Prep Your Novel: 5 Questions for Alex Temblador

An amazing poet told me to just experience my writing in the moment, which can be difficult for someone like me who has a hard time living in the present, but it’s something I’m trying to get better at.” Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is the award-winning author of Secrets of the Casa Rosada and Half Outlaw. Her forthcoming non-fiction craft writing book, Writing an Identity Not Your Own, will be published by St. Martin’s Essentials on August 13, 2024. She has an essay in Living Beyond Borders: Growing Up Mexican in America and a short story in Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology. Based in Dallas, Texas, Alex runs the literary panel series called LitTalk.

On Wednesday, November 1st, Alex Temblador is teaching a class for the WLT called “Prep Your Novel.” By the end of the class, you’ll know your characters and the story line more intimately, as well as have the outlines, research, and information needed to sit down, write a novel, and finish it.

Here’s what Alex had to share with us:

Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?

Alex Temblador: I am the Mixed Latine author of the award-winning young adult novel, Secrets of the Casa Rosada, and an adult novel, Half Outlaw. I’m also a freelance journalist with publications in the likes of Travel + Leisure, Texas Monthly, National Geographic, The Daily Beast, among many others. I received my MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2014 and became a full-time writer in 2015.

Although I’ve published short stories, novels, and creative non-fiction, I’m most comfortable as a novelist. Fiction is my passion, especially in long-form. Like many writers, I was a voracious reader at a young age. I liked the idea of being a writer, and even attempted to write novels in high school and finished my first in college, but I didn’t quite believe I could make writing a career. However, I took a short story class in my second year of college and realized that the writing life was for me and I’d do anything to make it my job.

Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?

AT: I don’t generally have writer’s block while I’m working on a piece. By the time I’ve started working on a novel, I’ve either outlined the full story or I’ve thought about the story long enough that I just need to write it out. Occasionally, there are moments where I don’t know how to move forward with a scene, and when that happens, I’ll take a walk or a drive, completely free of music, and work it out in my head. That said, I will have writer’s block between projects. New book ideas usually take time. I’ll go through about 10 different ideas before I actually move forward with one. To combat this, I’ll overload myself with stories and subjects through reading, watching TV shows, listening to podcasts, going to events – anything that might offer inspiration.

Business-related challenges have always been a concern for me as an author of color. I’m lucky in that I have a literary agent that helps with most things, but I’ve found that the best kind of support can come from other writers. After my first book was published, I was a speaker at many conferences with other writers and I would ask them questions about their experiences and learn about the industry and business through them. Many of these writers were very helpful and open with sharing their advice. Since then, I’ve become ingrained in the Dallas literary community and have made many a wonderful friend who work in the literary world or are authors themselves. We help each other out in a lot of ways.

 Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?

AT: I would say that there are some aspects of my writing career where I feel like I know what I’m doing and other aspects of the writing industry where I’m still learning. I can recall after my second book thinking, “This is it – I’m moving up.” And then a month later, I felt uncertain about where my career was going next. Being a published author, I think, is a lot of highs and lows and it changes each year. An amazing poet told me to just experience my writing in the moment, which can be difficult for someone like me who has a hard time living in the present, but it’s something I’m trying to get better at.

Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?

AT: Don’t work for free – in most cases. As a freelance journalist, I learned quickly that I cannot afford to work for free and I was able to take that into my career as a creative writer. Let me say that I will occasionally do literary events for free, donate my services or writing skills to non-profits, and that I have published some short stories for free, but I’m very selective about that. My time is important, and my expertise is worth something, and I think that’s hard for many writers to believe about themselves, even ones that are fully established and have published extensively. So when I say ‘don’t work for free,’ what I’m really trying to convey is that your skills as a writer are valuable and you need to believe that too. Doing so will help you in more ways than one.

Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?

AT: Starting a book is incredibly difficult. It’s a large project that looms in the mind, which can make it difficult to organize your thoughts and make an outline, a character profile, or determine a setting. In this class, I’m going to lead you through exercise after exercise that will require you to make split decisions about your book in a few minutes. This will be an incredibly freeing experience, one that will provide you with a rough map on your book writing journey. You may not use all the information that you write down in class, but it will spur you in the right direction and build the excitement you need to write your book. With the class being held at the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I’ve no doubt that you will leave the class ready to write. 

Thanks, Alex!

Click here to learn more about Alex Temblador’s upcoming class.

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