Brittany Hughes graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing, and subsequently earned a Masters in Teaching. She recently spent two years living in the Midwest, a landscape that inspired the setting of her novel, "Breaking Clay." ... [more]
As a kid, A.L. Torres fell in love with fantastic stories of worlds beyond our own such as "Animal Farm," "On the Beach" and "Metamorphosis." More recently, he's added "The Giver," "The Road" and "Hunger Games" as some of his favorites, ... [more]
Robert Steedman is a proud native New Yorker, receiving his B.A. in Art History from State University of New York at Geneseo and an M.S. Ed. in Art Education from Nazareth College. His first YA manuscript, FALLING, took First Place ... [more]
Janet Zupan earned her M.F.A. from the University of Montana in 1996. Her work appears in the collection, MONTANA WOMEN WRITERS: A GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEART (Far Country) ... [more]
A Talk With A.L. Torres About His Writing Life and Novel
TITLE: SCRAPERS GENRE: YA Science Fiction COMPS: "Maze Runner" meets "The Hunger Games" WORDS: 75,000+
A.L. Torres was born halfway around the world in the Philippines. While he spent his early childhood running around the streets of Manila, his first taste of a different culture came when he immigrated to the United States of America at the age of seven. As a kid he fell in love with fantastic stories of worlds beyond our own such as "Animal Farm," "1984," "Metamorphosis" and "On the Beach." More recently, he's added "The Giver," "The Road" and "Hunger Games" as some of his favorites, especially in the post-apocalyptic or dystopian genre. He received his B.A. in Business from Richard Stockton College and his M.B.A from Dowling College. He lives in the northeastern United States and is currently working on his first novel.
Having been displaced from my family for a number of years and knowing what it's like to not have my parents around as a young child, I feel very connected to the protagonist in my story. While
it's a story of discovery, it's also a story of survival.
- A. L. Torres A: Tell us something about yourself as it relates to your writing life. Also, what inspired you to begin the novel?
I love a blank sheet of paper. The possibilities are endless. I approach every blank sheet with mind as open as the universe. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to outline and plot from such a wide open perspective. I've learned through self-publishing the difficulties of writing as well as the rewards of finishing a project and seeing it sell. Recently, I decided after seeing some success but even more obstacles to take my writing "hobby" much more seriously. I didn't have the money to get a Masters of Fine Arts so I did a lot of research and came to discover the Algonkian Commercial Novel Writing Program. While I'm still early in the program, I can't believe how incredibly thought provoking each module is and how each steps opens up new possibilities in my creative process.
A: Who are you reading now? Which authors and novels have been an inspiration to you, and why?
At present I'm reading MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner and for a change of pace, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK by Matthew Quick. The authors that have inspired me are Cormac McCarthy, for his brutally honest family love story in THE ROAD; Suzanne Collins for her fast paced adventure writing in THE HUNGER GAMES, and my friend and YA author Paul Griffin, for his unique ability to connect to youth with his books, THE ORANGE HOUSES and STAY WITH ME.
A: Can you tell us about your novel?
18 year old Tyler is a loyal, government owned bounty hunter working to buy his freedom. He's skilled at rappelling the enormous steel columns elevating the city of Midonia from the black, muddy and polluted sludge of the ocean. His trade is to capture vagrants and criminals seeking refuge amid the sub-surface levels of the city. Since the earliest days in the orphanage, he has trained his body and mind to accept his work, a thousand feet above the murky sludge. Like other orphans, he dreams to one day buy his freedom and
enter into the elite class ruling over the city.
A: What gives you a passion for this story and why are you the one who needs to tell it?
I'm passionate about my novel for many reasons. It is set in a unique, but familiar place and time. Having been displaced from my family for a number of years and knowing what it's like to not have my parents around as a young child, I feel very connected to the protagonist in my story. While it's a story of discovery, it's also a story of survival.
A: What have you found to be your biggest challenges to writing a successful commercial novel?
The biggest challenge has been finding the time. Working a full time job and raising a family is very demanding. Rarely do I have time to just sit for a few hours to write quietly. In many ways, that's why I'm so grateful for the program as it helps me organize my thoughts. I can write for a couple of days straight, then not for another couple of weeks and still have my novel in creation through the program. Time is a funny thing. No matter how much I write, time gives me new ideas that I put into my novel throughout the process. I don't know how many writing programs give that kind of flexibility.
A: Is there any particular facet of the Algonkian novel writing program that has helped you more than any other? If so, why? How would you review it?
The program has made me really think hard about every detail from the antagonist, setting, protagonist and primary/secondary conflicts. My goal is to write a truly memorable YA sci-fi adventure novel. In the past, I've focused so much on characters, how they look, what they like to do, and their goals without truly delving into the challenges that they must face. One module concerning "conflict in the novel" has already made the whole experience worth it. I'm not so naive to think that I would get published immediately after this program. It would be nice, but I'm realistic. I know that I have to put in the hard work and fight through the obstacles. What I do know the thought-provoking questions in the program help me tremendously as a new writer.
A: What bit of advice can you give to other aspiring authors just getting started?
Write what you love. Love to explore new things so you will always have new possibilities for your work. Have the discipline to push through. If you're like me, you have the passion, but need the expert guidance, then find a solution like the Commercial Novel Writing Program to help you.