Today, I present an interview with Anthony Avina, author of Welcome to Nightmare Academy and the Nightmare Wars sereis.
1. First, tell me a bit about yourself. What would you like readers to know about you?
Well, my name is Anthony Avina, and I have been a self-published author since 2010. I live in Southern California. I have a Yorkshire Terrier named Sammy, a Golden Retriever named Clark Kent and a Black Short-Haired Cat named Robin, (his brother is Batman). By day I am a freelance writer and by night I work as an aspiring full-time author and YouTube creator. I’m kind of a certified “geek”, as I love superhero stories, play video games and can talk about Star Wars all day. I love to write fun, interesting and meaningful stories that all stem from one common theme in my work and my life: hope. I want to show that hope can overcome hopeless situations, and I want people to think of hope when they read one of my books or watch one of my videos.
2. Can you tell me about your current project?
My latest project is a YA supernatural action/horror novella called Welcome to Nightmare Academy. It is a prequel series to my adult series, Nightmare Wars, and tells the story of a vampire girl named Francesca. She is sent to the mysterious Nightmare Academy, and while navigating the foreign world of a high school like atmosphere, she must learn the school’s dark secrets and must learn who she can trust within the dangerous halls of the academy. It’s the first of a planned series of novellas I hope to combine into full novels in the future.
After the book’s release on April 25th, I am going to continue working on the third book in my science-fiction/action and superhero series, The Legend of Electric Fusion. This series tells the story of Electric Fusion, the first superhero in the world, and the legend he inspires, as well as the other heroes who rise as a result of his influence. I hope to have that finished and published by the 2017 holiday season.
3. What drew you to writing in the horror genre?
I love the creative freedom that the horror genre brings. You can delve into the darkest minds of a serial killer, but also show the kindest or bravest soul of the hero as they navigate a deadly plot. I like to write about hope and love helping to overcome the horrors faced in my stories, and I also like to break misconceptions within the genre and challenge people to ask themselves: what makes a monster? For instance, in my series, “I Was An Evil Teenager”, I showcase a story of an evil killer, but rather than make the killer this large, monstrous looking man who lives alone in the woods, I focus on a teenage girl who’s considered the “it” girl in her hometown, almost like a girl next door type of girl. People take one look at her and assume she’s the prom queen, animal loving, and a kind soul kind of girl you’d always dreamed of dating, but instead, she’s a demented killer who hides her ugly nature with a beautiful smile. I love to write characters that challenge preconceived notions like that.
4. What generally seems to come to you first? Plot, characters, or setting?
Generally, the characters come to me first. I’ll get a great idea for a character, such as the teenage killer in my “I Was An Evil Teenager” series, and the plot and setting will flow from the initial character concept. For instance, in my upcoming novella, I came up with the concept of Francesca first. I thought about what it would be like for a teenage girl to be turned into a vampire, and to spend 100 years living the life of a vampire, only to be thrust into the high school situation she never experienced in her human life. Then I thought this would make a great concept for a prequel YA series, and thus Nightmare Academy was born.
5. How did you discover your love of writing?
I was sixteen years old, and I had just suffered a pretty rough injury, (tore a ligament in my ankle). I had always loved reading, but after the injury, my health changed drastically, and reading kind of became an escape from reality to me. My injury and health declined greatly, (still does to this day), but I got lost in the familiar worlds of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower or Dean Koontz and his Odd Thomas series. Later, in 2007, I was taking a Creative Writing course in high school, and we were asked to come up with the concept for a short story. After reading the Dark Tower for the fourth time, I came up with this idea for a character very similar to Randall Flagg (the man in black), from the Dark Tower series, and I thought, what would happen if he were to come along and offer this failed author who is at the edge of sanity a chance to become the star author he’d always dreamed of becoming, but when that dream becomes a reality, the price this author pays is beyond imagination. Thus, my first short story was born, and I called it Death for Sale, (it’s still published on Amazon today, although my writing has gotten better since then, I swear)!
6. What is your favorite part of being a writer?
My favorite part of being a writer is being able to entertain readers and to be able to create new worlds filled with characters that both reflect those around me and characters I would like to meet and befriend in real life. I like to create, more than anything, and I like to create these fantastic stories and worlds that help me escape a little, and I hope I can provide that same escape for those who choose to read my work.
7. What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
My greatest challenge is writing too much. By that, I mean that sometimes when I get into my writing, I start to loose myself in the writing to the point where I am writing everything down, as if I’m explaining to the reader why they should feel a certain way or why a character said this specific thing, and I had to learn how to draw back a little bit on that and allow the reader to discover those things organically.
8. How do you find inspiration and motivation to write when you feel stuck?
I either read one of my favorite stories, take a step back and come back to it after I’ve had time to clear my head, play a game with a great story (like Mass Effect 2), or I talk it out with my family to get their perspective. A fresh pair of eyes can sometimes see the answer to your problem when you can’t.
9. What’s your favorite way to take a break from writing?
Like I mentioned above, I like to play games, go out with friends or family to grab a meal or see a movie. I also like to spend time with my pets, and I love to travel and explore, whether it be local haunts or taking my new drone out to film Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. These all help me not to get stagnate in my writing and help me to enjoy life.
10. What’s one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring or new authors?
I would tell new authors that finding a team of people to support you is key. This ranges from family and friends sharing links to your work online, to finding people to beta read your second to last draft to find things in the book you may have missed, to finding a “street team” of sorts. These are the people who will form the foundation for your readership, and they will be your biggest advocates and supporters going forward. Also, as a given but important piece of advice, don’t get into writing for fame or fortune. If you do it for those reasons, you are destined to fail. Writing should be a passion of yours, and should be done because you have an absolute need to write and get something down on paper or screen. Always make sure you have a passion for writing before becoming a writer.
Thank you so much for this amazing interview, and I appreciate you and your audience giving me time to introduce myself. I look forward to seeing
you all in the future and I hope you will order and enjoy my new book!
Thanks to Anthony for his time in doing this interview. You can also read my review of Welcome to Nightmare Academy.
Stay tuned for more author interviews soon.