I am beyond excited to welcome author Asa Maria Bradley to The Anxious Girl’s Guide to Dating today! Asa was kind enough to talk with us about following your dreams with us, despite her busy schedule. Even as her debut paranormal romance novel, Viking Warrior Rising, is flying off shelves and blowing readers away she still managed to make time for us.
She’s also giving away a free copy of her book to one of our readers (sweeeet!) If you want to win your very own copy of Viking Warrior Rising simply comment below and/or ask Asa a question in the comments.
I love anyone who encourages people to persevere and take risks. To show yourself grace while pushing yourself to grow. Asa does all this and more. My favorite moment from our interview was this: “Why do we trust people’s criticism and doubt their praise? Find people whose opinion you value and trust, and then believe what they tell you about your work and accomplishments.”
Check out her thoughts on following your heart and your dreams (only she words it way less corny than I just did).
Welcome to The Anxious Girl’s Guide to Dating, Asa! Can you take a moment and introduce yourself to readers?
Hello! I’m thrilled to be a guest here today because I’m a HUGE fan of The Anxious Girl’s Guide to Dating blog, book, and Hattie herself. I’m a debut author, which makes me more neurotic than regular authors because there’s the whole “new” aspect to everything. I don’t like change or new things at all, which surprises people since I decided to leave my native country of Sweden as a teenager and risk a year of nothing but new things by coming to the US for a year of high school. I ended up with a scholarship for college, that lead to graduate school, and that eventually lead to a job. And so here I am, a few decades later, living in the Pacific Northwest after trying out Texas, Colorado, and California. I teach physics at a community college during the day and write at night and weekends. If there’s any time over, I like to hike, read, and SCUBA dive. Although lately, any extra time has been spent on doing laundry or checking in with my husband and dog.
Your new book, Viking Warrior Rising, has been a project that took a great deal of time, emotion, and perseverance — can you talk about what it’s been like helping this book come to light?
Viking Warrior Rising was my third completed manuscript and the first that sold. I of course would have wanted to publish much earlier in my career, but at the same time I’m grateful that my journey took a little longer than I had originally planned. It gave me time to learn about the romance genre publishing business and so I didn’t have as many freak-out moments as I would have had as a completely green author.
The book was definitely a labor of love. The two main characters—Leif and Naya—spoke to me and kept me awake while I was writing the book. The words flowed from my fingers onto the paper at a rate I’d never experienced before. That’s not to say it was all good writing though, I revised the book several times with the help of critique partners and also a weekend-long intensive course on story structure. And then when it sold, my editor of course had lots of insight of how to make the book stronger.
It was a sometimes painful journey. The book was well received in contests, but unfortunately the paranormal market was saturated right around the time I finished the first version of book in 2012. Literary Agents loved my writing but didn’t know what to do with the book since editors weren’t signing paranormal debut authors. After I had revised the whole manuscript and received my third “I’d sign you if you wrote in any other genre” feedback, I was ready to give up. I submitted to a few more publishers and to the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Contest. A few months later, I first got an invitation to revise and resubmit from an editor and then found out I was a finalist in the Golden Heart. After seven years of writing and submitting manuscripts, I ended up with two publishing offers and four offers of representation from literary agents. To say a dream came true is an understatement. :)
The story follows the paranormal love story between Viking warrior Leif and Naya. As a writer of romance, what do you think is most important in not only loving someone else, but loving yourself?
The romance novels of yester-years had heroines who waited around for a hero to come around and rescue them. The genre has grown so much since then. Today’s female protagonists are kickass feminists who are more than capable of taking care of themselves. Finding love is something that enriches their lives by providing an emotional connection they didn’t always know they were missing. For me, a really good romance novel is one in which both the hero and heroine has to overcome emotional baggage and love themselves so that they can love each other. They don’t do this by fixing all their flaws, they do it by learning to accept themselves. That is so hard to do. We are much more loving and supportive of our partners’ quirks and imperfections than we are of our own. Women especially tend to be very critical of themselves. I wish we could learn to be as kind to ourselves as we are to our loved ones when it comes to not being perfect.
What have you learned about yourself during the process of writing this book?
The most important thing I learned was to trust my own creative process. As an unpublished newbie I was too insecure to go against the advice big-name authors gave about how to be a writer. I was more comfortable following someone else’s recipe than experimenting with my own ingredients. Once I trusted my own instincts for what worked in terms of when to write, how to plot, and how to get to know my characters—the writing didn’t just become better, I enjoyed it more.
What insight have you gained into personal growth?
How incredibly hard it is to say no to friends and family. How incredibly important it is for my well-being and stress level to be able to say no and to be protective of my writing time. Two resources that really helped me is Justine Musk’s “25 Badass Ways to Say No” and her TED talk “The Art of the Deep Yes.” I have the badass ways printed, framed, and hanging over my computer at home, and a second copy is posted on my bulletin board in my college office.
As both a teacher of physics and a writer of romance, can you talk about the relationship between science and creativity, the mind and the heart, logic vs. intuition?
It’s weird to me that we somehow decided someone who is logical should go into science and someone who is creative should concentrate on music or art. The reality is that in order to make scientific breakthroughs, you need to be wildly creative. The great discoveries and success in the fields of science and technology have happened through creative innovation. And how could you possible master any creative field without being logical? How would you know how to best put together a story, order poems in a book such that they inform each other, figure out color composition in a painting, or understand the progression of notes in a musical piece? The truth is that in all areas, we need both logic and creativity. We do ourselves, our school children, and society as a whole a disservice by saying a particular mindset is more appropriate for a particular discipline. I wish we instead talked to kids about what fuels their passion and opened up all fields of study to them based on that.
What advice do you have for someone who is struggling with self-doubt or is having trouble believing in their dream?
Don’t give up! And if what you are pursuing is something that feeds your soul, then don’t worry about being commercially successful. Do it for the joy of simply being able to do it.
That’s not a very concrete advice, so here’s another. One thing that really helped me was to trust the people who love me. I have some very brash and honest family members and friends. And yet, if they said I was good at what I was doing, I somehow doubted them and thought they were saying it to make me feel good. I don’t know why. These people have never stroked my ego and have no trouble telling me when I suck. Why do we trust people’s criticism and doubt their praise? Find people whose opinion you value and trust, and then believe what they tell you about your work and accomplishments.
Any final words??
Thank you so much for having me on the blog! It was an honor and a pleasure. As a thank you, I’d like to give away one signed copy of Viking Warrior Rising to one of your readers.
All you have to do to enter the drawing is comment on the blog and I’ll pick a winner in a few days. And feel free to ask me questions. A question will also count as an entry. :)