A Talk With: Alyssa Wees, on The Waking Forest

Hi friends! I’m back today with my feature “A Talk With”! YAY!

In case you missed it, “A Talk With” is a brand new feature here on Drizzle & Hurricane Books, where I will invite young adult book authors to chat with me about their upcoming books, share their writing tips and tricks and more!

Today, I’m very excited to welcome Alyssa Wees, debuting this year with The Waking Forest! The Waking Forest is a very atmospheric, magical-looking book, and a story I’ve been anticipating for quite a while now. Alyssa Wees has the kindness to share with us her path to publication, her writing inspirations and more, so keep on reading to find out all about it!

1. The Waking Forest is your debut novel, naturally I can’t help but wonder: did you always dream of being a writer? What pushed you to go down this path with The Waking Forest?

I’ve wanted to be a writer pretty much since I was old enough to read and write, so publishing The Waking Forest is a dream come true!

I grew up in the 90’s, and I was always writing stories about the adventures of my Beanie Babies! I’ve come a long way since then. I finished a few full-length novels throughout high school and college but The Waking Forest is truly the book of my heart in so many ways. It combines everything I love: witches, wishes, magic, sisterhood, stories within stories, and just a little bit of romance. I wanted to write a book that felt like falling into a dream—or a nightmare!

2. A forest, mirages and visions, a witch… your debut sounds quite unique and so original as well! Where did you draw your inspiration from? Are there any TV shows, movies and/or books that inspired you?

Thank you! I’ve found inspiration in so many places. I’m a huge Disney fan, and while The Waking Forest is quite a bit darker than most Disney movies, I was inspired by all the stories I watched growing up. Once Upon a Time is still one of my favorite TV shows even though the series ended a few years ago. The way they mashed up different fairy tales to subvert common tropes and expectations was something I strived for in The Waking Forest. The book is not a true retelling of any one fairy tale, but there are glimmers of familiar tales throughout.

The wonder and darkness of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, one of my all-time favorite movies, inspired the way I played with magic in The Waking Forest and thought about what it means to see into another, stranger world that no one else seems to see. For Ofelia in the movie, her fantasy world interwoven with the real one is both a blessing and a burden, and Rhea in The Waking Forest experiences a similar sense of awe as well as a weight as she discovers a realm that seems to exist outside the often rigid bounds of reality.

3. Your debut sounds spookylicious and seems like such an atmospheric, compelling read: how did you put yourself in the right mood to get down and write this story? Did you have a specific routine, playlist, mood board for inspiration? Feel free to send me a link or/and share some songs and images!

The most effective way for me to get in the mindset to write is first to read! While working on The Waking Forest I read Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman. There are Western fairy tales that many of us are familiar with—Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty—but then there are some more esoteric and downright macabre tales like The Juniper Tree, The Singing Bone, and the Robber Bridegroom that got my imagination going.

I always listen to music when I write, though I don’t have a specific go-to playlist for this book. I particularly love listening to film scores.

4. What’s coming next for you and your writing? Do you have any writing projects planned out? I’d love to hear all about it 🙂

I’m currently working on a contemporary gothic horror novel. In the same vein as The Waking Forest, it blends fantasy and reality together.

1. What’s your ideal travel destination?

A few years ago I went to Italy and I’ve been dying to go back and see more of the country! It has everything I love: Mediterranean beaches, old castles and churches to explore, beautiful art and architecture, and amazing food!

2. What’s the latest book you’ve read that you’d recommend?

I absolutely loved The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, the last book in the Winternight Trilogy.

3. One movie you could watch for the rest of your life without ever being bored?

I’m torn between Beauty and the Beast and Tangled!

4. Can you share one line from your work that you’re particularly proud of?

Absolutely! This comes pretty early on in the book, from one of the Witch of Wishes’ chapters:

“The foxes had not learned this yet, but it was something the stars knew well, and the Witch knew it too: The burning scream inside you hurts less when you keep moving, keep going, keep reaching, in whatever way you can.”

Thank you so, so much Alyssa, for taking the time to chat with me about The Waking Forest! Friends, keep on reading to find out more about this wonderful debut!

📖 More about The Waking Forest

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

🎁 Pre-Order / Request The Waking Forest and receive some amazing swag!

If you’re interested in The Waking Forest and are able to pre-order a copy or request it at your library, you should do so! There is an amazing pre-order campaign going on for this lovely debut and every pre-order/request will receive:

🦊 A signed bookplate
🦊 Bookmark
🦊 Sticker

AND will be entered to win a grand prize, pictured right here! (LOOK AT THESE SOCKS!!!!)

Preorder links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books A Million | Indigo | Book Depository

Submit your pre-order / library request by clicking here!

This campaign lasts until March 12th, 2019.

📖 More about the author, Alyssa Wees

In between training in ballet and watching lots of Disney movies, Alyssa grew up writing stories starring her Beanie Babies. She earned a BA in English from Creighton University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Currently she works as an assistant librarian in youth services at an awesome public library. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two cats.

Find Alyssa Wees on :

Do you want to read The Waking Forest? Did you read it already?

Are you a fan of atmospheric, magical kind of reads like this one? Do you have any book recommendations? Let me know your thoughts in comments!




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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

20 thoughts on “A Talk With: Alyssa Wees, on The Waking Forest

  1. I hadn’t heard about this book before your feature Marie but now I am definitely 100% adding it to my TBR list. Based on your talk with Alyssa The Waking Forest sounds like the kind of book I’m going to love. I am a huge fan of fairytales and it seems like they were a large inspiration for the author which is all I really need to know to be honest.
    Also when it comes to Disney movies there are so many I couldn’t choose between but Beauty and the Beast and Tangled are two of them. 😀
    Great post. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This book sounds very magical with spookiness– it sounds lovely. I hadn’t heard of it before!! I don’t think I’ve read many books like it!!
    I liked the show OUAT too and how it changed the tropes/stories in fairytales slightly!!
    Aww… tangled is such a good movie!!
    Lovely interview!! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had this one on my wishlist but now I want to read it 4000% more omg! it sounds AMAZING and honestly any book with a foresty setting and witches and darkness just immediately hooks me in. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For some reason I’m getting vibes similar to An Enchantment of Ravens and A Star-Touched Queen. I think it has something to do with the atmospheric vibe radiating for this book. I’m not usually the biggest fan of creepy forests, but the atmospheric quality may be enough to win me over!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like this has to be such an atmospheric book, I agree! I hope you’ll cave and read it, would love to know what you think of it! 🙂
      thank you!! ❤


  5. awww writing about adventures with beanie babies is so cute! I am really excited to see what she works on next because I didn’t know I needed a contemporary gothic horror novel until now.

    Great interview, Marie! I was lucky to get an eARC of The Waking Forest but my reading slump ruined everything and I haven’t read it yet. My pre-ordered copy is on its way though, super stoked about this one!

    Liked by 1 person

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