Alex SchulerThis month’s author interview is with Alex Schuler, a writer and artist who lives in Colorado in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She loves learning new things and meeting new people. These days, she spends most of her time working on her writing and visual art and spends the rest dreaming about and planning her big around the world bicycling trip.

Thanks for joining us today, Alex. First up, your cycling trip sounds interesting. What are your plans there?

I’ll be leaving September 2018, heading south. I’m hoping to continue for nine or ten years and visit as many countries as I can safely and without going too far out of my way. I’m particularly looking forward to Chile, Iceland, Botswana, New Zealand, and Japan.

Wow! Nine or ten years. That’s an impressive plan. Good luck with making it happen. Look me up when you come to New Zealand. Now, on to your writing. Can you tell us a little about what you’re currently working on?

I’m currently working on a Choose Your Own Adventure style interactive fiction book trilogy. Each instalment should be able to be read on its own, but will pick up from one of the endings of the previous. I’m hoping to self-publish the first toward the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

That sounds interesting, and all the best with your plans to self-publish. I remember reading a few Choose Your Own Adventure type stories as a child. They were Dungeons & Dragons style fantasy stories. I really enjoyed them, especially the interactive elements. Sticking to the topic of childhood memories—do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

The first story I remember reading, although I’m sure I read others before it, is The Boxcar Children. It was read to us by our teacher, really. I don’t remember whether we were meant to read along. It was first grade and at the time I was struggling with reading. I imagine it was frustrating and painful and I hated it, although I don’t remember that part.

The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar Children must have gotten me hooked, though, because I read any of the series I could get my hands on. I think I ended up reading the entirety of the series that was out at the time, and went on to be a voracious reader.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

For me, the rough draft is the hardest part. As much as I try to just write what comes and remember that I can work it out in edits, I always end up hating what I’ve written, which is really demotivating on long projects.

I think everyone hates their first draft. Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit,” and his stuff turned out okay. But it’s a torturous process. Do you find writing endings any easier? Is there a type of ending you strive for?

I find endings difficult unless I know where I’m going from the beginning. I strive for endings that follow naturally from the rest of the story. Anything else–happy, sad, ambiguous, whatever–I don’t really worry about.

You’ve mentioned you’re also a visual artist. Do you plan on illustrating any of your works?

I have plans for some of my projects to be illustrated. The interactive fiction series I’m working on, since it just feels right to me, someone who grew up with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, as well as a productivity app I’m working on that will reward milestones with storylines. The latter will at least need some graphic design put into user avatars and items and the like, but I might have the stories illustrated as well. I also have plans to make a few comic books from original fairy tales I write.

I want to illustrate my own stuff, but I tend to slack off even more with that than with my writing, so it will take a lot of dedication.

And finally, my last question for today, and it’s a slightly more trivial one—what is your guilty pleasure?

Binge watching series on Netflix. I keep saying I need to stop picking up new series and that I’ll use more of my free time to read, but I just can’t stop. I’ve just finished catching up on iZombie, which I had gotten tired of and dropped, but started again for “research” because the third book in my trilogy may feature zombies and I haven’t consumed much zombie stuff in the past. I did enjoy it, though. At the moment I’d say I particularly like Life and The Finder, but my tastes change day to day.

Yeah, I love Netflix too. iZombie‘s not one I’m familiar with though. My wife and I have been watching Jane the Virgin. Well, thanks again for your time, Alex. It’s been good to chat with you. All the best with your cycling trip, your art, and your writing.

You can find out more about Alex’s writing and visual art at alexschuler.com, travel (as Rebecca Jones) at snapshotsoftheworld.com, or follow her artist or travel twitter accounts.