Malayna Evans, a storyteller, historian and lover of books is one author you should be following. Today she sits down with All Ages of Geek to discuss her work, the writing community and some of her inspirations! She also has some advice for any budding authors out there!
As a storyteller, what is the most important part of your writing process?
Editing. It’s not my favorite part, but it is unavoidable. Without editing, there’s no great writing, no great storytelling. At best, there’s a solid first draft. For me, that means I have characters plugged in and plot points roughed out. But making the draft sing requires revising. And revising. And then revising, revising and more revising.
Looks like you’re also a Historian! How do you apply that to your writing?
I am. And it really impacts a lot of how I approach a story. I don’t actually do much research—I spent a decade in grad school doing that, even if I didn’t know it at the time. But I do let the history guide me. From bad guys to secondary characters to plots scaffolded on historical events and artifacts used to move the action forward, I stuff a lot of history into my stories, often along with an effort to make the educational bits fun and invisible.
Jagger Jones & the Mummy’s Ankh by Malayna Evans
Aria Jones & the Guardian’s Wedja by Malayna Evans
Who are some of your biggest inspirations?
I really love stories set in the ancient world. Whether it’s Rick Riordan’s fun-filled middle grade work or adult historical fiction writers like Madeline Miller, Margaret George, or Natalie Haynes, writers who can bring the stories of those who lived thousands of years ago to life inspire me.
Any fond memories of writing conferences? School Events? Or even just a fun memory about getting published?
I love this question, because I love proselytizing about the glories of ancient Egypt with middle grade learners. I’ve done loads of in-person and online school visits and, although I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite, anytime I can share my passion for ancient Egypt I’m a happy historian-slash-storyteller.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I did, but I don’t think I truly believed I would—or perhaps could—accomplish it. I wanted to write books sort of like my daughter once wanted to be a mermaid: it’s a laudable goal, but felt out of reach. I still pinch myself when I get notes from readers or positive reviews. Ironically, I only realized after getting published that I was always a writer. If you write, you’re a writer. Owning the label is part of the journey.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Inspiration is not just all around us, but also inside us. Sometimes it comes from something I see walking the dog, or something I hear talking to my kids, or something that pops into my head while I’m trying to sleep. And for me, the history of ancient Egypt inspires a lot of my ideas.
What’s been the biggest struggle for you as a storyteller?
The pace of publishing. I like things to move quickly, and publishing moves so slowly. For me, the slow-moving process of pitching and editing and waiting for responses is painful.
What are some tips and tricks about writing you would tell any budding writers out there?
One thing I wish I’d have done sooner is find beta readers and share my work. When I wrote Jagger Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh, no one but my two kids even knew I was working on it. Since then, I’ve nurtured friendships with other writers. They’re not only lovely, thoughtful friends, they’re also helpful when it comes to spotting problems with your work. So my number one piece of advice is: share your work, and embrace the feedback.
How has writing changed your life?
For me, writing is a kind of emotional resource. I’m a bad sleeper—always have been—and I’ve learned that lying in bed at night worrying about what my protagonist will do next is much better than stressing over my own life. It’s an unexpected bonus, right up there with making writer friends and educating middle grader readers about the history I love.
Last note, where can everyone find you on social media? Where can they support your books? And is there anything else you would like to promote?
And one thing anyone can do that helps writers is to leave reviews. It’s a huge help. So if you have authors you enjoy, take a second to spread that on Goodreads, Amazon and beyond—we love you for it!
About Malayna Evans
Malayna Evans was raised in the mountains of Utah and spent her childhood climbing, reading Sci-Fi, and finding trouble. She earned her Ph.D. in ancient Egyptian history from the University of Chicago. She’s used her education to craft a time-travel series set in ancient Egypt: book one is Jagger Jones and the Mummy’s Ankh and book two is Aria Jones and the Guardian’s Wedja. Book three is coming in August of 2021. Evans lives in Oak Park, IL, with her two kids and the world’s best rescue dog. She’s passionate about coffee, travel, and visiting classrooms to proselytize about ancient Egypt. You can follow her on Twitter at @Malayna.