I’m excited to share this interview I did for a young author, Alec John Belle. His new book has just come out and I got to chat with him about young adult fiction, paranormal fantasy, and dark issues that effect teens nowadays. Check it out here:
Nicolette: First just to break the ice, I’d like to ask you something different. Tell me a fun fact about yourself that your readers might not already know.
Alec: Besides being a high school student? I’d say the fact that I used to do magic when I was a kid. I used to be really into it, and my parents even bought me a few magic kits as well. I gave it up after a while.
N: Who was your favorite author as a child and why?
A: My favorite author as a child was R.L. Stine. I loved his Goosebumps and Fear Street books. He was the author who actually got me interested in writing
N: Who is your favorite author right now and what do you like about their novels?
A: That’s a very tough question. My favorite paranormal YA author right now is probably Julie Kagawa. She is an amazing world builder. My favorite paranormal adult author is probably Kim Harrison. I like her series, The Hollows, because while it was 13 books, it never got boring. The structure follows mine in the sense that there’s a series-long plot, but each book has its own story (meaning a beginning, middle, and end). It was done so perfectly, I just had to use it for The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles. Hopefully I can pull it off as well as her.
N:What are you reading right now?
A:I’m currently reading Prey by Rachel Vincent. Its the fourth book in her Shifters series. After that I’ll probably start reading The Mortal Instruments series.
N: Is there an author(s) who inspires you?
A: Kim Harrison, Julie Kagawa, and Ellen Hopkins all inspire me. In fact, every author I read a book by, even if I don’t like it, inspires me. If you have the courage to get your book published, you’re an inspiration to me.
N: What was the inspiration for Forbidden Darkness?
A: The inspiration for the story changed over time. When I first conceived the idea, I was on a hayride at Boone Hall Plantation for their annual Halloween festival. While I was on the ride, I got this idea of Monster Hunters, and originally the first scene in the book was on a hayride. The funny thing is, the story has evolved so much. When I first wrote the book it was called A Dark Discovery and had a completely different character as a narrator, and Heather was a minor character. I ended up liking her story more, so I changed it to her. After the third book comes out, I can tell you where the series was originally going to start and who was going to tell it, because the third book now was supposed to be the first book.
I eventually put the series aside for a while, and the story grew. It grew so much that its going to take 8 books. I developed more complex and deeper subjects to talk about (like suicide, self-harm, struggles with gay teens, etc.) instead of just a Monster Hunting world.
N: It looks like you’re not afraid to take on challenging subjects (Like Kristen’s attempted suicide in Forbidden Darkness) as a writer, do you enjoy working with some darker subject matter that others might be afraid to touch?
A: Like I said, the deeper, darker subjects weren’t going to be in there at first. I struggled with my own issues for quite a few years, so eventually I decided to weave it in. Even though it’s a fictional world, I wanted my characters to have real world issues.
I’m definitely not afraid to tackle these issues. I don’t fear them in any way. In the coming years, I will definitely be covering more because I don’t believe in censorship. If it’s something people deal with, it should be able to be written about. My upcoming realistic fiction novel, Before I Break, which re-releases this summer, also covers similar issues in a contemporary setting. One thing I tell my readers to always expect is that if it’s a book by me, there will probably be some darker subjects woven in.
N: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A: The hardest part was trying to blend the real issues and the paranormal issues. The whole time I had to tell myself I couldn’t make suicide or self-harm seem “cool” to do. Because it’s not. It was also difficult because Heather, the main character, doesn’t really deal with emotional issues like that. She’s stronger than the secondary characters, but she also needed to have her own problems. It was difficult to balance. If she’s too strong and has no weakness, she’s unrealistic. If she’s too weak, no one will care. Having her best friend deal with depression (I think a lot of teens do these days) gave a bit of realism to Heather, and how she handles the trauma of her best friend trying to kill herself.
N: Which character is your favorite? (I promise I won’t tell the others)
A: Heather is my favorite character currently. Because I have the whole series planned, I know a little something you don’t, so I actually can’t spoil who my favorite character is of the entire series. Their story is so intertwined with Heather and so in depth. The two of them are the best characters for sure. You’ll know who that character is by the second or third book.
N: What’s next for you?
Right now my realistic fiction LGBT novel, Before I Break, is being re-published by Booktrope this summer. That will be going into proofreading soon, and when that happens, I can get back to writing the second Forbidden Darkness Chronicles book. I’m about 1/3 of the way through. The plan is to get the second book out before the year is over, and the third book early next year. I do have a planned sequel for Before I Break that will also most likely come between the end of this year and early next year, depending on how much time I have. Right now my main focus is The Forbidden Darkness Chronicles.
Being a sixteen year old Monster Hunter sucks. That’s what Heather Hawkins learns just days before her sixteenth birthday. After dealing with her best friend, Kristen’s, attempted suicide, the last thing Heather wants is any more drama. When the realistic dreams of Heather being haunted by a guy named Kadin begin, she learns the truth. She is a Monster Hunter, and on her birthday, she will undergo a change that will make her stronger, more powerful, and nearly invincible to Monsters. Along with having a hot new trainer named Philip, she believes that this will be a new beginning for herself. Unfortunately, Monsters aren’t the only thing Heather needs to worry about. With someone stalking her dreams, she realizes there may be more than just Monsters in the world, and that Kadin will do anything to stop her from helping the Monster Hunters. Even if that means unleashing an entity that was locked away by his people thousands of years ago. In this all-new paranormal young adult series, romances will be formed, evil becomes unleashed, and everyone Heather loves will soon be at risk. Because in a world where Monsters walk the earth, anything is possible.
Student that resides in the state of Massachusetts. At the age of 16 he wrote his first novel, Before I Break. His hobbies include reading, writing, and obsessing over Pretty Little Liars. He writes about tough topics that many are too afraid to talk about like suicide, homosexuality, self harm, cyberbullying, anxiety disorders, addiction, among other teenage issues, and he often blends these ideas with the paranormal.