Author Spotlight: Alysa Wishingrad

  • Tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

A photo of Alysa Wishingrad

I began my writing career as a playwright with an Off-Broadway theater company of which I was an ensemble member, The Atlantic Theater Company. But I soon found myself diverted onto another career track as a casting director for theater, TV, and film.

After 15 years I quit to start my family and return to writing. I didn’t honestly know I’d wind up writing novels at the time, but the evolution was so natural. Not that writing novels came easy! It took about 10 years before I signed with my agent.

It was a long journey to get here, but I cannot imagine writing anything but upper-middle grade fantasy now. By the way, by upper middle-grade I mean books aimed at readers 11-13 – kids who are ready for more complex stories and challenging themes without moving up to the more mature content you tend to find in YA books.

I live in the Hudson Valley of New York with my family, two cats and two rescue dogs who came all the way from Alexandria, Egypt. They demand a lot of walks, which supplies me with much needed breaks from writing.

  • Tell us about something you wrote.

The cover of The Verdigris Pawn

The Verdigris Pawn, an upper-middle grade fantasy, is the story of Beau, heir to the ruler of the Land, a man so frightening, people only dare call him Himself. Beau has been raised isolated and alone. And despite the harsh and judgmental treatment he gets from his father, he has no idea of the brutal tyranny Himself unleashes upon his subjects and how hated and feared their family is. 

This all changes when Beau meets Cressi, a young servant girl with a hidden talent for charming herbs into powerful teas, who opens his eyes to the realities of life in the Land – and most especially about Mastery House, a terrible and brutal place where the children of the poor are sent to be raised and trained to be servants in exchange for their family’s taxes. 

This discovery of the truth sets Beau off on an epic adventure as he tries to undo the poisoned legacy of his family. But, to restore fairness and equality to the Land, he must think of things like a real-life game of Fist (a game similar to chess!) 

But when you’re reviled throughout the Land and false heroes lurk around every corner, leading a rebellion is easier said than done.

This is a story about how appearances aren’t always what they seem and how real power can come from the most unlikely places.

  • What advice can you offer new authors?

The one thing I’d like new writers to keep in mind is that there is no end point. There’s no arriving at being a writer. It’s an on-going, ever evolving road trip. As long as you keep pushing yourself and working on your craft you will constantly be becoming a better, stronger writer. And so, I advise new writers to embrace the constant challenge. Be sure to always push yourself, go into the places that scare you and test your mettle.

But like any good road trip make sure you have some wonderful traveling companions. If you don’t already have writer pals yet, put yourself out there, join a writing group, either in real life or virtual. If you can, attend workshops, and always keep an eye out for free events. And finally, read! Read in your genre, out of your genre. Read books you love and those that don’t do it for you, there’s something to be learned from both!

  • When is your favorite time to drink tea?

A teacup and teapot in a cozy-looking settingMorning, afternoon, and evening!

My morning cup, or in winter morning pot, is always a black tea with some oat or almond milk.

Depending on my writing schedule I’ll have a cup of a mellower black tea, like a Paris blend in the afternoon.

My evening cup is always a nice cup of Rooibos, steaming the milk makes it feel like dessert!

  • Where can readers find out more about you and your writing?

You can visit me on my website: to learn more about me and The Verdigris Pawn. You’ll also find some yummy recipes for treats that appear in the book, and information on author visits and writing workshops!

You can also find me on Twitter @agwishingrad.

I’m @alysawishingradwrites on Instagram where I post about my books, middle-grade literature, and writing. You’ll also find the occasional pics of the collection of teacups I inherited from my grandmother. Whenever I need a boost to get working, I pick out a new teacup for the day, it never fails to inspire me!