Tuesday, March 27, 2012

❤author: Alina Adams Interview and Giveaway!

❤ I'm thrilled to welcome author, Alina Adams, to the blog today. Welcome to ¡Miraculous!, Alina! Will you please share a short bio with us?

I'll try to keep it short. ;) I was born in the former Soviet Union, and moved to the United States with my parents when I was seven. When not writing books, I've mostly worked in television, including E! Entertainment (when I was there, nobody knew what a Kardashian was), ABC Daytime (that's the soaps; when I was there, they still had four on the air), ABC Sports (and ESPN) in their figure skating department, and Procter & Gamble Productions for As the World Turns and Guiding Light. I currently live in New York City with my husband and three kids, where I am in the process of turning all my previously published books into enhanced eBooks with audio, video, et cetera, and helping other writers do the same (like Dan Elish, whose children's fantasy, The Worldwide Dessert Contest now includes its own original musical theater score!)

❤ The enhanced eBooks sound marvelous! Tell us a little more about them, as well as your Figure Skating Mystery series.

In 2002, following the Olympic Pairs' figure skating judging scandal in Salt Lake City, I wrote Murder on Ice, the first in what became a five book series, based on the real-life events. Except in my version, the judge who awarded the Gold medal to the dour Russian over the perky American is promptly murdered. And it's up to Bex Levy, television researcher (a job I was very familiar with), to solve the crime.

At the time I first wrote the book, and its follow ups, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop, and Skate Crime, when it came to talking about the beauty and majesty and artistry and athleticism of figure skating, all I had at my disposal were words. Now, however, with the advent of new technology, I can actually illustrate the performances of my main characters, thanks to videos provided by the Ice Theatre of New York. Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition is an eBook that not only features all the text of the original, Berkley Prime Crime paperback release, but also skating videos embedded as an integral part of the story!

❤ How did you arrive at writing mystery? Do you write any other genres?

The very first book I sold, The Fictitious Marquis (to AVON in 1995), was a Regency romance, as was my second, Thieves at Heart. Alas, I am of the belief that nothing truly romantic could have taken place prior to the invention of indoor plumbing. I switched to contemporary romance in 1998 with Annie's Wild Ride and When a Man Loves a Woman in 2000 (the latter is also currently available as When a Man Loves a Woman: Enhanced Multimedia Edition, featuring its own musical soundtrack). I came to mysteries after a non-fiction book I wrote in 2001, Sarah Hughes: Skating to the Stars unexpectedly hit the best-seller list following Sarah Hughes' upset victory at the Olympics. My editor on that book asked if I had any interest in writing a figure skating mystery. I said yes. The same way I'd said yes eight years earlier when an editor asked me if I'd like to write a Regency romance. I didn't even know what a Regency romance was then. I, at least, knew what a mystery was (and was already an avid reader). So I figured I was ahead of the game.

❤ How funny, but fortunate! How much of your actual life gets written into your fictional stories?

Well, in the case of Murder on Ice, the character of Bex is a great deal like me – eighteen years ago. She is just out of college, in her first full-time job, desperate to make a good impression, and while she believes she knows a great deal (and she does), she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, which is her biggest obstacle. As is the fact that, when you’re that young and that eager, it’s pretty difficult to discern what’s truly a big deal, and what won’t matter a whit in a few years – or days.

Because my background is in soap operas (another enhanced eBook, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments features interviews with the actors, writers and producers who created the scenes fans voted as their favorites and features links to the scenes themselves), I made my Figure Skating Mysteries a series. While each book features a single crime that gets solved at the end, the characters move from book to book. They change and evolve and grow. The same way I hope I have (for the better) since I started writing them.

❤ What are your biggest motivations for writing?

An inability to do anything else. No, really. I can’t not write. I can’t not make up stories. It’s pretty much all I do. I walk to pick up my kids from school, I cook dinner, I shower, and I hear characters talking in my head. What else is there to do but write it down?

❤ Can you honestly say being an author is your ideal job? Do you ever sometimes wish you hadn't begun a writing career?

Being a writer is absolutely my ideal job. If I had my druthers, I would do nothing but write stories, then hand them off to other people to produce and edit and, most importantly, market and promote. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Whether you’re with a major New York City publisher, a small press, or reissuing previously published works on your own, you have to get the word out about them to the most important people in this process – the readers. No one else will do this for you. I love talking to readers, I love blogging, I love answering questions and hearing what people like – and don’t like – about my work.

However, the process of finding reviewers, blog hosts, interviewers and other promotional details – if I could leave that part to someone else, I wouldn’t miss it.

❤ Very insightful – I feel I'd do the same! How would you describe your writing style and tone?

I like to believe I’m light and funny. Some people agree with me; some do not. I also enjoy writing characters who do things, not just talk about them (frankly, I prefer that quality in real-life people, too).

I prefer dialogue over exposition (in both writing and reading), self-deprecation over self-pity (again, a quality I like to see in real life), and plot over introspection. I’m the kind of reader who always wants to know “what happens next?” And I hope I’m a writer who inspires the same enthusiasm.

❤  What about you would surprise your readers?

English isn’t my first language. I didn’t speak a word of it when I started second grade in San Francisco, CA. But I think I picked it up pretty well ;)

You sure have! Glad to see fellow second-tonguer around town :) Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

There is good writing, and there’s writing that sells. Sometimes a piece can be both. But, it doesn’t have to be. Figure out what you’re most interested in, and what those words mean to you. Frankly, I’ve sold very few books, articles, what have you, that were truly as “good” as I would have liked them to be. But if I’d continued to work on them incessantly, I might have missed the chance to get them sold and out into the world (where other people can take great glee in explaining what’s wrong with them). I’ve had work that I liked edited to the point where I didn’t even like it anymore – I felt the flavor and tone of the original piece had been irrevocably lost. But the editor is boss, and I went along with it. Writing is my career and my job, and I treat it as such.

❤ What's a question you always want to be asked during interviews? How would you answer it?

I know one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my career is that I’ve skipped around from genre to genre. I wrote two Regency romances, two contemporary romances, five mysteries, three books of non-fiction, three soap opera tie-ins (Oakdale Confidential, The Man From Oakdale, and Jonathan’s Story), and now this whole enhanced eBook thing. I’m not easy for a reader to keep up with.

I wish someone would ask, “Why, Alina? Why do you skip around like this – to your professional detriment?”

The answer would be: Because I am always looking for a new challenge. I feel like once I’ve got the hang of something, it’s time to move on, try something different. Fortunately, with enhanced eBooks, we are all still so early in the game, nobody knows what’s going on (and if they tell you they do, they’re lying), or what this will ultimately turn into. I can’t wait to find out. And to be a part of that process.

❤ What’s the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?

It’s not so much one comment, per se, but the many disparate reactions that can be triggered by a single story. My first contemporary romance, Annie’s Wild Ride and, to an extent, its follow up, When a Man Loves a Woman were incredibly polarizing. People either loved the main characters, or detested them. They either understood why they did what they did, or thought it made no sense at all. No one was on the fence.

I found it absolutely fascinating how the same story could engender such conflicting reactions.

When I was at Procter & Gamble Productions, I developed a media property for them, Another World Today, which was an online soap opera where fans got a chance to vote at the end of every episode on where they’d like the story to go next. No matter how obvious a question seemed to be, we never, ever, ever had a landslide poll result. There were always divergent opinions.

It taught me there is no such thing as a story that everybody likes.

 What's next for you?

After Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition, I plan to enhance all five books in my Figure Skating Mystery series, followed by my romances. Once that’s done, I will be launching an original series, Counterpoint which, like Another World Today, will allow the readers to guide the story as I write it. I plan to put out a book a month with my readers’ help!

In addition, I am actively working with other writers to help enhance their books, and am always interested in new projects and proposals.

Where can you be found on the web?

My website has information on all of my current and upcoming books, as well as a mailing list for all the latest news. In addition:
Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

What can I do to make the enhanced eBook experience better and more enjoyable for readers? Please e-mail/Facebook/Tweet me and let me know. As I said, I am eager to work on projects that take reader feedback into consideration. I want to be interactive, and I
want to hear from you!

In the meantime, I am giving away a copy of my coffee-table book, Inside Figure Skating. Leave a comment on this interview with your thoughts about enhanced eBooks and where the future of reading is headed in general, in order to be eligible to win. And thank you!

You heard Alina right! One lucky winner will receive a Inside Figure Skating by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.
Giveaway runs through June 30th, 2012 at 11.59 pm (EST).
Open to readers in the continental US only!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!