Analei Skye Interview Published on: 07, Jan 2020

Where were you born? What do you miss the most about your childhood?

I was born in Texas. I don't miss my childhood per se as my adult life is equally adventurous. However, I have some incredible memories of growing up barefoot. Running through my family farm with my cousins and brother, taking care of the pigs, cows, horses, and chickens, catching frogs, sitting on the boondocks fishing and swimming, sitting on the roof of the shed watching lightening storms— basically just growing-up country. It is still a very large part of me.

What is one thing that you, as a romance author, would never write about?

I don't have any hard rules about things I would never do, but I tend to shy away from characters who are shallow or hurtful unless there is redemption for them. I try to be very careful in my messaging to and about women, so I would not glamorize an abusive relationship in my novels. Nor would I idolize or normalize addictive relationships. I tend to want my characters to be empowering or find their power.

What inspired you to start writing?

Writing has always been a part of me. I was the kid who, from the moment she could pick up a crayon- wrote outlandish plays, poetry, and stories. I always wrote but never believed I'd write for money. My family was very practical. They drilled into me the necessity of taking a practical path. I pursued psychology and also dual majored in business going on to obtain an MBA and MS. I loved psychology and working with children, but I always felt like something was missing. One year, I took the leap. I saved up a year's worth of earnings and forged my path. I haven't looked back since, and for the first time in my career life, I genuinely feel fulfilled in my path.

What are some rules for writing contemporary romance? What got you interested in this genre?

I am very romantic. I believe in the power of love and being deeply loving. I genuinely hold the belief that love is the solution to all our world's problems. I try to intersperse those beliefs into my writing through characters I can redeem or help teach to believe in love. The number one rule for Contemporary Romance is that there is always a Happily Ever After. It is a feel-good genre that requires a nice, happy bow at the end, which makes it fun to write.

The book that inspired me to fall in love with this genre was The Black Lion, by Jude Deveraux. It was given to me by my friend Jill on one of our surf camping trips. We were sitting around the fire late at night after a long day of surfing. We swapped books, and I got hooked (I don't recall what I was reading, but it wasn't that). I did not know I would eventually become a writer of romance, but this experience fueled my love for the genre. I fell so in love that my Sophmore Honors English teacher asked me to please broaden my reading selections for my book reports. And then, she made me stand up and read my book report aloud to the entire class for good measure. Yes, I turned bright red. Yes, every boy in the room hooted and hollered and no, I did not stop reading romance, I just started reading the classic romances like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. To her chagrin. Ha.

The characters that you write are praised for being real and believable. How much of these characters are fictional and how much of them are based on real-life?

Brenna, the main character in Surfer Girl, shares a lot of my attributes (or the way I see myself), some of her quirks, fears, love of the ocean, beliefs. Those closest to me have mentioned we share a similar vibe. She is not entirely me, though, just pieces. She stands apart, handles experiences in her own way. I would venture to say a lot of my characters share pieces of me and those I love.

I tend to write about emotions I've felt so that I have some basis in the experience of it and can relay it honestly. It's difficult for me to write about emotions I've never experienced. A lot of the places are true-life places as well, but the actual events are fictional.

What was the most challenging thing about writing and publishing your first book?

Having the courage to put my voice into the world. I had a lot of fear around claiming to be a writer. I was terrified people would read my books and my other writings and hate them. Haha. It took a lot for me to put my books into the world and tell people about them being out.

How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book on yourself as you are writing the story?

It depends on the genre. I'm a character-driven writer; I tend to write inside the bubble of emotion. Meaning, I feel the emotion first, and that informs the scene. When I'm writing about love, that's an easy emotion to feel. But suicide, which is a topic of my upcoming book, When Darkness Falls, and heartbreak as in Surfer Girl. Those emotions are messier and much more difficult to process. I maintain a daily meditation practice, yoga, surf, and rock climb with regularity. With, When Darkness Falls, in particular, I began going on a lot of walks along the beach with friends and spending a lot of girlfriend time to help balance me out. Before I began writing full time, I was a counselor for children who had attempted or had thoughts of taking their own life. I began a lot of self-care habits to cope with the emotional toll of being a container for others to process their emotions. They've come in handy as a writer who tackles difficult topics.

What inspired the plot for Dawn Patrol? What is the future for the characters?

From childhood, I have always had theses scenes, like a movie playing in my head burning to get out. My plot derived from there. These two characters started popping in my head one day. When I sat down to write their journey, the story came like an avalanche.

How did you begin writing the "Surfer Girl Book" series?

It started as a stand-alone novel, but the story just kept continuing, and it turned into a series. It wasn't a deliberate choice that I made before inception.

I love these characters and their journey so much I decided to play in their world a little longer. I took several of the favorite characters Jake, and Jaycee, and Kayla and have written spin-offs for them.

How would you describe your writing? Do you think your writing process has changed much since your last book?

Very much so. I am more serious about my writing. I dedicate long periods each day to writing. I get up every morning, get dressed, either meet with a writing group or go on my own. And I write. On the days I just can't get into the flow of writing, I work on the business side of the craft. When I first began, I had so much to learn. I am continuing to grow as a writer and trust my voice and my process. I think writing is sort of a lifelong journey; I don't know that there will ever be an endpoint where I'll feel I've arrived.

Right now, I would describe myself as a pantser who writes with a lot of emotion [at least the latter is how most readers experience my style]. I also don't write linear; I write scenes and then toggle them into a story. I don't write those scenes in order. I also write multiple projects at the same time. It is not uncommon for a single writing session to consist of my writing: A scene from Surfer Girl, one from Niahla Hope, a blog post, a lifestyle interview, and then a short freelance article.

Who inspired the character of Noah? How do you come up with character names?

Noah is his own person and a culmination of boys I've fallen in love with. Noah is a messy character, though. He is learning to believe in love. He's learning to undo everything he was taught by his parents and follow his heart. Right now, his mind rules. He's not entirely likable, and I'm not sure if he'll redeem himself. Often when I write, I don't know where the character story arcs are going. I see the movie play out in my head and relay it as honestly as I can, I don't try to insert my ideas too much as it disrupts my flow.

I like Noah. I enjoy writing his character. He's a boy I could fall in love with, but I don't know if he'll end up winning the girl. Right now, he's not worthy of her.

If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?

Be lazy. Ha. Honestly, I'm not sure. Every day I'd do something different with it. Some days I want nothing more than to lie in a hammock all day and read. Other days I feel like conquering the world. My extra hour would be used mood-based.

How do you think concepts such as Kindle and e-books have changed the present or future of reading?

I begrudgingly moved over to Kindle and e-books. I am passionate about paper books. I love the weight of it in my hands, the smell. I love bending pages and spines [gasp I know] I just really love holding books in my hands. That said. I had to be realistic. On average, I can read anywhere from a book a night to a minimum of 3 a week. I was killing forests and living in book clutter. Kindle and e-books made it so much easier to devour books and widened the availability of books. It has changed the market, and I think it opened up the world for indie authors. There is now a platform for readers to meet authors who are not pre-selected by very specific people's tastes or based on anticipated profitability. I think it allows for more voices and more niche markets wich better serve readers. Plus, the entry barrier to getting a book has lowered. You don't even have to leave your bed or go during store hours to find a book; you can grab it when the mood strikes.

Who are your writer friends? When you're not writing, what do you love creating and plotting with your fabulous writer friends?

So many to name. As we "speak," I am sitting with my buddy Pamela Brian and Danni Mund [www.dannimund.com], both brilliant children's authors. I also write with Ava Sarkissian, who writes Contemporary Fiction and one of my first writing buddies Dayna Quince who is a successful Historical Romance author. In truth, I belong to a ton of writing groups. At this point in my career, I know thousands [not even an exaggeration] of brilliant, talented authors who inspire me, inform me, prod me on.

Ironically I don't plot with any of them. I do collaborate, though. In March, I'll be re-releasing Ruined as part of an anthology with a group of writer friends.

For plotting and character research, I tend to grab a group of my college girlfriends or a group of girls I surf with for drinks and confessions. Ha. These are the juiciest and most hilarious sessions of all time. I'm blushing just writing it. We talk life, occasionally I introduce my characters, and they help me get them into tons of naughtiness. Or, if, for instance, I need to go Whiskey tasting for a character who LOVES the drink, they willingly join my expeditions and offer hilarious opinions to my research.

How has been your experience of working with AllAuthor? Would you recommend it to your author friends?

It's been exceptional. I've felt very supported and a genuine sense of community. I would absolutely recommend it to all of my author friends.

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