Interview with Anthezar, author of “Beyond the Alluring Sky”

Beyond the Alluring Sky is your recent novel. What inspired you to write it?

There were a lot of factors that brought the whole story together, but most of them happened during the process of writing and editing. I will say that I knew from the start that I wanted a savvy street kid and a naive sheltered kid to meet, clash, and become friends – all within a fantasy element. I came up with the original concept in October of 2012, just a few days before Superstorm Sandy hit the coast of NJ. I wrote 47 pages by hand in my notebook while my house was without power for 9 days. The hurricane inspired a part that changed the path of the novel.

How long did it take you to write Beyond the Alluring Sky?

It took me over the course of 4 years to it. However, my style changed drastically within that timeframe and I had to update the original draft to my current style. I would say that in total it took me about a year and a half to two years of work to write, update, and edit Beyond the Alluring Sky. It’s 139,000 words.

How long do you usually take to write a book?

It really depends. I’ve written 120,000 words in 3 weeks before. But sometimes I can only get 12,000 words done in a week. I do know that I have goals that I’m striving for – whether or not I reach them is another story. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop, though.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

I’m working on the next book in my series, which takes place immediately after the events of Beyond the Alluring Sky. I have an idea of how many books there will be, but I’m not exactly sure. I do know that it’s longer than a trilogy. I also have another fantasy series I want to work on, plus a supernatural romance. I’m also working on some fanfiction as well, because I have a number of readers who have been patiently waiting for it. So many stories, so little typing speed. Haha.

How often do you write?

I try to write six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Sometimes, this doesn’t always happen. Some days no writing gets done and I always hate that. But I always try again the next day.

Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

My minimum is 1,000 words a day, but 2,000 is the real goal. The goal I really want to reach is 5,000 words a day. I’ve done it before, so I know I can do it. I always feel like I had a good day when I’ve reached 2,000 words, though.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

When I’m deep in the writing process, it’s hard for me to sit down and read. But when I am reading, it’s a huge amount. I can go through a million words in a week. Some of my favorite authors are Patricia C. Wrede, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Christopher Paolini, Hayao Miyazaki (not a novel writer, but a huge influence nonetheless), Hiromu Arakawa, Yuki Midorikawa, Julietta Suzuki, and so many more.

Have you ever written fanfiction?

Aha… Oh, yes. In fact, I’ve written over 800,000 words on fanfiction. I’ve written a Teen Titans series. The first book is Forgotten Bonds, which is about Robin and Slade. Robin is kidnapped and forced to be an apprentice to Slade. The core story is about their conflicting views on life, the process of change in people, and the bond that an adult and a child can create even when they’re not blood related. I’m currently finishing the second in the series. I know my fans are waiting on the next chapter, haha. I’ve also written some Harry Potter fanfiction.

The good thing about writing so much fanfiction is that I can say with confidence that my first published novel isn’t my ‘first’ work, since everyone says that a writer’s first novel is going to be crappy. Haha.

What is your preferred genre and why do you like it?

I have always loved fantasy – things that make the world more brilliant. I used to write more romance in my ideas, but some of that has since faded. I enjoy writing strong relationships without it always turning to romance. That’s not to say I won’t write romance, because it happens, so long as it’s a natural turn. There’s something drawing about intense, strong friendships/mentorships I love writing fantasy, supernatural/paranormal, and romance, but my favorite is writing the interactions between characters and their growth in the face of hardship.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?

I do proofread my own word and that’s very difficult when my brain likes to skip or even leave out words. I deal with a mild case of dyslexia through that. I use a program called TextAloud to proofread my work. Of course, it’s not infallible and I will still make some mistakes, but hopefully far fewer than I would otherwise.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I always hear the term writer’s block and I never really know how to formulate how it affects me or if it even does affect me. I do know that some days are harder to write than others and generally that’s because I’m personally not feeling my best. If I’m not feeling my writing that day, I tend to do anything and everything to help it get better. My ‘go to’ fix is changing up my music. I can tell if a song is holding me back, usually. And food – can’t write if there’s no fuel for the brain.

How much research do you do for your novels?

For me, research is natural and fluid. If I don’t know something, I’ll look it up. Then, I’ll go back to work. Lots of the time I’ll collect pictures of scenery and characters to help me. A lot of my research comes as I’m searching for inspiration from different sources.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Consistency, I think, is the hardest thing about writing. Being able to write every day and trying to keep your production rate up – it can be very difficult to keep an even pace. But I think as writers we should always try. Also, for me, when I don’t have that ‘movie’ playing in my head, it can make writing really painful. When you can’t see the vision clearly, sometimes it is so hard to get each word down on paper. It’s like pulling teeth.

What do you do in your free time?

I love to play video games (yay for the new Nintendo Switch!); read books, fanfiction, and manga; watch anime; and take care of my newest four-legged writing assistant, Zelda. My days also include cleaning out my house to move.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Stories and characters have always been a part of my life, ever since I was a little girl. I always had this desire to create stories with my dolls and toys. I was always writing something in my teen years, yet as I look back on my work (while cringing affectionately) I can see how little I actually wrote. I finished my first complete story when I was about 21. It was 70,000 words. It has a good core, but it’s not well written. It wasn’t until I was 24 to 25 that I had an explosion of work. 2012 was when I first began Beyond the Alluring Sky and 2013 was the year I finished my first fanfiction story of 300,000 words. It’s been an interesting journey to see my style blossom and to see where my strengths are in writing – and my weaknesses.

Why did you choose to use Anthezar as a penname?

My name is Brittany Nicole Gonzalez and I’m unmarried. I knew that if I got married, my last name would change. I never wanted to make up a completely new name as a penname. So, I decided to go with a name that I’ve been using for over twelve years. I came up with my penname when I was sixteen years old. I’ve used Anthezar as a username for places like Wattpad and Fanfiction.net. I also go by Anthy for short.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

Oh, I definitely think that’s the case. As much as we writers don’t want it to be so, people are drawn to beautiful covers. Some people will buy a book simply because of a beautiful cover. Thus, for myself, I am willing to pay for a professional cover. It’s so important. Plus, there’s nothing like holding your own book in your hands and seeing how beautiful it looks.

How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?

 It plays a HUGE part. I’m always looking for new music when my current selection isn’t working for me. Right now, I’m listening to the latest album from Sia.

Any marketing advice you would like to give to aspiring indie authors?

If you want a step by step to marketing, I have no idea. It’s a process I’m barely able to understand. But I learned the BEST advice ever the other day: “Your novel is not your baby. It’s a hamburger.” At first, it can kind of be insulting, like, “Excuse you, it took me forever to write this and the characters were being beasty the entire time. I can cook a dumb hamburger in 10 minutes.” But that’s the point, isn’t it? Make more. Write more. Never stop. I’m not a one hit wonder. And that’s okay. We, as indie writers, keep hearing about all these super successful writers. We think, “I wanna be like that.” But what do they have in common? TONS of books. So, keep writing. Keeping finishing. Keeping flipping your hamburgers in the shape of books. And ask boldly, “Would you like fries with that?” Personally, I rather work at my own hamburger keyboard than anywhere else.

Any writing advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

Be humble, be persistent, be vigilant, and be hopeful. It’s hard taking advice and critique. Be humble, but trust yourself. You are the writer. You are the first reader. Please yourself before you please someone else. I also, personally, wouldn’t write because you want to make money. It’s not easy to write a book. If you love it, then don’t stop writing. Keep going at it. And when people don’t like your work – because you can’t please everyone – don’t get discouraged. There are readers out there who want to read what you have to say.