An Interview with Author Elexis Bell!

Meet, Elexis Bell, author of Allmother Rising!

Elexis Bell writes gritty and emotional novels. Born and raised in the midwestern United States, she dreams of a cabin in the woods rather than a house surrounded by cornfields.

She loves writing well-developed characters facing real problems in vibrant, magical worlds. Armed with a degree in psychology and a rollercoaster past, she sprinkles gut-wrenching emotions over high fantasy romance, science fiction, and the occasional thriller.

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Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Allmother Rising?
There are four main characters, so in order of appearance:
Veliana is the Priestess Rising of Kin territory, but Rising to lead her people makes her nervous. And with the new king of Jun threatening to invade, the stakes have never been higher. Shy and struggling to recover from the betrayal of her former love, she carries a lot of burdens into battle.

Tyrvahn is the deposed prince of Jun. Once conceited and wasteful, a near-death experience brought him to the Allmother’s door. She showed him a better way to live. He just has to escape the assassins his uncle sent after him, deal with the recent deaths of his parents, and get his throne back to lead them according to the Allmother’s ways.
Garle hates the new king and his nephew. After they led the invasion of her homeland more than a decade ago, killing her parents and running everyone out of their homes, she vowed revenge. Having lived undercover in Jun ever since, working her way into an… acquaintanceship with the royal family in the name of gathering information, her opportunity to kill them and the evil god that twists the hearts of Jun residents has finally arrived.
Kivala thinks she’s moved on. Her brothers died in the invasion of her homeland, but it’s been years. She’s safe and sound in Kin with her parents, best friends with the Priestess Rising, and always has a brightside or a joke. But when war comes to her doorstep again, the thought of losing another home and more family pushes her to the front lines.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
It’s hard to pick, honestly. I’m not sure how to choose between the characters, the world, or the animal companions.

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Who designed your book covers?
I actually do my own covers. I really enjoy graphic design, and once I get started, it absorbs hours of my life. Of course, I always get feedback from other authors, artists, and readers before finalizing a design.

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I did end up going down a rabbit hole researching how bears show affection. The book has animal companions, and I have no experience with bears… so my google search history took a surprisingly wholesome turn compared to some of the other things I’ve researched for books.

How did you come up with name of this book?
The Allmother is the primary god in the world within the book, and she desperately wants to reach the rest of her people. Aia (her son and thus a lesser god) holds them beyond her reach in a kingdom without the trees that connect the mortal realm to her realm.
In Kin, the person in line to lead the territory is called the Priest or Priestess Rising.
So, since the Allmother is reaching out to lead the rest of her people home, I combined the two terms and got Allmother Rising.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Nope. I don’t base any of my characters off people I know. They pop into my head, and they quickly become their own people, making decisions and thinking things all on their own.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Most of them come to me as I write. I always have at least two of the main characters before I start writing, but the rest fill in as I go.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
None. I start writing and figure everything out as I go. If that means stopping to research how bears show affection for half an hour, then so be it. (I actually did that while writing this book.)

Do you see writing as a career?
First and foremost, it’s something I love. Whether it eventually pays the bills or not, the joy of writing is enough to continue. But in the future, I’d like to make enough money from my books to be able to quit my day job and write even more books.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
Of course. I’ve actually turned one of the spare bedrooms at my house into my own personal library. I read fantasy and sci-fi, always with romance. The darker, the better, and I prefer character driven books.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I can write regardless of what’s going on around me, but I prefer music. I make playlists for every book, adding to them every time I hear a song that reminds me of one of the characters, a scene, or just the book as a whole. That’s my preferred soundtrack while writing, but I’ll write regardless.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I usually have multiple projects going at a time, but only one in the writing stage. At the moment, I’m writing a sci-fi series, editing a dark romantic fantasy and a thriller romance, and releasing Allmother Rising.
I just can’t write two books side by side. I get too excited about the characters and worlds, too consumed. And inevitably, one sucks me in, leaving the other project on the backburner until the first is done.

Pen or type writer or computer?
Honestly, whatever I have on hand. I’ll type on my phone or my laptop. I’ll write in a notebook or on loose scraps of paper.
Sometimes, I come home from work with my entire forearm covered in scenes and conversations that I thought up throughout the day. I work in a factory, and my machine tracks my progress to the tenth of a second, so I don’t have time to dig out paper and write out every detail in my head. Instead, I just jot down the barest bones of what I come up with on my arm, just enough to make sure I remember everything when I get home to type it up.

Any advice for new authors?
I have a few pieces of advice that I will always, always, always tell any new writer that asks for advice.

1. As long as the first draft is written, it’s a perfect first draft. Don’t stress over what others will think or whether it’s good enough or whether it’s original or too long or too short. A first draft is perfect as long as it’s written.

2. Writer for yourself. Edit for your readers.

3. NEVER PUBLISH WITH A VANITY PRESS. They’re legal scams. Please, save yourself millions of headaches, infinite heartache, bullying, and thousands of dollars. If a publisher approaches you, unless you’re famous, it’s probably a vanity press. If they call themselves a subsidy press, they’re a vanity press. If a publisher expects you to pay them, it’s a vanity press. (Ingramspark is the exception in that they charge $25-$49 to list your book in their massive wholesale database.)

Please, research every publisher you consider. Ask other authors and check out Writer Beware to see if they list a publisher that seems even the slightest bit suspicious. I was taken in by a vanity press when I first published nearly a decade ago, and it very nearly destroyed my faith in publishing altogether. Spare yourself that trouble.

Describe your writing style.
Gritty, lyrical, character-driven, and punchy. My characters drive the plot, and I don’t waste time with unnecessary details. I use a lot of sentence fragments, a lot of dependent clauses and paragraph breaks, all in the name of flow.
And I never shy away from the tough subjects my plots demand.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I’m what’s known in writing communities as a pantser/discovery writer. Some people prefer discovery writer because it sounds more serious. I prefer pantser because it sounds more fun and writing is supposed to be fun. But regardless of what you call it, I write by the seat of my pants. No outlines. No story bible. No character profiles. I get an idea, and I start writing.
Beyond that, I do a lot of things that are commonly preached against in writing circles. Many people say not to edit as you go because it might trap you in a cycle of rewriting/fixing rather than writing the rest of the book. But I edit as I go, and it works for me.

A lot of people say to write every day, but I work 12 hour shifts at least two days a week. I don’t usually get to write on those days.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I just let the story be what it needs to be. There’s an audience out there for any book. It’s just a matter of finding them. Yes, writing this way rather than writing to market means that marketing will inevitably be more difficult, but the integrity of the characters and the story means more to me than saving myself a little difficulty in advertising.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I write somewhat quickly. Despite working full time and maintaining a semblance of a social life, I can usually finish a first draft in about four months. Some books take a little longer, depending on how much overtime I end up with during that time.

Allmother Rising took one day less than four months. The writing started out slow thanks to work, but then Covid happened, and the factory I work at got shut down for two months. So, I still got it done in four months.

However, my current project, The Regonia Chronicles, is an exception. It’s a series that I didn’t know would be a series until I was about 90,000 words in with no end in sight. (Most sci-fi/fantasy novels are between 70,000 and 120,000 words, for reference.) And then, when I started writing what I thought would be book two, I had to go back and add several chapters to book one, which changed the point at which book one ended. Then, book three meant more additions to book one.

So, for this project, I honestly have no idea how long each book is taking because they’re all under construction up until the completion of the whole series. Not to mention the fact that I’ve stopped to write unrelated books a few times, and since I’m making up a complete language for one of the races in the book, I occasionally have to stop writing to fill out their dictionary. But usually, I can stick to an average of four months per first draft.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I always have a lot of projects going on at one time, so in addition to releasing Allmother Rising, I’m also editing and writing. All my books are intensely character focused, so their internal struggles are always in the forefront.

My current projects in editing:
Second to None, a dark thriller romance with murder, an abusive relationship, star-crossed lovers (not the abusive relationship), and ghost stories.
A Blessed Darkness, a dark romantic fantasy featuring a fated couple, blood magic, power that makes even the gods wary, and the dangers of losing yourself in love.

My current writing project:
The Regonia Chronicles, a dark romantic sci-fi series full of unethical experiments, genocide, aliens, alcoholism, and a very close look at the ways that families break apart (and break the people within them). Books 1-3 and one of the prequels are written. I’m currently writing book four and the other prequel.

After all that, I have an idea for a second standalone novel in the universe of my last release, a dark paranormal fantasy romance called A Heart of Salt and Silver, as well as several ideas in new worlds.

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