About the Author: Alysa Wishingrad
Alysa Wishingrad writes fantastical stories for young readers, tales that ask; is the truth really true? Her favorite stories are those that meld the historical with the fantastic, and that find ways to shine a light on both the things that divide and unite us all.
She is the author of Between Monsters and Marvels and The Verdigris Pawn, which was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.
Alysa lives in the Hudson Valley with her family and two demanding rescue dogs and a cat-shaped dog, who are either monsters or marvels depending on the day.
What would you like readers to know about you?
Hi Maddie, thank you so much for having me!
I firmly believe there’s no such thing as too late — and that’s especially true about when to begin writing. I came out of college a playwright, moved to NY, had amazing mentors, was part of an amazing theater company. In many ways I had all the opportunities a young writer could want. But I was too results oriented, I wasn’t ready to do the real work of writing, which is, of course, rewriting and rewriting and on and on. It wasn’t until I had my kids and moved to the country and was faced witha lot of time, and myself, that I had the wherewithal to sit down and really do the work. And still, it took me a good long while to learn how to write a novel (although every novel teaches you something new), but I couldn’t run from writing anymore, it was time to do the work.
What music do you listen to (if any) when you write?
I am highly influenced by music— mood, tension, story, lyrical lines all filter into my work. But what I listen to while working really depends on where I am in the process. When I’m trying to find my way into a book and having a hard time focusing, I play binaural beats – they have this magical quality of settling my brain and helping me to dive into the work. Other times it’s an internet radio station that I love from France called FIP – they play an incredibly eclectic mix of music tunes. Sometimes it’s classical, but quite often it’s the dulcet tunes of my dogs barking at every bird that flies by the windows!
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
It wasn’t only books, it was great storytellers across all mediums; plays, musicals, novels, short stories, radio shows, musicians, and even news stories. The idea that we can move people’s hearts and minds with nothing more than words was always like magic to me.
But specifically in kidlit the authors who always inspire me include Frances Hardinge, Laura Ruby, Adam Gidwitz, Gavriel Savit, Anne Ursu, Heather Kassner, Laurie Halse Anderson. How much room do we have??
About the Book: Between Monsters and Marvels
Monsters are still lurking on Barrow’s Bay.
Dare Coates is sure of it. No drifter or ruffian could have killed her father, the Captain of the Guard, while he was on patrol. But everyone insists that monsters have been gone for years now. Dare’s mother. Her classmates. Even the governor, who swiftly marries her mother just months after her father’s death. Dare’s suspicions grow even stronger when the governor suddenly ships her off to the mainland, away from any hope of uncovering the truth about her father’s death.
Or so she thinks.
But when Dare finds solid proof that monsters still exist she starts to question everything she’s always known. Was her father who she thought he was? Who can she trust? Where is the line between good and evil?
The truth hides behind danger and deception.
But with the help of an unlikely crew of cohorts and a stray beastie, nothing will stop Dare from finding out what happened to her father and exposing who the real monsters are.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
BETWEEN MONSTERS AND MARVELS is part fantasy, part mystery, and an all-around great adventureabout one girl’s search for the truth. It’s about sifting through the stories we’ve all be told and trying to figure out where the truth lies. It’s also about the gross inequities in our society, the manipulation of truth, humanity’s relationship to nature, and it’s about coming to understand who and what are the real monsters.
But ultimately, it’s about learning to embrace all those things about ourselves that we think are awful, wrong, that leave us open to ridicule. Dare’s story is one of learning that all those points and angles that make us stick out are truly our superpowers.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I wish I had a clear-cut answer for you, but Dare as a character began to formulate in my head a while ago. And then I began to think about the nature of monsters, why they loom so large in our imaginations, and how they’re used to exert control. I usually begin a book with a tiny seed, either the character or the setting. BETWEEN MONSTERS AND MARVELS was both.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I love my main character Dare, so writing her was an incredible joy. But creating the monsters, coming up with their names, what they look like, what their defenses and gifts are, was so much fun! Some monsters are named for their abilities, one is named for my cat (who can be rather monstrous at times), other names were inspired by how the words sound or what emotions they elicited in me. I’ve even written a glossary of all the monsters for my website, because I love thinking and writing about them so much!
Where can your book be purchased?
Between Monsters and Marvels is available where all fine books are sold. It’s on the big websites and the small. You can order it from your favorite indie or from mine, Oblong Books, where you can get a signed copy with some MARVELous swag.
To the Future Writer:
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Read, Write, Read, Write and then keep doing that forever more. Every new book presents new challenges, andpushes you and your understanding of craft. So, you never want to stop reading other writers, craft books, and listening to how other writers do what they do.
But more than that, be kind to yourself. Be patient with your work. Show up on the days when words flow and when they don’t. Listen to the little voices in the back of your mind that say, “Something here isn’t working.” Ignore the voices that says, “The clock is running, I need to be published or go out on query by xyz time!”
More practically, to find some reliable readers, other writers who you can trust and who will push you. We learn so much from each other. I know it can feel daunting to make connections online, especially when it comes to our work, but the kidlit community is so warm and welcoming, and there are many resources online, a great many are free.
Now more than ever stories matter, write yours!
What’s next for you? Any events, upcoming pubs, etc.
I’ll be launching BETWEEN MONSTERS AND MARVELS with several events in the Hudson Valley region of NY including:
Postmark Books, Rosendale, NY 9/17 @3pm
The Golden Notebook, Woodstock, NY on 9/23 @2pm
Barnes & Noble, Kingston, NY 10/8 @1pm
Split Rock Books, Cold Spring, NY 10/14 Time tbd
And I’m working on two books at the moment. One is a new upper MG fantasy, and the other is for younger MG readers. I hope to be able to share some news about both of those projects soon!
Where can we find you:
Instagram & Threads: @alysawishingradwrites Facebook- AlysaWishingrad
What’s on your TBR list?
I’ve been wanting to reread some of the books that live large in my head from when I was a kid like Phantom Tollbooth and The Borrowers, so they’re on the top of my pile.
But I’d love to tell you about some new titles that I’ve had the pleasure of reading early and loved so you can watch out for them too:
The Widely Unknown Myth of Apple and Dorothy by Corey Ann Haydu
The Curse of Eelgrass Bog by Mary Averling
Nothing Else But Miracles by Kate Albus
Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans by Isi Hendrix
Not Quite A Ghost by Anne Ursu coming early 2024