Alanna McFall is a writer who specializes in science fiction and fantasy. She has written across several mediums, from novels to short stories to scripts for plays, podcasts and comic strips.
She has also traveled across the US for the past few years, working on a variety of projects in Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New York, currently working out of the Bay Area in California, and getting a taste of what the west coast can offer an artist. This interview will give you a glimpse into what goes on in this writers head.
You are both a writer and a performer. How has your work on the stage informed your stories and vice versa?
Having a strong voice in my prose has always been important to me, and I do feel like some of that comes from my background as a performer. When I’m writing something, I spend a lot of time thinking about being the character, from as broad as wondering what I would do in a similar situation, to as specific as reciting dialogue in front of a mirror to see how it feels and looks on its feet. While I have written a lot of prose in the last couple of years, my degree was in playwriting and that focus on crafting a distinctive voice has definitely shaped a lot of what I do in all sorts of writing. No matter where my writing takes me, I am a theater nerd at heart.
We noticed you have participated in The National Novel Writing Month. Our Head Writer Eddie Louise is the volunteer coordinator for NaNoWriMo in Orange County. What is your favorite aspect of this ‘month of noveling abandon’?
I was actually just discussing this with my partner while deciding whether I am going to commit to a full Nano this year (between a playwriting series I am taking part in and a show opening at my day job, I probably do not have time this year, but I will be cheerleading in the forums). There is a real rush of creative energy around NaNoWriMo that I have always appreciated, the feeling of joy and unspoken community when everyone is moving enthusiastically in the same direction. It honestly feels similar to some of the 5k races I have run and it is definitely something that I miss the rest of the year.
Your ‘To Dr. Von Lupe’ series is full of whimsy as surprisingly prosaic touches which help to heighten the sense of the weird. What made you decide to frame these stories as letters containing personal import rather than academic treatises or diplomatic formalities? What aspects of humanity were you hoping to explore?
I have a real soft spot for slice of life stories that take place in absurd circumstances. No matter what you throw at a group of people, eventually they will establish a routine and day to day rhythms. I want to know what recreation looks like on a years long deep-space mission, who babysits a werewolf’s kids on the full moon, and what the HR situation is like within a mad scientist’s evil empire. Maybe it’s the fanfic writer in me, but I love knowing what’s happening in between the big moments and to the little people, which is what I tried to capture in the “To Dr. Von Lupe” series.
You are not a California native – how does life her on the left coast compare to those other places you have lived. What do you like best about it? What irritates you the most?
So I have been bouncing around the country for a while now: I grew up in Minnesota, went to college in Massachusetts, and lived in New York for two years. I am just starting my third year in the Bay Area and I honestly feel like this is a place that fits my vibe. Aside from just fleeing the snow, it feels like people on the East coast have a sharper edge than I prefer, while Midwesterners are a bit too friendly, if I’m honest. California folks seem to have mastered a very “live and let live” culture which has made it really easy to find a creative home here.
Though I will never get used to being recommended acupuncture so often.
What is your personal Holy Grail for writing?
A fandom. To have people I don’t know care about and analyze my work because of how it speaks to them.
One of my fondest writing memories is from a playwriting class in college: near the end of the semester, the class had just finished reading and critiquing my semester-long project script. One of my classmates commented that she liked the relationship between two characters who were not romantically linked in the story, but she thought they would be a cute couple. To borrow fandom terminology, she was shipping my characters, and I loved it. When someone has a strong reaction to a work, they can want to make a mark on it like it marked them. To have people form a fandom around something I made would be a real high water mark for me.
Alanna’s story, “Can’t Be Locked Down” is available in Mad Scientist Journal anthology Utter Fabrication available online.
Find out more about Alanna McFall
Author web pages: https://alannamcfall.wordpress.com/
Follow her on Twitter