Allegra Pescatore wrote Where Shadows Lie and entered it in the SPFBO6. The story has a large cast and intricate plot, centering around the royal family and the rebellion against them. Princess Elenor is taken by the rebellion when her brother, the heir, tries to assassinate their father. This is a complex and mature story that will sort of grab you by the throat and drag you into an adventure. Highly recommended.
Allegra very kindly granted me an interview, you may read it below.
Allegra grew up in a small village in northern Tuscany as the daughter of two artists. She was raised on the works of J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Phillip Pullman, Frank Herbert, and many others, all read aloud to her while she drew and played make-believe. She began to write at the age of eight and hasn’t stopped since.
After many moves and dozens of countries visited, she now lives in a cozy cottage in Western PA. She is accompanied in her current adventures by husband Job, co-conspirator and long-time writing partner Tobias, and a small army of furry and scaly pets. When not writing or daydreaming, Allegra rules her kitchen with an iron first and feeds everyone who walks through her door. She also gardens, dabbles in various art forms, and spins stories for her tabletop gaming group.
As a disabled woman and staunch LGBTQ ally, Allegra hopes to write engaging, diverse, and representative Fantasy and Science Fiction, where people who do not often see themselves center stage get the chance to shine.
Welcome to my lair, Allegra Pescatore. Tell me about a great book you’ve read recently!
I just finished my second readthrough of the Violinist’s Thumb, an engaging non-fiction book about human genetics, and how bizarre and interesting they are. As someone with the titular disease, I thought it was super fascinating to read about what’s inside our DNA, and gave me lots of ideas about potential fantasy and sci-fi worldbuilding.
What’s your favorite song?
I love pretty much everything from Vienna Teng, in particular “Stray Italian Grayhound” which has been pretty much playing on repeat while I write my latest novel. In general, music is wildly influential to my life and writing. Every time I find a song I really like, I’ll listen to it around the clock.
Okay, time to escalate things: you get to travel to any book’s setting and world but you have to choose only one. Where do you go?
Hard question, and harder answer. Part of me would be tempted to go to one of my own worlds, because I’d love to see them for myself, but I’m pretty sure I’d be murdered for some of the things I put those worlds through. There are also many places that would be fascinating, but far too dangerous and not very wheelchair accessible, so I think I would actually like to go to the future. Maybe travel to Octavia Butler’s future in the novel Lilith’s Brood and meet some awesome aliens, or perhaps travel with the Doctor in his TARDIS. Though I admit I’d love to go to Narnia. I love whimsical fantasy.
How do you like to work? (In silence, with music? Do you prefer to type or to handwrite? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or underwater in scuba gear?) Tell me about your writing method!
Clearly, I write while gardening in my underwear in my underwater futuristic architectural wonder under the sea, as per the plot. In all seriousness, though I tend to do most of my writing by typing away in google docs while listening to curated playlists based on my POV character. I used to be a pantser, but these days I am more of a plotter. I do a lot of co-writing, so to keep up all in line I have a system of color-coded spreadsheets and word allotments per chapter and section. When working with another author, we tend to be on a video call together while writing, and tag in and out every few sentences. In my solo projects, I write late at night when the rest of the house has fallen asleep, with my dog curled up next to me and trying to drool on my laptop keyboard. I tend to first fast-draft, during which time I’ll be writing between 2-10k a day, then revise and rewrite where needed. Of course, this rough-and-tumble writing does mean that editing takes longer, but I’ve always preferred staring at a messy manuscript than an empty page. I wrote my first novel during Nanowrimo back in highschool, and really took the philosophy of ‘you can’t have quality if you don’t first have quantity’ to heart. I believe that, at least for me, the faster I can get a novel out, the more true to itself it will be, because yoI was roughly in the same mindset all the way through. As such, I do a lot of planning beforehand, then race through drafting, take a break, then dive head-first into rewrites. I work on a lot of projects at once, so I do a lot of rotation between different phases on different projects. I’m almost always writing one thing, while revising another, and editing a third.
What/Who are your most significant fantasy influences?
I love Sanderson for his three laws of magic and creative worldbuilding. While they are both sci-fi, John Scalzi and Paulo Baciagallupi were both very influential, the first for the fun, fast-paces and zany way he writes, and the second for the morally-gray and dark tone with a strong ethical and environmental message. I also really, really love the works of Tamora Pierce, especially her characters, and I think the Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder was a turning point for me figuring out the type of stories I wanted to write. However, out of any book or author, Dune and The Hobbit have been the two most influential novels I have ever read, the first for the sort of political intrigue and philosophical subtext that I love to read and write about, and the second for its heart.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” ~ Richard Bach
I read Illusions by Richard Bach early on, and it had a pretty profound effect on how I relate to art. The idea that our thoughts and beliefs can manifest, to me, is absolutely true when it comes to the creative process. Stories, in particular, are very much magic, in that you create something from nothing, and the only barrier to doing so is time and hard work. I was also deeply influenced by my father’s favorite saying. He is a marble sculptor, and his teacher once said: “the creative act is an act of desperation.” That stayed with me enough that I have it painted on one of my walls. I feel like I do my best work when I write myself into a corner, or set myself a deadline. In the moment when you push aside all procrastination and fear, and just jump… well, that’s what I live and write for.
Can you tell me a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I am deep in sequel-ville, but when not working on the sequels to Where Shadows Lie and NACL: Eye of the Storm, I am working on a co-authored collection of Fae Romances, set in a whimsical world where even the geography is full of magic and mysticism. The first three novels will each follow a different couple, who are all tied together by forces they don’t yet fully understand. I’m very much in love with this setting, and all the weird and wonderful fairies we are inventing. My favorites are the skitterlings, who are tiny, thumb-sized fairies with dragonfly wings, and long bioluminescent antennae, who are all sticklers for rules and will boss around anyone who gets close to them.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
My co-authors are a great help, and the stack of bills on my kitchen table the other. More seriously, though, when I’m not writing, I’m not happy. Usually, it’s not doing the writing that’s the trouble, but rather the editing. For that, I simply set deadlines by putting novels up for pre-order, which keeps me on track. I am also blessed by a supportive family who encourages me when I feel down.
Who are your favourite characters in literature or pop culture?
Give me characters who are facing impossible choices. I really enjoy protagonists who push the plot because they want something, not necessarily because they are reacting to the events around them. Those who are ambitious, or motivated by a grand cause, or just passionate about what they are doing will always draw me in.
And do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing?
I love writing whacky, zany people. I’m a weirdo, so a lot of my favorite characters to write are too. Moe, for example, is my mastermind and wannabe villain in NACL: Eye of the Storm. He is a self-proclaimed madman, who goes on long, non-sequitur rambles and wears a lot of clashing colors. Most of my protagonists are at least a little eclectic. I must admit, though, that I also love writing tortured souls. I think that might be because I enjoy torturing my characters.
Tell me about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
I’m going to go ahead and give a shout out to the amazing Richard Roberts, and his wonderful ‘please don’t tell my parents I’m a supervillain’ series, as well as his many other books. They are wonderfully fun and engaging middle grade books that I’ve enjoyed as an adult, and have one of the best morally gray supervillains I have ever seen in Spider.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle me with an elevator pitch?
For my upcoming novel, my elevator pitch is actually one of the lines from my upcoming novel NACL: Eye of the Storm, which really summarizes the entire essence of the work:
Lani never should have trusted a plan that started with the words, “So, I have an idea, but first you need a drink.”
Why should readers check out your work?
I write fun, imaginative, often funny stories full of oddball characters and found families. Many of my protagonists are disabled, lgbtq+ or otherside unusual leads. So if you’re into some genre-bending fantasy and sci-fi, and are down for a solid dose of humor along with your dragons, fairies, and tech, check out my work.
Read the book here.