advance the plot, develop a character, something – get rid of it.
What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?
At the moment my free time is going into promoting Abolish the Rose. Then I want to get back to the novel I started last year – it’s a retelling of a particular saga of Greek myth, in a world with no gods and no magic. Women in Greek myth often do things because a god makes them – I thought it’d be fun to see what happened if they could make their own decisions. I’d love to say you’ll see it next year, but it might take me a while!
Thank you so much for joining me today, Alanna. I wish you every success with your book!
Abolish the Rose
“Surely I have better things to do with my time.”
Camille Addison resents the hand life has dealt her. Enrolling in an evening class to distract herself from memories of frustration, she finds herself instead turning to face the tumult of relationships, loss and love that has led her to where she is.
Abolish the Rose, by Alanna Irving, takes us on a journey through the past in search of meaning in the present. Through a vivid catalogue of heart-warming and harrowing life experiences, we are drawn to question, along with Camille – how much control do we have over the path our lives take? Would we change the past if we had the chance? What is a life well lived?
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Released: 10 April 2022
Genre: Contemporary Fiction; Literary Fiction