I was able to sit down and chat with two authors, A.L. Kessler and Mia Bishop about their books, writing process, and inspiration. Together they write The Syndicate series, a paranormal romance suspense series that intertwines two stories in the same world in two short stories in one book.
A.L. Kessler has written many books, most notably the Here Witchy, Witchy series that transports you to a magical world not much different than our own, and holds you captive with the storytelling and twists. Mia Bishop is the author of Waking up in Bedlam, a story that held my attention hostage from the first chapter.
Engaging, interesting, and entertaining, these authors were a delight to talk to. If you are looking for new paranormal romance or urban fantasy to read, or if you are wanting to try a book or two out in that genre, I highly suggest grabbing one of their books. Bonus. their vampires don’t sparkle. Read on for my interview with A.L. Kessler and Mia Bishop.
Tell me who you are and what you write?
A. L. Kessler: AL Kessler I write paranormal romance and urban fantasy and a bit of post-apocalyptic books.
Mia Bishop: I am Mia Bishop, I write paranormal romance, a little bit of urban fantasy.
What drew you to these genres?
AK: It’s what I grew up reading and I decided that I was really tired, at least for urban fantasy, I was really tired of all the urban fantasy turning into sex. So I was going to write urban fantasy without sex. And then paranormal romance, I grew up reading like Laural K Hamilton and decided that’s what I wanted to write.
MB: I constantly have monsters and werewolves running through my head and I decided putting them on paper might help calm the voices and might make me a little more normal.
Do you find yourself coming back to other authors, poets, or books, to draw inspiration from?
AK: Sometimes. I try not to read the same genre that I am writing so that I don’t accidentally borrow or anything like that. But I’ll read like cozy mysteries and a lot of non-fiction books. Which I don’t draw inspiration from but I am in school so that is what I read. But illustrations there’ll be on the internet that I see and will be like “Oh!” and a story will pop into my head or music is also another big inspiration.
MB: I come to music for most to draw from. I listen to a song and automatically a story starts popping whether it is relevant to the lyrics going on or not. But as for authors, Sherolyn Kenyon is one of my favs, and then I do the same I try not to read a lot of the genre I write any more just because I don’t want to borrow from it.
Since you are independents, what is the hardest part of getting your work out there?
MB: I would say marketing. Getting into reader’s hands, it’s hard. The author pool, there’s a lot of authors and to get somebody to pick your stuff up it’s amazing, but it is so, so hard.
AK: Especially since we depend on a lot of book bloggers, and reviews and things like that, especially for the less expensive side of marketing. But there is such a saturation that even the book bloggers are getting bogged down. And because there is still that stigma with self-publishing where it’s like, “Oh well you can just throw it up and it’s done.” You are still wading through a lot of crap.
Why should someone read your books?
AK: They’re awesome! No, they have got a little different of a spin with the tropes out there. With our Syndicate series is paranormal mobster, but the mafia is the good guys. Instead of it being ooh bad boy book.
MB: But it’s not human vs the paranormal either.
AK: It’s paranormal vs paranormal. There’s the Mafia, and the Bureau and lots of hidden agendas. Also, our vampires don’t sparkle.
MB: And they do burn up in the sunlight. So like, we try to take the twists with the tropes instead of making them, we try to put our own little spin. For example, I have the four horsemen in my book, she also has the four horsemen over here. We went two different ways on the same thing but we try to make it stand out and be a little different.
So you don’t have a lot of ‘insta-love, I hate you, and then fall madly in love’ with you tropes?
MB: We try not to. When I have characters that don’t like each other and I try to count days of what I’ve written, so they’ve been in this world for two days they can’t be that nice to each other yet. We have got to work it out and map it out. So no, I try not to do insta-love.
AK: Yeah, I try to avoid the insta-love because that’s one of the things that drives me nuts.
MB: We do have novellas that are romance so those ones do have to go faster.
AK: Because they are shorter.
What is your writing process?
AK: This is where we vary quite a bit. I write by the seat of my pants, which means I don’t plot a whole lot. I make notes. I know where it starts, I know where it ends. And I sit down and write between children, homework, and housework. Then I edit myself, then I send it off to beta readers to be read, they send it back with notes, what worked what didn’t work, if I missed something in my edits. Then I clean it up and send it to my editor.
MB: I plot. I do best when I semi-plot, like a loose outline. Then I tried actual plotting and it threw me off my game so I’m going back to semi plotting. Then the rest of my process revolves around her cracking the whip and telling me I have to get my words done. She makes me stick to my deadlines. Then I send it off to beta readers, come back do some more, send it to the editor, do some more, and then put it out there.
Do you find your beta-readers really help you out in the process?
AK & MB: Yes!
MB: They are helpful. They pick out the things that as a writer when we’re typing away we don’t pick up those little inconsistencies or…
AK: Or they may have random information that you never thought to look up, and you thought, “Oh I know how this goes!” and then someone goes, “No, no that’s not how that goes.” You might be close, you might not be. Like I had a car accident scene that needed a lot of tweaking and I had a beta reader catch that. I had a scene with a bank box, like a security bank box. And I was like, “Oh! I’m sure it goes something like this!” One of my betas worked for a bank at the time and she was like, “Well you’ve got to change just a couple of these things because I know it’s there, somebody else is going to know it’s there somewhere.”
MB: I’ve had beta readers leave questions in there like, “Can this really happen?” I had a short story and they asked the question of, “Were condoms really around in the 1920s?” So I was like, that’s an interesting question. Let me make sure Google is correct on this. So it makes you think. They come up with questions I wouldn’t have normally asked, so I have to address it and make sure that my research is accurate.
What are some new books that you are working on?
AK: I’m working on my next Here Witchy, Witchy book which starts out with a body in a box. I’m also working on the next Syndicate novella, and my fourth Here Witchy, Witchy book will be out on audiobook soon, so we’re working on that here as well.
MB: I am working on book two of my Revelations series, which will be featuring a mental hospital, so that should be fun. And I’m working on my next Syndicate novella as well and I’m looking forward to getting to write.
Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?
AK: Get your butt in the chair and write. And if you’re going to self-publish route, be prepared to work. It’s not just throwing it up there, and sell millions of copies of books.
MB: I would definitely say write. Keep a notebook with you at all times for scribbling down thoughts, or napkins, or anything you can write on, or a phone. Write whenever you get a chance and keep going at it.
Want to read books by these authors?
Check out their Goodreads pages!