Behind The Words: Talking With Author Alisa Lynn Valdés


Today we welcome Alisa Lynn Valdés to our blog. Alisa is the author of the political thriller, HOLLOW BEASTS.

Welcome Alisa, we’re excited to have you on Reader’s Entertainment.  First, tell our readers a bit about yourself.

How long have you been writing and is it your full time job? If not, what is your ‘real world’ job?  

I’ve been writing stories since I was nine years old. I’m 54 now. I’ve been a professional writer since I was first hired as a staff writer for the Boston Globe at age 24. I began writing novels twenty years ago.

What does your typical writing day look like?  

I write every day, just about. I get up, put the coffee on, walk the dog, shower, drink coffee, then write. I write from about 8 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m. every day. Then I read what I’ve written, aloud, into a digital recorder. I go hiking in the mountains at 3 or 4 every day, for one or two hours, and often will listen back to what I’ve written. I’m an auditory learner, writer and editor.

So…..tell us about your latest release?  

HOLLOW BEASTS is the first novel in a suspense/crime series centered around Jodi Luna, a woman game warden in New Mexico. In book one she goes to war with a white supremacist terrorist cell hiding out in the national forest, hunting women of color. 

What inspired the idea for this book? 

Because of my background in journalism—I was a staff writer for both the Boston Globe and the LA Times—my novels are often informed by real events. The Dept. of Homeland Security and the CIA both list white supremacist terrorists as the No. 1 domestic terrorist threat in the United States. In 2020, one such terrorist in Iowa hunted a 14-year-old girl named Natalia Miranda, “because she looked Mexican.” Her attack inspired the HOLLOW BEASTS plot. I needed to see the terrorists lose, even if only in fiction.

Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why? 

I relate to the protagonist, Jodi Luna. We are both single mothers with deep historical roots in New Mexico. We both love the outdoors, nature, animals and poetry. And we’re both doing the best we can but mess up. A lot.

Would you and your main character be friends? 

I love this question. I would hope so! 

What part of the book was the hardest to write? 

Would it be weird to say none of it felt hard? I try to look at problems as lessons and challenges, so what some people might think of as “hard” is exciting, to me. I derive from it the same pleasure from rewriting that some people probably feel when solving complicated jigsaw puzzles.

Did you model a character after someone you know?

Yes and no. There are pieces of me and different people all Frankensteined together in all my books. Mostly, though, I feel like these characters already existed somewhere in the ether and I channeled them. I know, weird.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

There is a sequel, called BLOOD MOUNTAIN. It’s the same protagonist and setting, but a new crime. Where the first book touched on racism as a great evil, this next book will address issues of socioeconomic class and rural gentrification.

Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book?  

The idea for Jodi Luna as a character came to me fully formed, while hiking in the Manzano Mountains of New Mexico. It felt a bit like a gift from the universe. A butterfly followed me for that entire hike. Magical.

Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write?  

There are three. Charles Dickens, Dean Koontz and John Nichols. I think all three of them share something important, which is their ability to beautifully tell a compelling contemporary (for their time, anyway) story that also serves as important historical social commentary. I aim to do the same.

Any writing rituals? 

Nope. I got my training as a writer in daily newspapers. There was no room for preciousness. You either wrote and met your deadlines and got paid, or you lost your job. I view writing as my job, the same way a plumber has a job.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? 

ONE DOOR AWAY FROM HEAVEN by Dean Koontz. The book feels divinely inspired. Koontz is generally under-appreciated by critics and writing professors, but readers get it. Critics and writing professors often have disdain for everyday readers and any writer they like. He’s a wonder.

Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?  

I’m a professional-level jazz saxophonist, trained at Berklee College of Music, and once taught hip-hop and Latin dance exercise classes at the top studios in New York City.

Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!  

New Mexico piñón coffee, with heavy cream. Hands down. A good IPA from Marble Brewing is a close second.

And what is your writing Kryptonite? 

This is a hard question for me to answer, probably because I’m not a person who likes to make excuses for not writing. I’m a pretty disciplined writer and have the ability to focus even when everything else is going wrong. 

What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did? 

I never get asked about how being a jazz saxophonist influences my literary writing. The answer is: learning to be a jazz improviser, which is really just learning to be a lightning-fast spontaneous melodic composer, seems to have reconfigured my brain to be able to write stories very quickly too, as well as to tell the same story many different ways without losing the harmonic structure.

That was truly fun!! I am a jazz lover! Thank you so much for joining us today!! Learn more about Alisa at her website.

Readers, HOLLOW BEASTS is available for preorder!! Here’s a quick look:::

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dirty Girls Social Club comes a wilderness thriller featuring Jodi Luna, a rookie game warden who takes on a terrorist group in rugged New Mexico.

After a long stint in academia, Jodi Luna leaves Boston for the wilds of New Mexico to start a new life as a game warden. Jodi is no stranger to the wilderness; her family has lived here for generations. Determined to protect her homeland, she nabs a poacher in her first week on the job.

But when he retaliates by stalking Jodi and her teenage daughter, a cat and mouse game leads Jodi to a white supremacist group deep in the mountains. She learns that new recruits are kidnapping women of color to prove their mettle to the organization’s leader.

When the local sheriff refuses to assist, Jodi joins up with young deputy Ashley Romero. Together, they set out to take down a terrorist network that will test not just their skills as investigators but also their knowledge of the land and commitment to its people.

But will Jodi’s fierce resolve to protect the voiceless put her loved ones in harm’s way?

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Her fiction writing has received the Author / Ambassador at Library Journal Self-e Authors, Winner Queen of the West Reader Favorite Award, Amazon Bestseller - Historical, Double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories. Writing humorous cozy mysteries and romantic comedy, Jocie can find humor in most everything, even when she shouldn't. She lives in the Midwest on Dust Bunny Farm with her family.