Wednesday Author Interview: Nick Taylor & Alisha Payne
The Regent’s Gamble
by Alisha Payne & Nick Taylor
Today, I’d like to welcome the writing team of Alisha Payne and Nick Taylor, two creative ladies who have joined forces to write some very intriguing Urban Fantasy. Welcome to Bookin’ It, Ladies!
BI: Nick & Alisha, can you tell us a bit about how you became a writer. When did you decide that’s what you wanted to be, and what steps did you take to prepare for a writing career?
N&A: Becoming writers wasn’t exactly planned. It just sort of happened. We both tended to write stories of the fan fiction variety when we were growing up and then met each other through an online roleplay chat room. Oh yes, we are total nerds by the way. We started to write our own little story lines then realized that, “Hey, we could make this a book.” So we did. It took lots of work, a miraculously successful Kickstarter campaign, and the support of good friends and family.
BI: It’s always great when things come together like that, and give new writers a chance to be successful at making their dream come true. Were either of you you inspired by any particular authors, past or present, and what is it about their work that impresses you, or moves you?
Alisha: I started reading young thanks to my mom. I grew up with Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey. What stood out most to me was the fully fleshed worlds they created and the varied characters. The main character wasn’t the sole focus and I always felt like I understood and knew everyone, even if they only had a small part to play in the plot.
Nick: One of my favorite new authors that I’ve become addicted to recently would have to be Scott Lynch for his Gentleman Bastard series. He made an incredibly descriptive, detailed world and I LOVE IT. It inspired me to believe that other readers out there crave the same amount of meticulous care to world-building. I want to become immersed in a world which feels real. I especially love the large number of strong female roles. Women rock in his series. They’re leaders, fighters, and my favorite character to date is a black female pirate ship captain. Maybe because she has two little ones, I feel as if I can relate most to her.
BI: You guys are definitely making me want to read more fantasy! And I can’t remember the last time I read a book about pirates…I think it may have been Treasure Island! (I’m old, folks!) Can you tell us what genres do you read most often for pleasure…those books you gravitate toward the minute you walk into a bookstore?
Alisha: My first picks are always Fantasy and Paranormal. When I read, I want an epic escape full of magic and fantastical places. I want something to feed my imagination. Mercedes Lackey is one of my absolute favorite Fantasy authors. Her Valdermar series really inspired some of my ideas for how our series should go as far as world building and different groups.
Nick – I’m a big fan of Stephen King. All of my friends know of my love for horror but I rarely mention how much I love Piers Anthony. My mother used to bring me books by the car load as a child. Between horror and fantasy, I’m hooked to those two genres the most. I don’t often read contemporary romance. The ones I have read recently were for the sake of helping friends, and while I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed them, they’re not my preferred genre.
BI: You know, I’ve never read Piers Anthony, an oversight I probably should correct one of these days. Read plenty of horror, though, so I’m covered on that front, anyway. I’m always curious as to where and how writers work. Do either of you have a dedicated workspace, and are you consistent with the amount of time you spend writing each day?
Alisha: God, I wish. I do have my desk, but no actual office. As for time, as a mother of two I work when I can. I can’t exactly set a schedule because kids are young and stuff pops up. Most of the good writing honestly gets done at night time, after kids are asleep.
Nick: I wish, too. I work in my living room while my children behave like monkeys behind me.
BI: Being a writer who prefers total silence while working, I can’t imagine trying to concentrate with small kids underfoot. I think that’s amazing! Are you able to utilize visual aids, like Inspiration Boards/Photos or maps of your book’s setting? What reference books or other material do you consult most frequently as you write?
N&A: We find a lot of inspiration from photos on pinterest, movies, and real occurrences in our own lives sometimes. You can check our boards at SpellboundNovel to get an idea of what we enjoy while writing. EarthPorn and similar sites gave way to the idea of Gaia, the realm of nature spirits. During the writing of a particularly scary scene, we watch horror movies such as Sinister and Event Horizon.
BI: I’m trying not to imagine what sorts of “real occurrences in your own lives” might inspire your scary fantasy scenes. 😯 Moving along, though, let’s talk about how you approach your actual writing. When you have an idea for a new book, do you sit down and start typing, or do you start with an outline, and figure out all the major plot points first? In other words, is your working style structured and organized, or more organic and free flowing?
N&A: Our style is a mix of both. We sketch out a basic outline, mostly so we know what points we want to hit on our way to the end without getting carried away. As for the actual writing, we’ll work on whatever scenes suits our mood sometimes. If we get stuck on something, we move on, then come back to it later with fresh ideas. I would say it’s more organic and free flowing, but with a touch a structure to keep things where they need to be.
BI: Aha. You’re more like me. Neither a Plotter nor a Pantser, but what I like to call a Plantster. 😉 How about when you are reading for pleasure? Do you prefer eBooks or print, and why?
Nick – I enjoy both. I prefer eBooks lately due to the affordability, but if I truly enjoy a book and the cover is dazzling, I have to buy it in print too.
Alisha – As a military family who move a lot, I have to say e-books are more convenient. And lighter. But nothing beats holding an actual book in my hands. I’ll get my faves in paperback or hardback.
BI: Again, kind of like me. I want it all! Can you tell us about the books you have published, and where we can buy them?
N&A: We have two books out and one currently in progress, but have plans for a few more in this series. The Regent’s Gamble is our debut novel and is an epic 550 pages in length. We wanted to create a fully fleshed out world for our readers, and a whole colorful cast of characters. This is an Urban Fantasy set in the modern day world, but with a few slight twists. The story follows Addison Rhydderch, a magus with a rare gift, as he finds himself thrust into a position of power and authority.
Nick: I love Addison. He’s one of the first characters I’ve ever written and really dear to my heart. He’s a sarcastic, witty mage with a talent for summoning magical creatures. He’s friends with a phoenix, a dragon, and even a gryphon. Animals love him and he loves them too. He has a real soft spot for furry friends. He actually becomes the leader of magical society on the east coast of the US. It’s a little funny too, how it happens, but you’ll have to read the prologue to understand how!
Primal Legacy is our first companion novella. It can be read as a stand alone and is a little side adventure for a pair of characters in another part of the world. At around 200 pages, it is meant to be a quick read and won’t spoil anything in the main novel series.
Alisha: We wanted to do something new with vampires, no sparkles involved. We looked to lots of cultural myths for that. It was also really fun to write a male who is the less worldly one, but still has his own strengths.
Nick – Everyone says that Dahlia is a total bad ass, and I agree. I missed seeing horrifying, scary vampires. Too often they seem like complete wusses to me, so we wrote up a species of South American monster that’s truly nasty! Likewise, we wanted two heroes who were slightly atypical. Felipe is a member of a tribe who avoids contact with society. They dwell as deeply in the Amazon as possible to protect their own interests, and have only had contact with a few people of the modern world… But that’s going to change.
BI: Wow, sounds very interesting…and very scary, too. Are you currently working on a new book? When do you expect it to be available?
As of this writing, we are working on The Collector’s Treasure. This follows the adventures and hardships of Griffin MacNeil, a magical treasure hunter who sort of resembles a wizard Indiana Jones. We expect this novel to be available by early-winter.
BI: I like the sound of that one, too. Tell me, what’s the best thing about being a writer in your opinion? The worst?
Nick: What I love most about being a writer is that we’re able to do it on our own time without any set hours or workdays. What I despise most is that this often results in not taking progress as seriously as we should. The lack of a deadline can really hinder progress at times.
Nick and Alisha, I’d like to thank you both again for taking part in my Wednesday Author Interview feature. It was great talking to you, and I wish you much continued success!
Alisha Payne loves to read and has always had a fondness for creative writing. She started with poetry and moved up to short stories, before eventually writing novels with her friend Nick. She loves reading a whole range of genres and authors from Tolkien to James Rollins, and blames her love for reading on her mother, who introduced her to the worlds of Pern and Xanth. Alisha is a former Petty Officer of the United States Navy, which is where she met her wonderful husband. Her husband continues to serve while Alisha now stays at home with her six year old son and three year old daughter who keep her busy around the house. As do the cat and dog who, after five years, still do not get along.
Nick Taylor enjoys writing as an outlet for her creativity. She is a video gamer by nature and enjoys watching movies and reading novels by Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Scott Lynch, Tolkien and Michael Crichton among others. She reads everything from suspense to illustrated storytelling. She also enjoys the outdoors, jogging with her dog, riding horses, and going to Texas Renaissance Festivals. Nick is currently working toward her nursing degree and is the mother of two beautiful children ages eight and ten.
Check out Nick Taylor & Alisha Payne’s books!
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