Interview With Author Cecily Wolfe

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

I am Cecily Wolfe, aka Cecily K. Wolfe and Alessa Martel. I write young adult and contemporary women’s fiction as Cecily Wolfe, inspirational historical romance as Cecily K. Wolfe, and sweet contemporary romance as Alessa Martel – which is a name I share with my youngest daughter, who co-writes them with me.

What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

Oh, wow. My YA stories are inspired, definitely, by real life and real people, especially That Night and The Competition. That Night is about a popular high school senior who dies of a heroin overdose at a party – but really, it’s about how her friends cope with losing her during the month following her death. The Competition is about an academic writing competition for high school juniors, and was inspired by an actual writing competition held in my home state of Ohio, which both of my daughters have participated in. My other books have some roots in people and situations in real life, but not as closely as these two books do.

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I daydream a lot, and I watch people. All the time. I overhear bits of conversation, watch the expression on people’s faces, and wonder what is going on. A lot of my ideas come from these observations and considerations.

How do you deal with creative block?

I don’t really have trouble with it. I usually have several projects going on at once, so if I get annoyed with or tired of one, I can shift to another for a bit and take a break. I also like to take walks, and I read a lot, so I give myself some breathing room from my own creations to refill the well, if you will.

What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

I think not having enough physical action during a character’s musings or discussions. I’ve done this before without noticing, and readers have let me know that they got lost in all the thinking/talking or distracted. Even if the characters are just refilling their coffee mugs or some other mundane task, it’s good to show the readers what they are doing from a physical standpoint to break it up a bit.

Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

I’ve made some mistakes with covers, and what I’ve learned is to look at what successful authors in your genre are using. Readers look for specific things/colors/tones for the genres they love, and it yours doesn’t fit, it might get lost in the shuffle.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

It’s hard not to be bothered personally by a bad review or negative comments, but if it’s constructive, I appreciate it for what value it has to my future work. If it isn’t constructive, well, I move on. I think having favorite reviews to look back to when this happens is helpful to counter any disappointment.

How has your creation process improved over time?

I’ve become more organized and structured. I used to think that I could only write/create when the muse hit me, but I wouldn’t get much done that way, and having a definite time of day to write and a word count/chapter goal has helped me produce more and also feel more in control over my creative work. There’s also a lot less panic when the deadline grows near!

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I try to balance both, because I do want to be able to pay the bills and write what I love – but it can be tricky. I tend to go with my ideas to start, then tailor parts of it to readers, like character names, situations, and of course, reader expectations of the genre. This requires research every time, as all of this changes quickly, but it’s also a good way to stay in touch with what readers are buying and enjoying. Since I write in multiple genres, I can pretty much make me ideas and stories go along with one of the genres I write in, and make these changes so that readers will be happy with them just as I enjoy the process and final product as well.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

Sometimes they help, and sometimes they don’t. I’ve been struggling with a book I’m working on with my sister called American Girls, and because it is semi-autobiographical, it’s been an emotional roller coaster. It’s taken a lot longer to produce (it will publish on January 6, 2020) because of our arguments and a lot of crying. So, in that situation, it’s been difficult. On the other hand, my YA That Night is very dramatic and emotional, and the strength of those emotions had me writing like mad. I just kept going as I was falling into the rhythm of the characters’ emotional upheaval.

Do you have any creativity tricks?

Observe everything and everyone. Even if your characters are on Mars, or in Narnia, or wherever you have them doing whatever you’re having them do, people are people. Watching them will give you the means to bring life to your fictional characters and make them real to your readers.

What are your plans for future books?

My women’s fiction title, American Girls, releases on January 6, 2020, and the first book in my Cliff Walk Cousins series (sequel series to Cliff Walk Courtships) will publish on October 29, 2020. My daughter and I will also be releasing at least one sweet full-length contemporary romance next year as well as Alessa Martel. After that, I have one more women’s fiction title planned, as well as four more Cliff Walk Cousins books. I hope those will keep me busy for a little while, at least!

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.

I adore ice cream. I can’t cook. I love cats. Oh, I’m a librarian. I’m not sure any of that is quirky, but it’s me!


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