The Heroine’s Journey of Alexandra Pana

Alexandra Pana – Freelance writer, literary consultant and teacher

What do I love most about my work?

The great thing about being a writer is that I always have escapism at my fingertips. No matter what I’m writing about, whether it’s one of my own personal stories, or some commissioned article about relationships or cats, I get so involved in what I’m talking about that I forget where I am for a while.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

A cozy library in an old house. Huge windows with heavy curtains. Intricate Turkish carpets and dark green velvet armchairs. A roaring fire, pouring rain, mountains of books and a cup of tea.

What is my greatest fear?

What if I’m wrong? What if I’m doing the wrong thing in life? What if I have the wrong priorities? What if I’m missing the whole point? Have you ever closed your eyes as you were walking down the road, just to see how many steps you dared to take before fear made you open them again? That’s the kind of fear I feel about life, all the time.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

I’m guilty of a lot of sins, but the one I struggle with the most is probably wrath. Being lazy makes you efficient, being insecure makes you work extra hard. But being angry has never done anything good for anybody.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?

Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King. Many others. I admire Neil Gaiman for how well he is adapting to modern trends, and China Miéville for how violently unique he remains. I’m not sure it counts as the same profession, since they are successful masters of horror and fantasy fiction; and I’m writing blog posts for 0.06 cents a word, but I’ll get there sooner or later.

What is my greatest extravagance?

I can’t think of anything in my life that would be considered an extravagance, let alone a great one.

On what occasion would I lie?

From the moment I successfully attain human speech in the morning, to the moment I can no longer hold my head up at night. I don’t even think it’s intrinsically bad to lie. It’s the motive of the lie that makes it good or bad.

What is the thing that I dislike the most about my work?

I hate that there’s nobody there to hold me accountable, keep me on track, and push me out of my comfort zone. I love freelancing, but I dream to some day have an agent or publisher to shout at me every now and then. I also teach English, but even that is through my own business, so I’m only ever responsible to my clients.

When was I the happiest in my work?

Every now and then, on a good day, I can sit down to write and wake up five thousand words later. Everything else fades into fog, and getting the work done feels easy and smooth. It’s the same thing when I’m teaching a student that’s really interested and engaged. One hour becomes an effortless hour and a half.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I’d definitely make myself more ambitious. As it stands, I almost never do things unless there’s a damned good reason. I operate in energy saving mode most of the time. It would be nice to see what it’s like to be one of those people that just wakes up and needs to DO things for the sake of doing them.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

Just getting paid to write at all is a big deal. Each individual article or story pales in comparison with the thought of maybe being able to continue down this avenue for the rest of my life. The money doesn’t mean anything to me, the number of views means even less. The chance of being a writer forever? Priceless.

Where would I most like to live?

In a forest, by a lake or stream, in a log cabin, far away. As long as there’s a good internet connection, I don’t even need a road. Somewhere where there’s snow in the winter, and fruit in the summer. Actually, I’m pretty much in the perfect spot already – at the foot of the Italian Alps.

What is my most treasured possession?

I don’t really like the idea of treasuring objects. Everything can break or fail or be lost. Everything I ever treasured has. When I moved to Italy my entire life was contained in a couple of backpacks. I guess I’m pretty attached to my laptop and Kindle right now, but if anything should happen… eh. I’ll move on.

What is my most marked characteristic?

I know everything. My husband thinks so, at least. I’m definitely an annoying know-it-all, and if I don’t know it I know where to research it, and If I can’t research it I’ll make it up. I love knowing a little bit about everything, and I just can’t stop wanting to learn.

What is the most inspirational location in my city?

You only ask that question because you’ve never seen my city. There’s a main street, and a hill, and that’s about it. There’s a roundabout that has a statue of a cow that’s pretty nice.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink?

Literally the best ice-cream on the planet happens to be found in this little two-horse village at Camillo’s. I could live off of that ice-cream. And if you ask the owner, he’ll tell you all about how he makes it, and even show you the fields where the strawberries get picked. And he sells beer!

What books influenced my life and how?

When I was a kid, Alice in Wonderland. I went down that rabbit hole and have been there ever since. The Brothers Grimm were also a very big deal. As an adult, I never really left the fairy-tale world, neither in every-day life nor in writing.

Who are my favorite writers?

I profoundly admire Shirley Jackson. She made an impression in the world of horror writing that any woman can look upon proudly. I am always happy and comforted when I get to fall into a book by Stephen King, but that’s basically like falling into my own living-room. I think it’s fair to say, however, that all writers are my favorite writers – just because they get to do what I want to do.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Come on. That’s so obvious. But since I might not want to hear one song on repeat for a whole day… Give me a nice concept album by Rick Wakeman. Some Yes, a couple of Genesis, a Jethro Tull for good measure. Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds. And a bunch of Ayreon albums. That’s it, I can die happy.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

I’m not sure that I can answer this question. Most characters that I read about either perform violent murders, or have violent murder performed upon them. Horror fiction isn’t really chock-full of memorable heroes. I identify very much with Eleanor from The Haunting of Hill House, but she’s a psychopathic, paranoid, maladjusted basket case.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

My mother. That’s an easy one. She’s a superhero, and you’d think the same thing if you met her. She is unstoppable, unflappable, and indomitable. She’s had what is essentially half a truck transplanted into her spine to keep her going, and she’s still going. I can never hope to reach her level of bad-assery.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?

The one that comes to mind right now is Norwegian atmospheric beauty “Trollhunter”. You have to see it once or thrice in your life. You absolutely must see it in original Norwegian.

What role does art play in my life and work?

The role art plays is so huge I can’t even see the edges of it. I don’t think of it as “art”, it’s just my life. I write. I teach, but I also teach writing. My husband is a musician. I paint. I’m learning to read sheet music. Most of our friends have released music albums. Some day I want to play piano. I’m not sure there’s anything in our life that isn’t art.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

Husband! He’s right here, on my left, playing video games. Partner in crime is really the right description, we always get into and out of trouble together. We play like kids and complain like adults and keep each other sane. There’s nobody I’d rather spend the end of the world with.

Whom would I like to work with in 2019?

Everyone! Every client that needs amazing and fun articles written. Everybody who wants to learn English as a second language, or wants to learn creative writing in English. Every person who needs translation, editing, or transcription. Fair, cheerful, creative people who are looking for a fair, cheerful, creative writer. Anyone!

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2019?

Well, since you’re offering, Neil Gaiman has a masterclass going on that I wouldn’t mind attending.

What project, in 2019, am I looking forward to working on?

I’m giving myself until October 2019 to finish one of the two books I’m working on and start sending it to publishers. I’m looking forward to starting what I’m sure will be an extensive collection of rejection letters!

Where can you see me or my work?

You can see me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexpana-writer/)

You can read some pretty glowing reviews about me on Upwork (https://www.upwork.com/freelancers/~01504e506cc49c36c6)

You should totally check out my website too!

(https://www.alexpanawriter.com)

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

Your passion is your relentless master. When you can’t, don’t want to, or don’t know how, you’re still going to get dragged along by it. When you’re ready to stop, it’s not. When you’ve had enough, it hasn’t. And whether you like it or not, it lives inside you forever.

How can you contact me?

Vigorously and without delay!

Seriously though, write to me at alexpana.edu@gmail.com if you need a writer. Write to me even if you think you don’t, I might still convince you.

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