A.L. Knorr is a Canadian who lives in Italy, which she finds quite inspiring. When she’s not writing or plotting her next story, she loves to mountain bike, hike, do yoga, read, and visit the historic sites of Italy and abroad. She also frequently butchers the beautiful Italian language. Her first completed novel is Born of Water, published in 2016. She followed it up with the companion novella Returning. The sequel, Born of Fire, is now available, and she is currently working on the third and fourth books in the series Born of Earth and Born of Æther coming in 2017.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?
I have wanted to be an author since I was a preteen. I was a total bookworm as a kid. My mom taught me to read when I was 3 and since then, books have been my favourite form of entertainment. My career path went towards marketing and I wrote as a hobby, but I knew how difficult it was to try and get published traditionally, and how poorly it paid unless you were a megastar, so I never pursued it. It wasn’t until January of 2016 that I stumbled into indie publishing forums and learned just how much the publishing industry changed. As a marketing expert with an entrepreneurial drive, I looked at indie publishing as the perfect solution for me. It’s not easy, but I love having control over what I write, how my covers look, my launch calendar, my marketing tactics, everything. I started writing my first novel in January and launched it on December 1.
Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?
I write YA & NA Urban Fantasy, so far always first person, always female main characters, and always centered around a life-changing supernatural experience. I don’t have huge casts or overly complex plots. I love to include a bit of romance, and a lot of self-examination as the character goes through their transformation. My stories are intimate, inside-the-brain-and-heart narratives. I want the reader to be IN the main characters shoes and feeling what they feel.
What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?
YA and NA Urban Fantasy. I really love fantastical stories, any and all kinds, but this early in my career I didn’t feel I had the chops to take on an Epic Fantasy series and full on world building. I love Urban Fantasy because it’s rooted in our current reality and just asks questions like What if mermaids really did exist? What would they be like? I also love writing origin stories, of both good and bad characters (although none of my characters are all good or all bad, they all have both) and laying out how and why characters comes to be the way they are.
Buy BORN OF WATER
You have a novella and a full length novel available now. Can you tell us about your path to publication?
I chose intentionally not to pursue traditional publishing. It can take years to get something published that way, and while I have nothing against this path, I really wanted to try building my author brand on my own. With my experience in marketing and brand building, it was the obvious choice. I think that I will be a lot more interesting to a traditional publisher down the road when I’ve proven that I know how to build an audience, write a compelling story, and market my work. Getting trad published is not my goal though, my goal is simply to thrill readers and to make enough that I can do it full time.
What are some of your go to genres when reading and who are some of your favorite authors? What is it you love about those genres?
My favourite authors include Stephen King (even though I don’t like Horror, King is such a master of words that I think every author should read him), JK Rowling (need I explain?), Anne Rice (The Vampire Lestat is brilliant), Ken Follett (his Historical Fiction), JRR Tolkien, Kelley Armstrong, Suzanne Collins, Stieg Larsson (the Dragon Tattoo series had me by the neck the whole time), Arthur Golden, Bill Bryson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (huge fan of Sherlock Holmes), Chuck Wendig (for his humour), Veronica Roth, and Frank McCourt. A real mixed bag! For me, it’s important to read widely and outside my own genre, that’s the best way to improve my own writing. I really love dystopian stories and want to take a crack at my own dystopian series maybe later this year.
Are you a pantser, a plotter or somewhere in between?
A plotter for sure. I’d get so lost if I didn’t plan out my stories, and sometimes I get lost even when I have planned the whole thing out. I’m experimenting with different ways to outline as I haven’t found the perfect way yet, but I am quickly learning to err on the side of over-planning.
When you first get an idea, how long until you know you’re ready to begin writing and what does that progression look like? An idea usually comes to me first in scene form, sometimes it’s a big climactic event, other times its just a cool concept or hook – whether or not its strong enough to hang a story on becomes clear over a few days of musing, usually late at night in bed. Ideas come and go but the ones that keep coming back to me are the ones I pursue. If it just won’t go away then I start to outline it and ask more questions about the main character – who are they, what do they want, what’s stopping them from getting it, why would anyone care whether they got it or not, how are they flawed? Usually, once I start fleshing out a character, the story starts to unfold. Once I have a full outline I’m happy with, then I start writing and go chapter by chapter, but not in order, sometimes I start at the end or in the middle, whichever scenes feel the most urgent to get out.
What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?
I try to get my writing done in the morning when I’m freshest. On my best days, I write for 4-5 hours and have topped out at 13,000 words. On my worst days I can be found laying facedown in my laptop with only a (poorly written) sentence on the screen. My afternoons are for business stuff, email, marketing, and other activities related to running a publishing business.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?
Outlining was the biggest lesson of this year, and to always start with the end in mind. If you don’t know your climax then you won’t know how to get there. I’ve also learned that imagery is a very powerful tool and can hook a reader into the story better than simple adjectives, nouns, and verbs. I try to inject images into my writing that give the reader a sensory experience. Also, that my first draft will always be terrible and that’s just the way it is. The old saying that writing is re-writing is totally true. Reaching out for help is another valuable lesson. The author community is full of wonderful people from all walks of life and experience levels, and many of them are so willing to help another author. If you’re in trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Odds are, someday you’ll be able to return the favour.
It is such a crazy and competitive market. How do you tackle the marketing and promotion of your books? I always start by clarifying my objectives. You only have so many hours in a day and so much money to market with (or none at all). What is the desired outcome? Sales? Downloads? Fans on Facebook? Subscribers to your mailing list? Reviews? Focus on one and once you have your objective nailed, then brainstorm tactics for how to achieve that objective. Write down everything you can think of. Do some research. Ask other authors what has worked for them. Understand that readers of different genres behave differently. Choose the tactics that make sense to you and be sure to track the results as best you can, otherwise you have wasted your energy. Track. Learn. Discard the tactics that don’t work and do more of the ones that do. Repeat.
How do you feel about Amazon exclusive versus going wide?
I think that for a brand new author, KU is a great solution. People can read your books without paying for them, and yet you still get paid. That’s pretty brilliant for an unknown writer. I think once you’ve a readership built up and have a following of loyal and hungry readers, then consider going wide. I am nowhere near that myself so I can’t speak to how best to transition, but I would think it would need to be well thought through and partnerships would have to be built with the other platforms.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?
For writers, I would say read a lot, always be reading something. When my creative tank starts to feel empty, I know I haven’t been reading enough. Do other things to fill your creative tank too, travel, movies, museums, art galleries, whatever inspires you. Be okay with sucking at first. King once said the first million words you write are just practice. So just start writing, don’t censor yourself or edit as you go, that’s what rewriting is for. Whether you go indie or pursue a trad publishing contract depends on your goals. Do you just want to write and leave the marketing stuff to others, then maybe consider querying for an agent. If you have a knack for marketing and brand building and don’t mind splitting your time (and your brain) then consider indie.
There is a lot of unrest in the publishing industry right now because of what Amazon and other digital retailers have done by opening up publishing to anyone. I read an article on Huff Post this morning that condemned indie authors of corrupting the written word. If you’re indie, or thinking of going indie, ignore this kind of rhetoric. Readers are the ones who get to decide. No one else.
Thank you so much A.L.! Where can people find out more about you and your books?
Thank you, too! Haha! I’m everywhere!