Author Spotlight: Alechia Dow
|Photo: Nadine Rodler|
Today we are excited to feature debut author Alechia Dow and her YA novel, THE SOUND OF STARS (Inkyard Press, February 25, 2020).
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|Art Direction: Erin Craig, Cover Design: Mary Luna|
Hi everyone! I'm Alechia Dow, author of THE SOUND OF STARS, former YA librarian and pastry chef.
So! I got into writing for teens a long long time ago, but never thought it was possible or that I was talented enough. When I was a teen, I spent most of my time at the town library. When I turned fifteen, I got my first official job as a library page, shelving books and having access to all of these amazing books. The library became that one place where I felt I fit in, and the librarians were like family to me; they cared about my school work, that I was happy and taken care of, that I followed my dreams... They helped me with my college essays, they told me I had potential to do anything I set my mind to.
When I went to college, I began writing stories––most of them kinda horrible, lol. But I found that I loved to write... for fun. And then, as planned, I went to library school to hopefully provide a home for teens like the way the librarians did for me. There, I took classes on young adult literature. Something snapped in my brain that made me think, wow maybe one day I could actually write stories for teens, and they could be published! Maybe I could make a difference with my books! Years later, that became a reality, and I'm still grateful and surprised and excited that I got this opportunity.
Congrats on your YA debut, THE SOUND OF STARS. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you!! THE SOUND OF STARS was that book that just felt right to write. I'd just shelved two books I wrote, and then, out of nowhere, I was inspired by the idea of a secret, illegal library. Which got me to thinking, why is it illegal? And then it evolved over the course of a long walk into a story about a rebel librarian and an alien who loves music. This is often how my mind works, one minute I have a fragment of an idea, and the next, it's a full-fledged plot bunny that I tend to follow on the page!
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road to publication was a twisty one for sure. Like most people, I wrote several books before I signed with an agent. Then, I was given an opportunity to do a Writing in the Margins mentorship with Tamara Mataya. She helped me hone my craft and basically taught me how to write purposefully. Because of her, I had the skills to write The Sound of Stars in June 2017.
I pitched the story to Pitch Wars in August and didn't get in. Then I pitched it in #PitMad in September, and agents liked it! Three days later, I had an offer. After months of revising with that agent, we realized we had different visions and parted ways.
Then I was back to querying this nearly finished book! A month later, I signed with a new agent. And six months later, we had an offer. It was wild, I didn't believe it was possible. But I was lucky to have the perfect editor for my story and Inkyard Press has been incredibly kind to me, not only giving me a *gorgeous* cover, but supporting me throughout this process. It's been an absolute dream.
You worked as a pastry chef and food critic. Does your former career ever influence your writing themes and stories?
Oh goodness, yes! Every character I write has an appreciation for food. A lot of books I've written since THE SOUND OF STARS have major foodie scenes, and I absolutely love writing them! There's something truly magical about food, making food, giving food to others---a theme I like to include is that making food for others is an act of love.
What projects are you working on now?
Well, I wrote a YA foodie fantasy book that's just so foodtastic and fun. It includes recipes I've created over the years, and it's the kind of story I would have loved to read as a teen! I also wrote a dystopian-esque YA that's very daring and twisty, and I'm working on some other scifi projects, one a space whodunnit, and another a space rom-com! I'm having fun writing all of these!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Keep writing. Rejection is discouraging, but we all experience it---believe me. The only thing you can control in this industry are the words that you put down on the page. If writing makes you happy, if you feel good doing it, keep writing. That, in itself, is a huge success.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Hmmm.... When people read THE SOUND OF STARS, they'll think I wrote Ellie as a form of myself... but actually, I identify more with Morris. I know what it feels like to be different than what's expected of you. And I wear my heart on my sleeve, to my own peril.
Where can people find you online?
You can find me on Twitter (@alechiawrites), Instagram (@alechiadow), and my website: alechiadow.com Thank you all so much for reading!!!
Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, food critic, culinary teacher, and Youth Services librarian. When not writing YA sci-fi featuring determined black girls (like herself), you can find her having epic dance parties with her daughter, baking, mentoring, or taking teeny adventures around Europe.