At Dancing Bear Books we like to chat with the writers around us and see what they're up to. We recently caught up with bestselling author, A.J. Steffort and had the chance to ask some quick fire questions.
DBB: What age did you start writing?
AJS: In high school I enjoyed creative writing a lot (I remember a short story written from the point of view of a snail), but it wasn’t until 2010 that I started writing for real. Even then, it was more to practice the language (I am not an English native speaker) than to actually write and publish a book. Anyway, that’s the thing with stories: once you start...
DBB: Was your first book published or is it still lurking in a drawer somewhere?
AJS: My first book White was published in 2017 when I was on maternity leave, before that it spent six long years lurking in a drawer, purely because I never considered that anyone would be interested. Wrong. Within a year I finished The Wings Trilogy, and after that, my readers and fans kept bombarding me with requests to rewrite the series from the second main character’s point of view, which I did and published over the past year. With Two Worlds of Provenance I am finally moving into an entirely new project, and this time I am not going to wait for six years. It will be published on August, 31.
DBB: Do you find the process of writing agony or ecstasy?
AJS: It’s like being an ethnographic researcher. I document the stories of the characters I am writing about. It’s almost like watching a film and taking notes. So in that aspect, the part of creating stories is fun. Especially because I am not a plotter but a panster. I never know what’s going to happen next and the characters never cease to surprise me. The editing part is not as much fun. Thank God, I have a wonderful editor who takes a load of work off of my shoulders.
DBB: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
AJS: As a matter of fact, I have a day job in business development where I support companies with innovation projects, business models and business design, as well as their strategies.
DBB: How would you describe your writing routine?
AJS: Any time, any place.
With a toddler at home, I have to use every second I can get for writing, and it’s part of the creative process, to leave off somewhere because other duties demand my attention, and then seamlessly pick up when I return to writing. Whereas I wrote my very first book, White, on trains, in airports and in hotel lobbies (I was travelling a lot for business back then), now my routine has changed to writing when my son is asleep.
DBB: Biggest piece of advice for budding writers?
AJS: You are the only one who can tell the story you want to tell through your eyes. If you don’t do it, nobody will.
Writing is a little bit of inspiration, but mostly it’s a lot of time you spend sitting down and getting it done. Basically like any other job.
Don’t take feedback and criticism too personally, even though you wrote the book, but take it seriously. If you want to improve you need to listen to how people feel about your writing.
DBB: What’s the most important quality to have as a writer?
AJS: I would say, to be creative. But it’s not true. Anyone can come up with some kind of story. It’s about the way you tell the story. So, the most important quality, I’d say, is to be a storyteller. And, of course, to have persistence. How many people have ‘writing a book’ on their bucket list? And how many actually do it? And of those, how many actually publish it? Persistence.
DBB: Top Tip for writer’s block?
AJS: Deadlines. Sometimes chocolate helps. Seriously, I am lucky to have hardly ever encountered writer’s block.. Besides...those characters keep babbling in my head, so I cannot not write.
What tends to help me when I have difficulties getting into a character’s head is writing from a different point of view for a little bit, to get a more thorough assessment of what is going on.
DBB: What’s your insight on traditional and non-traditional publishing routes?
AJS: I have never tried traditional publishing. The process of finding an agent and/or a publisher is just too tiresome in my opinion. By the time I find someone, I write three books. And with services like Kindle Direct Publishing, I have everything I need in one platform. Naturally, self-publishing comes with a lot of responsibility: for marketing, communications, organizing for editing, proofreading, and cover design. On the other hand, it is the ultimate freedom. You can decide to publish or un-publish whenever you want. You choose what happens with your product--and get the immediate, unfiltered feedback from readers.
That’s what I truly love about being an indie-author: the direct connections with readers and fans. There are such wonderful and helpful communities out there where people motivate each other to grow, improve, and accomplish. My readers are the ones who fuel my motivation when my eyelids are drooping over the third round of editing. The story comes from my mind, but it comes to life in theirs.
Some people say ‘you are not a real author unless published by a traditional publisher’, but I can’t see how that applies. Anyone who finishes a book is an author. Anyone who writes is a writer.
DBB: What draws you to writing the stories you do?
AJS: Writing is like a vacation in my mind.
If the question refers to “Where do my ideas come from?” that’s a whole different topic. The Wings Trilogy was inspired by a dream. Two Worlds was inspired by something I saw on a walk with my son in the park in November 2018. Often I write in coffee houses, observing people, and writing little gestures into my characters. And once the characters, or the worlds, are established in my mind, there is little I can do about it.
My readers are the ones who fuel my motivation when my eyelids are drooping over the third round of editing. The stories may come from my mind, but they come to life in theirs.
We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak of this book! We found Steffort's approach to this genre wildly unique and fresh, her characters were detailed and in-depth and there was something undeniably addictive about this story. We can't wait to pick up more of her work and hope that you enjoy reading it too!
Steffort's new book (Two Worlds of Provenance) will be coming to a bookshelf near you soon. CLICK HERE to find out more info! Make sure to follow her on social media and keep up to date with all of her goings on.
At the DBB family, we look to support all sorts of independent creators in their endeavours. We're all in this together folks, make sure to support this fantastic writer and her work by following her social media!
Angelina J. Steffort is an Austrian novelist, best known for The Wings Trilogy, a young adult paranormal romance series about the impossible love between a girl and an angel. The bestselling Wings Trilogy has been ranked among calibers such as the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, and Lauren Kate’s Fallen, and has been top listed among angel books for teens by bloggers and readers. Angelina has multiple educational backgrounds including engineering, business, music, and acting.