Interview: Alison Lyke
by Judy Spring
Alison Summerhayes Lyke is a 31-year-old novelist, poet, and freelance writer from Rochester, New York. She recently released Honey through Spectacle Publishing Media Group, and we’d like to take some time to get to know this unique artist and ask her some direct questions about her craft, as well as learn a little more about who Alison is.
Alison lives with her nine-year-old son Jonah, and her two cats Milo and Zoonz. Milo is deaf which brings a few challenges. Zoonz is named from the African word for “home.” Sushi is Alison’s favorite food, and when asked, she replied that white is her favorite color. Interestingly, she says the color represents purity to her—a blank slate and the beginning of something new. Her single pet peeve is when others are judgmental, and her suggestion is to just calm down and realize that no one has any idea what another is going through. Passing judgment is useless. Music is a big influence in her life, and rock of all kinds is her preferred genre, although she likes some “hippy music” as well.
Alison enjoys writing film, music, and art reviews, and also life musings and anecdotes. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She contributes poetry and short stories to literary magazines. Alison enjoyed being a freelance writer for five years, and now works with a local agricultural technology company, writing for their various needs.
The following questions are from a personal interview with the author.
When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
“I’ve always been writer. There was never any wanting or deciding. It was an eventuality.”
In your writing process, do you use an outline to write your story?
“My stories come together like puzzles. I often have a vague outline with very specific portions written in. Certain scenes, chapters, or conversations are vital and I tend to write them randomly, and then fill in the story around them. My first drafts are seas of gibberish with islands of clarity.”
What sparked your interest in the story subject of Honey?
“I wanted to write a mythology with a rich, full pantheon of gods, functioning like ancient Greece, but in modern day. I also wanted to touch on the power of meditation and contemplation. Then Honey came to me, this mess of a woman under a rat’s nest of hair, so stoned that she didn’t even have enough ambition to work up an attitude problem. I had to explore her character, test her limits and make life better for her.”
What does the story matter of Honey mean to you?
“The unification of ideas spanning different religions and philosophies is one of my favorite subjects, and I believe it’s important to explore the concepts that are repeated throughout history and culture. Deities and myths are the personification of these recurring ideas. I’m paying homage to that tradition.”
Which mythologies did you apply to your story and why?
“I used mythologies and philosophies from Greece, Egypt, Rome, Africa, Romania, Hinduism, Buddhism, Dante, Tarot, hippies, quantum physics, metaphysics, the Girl Scouts, and probably a handful more. I wrote it that way for the reasons given in the previous question, and because I thought it would be cool.”
Can you share any challenges and/or joys you ran into during the research process for your story?
“A lot of the research for Honey happened over the course of my life because I’m an insatiable learner, especially on the subjects of spirituality and philosophy. I did have to research how to harvest rice, which was almost as tedious as actually harvesting rice, I imagine.”
How do you overcome writer’s block?
“I’ve never gotten it. At any given time there’s at least one or two stories flowing in my mind, along with poems and snippets. Someday I’ll have the time to get it all out—maybe then I’ll get writer’s block.”
What is your experience with rewrites on your book?
“At the point that SPMG picked up Honey, I had given up on selling the book and I was set to self-publish, so the manuscript was in the hands of my writer/editor friend Patty Remmell. So, it already went through one set of edits before we started the publisher edits. Honey was super, extra edited. I didn’t mind for the most part, but it was time consuming and by now I’ve read the book at least 30 times. Someone asked if I was going to read Honey now that it’s out. I just laughed. I don’t know. I might read it again.”
What is the best part of being a writer for you?
“Connecting with readers who not only like the story, but feel what I’ve put into it.”
“Telling people that I’m a writer. The next sentence a person says to you after you tell them you’re a writer is sure to be ridiculous, one way or another.”
Are there any other books in the works?
“I’m working on a science fiction novel exploring our after-life philosophies. It’s populated by some of my favorite characters that I’ve written to date.”
Who or what do you look toward for inspiration?
“I look everywhere for inspiration. Smells, feelings, tastes, touches… the way a person walks, two people having a conversation in the distance, a night in the woods, books, bad days, philosophies, dreams—any of it can spark a story and all of it weaves together to inspire my writing.”
What types of books do you personally read?
“I’m big on horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. I’m slowly working my way through the Song of Ice and Fire series right now. I like religious works, especially studies on religion. For non-fiction I read memoirs, true history, science, and new-age self-help when I’m in fix-it mode.”
Who is your favorite author?
“Kurt Vonnegut. He would’ve hated me and we’d have been great friends.”
What do you do in your free time?
“I go to a ton of live music. I also like camping, cooking, reading, watching movies, playing video games, playing cards, and hanging out with my friends and family. That makes it sound like I have a lot of free time—I don’t.”
At the request of my roommate, who was a beta reader for your book, where did you get the concept for the tea that you use in Honey? What does the tea represent?
“On an existential level, the tea is whatever goal we’re chipping away at. But, I also have an English grandmother and some close friends who are baristas. Baristas have this in-the-zone Zen that accompanies their brewing. Tea-time has a meditative quality to it.”
Alison’s debut book Honey is now available digitally through Amazon, and print versions will be obtainable mid-August at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Make sure to check out her website: http://www.alisonlyke.com. She is also active on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/alisonlykewriting and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AlisonLyke.