Today, we have the author, Jaleta Clegg. I first met her in the forums of BestsellerBound and I’m very glad she agreed to doing an interview here :-)
Jaleta ( or, Aleta :-), where are you from and how old are you?
I was born about fifteen thousand years ago on a starship deep in the Catalbin Nebula. Wait, you want the real truth? I’ve lived pretty much my whole life in Utah. I’m older than I look. Mentally, I’m thirteen most days.
I didn’t know Utah was in the Catalbin Nebula :-)
When did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside, back then?
I dabbled for years. It wasn’t until I got my hands on my own computer that I started writing in earnest. We bought a Commodore 128 at a garage sale and set it up in our family room. We’d just moved to a new neighborhood, it was summer, and I was stuck at home with four children ages seven to two. I needed an escape, so I ran away into the imaginary worlds in my head. Those have been there ever since I can remember. By the end of the summer, I’d completed three novels. They were horrible, but they were a beginning. The freedom I felt was addictive. I could be anyone, anywhere, with super powers if I wanted. It still feels that way when I get a story rolling. I love when the words flow and the worlds grow under my fingers.
Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?
I’m still struggling with that. My sister was the writer in our family, not me. I submitted to a magazine back in college and was told, “This is horrible. You have no talent. You’ll never be a writer.” I believed them for years, until the stories wouldn’t stay inside any longer. I’m still not a writer, I’m a storyteller.
What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?
I want everyone to read my books and love them as much as I do. Isn’t that what any writer wants? It would be nice if I sold enough copies to make a decent living, too. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I really want from publishing my books. I want to share the stories. I want to entertain. I want to make enough money I can keep writing.
Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?
All the writing classes I ever took were for technical writing, a completely different beast from fiction writing. I learned by reading, by doing, and by attending conventions and talking with successful authors. Anyone can learn to tell stories, but it takes a lot of dedication and practice and willingness to take critique to get good at it.
Ah, yes, willingness to take critique.
What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?
Reading. I used to devour between three and ten novels a week, before my eyes went bad and I had a house full of children and my own writing career. Any and every genre–science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, how-to, nonfiction–everything but straight horror and chick lit. I’d steal my kids’ books and read those, too.
Writing is also big. The best way to learn to craft a story is to write. Not just one story, or even a dozen, but hundreds. Write, and then write more. Pick apart what you wrote with a critical eye. Find where you messed up. Throw it out and start over. If you fall in love with your first story and never move beyond it, you’ll never learn what you really need to learn to get good at writing.
Sage advice, Aleta.
Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?
Andre Norton is my all-time absolute favorite author. Her books kept me up more nights than I want to admit. She created such fantastic worlds and characters. I could never get enough of her stuff. I still can’t. Anytime I start questioning why I’m writing, I read one of her space adventures. It re-awakens my love of words and stories. It reminds me of why I’m putting stories on paper. It’s because storytelling is fun. Writing is work.
Another fascinating distinction :-)
Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?
From anywhere and everywhere. I’ll be chatting online with friends, being silly, the conversation will take an unexpected turn and I’ll suddenly have more story ideas. Putting bizarre ideas together can also lead to stories. Since I write mostly science fiction and silly horror, it’s perfect for me. I also watch a lot of B movies–old horror movies with the rubber monsters and the newer monster movies, science fiction movies that few people have ever heard of, and lots of campy classics. I have the entire Buck Rogers TV series on DVD, the one from the late 70s. I love it partly because it is so hokey, the costumes are marvelous, the acting is over the top, but the stories are fun and so full of ideas.
What is your normal revision or editing routine?
I have to get the whole thing down before I start editing or I’d never finish writing anything. I play with the story in my head until it feels right, then I write it down, and put it aside for at least a few days or months. When I pull it out to edit, I have some distance and I can read it with a more critical eye. With my novels, the process can take a couple of years before I’m happy with the book. With short stories, I can write, edit, and polish in a few days if I need to. I have several trusted readers that I send things to before I submit anywhere. They usually catch anything I’m too blind to see.
Tell us about what you’ve published and what’s coming up.
I have my first novel out, Nexus Point: The Fall of the Altairan Empire Book One. It’s a science fiction adventure story heavy on the action with just a touch of romance to keep things interesting. Don’t let the Book One scare you, though. This is a complete story. Book 2, Priestess of the Eggstone, is due out later this year. More fun and games with the characters I introduced in Nexus Point, plus a few more just to keep things interesting. You can download sample chapters at Smashwords or from my website.
I also have quite a few short stories out in magazines and anthologies, a few up for free on Smashwords and a few other sites, and a serial Star Trek fanfic story on a blog. Check out my webpage for a complete list and links. I just signed contracts for two more short stories, so I’m keeping myself busy.
Tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it in the future?
Well, on my main blog, on Mondays, I post book reviews, writing tips, author interviews, convention news, whatever strikes my fancy. Thursdays, I post recipes. Cooking is one of my hobbies. Come check out The Far Edge of Normal.
And, your other published work?
I write a column for Abandoned Towers Magazine print issues that features themed recipes based on books and movies.
You can also follow the adventures of Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster of the USS Voyager. This is my Star Trek fanfic, based on a character I play at work during our summer camps.
And try out Nexus Point, if you like adventure. I have ten more books in the series under contract.
Autumn Visions is a collection of short stories I’ve got up on Amazon for the Kindle.
Aleta, thanks so much for stopping by and letting us know about all your work. You’ve got lots going on and I hope our readers ask you more questions in the comments!
Aleta Clegg, writing as Jaleta Clegg:
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