Girl In the Mirror | Interview with Alix Golden

I’d been following Alix Golden for awhile now, having stumbled upon her blog (and promptly falling in love). She recently published a book, and since I love to chat it up with creators, I asked to interview her. So here it is:

1. GIRL IN THE MIRROR is your first novel. I’d love to hear about your process. How long did it take you to write GIRL IN THE MIRROR?
It took 2 years from the time I wrote the first word until I finished my first draft. There was a lot of things going on in my life during the time I was writing. I hope that next time, it won’t take quite that long.

2. How much time did it take for me to find a publisher? How many query letters did you send out? Did you receive a lot of rejections at first? (Or did you self-publish? If so – what was that process like?)

I never tried traditional publishing. I decided to publish myself to retain control over the process. Self publishing is a lot of work, more work than I imagined. I never thought about designing a cover or choosing the font… When you self publish, writing the book becomes the easy part. The real work begins when you’re trying to get it on the shelf.

3. Did you ever feel nervous about putting your work out there?
Absolutely! I feel nervous about it now. I feel better since I’ve gotten the first review out of the way, but I’m still nervous. I put so much of myself in the book, it feels as though people are looking inside of me when they are reading. I can’t hide.
4. Your character is also a black lesbian. Can you explain to me a bit about what prompted you to create her? Did you draw from your own life experiences? Or did you completely make everything up?
The character reminds me of myself. She has a lot of me in her and I pulled a lot of this story from my experiences. Of course I took a creative license, but a lot of it is based on my own reality.
5. I hadn’t seen you on Twitter in ages! (I suppose you were writing!) Do you require a certain type of atmosphere in order to write? What is your usual process during the time you wrote this book?
That depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing a regular scene with dialogue and interactions, I can write in any situation. It could be a party going on around me and I could write. If I’m trying to write a sex scene, I need to be alone with music to write the scene. The mood has to be set to be realistic.
6. Did you have a peer look over your work to help you as you wrote or did you handle all the edits yourself?
I’ve had a few people look over my work to catch things I may have missed. After you’ve been staring at words for months on end, you start to miss the obvious mistakes. Every writer should have someone review their work before printing. I was told once that you should let someone that knows more about writing than you do to read your work. It’s great advice.
7. What’s your favorite aspect of writing? What makes you love it so much?
It’s creating an alternate world. When I was writing this novel, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and passed while I was writing. When you’re telling the story, you get an opportunity to take a break from your real life.
8. Do you plan on writing a second novel? Have you already begun work on something else?
I’ve already started working on the next novel. The working title is The Price of Paper, but it will probably change.
9. When is the release date? Will it be available in retail stores or through some other means?
It will be released on September 1st. It will be available on Amazon, but I’m not sure about retail stores. You will be able to walk into a retail store and have them place a special order for the book, but the decision to carry it in stock on the shelf is made by the bookstore, not by me. You can always find links to all of my work on my website:

Alix B. Golden, Author

#YesGayYA – LGBT Novels

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loathed YA. At least since high school, which tends to be the demographic for Young Adult. I loathed the lack of black characters, and how all the characters seemed to be clones of each other in some way, shape or form. There just didn’t seem to be a lot of diversity – in any respect – and generally, YA had become the bane of my literary existence. With one exception (the Uglies trilogy) – I avoided YA with fervor.

In addition to my YA ban, I’d also renounced a lot of reading in general because of the lack of POC and LGBT characters specifically, since these are things I look for. So for several months, I read only non-fiction, but it’s not as satisfactory as a good science fiction or fantasy novel! While I go back and forth with my dislike for YA with the fact that in general, many mainstream novels lack any kind of decent representation.

Recently, someone linked me to Malinda Lo, a lesbian YA writer, who has two books out with lesbian lead characters. Ms. Lo wrote a post detailing the amount of LGBT books being published each year, and thanks to some links on twitter, I came across an extensive list of LGBT YA books available. Some of the books have LGBT leads, while others have LGBT supporting characters. Additionally, much like my previous post on POC authors, there’s a list of books with POC characters too.

Thanks to the wide world of blogging, there are sites dedicated to exploring diversity in books and being aware that we need to bring more attention to books written by POC.

There’s no telling how difficult or easy trying to get your book published might be. Often times, it seems, a book’s success demands on a mixture of marketing and pure luck. Who would’ve guessed that Harry Potter would’ve become as popular as it did – though it took awhile before it finally took off. I remember being in the minority when HP originally came out, and it wasn’t for several years until I met other HP fans. So I would hate for anyone who is interested in publishing a book with LGBT/POC characters to feel dissuaded.

Often times, representation is difficult to come by. Our experiences regarding our race, gender, sexuality, class (etc) colors our perceptions of the world, and often times in many niche environments (ie: blogging) certain types of people are going to be drawn to that place. It can be hard to create diversity when your experience is both knowingly and unknowingly excluding other types of people and their experiences. Books are definitely no exception to this – and more work definitely needs to be more inclusive.

What kind of representation would you like to see more of? Not just in books but in movies, comics – any kind of media you consume on a daily basis (including blogs!).

As a side note, I’ve entered into a giveaway with a chance to win an ipad 2! I’ll link to it here, in case you’re interested in winning one as well. The contest ends September 30th and by October 2nd, you’ll find out who won! LAMFinances – giveaway