Everything you wanted to know about Lyssa but were afraid to ask
After procrastinating on it for quite some time, I’ve decided to post a little bit of an FAQ about myself so that if you see me mentioning something on social media you won’t be like, “WTF is she talking about?”
Writing & Book Stuff
Q: Who designs your book covers?
Most of my covers are created by the ever-awesome Najla Qamber Designs. The exceptions are Magic at Midnight, which was designed by the equally-awesome KimG Design; and Cheerleaders from Planet X and Alien Princess Sorority Girl, which I designed myself on a lark and wound up really liking. The covers for the Iamos Trilogy use custom photography from Mosaic Stock, which unfortunately is no longer in business.
Q: Will any of your books be available in audio at some point?
Yes! Cheerleaders From Planet X is available now, in fact!
As for the Iamos Trilogy, I would very much like to have audiobooks made, but logistically it’s looking unlikely. It is very difficult to find producers that will use two narrators for one book, and having separate narrators for Isaak and Nadin is important to me. I’d have to hire an independent studio and it would likely cost several thousand dollars to do the entire series. I’ll keep my options open if anything changes in the future, but for the time being, the answer is probably no.
Q: Are your books available in libraries?
All my books are available for libraries to order in ebook format through Overdrive, Bibliotheca, Hoopla, and Baker & Taylor, and the Iamos Trilogy is also available in digital format on Biblioboard (depending on your region). Additionally, all of my books are available to order in print (paperback and/or hardcover formats) through Brodart Books, Follet TitleWave, Ingram Book Company, Baker & Taylor, and a number of other sources.
If you’d like to see my books available in your local library, talk to your librarian! Most libraries are able to order books requested by patrons, and the more patrons request a book, the more likely the library is to order it.
Q: Are you agented? Who are your publishers?
I am not currently agented and am not actively seeking representation at this time. I’m pretty happy being an indie author, especially because my health (see below) limits my spoons and makes deadline-adherence difficult. But if you’re an agent or publishing professional with something in mind, feel free to get in touch! Depending on the circumstances, I may be flexible (especially for translation/localization or audio rights).
Q: Do you write m/f or f/f?
Both (and also neither)! A lot of my stories have no romance at all. Some of my stories have m/f romance. Some of my stories have f/f romance. Some have both in the same story. You can find a complete guide to the rep and romance in my books and short stories here.
Please note that while I do write books and short stories with romantic subplots, I am very unlikely to ever write sexual content, regardless of gender. I stay PG-rated, and my PG is probably most people’s G.
Q: What are you working on right now?
My current works in progress (in order of priority) are:
- One World, the last book of the Iamos Trilogy
- Alien Princess Sorority Girl, the sequel to Cheerleaders from Planet X
- an untitled YA historical fantasy (this will either be a stand-alone or the first part of a duology, I’m still unsure)
The Iamos Trilogy
Q: How many books are in the Iamos Trilogy?
Four. Because I want to be Douglas Adams. It’s actually 3 full novels and a novella (45,000 words is still a novella, okay?), but you can’t really get by with skipping the novella. I tried, but it just needs to be there.
Q: So what order should the series be read in?
Fourth World -> Different Worlds -> New World -> One World
- Fourth World (novel) is narrated by Isaak and Nadin
- Different Worlds (novella) is narrated by Henry and Tamara
- New World (novel) is narrated by Isaak and Nadin
- One World (novel) will be narrated by Isaak and Nadin AND Henry and Tamara
Q: I heard that Fourth World includes ace characters—who are they?
The main books of the Iamos Trilogy (i.e., not including Different Worlds) are narrated in dual-POV by Isaak, a teenage boy living on Mars 60 years from now, and Nadin, a girl from Mars’ ancient past. (Hello, time travel!) Both Isaak and Nadin fall on the ace spectrum. Isaak is demisexual, which is addressed (on-page/word used) in the first book. Nadin is asexual, which is explored on-page/word used in the second novel, New World.
(Additionally, Scylla, a major but non-POV character, is on-page aro-ace.)
Q: Is the asexual representation in the Iamos Trilogy #OwnVoices?
Yes! I go into it more below (see “Queer Stuff”), but I am ace. Nadin’s experiences very closely mirror my own.
Q: When is the last book of the Iamos Trilogy coming out?
As soon as it possibly can! My intention had been for it to be 2021, but unfortunately my health problems (see below) have gotten worse. One World is my current active project and I am working on it every day I can. Unfortunately, that isn’t as many days as I would like. Because this is the last book in the series and there are many complicated storylines that I need to wrap up, it is imperative that I not try to force it on days when I am feeling disoriented or confused. Please know that I am doing my best and I will get the book to you as soon as I possibly can!
Cheerleaders from Planet X
Q: Is Cheerleaders from Planet X considered Young Adult or New Adult?
That depends on your definition of those genres. If you’re looking at the age of the characters, Cheerleaders would definitely be NA since the main characters are all college students. However, New Adult tends to have certain plot expectations assigned to it in addition to the characters’ ages—for example, NA is usually quite steamy, and though there’s been pushback from both authors and readers trying to diversify the genre to include both “sweet” romance and completely romance-less plots, that expectation is still strong and difficult to get around. Because Cheerleaders from Planet X contains no sexual content, and because its themes and writing style are similar to those of YA (such as its focus on self-discovery), I’ve decided to market it primarily as YA. But it can definitely go either way, and I’m still hoping that NA will continue to diversify as time passes.
Q: Will there be a sequel to Cheerleaders from Planet X?
Yes! Book 2, Alien Princess Sorority Girl, is my next project after One World is completed. I am unable to commit to a timeline right now due to my ongoing health problems.
Other Writing/Book Things
Q: Which came first, “The Choice” or “Star-Heart”?
This is one of those instances where the brain fog and memory trouble that come with my health problems (see below) really came back to bite me in the butt. When I first started writing, I wrote under a different pen name, Alyssa Altadonna. I published two short stories, “The Choice” and “Star-Heart.” One of those was a great experience, the other not so much. I was frustrated and felt stymied right out of the gate, so I decided to start fresh with a new pen name, which is how Lyssa Chiavari came about.
(No, it’s not my real name. Neither of them are.)
I consistently remembered “The Choice” being my first published story, which is why I mention it being my first story all over my bio and everywhere else. But when I decided to re-release “Star-Heart,” I got confused. I couldn’t remember when it had been published, because the website that published it wound up shutting down very shortly after publishing the story. When I looked in my “Star-Heart” folder on my computer, everything was dated in mid-2013. Didn’t “The Choice” come out first? I decided I must have remembered incorrectly, and I used May 2013 as the publication date in the ebook copyright page and on my website.
Well, then, about a year after I re-released “Star-Heart” as an ebook, I was looking for something else and suddenly remembered, gee, I had an e-mail address associated with Alyssa Altadonna, didn’t I? And when I logged onto that after however many years, I found the emails about “Star-Heart”‘s short-lived publication. In November 2014. So I was right, “The Choice” did come out first. But now there’s a bunch of info out there saying it was May 2013, because apparently that was when I last revised it, or at least that’s when the last-revised version that I could find on my computer was dated. The bottom line is, it’s not important, but if you were curious as to what’s going on there and which one was first… now you know.
Q: Do you write under any other names?
I write adult “Hallmark-style” m/f romance, mystery, and contemporary fantasy under the pen name Elisa Keyston.
No, that isn’t my real name, either.
Q: What’s going on with your health? I’ve seen you mention it periodically/noticed it’s affecting your book releases…
I live with a handful of chronic illnesses. Some of these have stemmed from non-cancerous pituitary tumors that I underwent surgery for in 2014 and again in 2017. Others stem from a problem with my immune system due to Epstein-Barr virus. The primary conditions that impact my life most are:
These conditions can cause me to have muscle weakness, mobility issues (I often use a cane or other mobility aids), short- and long-term memory loss, and extended periods of disorientation and brain fog that make it incredibly difficult to concentrate. All these things combined have taken their toll on my writing schedule and are a major part of why my books are published so far apart. I’m still learning my limits and trying to set my publication goals accordingly, but even when I give myself a generous deadline, life has a tendency of just happening—for example, the Cheerleaders from Planet X fiasco. So basically, please know that if you’re looking forward to a book and it’s not coming out very fast, I’m not doing it to be a jerk, I promise.
I used to avoid going into this too much online because I didn’t want to seem like I was looking for sympathy or oversharing, but I’ve decided I want to be more open about it in order to raise awareness for the conditions I have, because they are not well understood by the general public, or even the medical profession. Treatment has been difficult because of that, so I’m hoping that being open about my disability will help open some eyes and maybe encourage health professionals to educate themselves about these conditions.
Q: How do you personally identify?
As mentioned above, I (like Nadin) am asexual. This means that I do not experience sexual attraction—which is, of course, different from romantic attraction. Unlike Nadin, who is heteroromantic, I am aromantic. While every aro-ace is different, for me this means I have no interest in dating or romantic relationships and have chosen to embrace my mighty thornback powers.
Q: How do you feel about [insert political issue here]?
I intend to add to this FAQ as more questions become frequently asked, so if there’s something you want to know more about, please feel free to leave a comment below!