Friday, September 3, 2010

Author Interview: Alexandra Adornetto

Alex was fourteen when she published her first book, The Shadow Thief, in Australia. The daughter of two English teachers, she admits to being a compulsive book buyer who has run out of shelf space, and now stacks her reading “in wobbly piles on my bedroom floor.” Alex lives in Melbourne, Australia; Halo marks her U.S. debut.

Alex, I just wanted to let you know how proud I am of you being a successfully published author at such a young age! It's just amazing to see all your hard work pay off and see others reading your books around the world! So I guess first off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you so much, Jeremy – I really appreciate your support and enthusiasm for the Halo project. What I can tell you about me is that I’m an Aussie girl, who’s used to a blazing sun, beautiful beaches and lots of trees. I love animals (especially horses) but I have two dogs named Tinks and Boo. Boo is big and Tinks is tiny but she still runs the show. I went to a school surrounded by paddocks and we used to smoke chocolate-flavoured cigars in the back of a Yute (which is an Aussie version of a pick-up truck). All my friends call me Ally and I’m known as the girl who likes to bake and decorate cupcakes. I started my career as an author when I was thirteen and as a result, I’ve never looked at other career options. My mom says this means I don’t have a “Plan B.”

Second, have there been any advantages to being published at your age? Disadvantages?

Advantages have been that I discovered something I was good at early in life and I’ve been given some amazing opportunities. I’ve also been doing this for five years now, so none of it is new to me – I’m completely familiar with the publishing industry. Disadvantages would be that writing commitments take up a lot of my time and I don’t get to see my friends as much as I would like. Also, in English class at school when the teacher asked a question, everybody would turn around and stare at me! People seem to think that being a writer means I have the answer to all of life’s questions!

Third, what is it that inspires you to write and what do you do to get inspired?

I’m the sort of person that constantly has characters conversing in my head (no, it’s not schizophrenia, just an active imagination!) Powerful stories are amazing things and I wanted to be able to create worlds that other people could lose themselves in. To get inspired, I always listen to my favourite old-school country tunes. I’m a huge fan of artists like Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, David Allan Coe, Merle Haggard etc and their songs always tell a story.

Fourth, with Halo being your first book published in America, is this a dream come true for you? Tell us your reaction when you found out that Halo was going to be published for America. Were you excited? Anxious?

Selling the rights to a US publisher was incredibly exciting for me and definitely a milestone event in my writing career. I had been told by so many people that getting published in America was really hard and could take years. But then I got an agent and she sold the US rights within three days and to sixteen other countries in the weeks that followed. The American market is a whole different ball game – it’s so important to me that the Halo is liked by US fans. It only came out two days ago so right now I’m very nervous waiting to see how it does!

Fifth, what is your book, Halo, written about? Obviously angels but deeper than that, what is the story you wanted to tell through this book?

I wanted to convey a story of hope. I think there is a lot of darkness in the world that can be very confronting. There’s poverty and war and random acts of violence all around us and it can be so easy to get lost in that wave of negativity. I am a huge believer in the power of faith and positive thinking. I believe if you think negative thoughts it attracts negative energy and so the message in Halo is for people to believe in happiness and love and light, which will then reflect in their own lives.

Sixth, can you tell us about your main characters?

Beth and Xavier are the two protagonists. Beth is very innocent, she’s new to the teen-scene and human emotions have hit her like an avalanche! Her emotions might seem extreme to some readers, but I think that reflects the roller-coaster ride of adolescence. Beth is vulnerable because she feels everything so deeply and she doesn’t want to think badly of anyone. She can’t watch human suffering without suffering alongside them. Xavier is supposed to be the all-American classic hero. He’s sporty and handsome as well as devoted, protective, mature and handles pressure like a pro. 

Xavier is damaged by what happened to Emily, though he doesn’t let it show. His life is not easy and he has to come to terms with the fact that it never will be. He is incredibly blessed, but in some ways he’s cursed. Gabriel was one of the most interesting characters to write. Molly believes he’s hiding his emotions beneath this impassive fa├žade, but Gabriel is genuinely very different to the other characters. He and Ivy do not feel individual attachments to people. They want to protect and guide, but they don’t love in the same way that Beth does, they are physically incapable of it. To Gabriel, humans are a completely different species. He exists to serve God. 

And then there’s Jake! All I can say about him is that he is filled with malice and envy and unleashes it on those around him. He’s been bad for so long that it’s rooted within his very core – but still, beneath it all, he just wants Bethany to love him.

Seventh, when you were 13, what made you want to write your first book? It seems like such an impossible task especially at that age.

When I look back on it, I don’t know how it happened! It was the summer holidays and all my friends had gone to the beach, but I wasn’t allowed to go, so I needed something to keep me occupied. I started writing this story just as a vacation project before realising it was coming to me very naturally. I didn’t expect that I would finish it, but every-day I was drawn back to the story – I wanted to keep writing! My first book really was written in a several month-long fit of inspiration. Book II and Book III were harder, because I had to think more carefully about how the story was going to unfold.

Eighth, besides your own books, what are some of your favorite books of yours?

Oh gosh…I’ll just name a few.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Nineth, you have accomplish a lot in your life so far and have become a role model for young teenagers everywhere who desire to get published one day. Is there any advice you would want to tell these new writers?

The best thing I could say would be, don’t let anybody tell you you’re too young to pursue your dreams or that you should come up with a more “sensible” career choice! Young people are becoming more and more involved in the publishing industry these days. It can be tough – you have people criticising your work and your abilities, but it’s really important to have faith in yourself. Don’t be put off by criticism, use it to your advantage. Incorporate suggestions into your novel so it’s in the best shape possible when you send it out into the world.

Finally, before you go, can you tell us about what you are working on right now and what we can expect from you in the future?

Right now, I am working on Book II, Hades and Book III, Heaven which are due for release in 2011. Part of Hades is set in hell so at the moment I’m watching a lot of movies and trying to pass it off as “research.” I’m also passionate about acting, so in the future I would love to try and get into that. I have a few other writing projects in the pipeline but I think I better get the Halo series finished first!

Thank you so much for doing this for me, Alexandra! You are a hero of mine and I'm glad that we have become friends on Twitter! I really am bummed that I won't be able to meet you while on your US tour but I hope you have an amazing time here in the States! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you! I'm here for you anytime you need me! Thanks again!

You are very welcome! I’m sorry the tour doesn’t bring me closer to South Carolina, but I’m planning a visit to Savannah and Charleston on my own soon! Thank you for all your enthusiasm – its people like you that make authors want to keep writing! There are no great books without great readers! :)


  1. Thank you for the interview! :) I loved question number 5 ! :)

  2. Another great interview! I loved learning more about Ms. Adornetto. :-) Thanks, Jeremy!