By Rachel Hastings
From her stylish fall coat and boots to her tidily-packed backpack, Alexa Turczynski hardly strikes the casual observer as a writer. Her hands are not covered in ink, her purse is not filled with crumpled pages of scribbled ideas, and her conversations center on much more than her literary accomplishments; for instance, cute pugs, her family and her favorite English professors. Yet at the age of 21, the senior English major has already published the first two books of her four-book series entitled “The Whispers Series.” During a brief interview, Turczynski discussed her series, the release of her second book on Nov. 11 and the creative writing process by which she was able to finish four novels before even graduating college.
RH: Could you tell me a little more about your two books that have come out?
AT: The series is called “The Whispers Series,” and it is a collection of four fantasy novels. The first one is called “Whispers of Nightfall” and came out in 2012, and the second one that just came out is called “Whispers of an Enchantress.” They are fantasy novels, so the stories take place in a made up, rather Tolkien-ish world, and are about a young girl. In the first book, she has an encounter with a creature that tells her she has a task to complete to save her nation. She is just a girl from a small village, and doesn’t really understand what that means for her, because she’s never really done anything outside her village. Meanwhile she’s struggling with her family and trying to help them, so the story is about her figuring out what this creature that keeps coming to her, this creature of light, really intends for her to do. At the same time in the first one, there’s a young man who is a soldier in the nation’s royal house, who is wounded in a battle. As he recovers, he begins to figure out his family’s mysterious past. The first book weaves the stories of these two characters together, while the second continues the action of the first, and describes the adventure the two end up on together.
RH: That sounds like a very interesting beginning. How did you end up writing fantasy?
AT: I always enjoyed it. When I was young, my family would read a lot of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and similar authors. That was what really inspired me to write, so when this idea came about, I just started writing it. I didn’t really plan for it to be fantasy, and it isn’t really fantasy in the ordinary sense of the word, with spells and magic and unicorns and things like that — it’s just in a made-up world.
RH: How difficult was it for you to come up with this made-up world?
AT: It really wasn’t that hard. I mostly just had fun with it, and made it up as I went along. I started the first story without really having any idea of where I was going. As I started really developing the story and making it longer, I started developing the roles of the characters and the history a little bit more.
RH: So you didn’t know how the series would end when you began?
AT: Not when I started. Once I was mostly through the first one, though, I decided I needed to come up with an ending. Still, even when I was working through the last ones, I let a lot of things happen that I really didn’t planand that I hadn’t necessarily thought out before. Sometimes I have ideas, write them out, and they take the story in a very different direction from what I originally intended.
RH: So you really let the story have its own way, sometimes?
AT: Yes. A lot of it, for me, is very character driven. I really like to make my characters as realistic as possible, with deep psychological emotions, ideas and things like that. Once I really got to know my characters, I was able to build the story off what they would do in certain circumstances or how they would react to certain things.
RH: About how long did it take you to finish the series?
AT: Each one took me about a year to write. I actually wrote quite a few of them while I was still in high school, but the fourth one I technically finished at the beginning of my sophomore year at UD. Being at UD, I had so much less time to write than I did before, so I’ve tried to keep up with my writings over the summers and on breaks.
RH: With the rigorous English classes you have been taking, how do you fit time to write into your day?
AT: I try to set aside a certain amount of time each day to write, usually an hour, and I really try to use my free time for writing rather than surfing the Internet. My publisher actually gives me certain deadlines for my edits, so that keeps me on track as well.
RH: Would you say that being at UD has affected the way you write, or given you fresh material for your work?
AT: With this book series it hasn’t as much. I think going through Rome will influence my edits — those images of the Italian countryside, and of Greece, should play into a lot of my descriptions. The Rome semester was very inspirational. As far as the education goes, I think the ideas about human nature that I’ve learned at UD will definitely influence my future writing.
Turczynski is still in the process of editing the final two books of “The Whispers series.”