Know why you write and be passionate about following your "Why", for you will encounter many times of discouragement when only your "why" will see you through. Always know, if you're not passionate about your "why" no one else will be either...L. R. W. Lee, author of Vision of the Griffin's Heart.
The best advice I can give is write daily, even if it’s only a few paragraphs and read every chance you get...Steve Altier, author of Lizardville - The Ghost Story.
Keep going, keep learning, keep developing. Manage your expectations. Only do it if you love it and want to do the best you can...Steve Griffin, author of The Dreamer Falls (The Secret of the Tirthas).
Please welcome MG author Rae Knightlyto Carpinello's Writing Pages
First, here's a bit about Rae:
My name is Rae Knightly. I write science-fiction adventure novels for teens.
I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, with my family and a cuddly cat. The natural beauty of the mountains and ocean of the West Coast inspired me to write The Alien Skill Series. Looking at our planet from an alien’s point-of-view is a good way to highlight how stunning and important the Earth is to us, humans.
I love to go for walks, take nature photographs for my Instagram feed, and speak different languages. A language is the doorway to a people’s culture and history. They fascinate me, which is probably why I became a translator!
Visiting a touristy place is not enough for me. I love culture shocks, so I’d much rather spend a long time in a country and absorb as much of its culture as I can. I have lived in Belgium, Africa, Scotland, Arizona and Mexico. Canada is my new, long-term home from where I can travel even further in thought - to distant planets.
You’re welcome to come along!
Why did you pick to write books for upper middle-graders?
I have fond memories of books from my middle-grade years. I was quite a book nerd back then! I was introduced to worlds of magic, fantasy and science-fiction through Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, Monica Hughes’ Earthdark and Lois Duncan’s Stranger with my Face.
These books inspired me and, as an adult, I was able to go back, sift through the treasure trough of imagination I’d left behind in my youth, and write my own stories.
What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?
I enjoy reading science-fiction and fantasy. The last book I read and loved was Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward. I devoured Terry Brooks’ The Shannara Chronicles, The Ice People by Rene Barjavel, Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell and Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist. These stories often combine the real world with elements of magic and wonder, which is something I strive to offer in my own books.
Anything is possible in the realm of fantasy and science-fiction. They mirror the real world and show us a positive path into the future, guiding us as we figure out what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong as a species.
When I’m not writing, I run a small translation company as I’m a translator by formation and speak four languages: English, French, Spanish and Flemish.
Tell us about Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall and how the story came to be.
Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall is the first book in my science-fiction adventure series, The Alien Skill.
It tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy, Ben Archer, who is entrusted with an alien power and goes on the run from government agents with an alien man called Mesmo. However, time is running out for Ben as he uncovers why his alien skill is so important to both aliens and humans.
This story came to be when I decided it was time for me to prove to myself that I could write a story from start to finish. I was going to start with something easy and write a short novella.
The alien character, Mesmo, was born on the back of a truck. You see, I was stuck in traffic one day, staring at the back of a truck, from which the letters had peeled. The only letters remaining were M-E-S-M-O. I spent a good part of my ride wondering what those letters could have stood for. I then decided I would write a story about Mesmo. It was a good a place to start as any, right?
Fast-forward five years, and my short ‘novella’ has now turned into a six-book series!
My stories often stem from a strong feeling that I want to convey to the reader. In this case, I wanted to convey a sense of loss, a sense of longing for something that is no longer there. I then created the characters and plot that led the reader to this feeling. In my mind, a story is well told if the author succeeds in leaving the reader with a strong (good or bad) emotion, long after they have finished the book. I hope I did a good job!
Here's a peek at Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall:
“The thing is, it wasn’t meteors that fell into the woods that night. It was alien spacecraft.”
When UFOs crash into the fields next to his grandfather’s house, twelve-year-old Ben Archer becomes a cumbersome witness in the eyes of the government. Not only that, but Ben discovers he has been entrusted with an alien power.
Government agents rush in to remove all evidence of spacecraft and extraterrestrials. The media are led to believe meteors fell in the area and they dub the event The Cosmic Fall. But when Ben's involvement comes in the spotlight, he is forced to flee with the sole survivor of the crash: an alien man called Mesmo.
And while the destinies of boy and alien become inextricably linked, one question hovers above their unlikely friendship: why did the aliens come to Earth in the first place?
How do you go about researching for your stories?
I don’t think I could have written my stories before the era of the internet. The internet has opened up a world of possibilities for me. I can research anything, from grammar to synonyms to street names and weird themes such as avalanches, black holes or deep ocean trenches.
I couldn’t do this, either, without the invaluable help of my editor and other authors that gather in Facebook communities and discuss the do’s and don’ts of writing. Anytime I have questions, I can ask them and receive bucket-loads of information in return. I try to do the same and offer any information I can when a fellow author needs help on a subject.
Sometimes, news articles will inspire my stories, such as last year’s fires in the Amazon rainforest, the discovery of ice geysers on one of Saturn’s moons, or the closing of illegal orca whale rearing pools discovered off the coast of Russia.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
The Alien Skill Series currently comprises four published books, with book 5 coming out on September 17, 2020 and book 6 in the making.
All four books are regular Amazon bestsellers with above 4-star ratings.
Books in The Alien Skill Series:
Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall;
Ben Archer and the Alien Skill;
Ben Archer and the Moon Paradox;
Ben Archer and the World Beyond;
Ben Archer and the Star Rider;
Ben Archer and the Toreq Son.
Readers can read a free prequel to The Alien Skill Series when they register to my mailing list on my website www.raeknightly.com. I highly recommend reading this prequel, as it is also the back story to a future science-fiction series I will write: The Lost Space Treasure.
I have a YA, dystopian novella on Wattpad called The Unit, where my main character’s point-of-view shifts as she goes from being a nameless unit to a person who becomes aware of herself.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I’m currently wrapping up book 5 in The Alien Skill Series: Ben Archer and the Star Rider. In this story, Ben’s alien skill attracts the attention of the wrong people and he is kidnapped. His alien friend moves heaven and Earth to find him, but also lands himself in unexpected danger.
I will then write the 6th and final story in the series, Ben Archer and the Toreq Son, in which human life is threatened by an alien species who consider us unworthy of survival, judging by the way we treat our planet.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Writing a book from start to finish is the toughest thing I’ve ever achieved - and also the one I am most proud of.
If you feel you have a story in you, don’t try to rush things. Remember what they say: Rome wasn’t built in a day! Write a first draft. You can edit a first draft over and over again. You can’t edit a blank page! It doesn’t matter if your first draft is terrible (full of spelling mistakes, plot holes and a writing style that makes you cringe). It’s a start! It’s something you can work with.
Break down your story, focus on one paragraph at a time, write a little bit every day. Consistency is key!
You can’t write a book on your own. Find a professional book designer, get an editor, set up a website and social media where your fans can find you. Join author groups on social media. You’ll find support and uplifting messages when things get hard. Other authors know what you’re going through.
Anything else you want readers to know?
The Alien Skill Series is a great gift for children aged between 10 and 14, though readers of all ages have enjoyed the books.
Where can readers find you and your books?
My books are available on Amazon and in any brick-and-mortar store upon request.
The Alien Skill Series is available in different formats: Kindle Unlimited, ebook, paperback and hardcover.