Friday, August 12, 2022

Guest Post by A.L. Tait author of The Mapmaker Chronicles, Maven & Reeve Series and Ateban Cipher

 Today I'm super excited to have A.L Tait, author of The Mapmaker Chronicles, Ateban Ciper series, and the Maven & Reeve Series, which I'm reading right now (keep a lookout for my review).  Her latest book, The Wolf's Howl released this year from Kane Miller Books and she's here today with a guest post on moving from a reader to writer.  Thank you so much for dropping by Allison!  

From reader to writer: an epic adventure story

By A. L. Tait

As a young reader, I was voracious, consuming words in great gulps and vast quantities.

I read all kinds of stories, leaving the local library with armloads of books every week –sometimes returning them days later, having breezed through the stack.

I read over breakfast, at lunchtime, walking down the street, when I was supposed to be doing my homework, late at night under the covers with a torch.

Mostly, I read mystery stories. Strong characters in strong plots with solid resolutions. Kids working together, always watching each other’s backs. These stories were catnip for a kid who moved around a lot in the primary school years, never quite feeling she found her place.

But I never had a sense of those stories as having come from a person.

Oh, there was a name on the cover, but for me, books were about the characters and settings, both near and far away, and they dropped from the ether onto the shelves of the library or bookshop.

In those days, well before the internet, children like me, who lived in rural and/or remote places in Australia, never saw an author. There were no school visits or Zoom sessions where authors talked about how they wrote their stories or where they got their ideas.

There were just the books, and the next great series to find.

I think this is one reason why it took me until my mid-twenties to start to think I could write fiction.

Oh, I’d always written. I wrote stories for school and did very well in English. I even had a poem published in our local newspaper when I was in grade five (my Mum cut it out and saved it for me). There was no doubt that I could string a sentence together, which is probably why I ended up working for many years as a magazine journalist.

But an author?

By my mid-twenties, I was working as a features editor on a women’s magazine, sometimes interviewing authors about their new novels. By that stage, I’d read thousands and thousands of books, and one Saturday morning I woke up and thought, ‘why not give it a crack?’

And so began a journey, of many ups and downs, through the Kingdom of Romance Novels, via the Peak of Almost Publication, and the Valley of New Motherhood, that, years later, finally brought me back to where my love of words had begun: adventure and mystery stories for young readers.

My first series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, was written for my sons (then nine and six). My second series, The Ateban Cipher, was
 written for my nieces – four feisty girls holding their own in our extended family against a majority of boys.

My latest series, The Maven & Reeve Mysteries, was written for me – or the me I was at the age of ten or thereabouts. I drew on all of those years of reading mystery stories to write one of my own.

A mystery series set in an ‘almost history’ world, featuring Maven, a maid, and Reeve, a squire, who must work together to solve crimes? Sign me up.

Watching the friendship develop between these two characters has been one of my greatest joys as a writer. Throw in a secret resistance movement for girls and young Allison, reading under the covers all those years ago, would be running to the library for the next installment.

I will add that writing mysteries involves a lot more wrestling (in the mind) and sweat than reading them does. Setting up a huge puzzle and trying to figure out how to give readers enough clues to solve that puzzle while still hiding the solution from them until the very end… well, let’s just say the ending of The Fire Star (book #1) probably surprised me as much as it does readers!

I still read detective novels, and still love strong plots built around vivid characters. I no longer have quite as much time to inhale words like I did then (and, frankly, not the stamina to stay up reading all night), but when I find a series I like, I devour it.

Now, though, I get to create them as well as consuming then.

I like to think 10-year-old me would be cheering.

A. L. Tait is the internationally published, bestselling author of epic adventure and mystery series for middle-grade readers. The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and the Maven & Reeve Mystery series are all available in the US through Kane Miller Books. Allison lives in Australia with her family. Find out more about Maven & Reeve here and more about Allison here:

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