Happy Memorial Day Weekend! For those of us in the USA, this is a holiday to remember. Remember those who served and are serving our country, giving up so much for us to live the free live we often don’t acknowledge. Many have given more that their service time, they have given their lives. And to the families of these wonderful men and woman, we also thank.
To many, this is the first holiday that travel is possible after over a year, and there are families to see, places to go and celebrations to be had. But as readers, no matter when or where, we are looking for splendid books to read. So, let me introduce you to our next “summer reads” author.
Alyn Troy is a paranormal-cozy mystery author of the Pixie Twist Mystery series and the Mystic Brews Mystery series. You can find her books in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. You can also follow her Facebook page and keep up with her writing life. Lets find out a bit more about Alyn…
Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Anywhere on a cruise ship. My sweetie and I have taken ten cruises so far, with our favorites being Hawaii and Alaska. My favorite ships are the Jewell class from Norwegian (NCL). You can find me in their Great Outdoors café, sipping coffee or iced tea, watching the ocean slide by. I might also have my computer in front of me, writing another twisty chapter of fae mystery.
Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach. What is in yours?
A big umbrella for shade, my iPad with some reads on it, and a tall tumbler of something cool to drink. I’m not one for sun, though I love daylight. I always want to sit by a window. At a beach, you’d probably find me up at the tiki bar, or coffee shop, sitting in the shade on the veranda, avoiding the sand while I spent time reading and people watching.
What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
Characters! Setting should accent what makes the characters unique. My favorite reads are when the setting is part of the story but not the dominant feature. Why is the character there? What happens if they leave the locale? Do they fall in love with the place, the shop, the town? Why?
Characters make the story, and the location.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always been a reader, and my dream job was to be a writer. In high school (many year ago) I tried writing a few short stories for pulp-style magazines, but always got rejected. So, in journalism school, I settled on photojournalism for my career.
Even after I left journalism and focused on wedding photography, I liked to write, but never tried to actually get an entire story down on paper. I focused more on my journalism background, and blogged about my hobbies for now defunct websites.
Only after returning to college to work on a graduate degree in journalism, did I rekindle my love of writing. In grad school I was mentored by two professors who loved long-form narrative journalism. I grew to love writers such as John McPhee, Hunter Thompson, and Eric Larson. My dream job was teaching their work to aspiring journalists in college classrooms.
After my spouse’s career took us to California several years ago, I wasn’t able to find a job in my field, so I started writing. A friend showed me the cozy mystery field was doing well, and my love of the old teen detectives, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators, and all of the old Scooby Doo cartoons gave me the inspiration I needed to make a magical world for April and Twizzle.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Napping. No, seriously.
I usually begin with a victim, a perp, and how it was done. Then I start figuring out ancillary characters. Whenever I get stuck on what comes next, I go do something else. Take a walk, go shopping, or nap. Whether it’s napping, or waking the next morning after a night of sleep, that’s when my subconscious connects the dots, or opens a door I didn’t realize was there in the plot.
Do you base your characters real people?
The Pixie Twist series has two characters based off of real people.
When I started writing Pixie Twist series, Twizzle was a girl from my imagination. I didn’t know then why I wanted to write about a pixie with a wing that made her fly wonky.
Eventually, I realized the reason I started developing the town of St. Maurice and the faerock veins was based off a real person I had photographed at their wedding almost fifteen years ago.
All weddings are unique, but one that I photographed about was even more so, thanks to the groom. He had suffered an injury on a bike ride years before, and used a wheelchair ever since. His groomsmen were friends of his who also used wheelchairs. They all participated in sports, despite not having use of their legs.
Jumping forward to my writing, once my brain worked through who Twizzle Twist was, I realized it was the memory of that groom and his friends coming through to let me know there was no reason to not include people of all types in my books.
It’s no surprise where the inspiration for Twiz’s love interest in book one comes from. Chaz is a vampire who uses a wheelchair while the sun is up. He regains the use of his legs once the sun goes down and the undead magic heals his injury for the night. Now, I realize that Twiz is similar to the bride from that wedding from fifteen years ago. Red hair, a pleasant personality, and in love with a guy who happens to be in a chair. Perhaps, by book twenty or so in the series, there may even be a wedding.
My subconscious works in mysterious ways. To pull that couple out of my past, and build main character out of that experience astounds me. Fortunately, more than enough time has passed that I’m confident in saying the personalities are not based on that couple. But their situation was what inspired these characters.
Another character in the series is inspired by a real person. Twiz’s bestie, Amanda is a mermaid who runs the pier’s coffee shop. Faerock has twisted Amanda’s tail. Like Twiz, she not the most mobile.
In fact, I based Amanda on one of my beta readers (with her permission). She uses crutches in her daily life, just like the mermaid barista (when she’s in human form).
If my beta reader is a real mermaid, she’s not admitting it.
When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh for both your readers and also yourself?
Character growth. If the main character isn’t growing by the end of the book, then secondary characters are. In my first cozy series, April seems doomed to not have a love life. But her bestie Elain and another character move into a relationship to balance out their character growth.
That doesn’t mean April won’t grow, but her first growth cycle is as a witch. She didn’t know she was fae. Once she learns that, she grows as both a member of the community, learning to use her magic, and as a sleuth. Since she can see and hear ghosts, well, the mysteries find her.
April has room to grow as she learns new skills, and gets new situations to experience. All of those will shape her, and those around her.
Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
Well, when we were in California, I volunteered as a docent on the Santa Monica Pier. I learned the history of Santa Monica and how their pier affected the lives of those around it.
Astute readers will note that the little seaside town of St. Maurice has an amusement pier, much like the one in Santa Monica. St. Mo’s pier, like the one in Santa Monica, was originally built to flush away waste. For the real one in Santa Monica, the town used the 1600-foot-long structure to dump treated wastewater out to sea in the early 1900s.
In my little town of St. Maurice, the town originally built the pier to send wastewater from the Faerock mining slurry out to sea.
Readers who do a little digging into the history of the real pier in Santa Monica will find that much of the history of that pier has a similar history in the fictional town of St. Maurice. The character of Li Hop, the ancient Chinese wizard and docent may loosely be based on me. Although I’m neither Chinese, nor magical. Ancient, well, that’s not quite accurate either.
Here is a little secret Alyn is sharing with us: there is a new book coming out in the Pixie Twist Mystery Series at the end of June! Watch for A Twisted Dive.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend! And now you have a new writer to investigate. Remember, many author’s books are available from your library if you ask! I have a new novella coming out this summer, the second in the Tattle-Tale Cafe series. You can find all my books on my website. And while you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter-you never know what goodie might be included!