Nanowrimo Spotlight: Alyssa Hollingsworth

Hello, friends and followers. Today’s a very special day, so I’m sending out a special spotlight. Say hello to Alyssa!

Why don’t you introduce yourself, first?
I was born in small town Milton, Florida, but life as a roving military kid soon mellowed my (unintelligibly strong) Southern accent. Wanderlust
is in my blood, and I’m always waiting for the wind to change. Stories remain my constant. I received my bachelor’s in English/Creative Writing from Berry College and my master’s in Creative Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University.

How much Nanowrimo experience do you have under your belt?
I’m a NaNo vet! I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in 2009, 2010 and 2013. I also did JulNoWriMo in 2009, and CampNaNoWriMo in 2014. I’ve won every time.

My all-time favorite memory is from 2009. I was a freshman in college, and I’d recruited several other writers to join me on campus for write-ins and the like. One day I was walking through the cafeteria and saw a fellow writer across the way, a girl named Anna. I had just come from the NaNo website, so I shouted across to her, “HEY! YOU! You have three hundred words more than me! You’re going DOWN.”

She looked over and shouted back, “OH YEAH? BRING IT!”

The smack talk went on for several minutes. Meanwhile everyone in the area turned around to look at us in utter bewilderment. This was the kick-off to an intense week where both Anna and I battled every day, often until midnight, to try and keep ahead. It was the first time I’d had that sort of writing friend and competition, and I still remember it fondly. (By the way, I won in the end.)
elatha quote

What are you writing about this year?
I’m continuing a Young Adult fantasy trilogy (at the moment, the placeholder name is Soul-Illumined Series) with the third book, WAKE. In this installment, after Princess Elatha reveals controversial information to the public, she’s forced to flee the country before her mother can punish her. Elatha never wanted to leave the safety of her home, and finds herself suddenly without family or direction. All she has now is a mentally-unstable ex-mermaid (Rae), who wants nothing more than to forget her man-eating days, and the youngest member of the Council of Twenty (Remiel), who is convinced Elatha should return to lead an uprising against the now-toppling monarchy. Basically, this is just an excuse for me to get my characters out on the high seas and across to new countries, including a chained library in pseudo-Ephesus.

What is your favorite book – you have to pick just one!
It’s very hard to pick! I’m a big fan of classics, Jane Austen and Tolkien. But at the moment, I’m particularly in love with Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell. It’s a gorgeous middle grade that sucks you into a beautiful world full of music, thieves, and books, all centered around the rooftops of Paris.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
Write about the things that fascinate you–the things you want to learn about. Challenge yourself to learn as you write, and it will show with a special vividness. If you¹re growing as a person while you write, your work will challenge your reader to do the same.

Sneaky Ninja question! What has been the greatest achievement of your life?
Probably shaking Elie Wiesel’s hand as I accepted the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity’s Third Prize in Ethics for a creative non-fiction essay I wrote. It was a pretty surreal and amazing day! (You can read more about that here:

You can find Alyssa at her website, or on the Nanowrimo site.


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