One of the great things about the independent author community is the camaraderie, the close ties we all share in our desire to be storytellers. We share our books for peer review, our working knowledge of the world of self-publishing, and advice on marketing, writing, and anything else to make a name. We also talk about each other through social media, through book reviews and author interviews. It was through one of these connections I met Ally Kelly and her group, Worldsmyths – A Haven for Fantasy Writers.

Allison “Ally” Kelly lives in a small town in eastern Connecticut, where she’s lived since she was three. Ally has an Associate’s Degree in General Studies and Graphic Design. She founded Worldsmyths in 2016, after seeing a need for a writers group focused on the fantasy genre. First established as a forum, Worldsmyths serves as a group for speculative fiction writers. In 2021, Worldsmyths will be celebrating their fifth anniversary with a fantasy anthology to be published.

Ally and her team were kind enough to interview me for their blog, so I am returning the favor with an interview of Ally.

What are your aspirations as a writer?

Mostly I just want to be published. I’ve dreamed of being a published author since I was a little girl, and my writing journey has been a long and ever changing one, but I think it’s definitely heading in the right direction. As for where I see myself, hopefully with at least one or two books with my name on them in my hands. I’m currently planning on self-publishing, so we’ll see where that takes me.

What challenges have you overcome and how has this changed your life?

Most of my challenges have been on an educational level. I’ve always been kind of an average student, and I struggled with pretty much any subject outside of English. It took me a long time to graduate college the first time, and the path wasn’t easy, but I think I came out stronger in the end. I went back to school a second time, because I realized that I might have some kind of talent with graphic design/social media outside of them being hobbies, and graduated with that degree, but have just kind of been in limbo with that since then.

Do you have a hero / role model who has shaped you or your values or character?

This is honestly a tough question to answer, and I’m not sure if I have one. I feel like my parents have both influenced my values in big ways, and I have relatives who’ve done so, too. Judy Garland and Lucille Ball have always been heroes to me. My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz, and as I’ve grown older I’ve learned more about her life and the struggles she went through as an actress living in the twenties. The same goes with Lucile Ball – I used to watch I Love Lucy on Nick at Nite and would crack up laughing because I thought she was so funny. She had such a huge influence on how women are portrayed in television today, which is pretty awesome.

What aspect of the writing process do you find challenging? Easy?

The most challenging for me is probably world building, although I would say trying to structure a novel and make sure the plot make sense are close seconds. I also struggle with self-editing, but I think part of that comes from not having reached the point of needing to self-edit a whole draft until the last few years, so it’s more of a lack of experience thing. I’m not sure if there’s one single thing that I think is the absolute easiest part of writing, but I love when I’m writing a scene or chapter and I have a clear vision for how it’s going to go, and the words just flow from my fingers without struggle.

Who is your favorite author and/or book genre? List some of your favorite books.

Juliet Marillier is my favorite author. I read the first book of her Sevenwaters series when I was a junior in high school, Daughter of the Forest, and I didn’t know how much that book would end up influencing me as a writer and reader at the time, but I fell in love with it. Other favorites include Rick Riordan, Kristin Cashore, and the Harry Potter series. Throughout a lot of my childhood I used to read the Star Wars novels that are now “Legends” and almost exclusively read those books, so many of those novels are favorites, as well.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming or new authors?

Find a writing community to be part of. It can be overwhelming and scary, especially if the community is already pretty established and has a lot of members, or if you’re generally pretty shy about your writing, but it’s 1,000% worth it. Something we pride ourselves on at Worldsmyths, my Discord writing community, is that we are a laidback community and won’t judge you if you’re new to writing and turn you away. We’ll always do our best to help steer you in the direction of helpful resources that can help you become a stronger writer and try to be as encouraging as we can. The friendships you find in writing communities are invaluable, as well.

Is there any place that you desire to travel to? Why do you want to go there?

Ireland. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to go there. Part of it is probably because my family is very Irish, and we have ancestors that probably came to America during the potato famine, and I’ve always loved that. Another part of it is that I’ve become more interested in writing stories with fairies over the last few years, and they’re a big part of my main project. The fairies I’ve created are very loosely inspired by Irish lore, and Ireland definitely has a lot of places that I could see as being visual representation of some of the places in my main project. I was supposed to go to Ireland in May 2020, but with the pandemic it had to be put on hold, hopefully until 2022.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on the first novel in a high fantasy trilogy. I’m several drafts deep into the first book, but it’s had to go through a lot of developmental changes so it’s still a ways from being published.  The first book is currently titled Fae’s Gambit, and is about a girl named Alana who has to travel through the Fae lands in order to save her brother from a curse that’s been placed on him, but it turns out she’s meant for much more.

Make sure you check out all the talented fantasy writers that are a part of the Worldsmyths group and follow them. It’s how we make our writing community grow!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

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