Local Writer Interview: Ali Cross

This month's interview is a little different, since Ali is not simply an aspiring writer, but also a self-published one. We met across the Internet machines through Melanie Fowler, another of my interviewees. Ali is very, VERY active in the writing community, and I'm excited to get to know her a little better. As you all know, I like to just jump right in, so here goes!

If it's not too much to ask, how old are you?
LOL, I’m in my 40’s. But I never really aged past 23. I’m eternally youthful. (Ha!)

Are you married? Kids?
Heck yeah! I have a rockin’ husband who’s a computer genius who slashes computer code and cuts hackers off at the knees. My two boys both eleven, are evil geniuses who take after their dad (thank goodness. One of them is a black belt and the other is close on his heels. At our house it’s all awesome, all the time.

Where in our lovely area do you live?
I live in West Jordan, Utah, but I’m not even an American. I’m a Canadian who’s followed her man (who followed a job) to the States and has been trying to get back home every since. (It’s been twenty years. I haven’t been too successful yet, obviously.)

How long ago did you start writing seriously?
I started writing seriously nine years ago. I know the precise date because my family and I were driving into the mountains for a weekend in the autumn leaves. On our way out popped from my mouth: “I want to write a book.” I swear I did not think those words before I said them, but as soon as I did, I knew it was true. My hubby and I chatted about the idea (I’d always wanted to write a story about my favorite Dungeons & Dragons character—hey, don’t laugh) and it wasn’t long before he admitted that he, too, would like to write a book.

We stopped at a Podunk gas station convenient store, happily discovered they stocked the basic materials with which to begin a book (notebooks, pens, index cards and tape!), brainstormed and outlined our books over our long weekend and … the rest is history! (And to follow-up, we both wrote our books, and finished them together, New Year’s Eve 2003!)

What project are you currently working on?
Right at this very second I’m finishing up the first draft of a middle grade fantasy called LAND MAGIC. Meanwhile, another MG fantasy THE SWIFT, is resting between revisions, and DESOLATION (book two of Desolation, my young adult urban fantasy series) is resting before revisions begin. Exciting stuff!

How long have you been working on Land Magic?
LAND MAGIC was conceived a couple years ago, but I didn’t have to work on it at that time. I did a quick and dirty outline and left it alone. I started drafting it during NaNo ’11, but couldn’t finish because of the release of BECOME (the first in the Desolation series). Time to finish this baby up!

Tell us a little about it.
Here’s my working blurb: 

In a world where land magic has fallen into disuse and land comes together and breaks apart like clouds in the sky, one boy must rediscover the ways of the old magic in order to reunite his family and save mankind.

Wow, that sounds kinda lame. I promise it’s a lot more fun and awesome than it sounds. J

What are your goals for it?
I self-published BECOME, and I love, love, loved the experience. I’d like for LAND MAGIC to reach middle grade readers which (I believe) there’s no doubt traditional publishing methods are (so far) better suited for, but . . . I honestly can’t imagine publishing in the traditional sense.

Have you sent out any queries? How many have you gotten responses to?
Oh yeah. I queried BECOME to 103 agents. Twenty-eight agents read the full manuscript. One agent read three full versions of the novel, and still rejected it. Another agent made an offer, but ended up being a flake and left me hanging for four months before I finally got wise and moved on. Crazy, right?

Have you published anything previously?
Nope! BECOME was my maiden voyage!

Do you have any special sales you'd like me to highlight?
YES! Through February 4th (the day of NiNoCon, woot!) BECOME is on sale at Amazon here and Smashwords here for only $.99!

Anything else you'd like to tell us about works you've previously published/put on sale?
BECOME is an awesome, dark young adult novel—if you’re a Buffy fan, or a Lilith St. Crow fan, or a Melissa Marr fan . . . I think you’d like my book, too!

What is your favorite book or author? Why?
My favorite book(s) belong to THE FIONAVAR TAPESTRY by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’m not a fan of all of his books, but this trilogy is the one that inspired me to write (because I wanted to write something as amazing as those books—to reach people the way these books reached me). THE FIONAVAR TAPESTRY, is rich and beautiful, heartbreaking and fulfilling—it’s everything I think a truly great book should be. And I think it would nowadays fall into “new adult” fantasy, but back when I first read it it was just regular old fantasy. J

What has been the hardest part about writing your current work? About writing in general?
I’m not sure. I haven’t struggled with the craft in the same way that I know other people struggle. For me, the hardest part is believing in myself when no one else does.

What has been the best or most rewarding aspect of writing?
Without a doubt the most rewarding part are all the friendships I have formed through writing and blogging. Who knew that such a solitary art could give me such an amazing sense of belonging?

Do you have any "technical" suggestions for new writers?
A couple tools that have really helped me. Buy the book SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder. It’s funny, quick and easy to read. It’s a script-writing guide, but it absolutely relates to writing. I swear you will not regret it. Next to that, get thee a crit group! I think that should be in the writer’s ten commandments.

Do you have any sage advice for new writers?
LOL, no. Just, if you have a dream? Don’t let it stay in dreamland forever. Live your dream—because you CAN.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Come to NiNoCon this Saturday (February 4th!). It’s a free online writer’s conference taking place at www.ninjaswrite.com. It’ll be fun! There’ll be lots of great info! And PRIZES!!

Give us some links to any blogs, websites, or other online media you run.
You betcha! Thanks for letting me plug, Trevor!

ali cross (blog) www.alicross.com
the writer’s dojo www.ninjaswrite.com
the indelibles (a group of 25 self-or-indie-published authors) http://indeliblewriters.blogspot.com

There you go people, go check out her blog and all the goodies she has for you, and read her book Become dang it!


  1. Anonymous9:17 AM

    Ali is awesome!

  2. Hi Mel! *waves* Thanks for hosting me and taking the time to do this interview Trevor! I love your header and your blog! Yeah!

  3. I like that Ali and her husband write together! That's awesome! I've often wondered how much more productive Trevor could be if I wrote a book along side him (that's assuming I'd have the determination myself). His would be glorious and mine would be garbage, but it might help :)

  4. LOL Becky, that's funny. Better watch out, you might get bitten by the writing bug! Even that you're here, on his blog, is proof that you support him!

  5. I love Save the Cat! One of my all-time fave writing books.

  6. I LOVE Ali! Great interview. I found you from Leigh's blog - nice to meet you! New follower :)

  7. Good to meet you, Trevor! New follower! I love Ali's blog, and it's always fun to get to know more about the people I stalk online. :) Thanks for hosting the interview.

  8. Ali, I LOVE the red hair. I would love to do that one day.

    Hi Trevor! Over here from Leigh's blog!

  9. Aloha Trevor,

    Just read your interview from Leigh AND read your interview re. Ali.

    Great job on both projects and you have a new follower :)