Alisha Sevigny is a rising star in the middle-grade fiction world with her new series, The Secrets of the Sands. She is also a yoga instructor and Tarot enthusiast, a wife, a mom, and an instructor/editor for both rookie writers and experienced ones. Anyone that sees this list of attributes applied to one person must immediately think of the Sarah Jessica Parker film, I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011). But, Alisha carries it with grace, enthusiasm, and passion for her work. She sat down with OTD this past week to discuss her experiences as a writer, leader, and mother, and passes on some words of wisdom she has obtained over her years.
As a writer, what do you find is one of the most effective ways to stay motivated in your writing?
Staying motivated is always a struggle. There’s so many things competing for our time: work, family, (wanting to) exercise, end of days and whatnot… One thing I find that really helps is having a writing buddy or small writers’ group where you are accountable to each other. Even if it’s something as simple as sending a few pages every week or every other week to another person, it can motivate you to keep producing.
Of all the characters you have written, which is the one you most relate to?
All of my characters have a piece of my heart but the one I’m most similar to is Julia from SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS. Her family owns a campground and I spent a lot of time camping and in nature while growing up. I’m from a small town in the Pacific Northwest that’s rugged, wild, and beautiful so writing the setting of the book came easily. Julia’s also feisty, clumsy and a bit prone to outbursts (like I was/am) but she cares deeply about her family and her home, things that also matter very much to me. So, yeah, (*shrugs), I’m basically Julia.
Please give us a short description of your new book series. What is next in the series after the most recent book’s release?
THE SECRETS OF THE SANDS is my new adventure novel set in Ancient Egypt. A girl named Sesha and her younger brother, Ky, are searching for a valuable scroll their father was transcribing for the Pharaoh before his mysterious death. The scroll in the first book, THE LOST SCROLL OF THE PHYSICIAN, is based on a real-life document called The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, one of the oldest medical artifacts that exists today. Sesha and Ky need the scroll not only to find out what happened to their parents, but because there’s information in it that can save Ky, who suffers from a rare medical condition.
The next book, THE DESERT PRINCE, comes out July 2020 and follows Sesha and her friends into the desert. I don’t want to say too much, because spoilers, but the series is a page-turning, fun-for-all ages read. It’s The Mummy, Percy Jackson, and Indiana Jones all rolled into one and sprinkled with magic Ancient Egyptian dust. (Otherwise known as sand).
How do you find the proper balance between your home and work life? Or, do you often mix the two?
Like any working parent knows, it’s a constant balancing act. I also teach, as well as write, and life often feels busy and hectic between all the activities and trying to get everyone where they need to be.
What are your other interests outside of writing? Do you have another profession? A hobby?
I love hot yoga and teach Yin/Restorative yoga, right here on the Danforth at Cbarre Studio (we’re streaming!). I’m also very into crystals and tarot (courtesy of research for my most recent novel) and read tarot cards professionally at events and parties. I love reading tarot for people and hope to do more of it online. It’s such a great tool that cuts to the heart of the matter in seconds and gets people to realize what they want or don’t want, as well as encourages them to trust their own instincts and intuition.
As a person that lives on the Danforth, what can you say about its culture and day-to-day life?
I’ve lived in several areas in Toronto and I find the Danforth to have a very neighbourly vibe. My kids go to Jackman, one of the schools here and it’s a tremendous community. We’ve been here almost five year now and it’s nice to have our local shops and places we go to where we run into friends while doing errands or playing at the park. People come together here, especially in challenging times and I know that despite this recent unprecedented situation we’ve all been thrown into, we will continue to help one another and be a stronger community for it.
What would you say to other aspiring writers (young and old) about the pursuit of writing, the writing process, and the triumphs of the writing industry?
Write because you want to, because you have a story that needs telling. Don’t write for fame or fortune (because those things aren’t generally associated with writing, aside from a few outliers – looking at you J.K Rowling). Don’t worry about being published, because even that doesn’t guarantee people will read your book. Write for yourself or for the one person that you have something important to say to. Write to ease your soul and your mind and to make the world a better place.
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