Alyssa Rae is a creative writer and piano teacher who was born in New England. She currently resides in a small historic town in North Carolina. A Lion’s Pride is her debut novel. She has now released her second book “A Rebel Star”
Alyssa, “A Rebel Star” is your second book and tells the reader about Marienela, a young woman from an affluent family in London who travels to Nigeria to visit the Ogoni villages. The people of these villages have struggled for their rights over land that large companies and the government want to exploit for the oil that lies beneath. What was your inspiration behind this story?
I wanted to write a story that took place somewhere in Africa during a major conflict. I had already outlined and planned the idea, all I needed was the setting. As I was doing some research I stumbled across this particular story of the Ogoni people and their struggle against a major oil company and decided I absolutely had to write about it. I adapted my original story idea—even changing my main character’s name—to fit into this world of environmental destruction and governmental corruption and A Rebel Star was born.
Marienela encounters rebels and soldiers who are most likely fighting for various different reasons. This must have been a difficult element to write about?
Human cruelty is a very hard thing to write about. Many of the crimes the soldiers have committed, both in real life and in the story, against the Ogoni people are beyond evil. It is these acts that have forced men to become rebels and fight against them. In turn the rebels have committed crimes and cruel acts against the soldiers. It is a very vicious circle that Mari has become caught up in.
From the book blurb it’s clear that the Ogoni people have many struggles to face, which was the most difficult to write about?
One of the worst things the people of the Niger River Delta have had to overcome is the environmental destruction that the oil pollution has caused. Being able to fully capture the amount of damage that has been done to the land was very difficult. The fish in the rivers are dying and the lands can no longer be farmed, making it impossible for the people to earn a living to feed their families.
I hope that there were some joyful aspects for the Ogoni people? Can you tell us about any particular moment that you enjoyed writing in “A Rebel Star”?
The Ogoni are very happy people despite the many challenges they have been forced to overcome. My favorite part of the story to write happens in the middle and shows the people working together to build new mud huts in their village. Though the people are working very hard they are also having fun.
What are the key differences between your first book “A Lion’s Pride” and your new book “A Rebel Star”?
Though both stories feature strong, independent, young women, the two characters face very different trials. In A Lion’s Pride, Alex knows who she is and where she belongs, and is fighting to earn her place in a world that is mostly run by men. In A Rebel Star, Mari must learn who she is and who she wants to become before she can choose which side she wants to fight for.
Which book did you find most difficult to write, and which did you enjoy the most?
A Rebel Star was much more difficult to write because the setting and some of the event within the story are real and based on truth. It was extremely important that I make the story as accurate as possible, whereas A Lion’s Pride came completely from my own imagination. A Lion’s Pride will always be special to me because it was my first completed novel, but I have truly enjoyed immersing myself in the Ogoni people’s struggle.
Reviewers have stated how you “masterfully crafts these complex plots” and that you have a “distinct style and creativity” how do you plan your writing, and what do you think sets you out from other writers?
I always outline my stories in bullet points first. I make a list of all the characters and the major events and their details so I have something to reference while I am writing. The very first chapter that I write is always the ending; I have to know where the story is going to take me before I can start the beginning. I also don’t write everything in order, I like to start with writing the scenes that are the most vivid in my mind. I can always tweak them later if I decide to make changes to the story.
Do you have any words of guidance for those out there who have started on the literary journey? Perhaps for those who have written one book and now wondering what on earth they could write about next?
As a junior novelist myself, I believe that the most important thing to do is to never stop writing, even if you don’t believe what you are writing is good. You can always improve it later and the more you write the more you’ll become inspired to continue writing.
What’s next for Alyssa Rae, will you be writing more in the rebel Star series, or will your writing take a different journey?
A Rebel Star is the first of a trilogy and I am currently working on the second book. I also have plans to add three novellas to the series which will branch off into other character’s points of view, giving readers a chance to explore Mari’s world from different angles. I enjoy writing for teens and young adults and hope to publish many more stories within this genre.
If our reader would like to find out more about you, or even contact you, is there anywhere they should look?
I would love to hear from my readers! They can contact me on my website www.alyssarae.com and join my mailing list for all the latest updates.
About A Rebel Star
Living atop the richest oil fields in Nigeria, the Ogoni people have struggled for their rights against their own government and the greedy oil companies determined to take their lands.
Chasing the secrets of her mother’s past, Marienela leaves her privileged life in London to visit the Ogoni villages. There she will witness the destruction of the environment caused by none other than the oil company her father controls.
She will meet rebels and soldiers. Writers and fighters. Face violence and corruption. And through it all she will have to choose. Will Marienela return to the comfort and safety of her London home, or will she become…
Buy Alyssa Rae’s New Book “A Rebel Star” on Amazon