Today’s post is an interview I had with local Pittsburgh author, A.K. Downing. I met her at an author festival in our area and just finished reading her fantasy/dystopian/adventure YA novel.
If you missed my review of her book, you can still read it here.
Downing will also be at Passages & Prose and Beaver County Book Fest this Fall. Stop by to chat with her, myself, and other great local authors!
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Author Interview with A.K. Downing:
Works: Into the Air
Awards: National Indie Excellence Award – Finalist, Young Adult Category
Questions about the author:
What is your all time favorite book?
Wow. That’s a super hard question. I love to read different genres, but YA Adventure is my favorite. I love the fast pace, the action, and the hints of romance. That said, a few of my favorite books are: Outlander | Watership Down | Life of Pi | Rules of Civility
What is the most recent book you’ve read?
I’m finishing “Circle of Influence” by Annette Dushofy. I was pleased to meet Annette at a local author event at the Cranberry Public Library this spring.
Do you feel your writing style is similar to the type of books you read?
I’ve worked hard to make my writing appeal to a young adult audience. So yes, the chapters are short and the pace is quick. Into the Air and the sequels all have a quest, a female heroine, and hints of romance.
Who is your author role-model?
I love the wit of Charlaine Harris, the romance and epic story telling of Diana Gabaldon, and the adventure and teen-age angst of Cassandra Clare.
Is writing your full-time career or something on the side?
My writing is definitely on the side – although I think it would be amazing to be a full-time author. I squeeze my writing in anytime I can – early in the morning or after my daughter goes to bed. As for my “real job”…I work as a creative director at an advertising agency in Pittsburgh.
Where is your favorite place to write?
In the car, listening to music. It’s when my head is the most clear and the ideas flow easily. I do find that ideas come at all times during the day. I keep scraps of paper and notebooks everywhere!
Do you base characters off of people in your life?
I think, like all authors, I have been influenced by people I know or people I have encountered. The stubborn, lumbering giant; the skate-board dude that makes you laugh; your first crush. And although my characters are fictitious, they are all very real to me. I know what they look like, how they’ll react in different situations, and their history.
Read the book or see the movie first?
No brainer. The book. Always the book.
Do you like when a movie is slightly different from the book with its own twist, or does it have to be exact?
The closer the movie is to the book, the more I seem to like it. If the book is successful enough to be made into a movie, there’s a reason: the storyline works the way the author wrote it!
How do you read a book (i.e. cover to cover, sometimes finish it, will tear through it in a day, read the last page before starting)?
I read cover to cover, although I’ve skipped ahead a few times to make sure someone really isn’t dead!
What is a writing goal you have?
I want to finish my trilogy before my daughter is in high school. I started when she was in Kindergarten, and she’s entering fifth grade this fall. So I ‘ve given myself four more years to publish two more books! Look for the sequel in the spring!
If you could sum up your writing style in a word or phrase what would it be?
My book doesn’t neatly fit into one category. It’s a post-apocalyptic story, but takes place a century after “the catastrophic event,” and focuses on a healing earth. It’s science-fiction in the sense that it takes place in a future world, but it doesn’t rely on new technology – the world has returned to bows and arrows. And it’s fantasy because my main character has “powers,” however there aren’t mythical creatures. I’ve called it a YA Adventure, but it really encompasses the best of a few different genres.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Writing can quickly become a passion, but don’t publish too early. Make sure you’ve had multiple people read your work from outside sources. I remember I was convinced my book was complete until I found an editor. Two years and seven drafts later, it was finally published!
Questions about Into the Air:
Your book has such a unique plot. Where did you get the inspiration for your Young Adult Adventure novel, Into the Air?
A few years ago, my husband was into watching “prepper” shows. During one of the episodes, a man built an underground compound for his family in case there was a “catastrophic event.” The show stuck with me for days and filled my head with questions: How long could the people survive underground? How would they know it was safe to enter the outside world again? Who would be in power? Shortly after, I started writing “Into the Air.”
Will we get to read more about Mia Bryn and her adventures above ground?
Yes! There are two more novels. I’m hoping to release the second early this Spring (2018). The second novel picks up a week after the first ends. Mia struggles with her increasing importance, grows closer to Archer, and is reunited with someone she thought was dead.
If you could describe Mia’s experience in the air, how would you describe it?
Mia’s experience is a contrast in opposites. She is thrilled to leave the confinement of her compound, but realizes how hard it is to survive in the outside world. She’s terrified that her father has been taken, but discovers an excitement in her relationship with Archer. She thinks her life is ordinary, but discovers she is more important than she ever imagined.
I am rooting for Mia and Archer together. What’s next for them?
Mia and Archer come from two different worlds. In some ways their worlds collide and in other ways, they remain separate. It’s a romance that will keep you guessing.
If you could describe Mia’s character in three words, what would they be?
Stubborn. Loyal. In a state of “becoming.”
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A.K. Downing grew up in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania and spent her summers exploring the ﬁelds, woods, and orchards of her grandparents’ farm. She studied graphic design at Kent State University and currently works as a Creative Director. Her young-adult, post-apocalyptic novel, Into the Air, was a category finalist in the 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards. The story follows teenager Mia Bryn and her father as they leave the safety of their underground compound and try to survive in a world no one has inhabited for more than a hundred years.
You can visit A. K. Downing online at AKDowning.com.