An Interview with Aya Ling


On Tuesday, I reviewed The Ugly Stepsister, by Aya Ling. I really enjoyed The Ugly Stepsister, so Aya was kind enough to tell us what’s going on in her world.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Since I started telling stories to my friends in primary school. But never got to finishing them…until much later. In fact, my first completed work is fanfiction. I think having a ready-made world and characters made it easier in the beginning.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Always longer than I expect! Except for my first book, which was only about 25k. Generally it takes me a minimum of 6 months if you take everything into account: brainstorming, outlining, writing, editing, etc.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Stares at PC…nothing. Gets out paper and pen to brainstorm. Writes a line and crosses it out. Repeat several times. No, this isn’t working…back to PC. The internet is so distracting…gets out Neo Alphasmart. Hmm…I really need to check that last paragraph but Neo only shows about three lines. Back to PC. My eyes are strained from the harsh glare! Bedtime. Yeah, it’s obvious why my books take so long to write.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read and eat. Pretty boring. I’d like to do more, but with the day job, part-time work, and writing, my time is pretty limited. As with most of us!

What does your family think of your writing?
Nothing, literally. To be honest, they can’t really read English books. Which can be a good thing since they cannot tell me my writing is crap and I should stop wasting my time.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing The Ugly Stepsister?
That I could actually write 10,0000 words. With my first three books, getting to 50k was usually a struggle. I estimated TUS to be around 60k, but couldn’t wrap it up at 70k, it got longer and longer and bam! I think I cried when it was finally done. (Happy tears, btw)

What other fiction influences your work?
Loads. I grew up with a healthy diet of English genre fiction, Japanese manga, and Chinese wuxia novels, which have all left their mark in my books.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Ugly Step Sister?
No…at least not anything I can control! This book took 1.5 years from concept to publication, and while it certainly isn’t perfect, I’ve done the very best I can make it. It’s been through alpha readers, beta readers, countless rounds of revisions, copy editing, proofreading…every stage I can think of.

What project(s) are you currently working on?
A sort of “sequel” to The Ugly Stepsister, but I’d give away the ending if I talk about it. I also hope to finish book 2 of my Girl with Flying Weapons series that I have neglected far too long. And try to record any idea that pops up randomly—you never know when inspiration may strike!

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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