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My family recently took a holiday that involved a long car journey, and to pass the time we selected an audio book. We chose a story from Audible called The Illuminator’s Gift and we quickly realised we had discovered an absolute gem.

The whole family enjoyed this novel aimed at young people, so we bought the next book in the series straight after finishing the first novel.

I was curious about the author so I looked her up and was stunned to discover that the whole series was independently published. I was stunned not because there is anything wrong with indie publishing, as followers of this site will know I am a big advocate of indie authors, no the shock came from the fact that I just assumed these books would be with a major publishing house and have a film deal attached to it.

So as is the tradition at The World Outside the Window I reached out to Alina to see if she was free for a chat about her wonderful fantasy series.

“Ellie is a twelve-year-old orphan who desperately wants a family. She just doesn’t expect to find one when she joins the crew of the Legend, a flying ship in a secret rescue fleet. On board, she meets a boy with a pet tarantula, a bully with eyes like mirrors, and a librarian who can read eighteen languages. Unexpectedly, Ellie also discovers a powerful gift that only she can wield. But when the Legend is called to a dangerous rescue mission, Ellie risks losing everyone she loves. Will her mysterious gift be enough to save her and her friends from a deadly enemy bent on destroying their world?”

How long does it take to write a novel?

That answer varies hugely! It took me about five years to complete The Illuminator’s Gift, my first published novel, from start to finish. However, the sequel (The Illuminator’s Test) only took me nine months. Since then, I’ve settled into a more moderate rhythm: once I have a developed idea, I can turn it into finished book in 14-18 months and still get sleep.

“Writing is all about living with our eyes wide open, inhaling deeply of the beauty and the tragedy of the world around us, and then exhaling that experience onto paper in our own voices”

What’s the editing process like for you, especially factoring in you are self-publishing the books?

I’m actually professionally trained as an editor, so that part doesn’t cause me a lot of pain and suffering. I usually do 4-5 complete drafts of a book myself, putting it through progressively finer sieves until I’m reasonably confident I’ve caught the more egregious errors. Then, even though I’m an editor myself, I hire a proofreader for the final draft. After spending so much time looking at the manuscript, I can’t even see my own errors after a certain point.

A question from my 8 year old son; what’s it like being an author and where did the idea for sky-ships come from?

Well, for one, being an author is awesome. When I was little, I wanted to be everything when I grew up. Writing books lets you do that. I can’t trace the flying ships idea to any particular moment, but I did always like stories involving ships (e.g. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Peter Pan) and even wrote a series of pirate stories as one of my earliest projects. Ironically, I get very seasick and would make a terrible sailor in real life!

There is a very British sensibility about the books, Hornblower meets JM Barrie. I read online that you are based in the states so where does this influence come from?

It’s funny that you noticed that! I am an American – I’ve lived most of my life in California – but many of my favorite books, especially from childhood, are British. I grew up on all sorts of British classics: the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Chronicles of Narnia, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Jane Austen. I guess I picked up those rhythms from reading and adopted them as my own.

“An allegory surpassing Narnia”

There is a lot of religious imagery in the series, and a classic battle of good versus evil (for me you’ve done a better job than the Narnia books in creating a tale that also works as religious allegory) what were some of your choices when creating Ishua, a very mysterious Aslan type figure?

Wow, I’m honored to be ranked with C.S. Lewis in any category! Personally, I am a Christian, and I think it’s impossible for a writer’s life not to influence their work. However, from the very beginning it was important to me not to write something “preachy” or overly didactic. A story is first of all a story, and I wanted readers from all backgrounds to be able to enjoy my books and find their own meaning in them.

You’re a teacher as well as a writer, so what advice do you give to your students and any aspiring writers?

I hate it when students see writing as just a boring process of putting black-and-white words on paper. Writing is all about living with our eyes wide open, inhaling deeply of the beauty and the tragedy of the world around us, and then exhaling that experience onto paper in our own voices. Writing is about taking walks and going to museums and playing with puppies and reading the news and staring at the ceiling, and only then is it about seizing your pen and paper and scribbling madly in the middle of the night.

A question from my daughter; what’s your favourite book?

That is a very hard question to answer, as I have so many! A few of my favorites, though, include the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, and Hamlet by William Shakespeare

“Hornblower meets JM Barrie”

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Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Now she is the award-winning author of The Voyages of the Legend fantasy series as well as an educator, editor, and speaker.

Alina Sayre began her literary career chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Now she is the award-winning author of The Voyages of the Legend fantasy series as well as an educator, editor, and speaker.

When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys hiking, crazy socks, and reading under blankets. She does not enjoy algebra or wasabi. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.

https://alinasayre.com/about-3/

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