Writers’ Corner // Interview with Alda Yuan

Hello everyone!

Welcome to another post from the Writers’ Corner! Today we will be hearing from Alda Yuan (author of Quests and Quandaries, Book 1 of The Floating Isles), who shares her insights about work-life balance as a part-time writer!

1)    What are some of your favourite books?

It’s pretty hard to pick favorite but below is a selection! 

  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck – One of Steinbeck’s lesser known works, it is really an (rather successful) attempt to capture the feeling of a place. 
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Little introduction needed!
  • Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges – Borges is a master of the short story format and though I don’t read a whole lot of short stories, this collection is one of the best. 
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – Classic for at least 42 reasons. 
  • Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott – An older work of satire as ridiculous as it is funny. But it does certainly encourage you to look at things from different dimensions. 

2)    Which author(s) influenced your writing style?

I grew up reading and then wanting to emulate a lot of stuff by Tamora Pierce and Hilari Bell, whose works were well stocked at my local library. As I grew older, I started to read more works of magical realism by authors like Marquez and Borges. As Borges says, “I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read. . .”

3)    I read in your bio that you are an attorney, which is really cool. How does your day-to-day work influence the content of your writing? Do you draw on your day job for inspiration?

Being an attorney involves quite a bit of writing as well but the style is completely different. Legal writing is very purposeful and structured. Each sentence should build on the one before like the next piece of a puzzle. Or at least it should!  

Part of the reason I like fiction writing so much is because I don’t have to do any of that. Of course there still has to be internal coherence and logic. But you can let creativity and your imagination take precedence. 

My work day to day as an environmental attorney involves getting into the weeds of the Clean Water Act or investigating new nutrient monitoring technologies. Not a lot of that makes its way into my writing as is but some of the bureaucratic nonsense involved in being an attorney certainly winds up in the satire I write. 

4)     Related to the above question, how do you juggle work, writing, and other daily tasks? Would you ever choose to be a full-time writer, if given the opportunity?

Luckily, working at an environmental non-profit, my job isn’t as hectic as it would be at a law firm. I find I almost always have time at the end of the day to get some writing in. Disappearing into fantasy lands is a great way to unwind, especially since there can be a lot of doom and gloom in my day job. I think this is good balance for me personally. I think being a writer full time might actually be less enjoyable than the way I’m going about it now because I think it would stress me out! 

5)    Are you self-published or traditionally published? Tell us about your experience.

I started off traditionally publishing at a couple of smaller houses. I was busy with school at the time so I didn’t do a whole lot of marketing to complement their distribution. But I eventually wanted to try my hand at self-publishing, especially as I also wanted to teach myself how to do a bit of graphic design. 

6)    What are the best piece(s) of writing advice that you have received?

I’ve received a lot of good advice over the years that I don’t follow myself! One thing I have taken to heart is to write a little every day, even if it is not something that will end up in a finished work or has to be on the back of a piece of scrap paper. Sometimes just scribbling down my thoughts can lead to a new idea. Even if not, it is often enjoyable for its own sake. And if there’s one thing I have taken to heart, it’s that you should be enjoying yourself! 

About “Quests and Quandaries, Book 1 of The Floating Isles” 

The Floating Isles were created millions of years ago when a beetle the size of a continent churned up mud from the seabed for a perch. And things have only gotten weirder since.

This is a tongue in cheek account of a princess forced to go on a quest, very much against her will. With the proverbial band of sidekicks at her side, Rahni leaves the familiar comforts of home for the mysterious Eigen States, a place where, of course, nothing is as it seems. Or else it wouldn’t be much of a quest. Rahni is determined not to let the laws of the land dictate anything, least of all how seriously she has to take the whole matter. 

Her dearest wish is to get through the quest with as few near scrapes and mortal enemies as possible. If she has to go on a quest, she wants it to be bland, with no nonsense about holding the fate of the world in her hands. Naturally, nothing goes quite as she plans. But what else is new?

About Alda Yuan

Alda Yuan is an attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center based in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated with her JD and probably several complexes from Yale Law School in 2018.
She lives with her cat, an adorable orange menace who only occasionally answers to the name Artemis.


Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

6 responses to “Writers’ Corner // Interview with Alda Yuan”

  1. A writer who doesn’t want to be a full-time writer? That’s new.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! I am actually starting to reconsider this as well. Seems like relying on writing as a full-time career can be stressful. What do you think?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True. I think anything that becomes are job can be stressful. Even if it’s our passion. However, I think it’s better to be stressed about what you like than what you don’t like.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Absolutely agree there!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m fortunate that at the moment I have a day job where I can focus on the other things I love to do during my off hours. I’d probably feel differently if that wasn’t the case!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely. It’s so great to have a day job with good work-life balance 🙂 Thank you for this awesome interview Alda!


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