Twenty Questions for Twenty Authors: Alisa King

This series is my excuse to satisfy my curiosity about what makes writers tick. The hope is that by exploring how writers got to their craft, how they interact with books and their process, I might learn a little more about my own.

It’s been a while since I got the opportunity to interview a fellow writer, and I hope to make up for the absence with an extra treat. Alisa King is an science fiction writer currently working on a video game novel entitled Are You Sure You Want To Quit?, a wild romp about a game filled with dragons and adventure. She is currently sitting in the top three of the Nerdist Video Games contest, which you can find hosted on Inkshares.

First though, before we get to the questions, here’s a little about Alisa:

About Alisa King

My name is Alisa King, I am a 4th year graduate student currently pursuing a microbiology PhD, and I am a HUGE gamer girl. I am also half-Japanese and half-African American. Ever since I was a young lady I loved playing video games and would crush my friends in Super Smash Bros. as Yoshi (I still do). And yes, I also love to write stories, mainly dealing with the fantasy realm.

On Reading

  1. What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading a bunch of graphic novels/comics indlucing Monstress, Saga, Descenders..the list goes on. I plan on starting Fire Bringer when I have free time.

2. Ereader or Traditional?

Have to go with Traditional!

3. What is your favorite book?

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

4. Why do you think reading is important?

Books in general are not only a great educational tool but a wonderful way to expand your mind. I also think that reading keeps the creative juices flowing while at the same time providing a mental exercise. There’s nothing like finding a comfortable spot outside or curling up on the couch with a good book.

5. What is the one book (other than your own) that you would recommend to others?

I’d definitely recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

On Writing

  1. What made you want to become a writer?

My father was my biggest inspiration and supporter of writing (although I ended up going to grad school for Microbiology). He’s published two books already (Cho Kokujin and Medusa’s Freshman Year) and he’s currently working on another project. I think that by assigning me book reports outside of class, my father introduced me to literature and writing.

2. Why do you write?

I write because I enjoy it, first of all, and because I am allowed to showcase myself through writing. As an author, I can create my own universe and have the freedom to do whatever I want.

3. What was the first thing you wrote?

The first thing I wrote was a story called Rocket Dog, which I wrote back in elementary school. It was about a dog from outer space who befriends a little boy and together, they fight crime.

4. Which writers inspire you?

J.K. Rowling and Toni Morrison

5. Are you a planner or a seat of the pants writer?

I’d say I’m a hybrid where I plan out most of my story, but write as I catch the flow.

6. What are you currently writing?

I am currently writing Are You Sure You Want to Quit? (AYSYWTQ?), which is a story of a gamer girl enveloped in a dragon-themed video game.

7. Why this particular genre?

I am a huge gamer so writing a video games themed book hits close to my heart.

8. From where do you glean ideas for your writing?

My ideas come from a mix of shows I’ve seen, my guinea pigs surprisingly, and the graphic novels I’ve been reading.

9. What advice would you give a fledgling writer just starting on the path to building their own novel?

Be patient, get yourself out there, and surround yourself with people who share your ambitions.

10. A new writer is suffering with writer’s block. What advice would you give them to break through?

I found that relaxing activities such as taking a walk or showering help tremendously. Basically, activities that refresh your mind and take your mind off of writing for a moment are the best.

On Your Book

  1. Tell the readers about what makes your book unique.

AYSYWTQ? is unique in that the main protagonist is a gamer girl, which you don’t see much of.

2. What do you love about your protagonist? What do you hate about them?

I love how Maggie (protagonist) is strong and independent, but also a huge gamer. I wish she wasn’t so stubborn sometimes and would treat her mother with more respect!

3. Who would you want to play your protagonist in the movie adaptation of your book?

Oh man. I thought about this the other day and felt that Brenda Song would be perfect as Maggie. Brenda has that nerdy yet kickass vibe which I really love and admire. And she’s also Asian-American, which helps. For a grown-up version of Maggie (*hint hint* in the sequel), I’d love for Lucy Liu to play Maggie.

4. Are you planning on continuing the story with a sequel and/or series?

At this point yes

5. Is there anything else you want readers to know?

If you love dragons and video gaming as much as I do, then you’ll definitely enjoy this book!


Excerpt from Are You Sure You Want to Quit?:

There he was. Standing there. Eyes glowing, shoulders hunched, wide-toothed grin, as if the blasted thing was mocking me. Everything I had done up to this point hit me like a freight train at that very moment. Was I ready for this? Hell no. But here I was, face-to-face, with Amasarok, the final boss of Scales of Time: The Land of the Scorched. Here we go…

My first instinct was toscan the environment in which the battle was to take place. A huge pit of lava hissed menacingly from the far end of the enormous cave (a fire dragon WOULD live here I guess), but otherwise silence filled the vast cave where Amasarok resided. I turned the camera to the left only to find jagged, black rocks jutting out from the ground. Could I possibly lead Amasarok into a pointy doom? Unlikely. Amasarok might have been a giant, fire-breathing dragon with killer instincts, but not dumb enough to die by rock.

Disappointed, I panned to the right side of the cave only to find the same rocks decorating the landscape. Since I had not overstepped that imaginary line that triggers enemy encounters, Amasarok remained near the back of the cave. At that point, I knew that I couldn’t rely on the cave to help me defeat Amasarok. After all, this was his domain.

I took a long, deep breath, wiped my sweaty hands on the sides of my legs, and pushed my bangs out of the way. The Trident watermelon flavor from the piece of gum in my mouth was non-existent at this point, but I kept chewing as if this gum was going to fuel me in battle. Slowly, I tilted the joystick forward and watched my burly level 70 dwarf mage traverse the obsidian cave. With a final check of my equipment and a weak “You can do this Maggie,” I pushed the joystick all the way and felt the roar of the dragon bleed through the speakers.

Amasarok moved effortlessly through the cave as his eyes locked on to my mage, who was named Ganko (“hard-headed” in Japanese), and I died a little inside. I glanced up at the top of the screen and saw a ridiculously long health bar – at that point I knew this battle was going to be brutal. Amasarok made the first move and swept his giant claw in my direction, but with a simple push of the square button I (I mean Ganko) dodged with ease. However, the dragon came back with his other claw and knocked the dwarf right on his back. Ouch. My health bar decreased 15%, but I did not let that deflate me.

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