frequently asked questions

What’s the story behind the quote, “While I’m gone, dream me the world. Something new for every night”?

This is from The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Without trying to spoil anything, one of the plots of the book is the ability to pull things out of a dream and bring them back into reality along with the dreamer. I feel like beyond being a beautiful quote, this also describes what I’ve been trying to do my whole life: create the things I dream about. I can’t literally take objects out of my dreams, but I’ve spent my entire life creating the things I imagine, from web graphics to fashion to home decor. Also, Maggie is my word goddess.

What are some of your favorite things, from a creator’s standpoint?

I’m a storyteller, and I don’t play favorites, meaning that I value words and visuals, I value video, I value live performance. I value every dimension. My favorite kind of storytelling is probably transmedia, using more than one form of media to reach people. As someone who writes, draws, designs graphics, designs fashion, decorates her home, takes photos and videos, and loves public speaking, I don’t believe in one message sent in one package.

I’m endlessly fascinated in the connections between marketing, publicity, and editorial. It’s always important to me to have some data and analysis to back up my creative decisions; I often work from my gut, but then I take a step back to see how what we’ve created has left an impression on the people who interacted with it. I like arguments that blend the logical and the personal. Diversity in media and publishing is very important to me, as is making the enjoyment of media accessible for everyone. I don’t believe in censorship, but I do strongly believe in integrity. And, as naive as it sounds, I’m an optimist, and I always will be. A resilient optimist who can take constructive criticism, but still an optimist.

Are you a full-time student? What does that mean?

Yes, I am. For me, that means 2-3 night classes a week, and yes, I do work full-time during the day. My program is designed to allow students the flexibility to work in the industry and gain hands-on experience. I’ll finish the program with an MA in May 2017.

How do you like Emerson’s program?

I love it! Emerson’s program is incredibly diverse, meaning that beyond our introduction to book publishing, magazine publishing, and digital publishing, we can pursue topics of our choosing in any depth: marketing, social media, book publicity, acquisitions, magazine and web writing, production, the business of publishing, innovation in the industry, management strategies. Our options are endless.

How did you like your undergraduate experience?

I also loved it. Westfield State University has a robust and yet ideally sized English department. I had small class sizes optimal for detailed discussions. I actually knew all of my professors. I had the ability to do one-on-one projects with faculty members, and to meet in office hours weekly to ask them any questions I had. I learned so much, and the courses offered were very important to my career. WSU also offered a fantastic internship and co-op program, which led directly into a paid position and an expansive freelance career for me.

Why publishing?

If you’re going to follow up with, “Don’t you know it’s a dying field?” I could go on forever. If you just want to know why publishing, the answer is simple. I love so many things. I wanted to be, and still want to be, so many things growing up. A veterinarian. A children’s book author/illustrator. A forensic analyst. A graphic designer. A photographer. I had to choose one, because I can’t be everything at once. And I thought to myself, “How can I do as many things that I love at once?” The answer came to me in publishing. By publishing content from all experiences, I have the ability to see into worlds that aren’t my own and share that content with others. Why I love publishing comes down to this: I believe reading has the ability to transform us, and I’m happier if I can get words into the hands of readers, whether those words are in the form of a child’s first picture book or a monthly magazine or an ebook or an audiobook.  I’m also able to spread the word about causes and organizations I’d love to be a part of, or am a part of. One of my second loves is social justice and equality, so publishing gives me a platform to care about that and to share it with the world.

Why do you love social media so much?

My relationship with social media is SO complicated. Short version: I think it’s an amazing tool for people to connect with one another. You want to sell a product or service? You want to reach a wide audience for your fundraising or volunteer project? You want people to help donate so your dog can get surgery? You want to inspire people to push for more diversity in the media? All of these things can be accomplished through social media in a way that traditional forms sometimes fail to do. It creates a buzz and gets people talking. That said, on a personal level, I have my issues with its overuse, especially in social circles. I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis on social media, so it’s kind of the bane of my existence and my favorite thing at the same time. I’ve done it extensively for multiple brands and publications, though, as well as nonprofits, and I just love doing that. When it comes to sending a message, I think social media is a tool that can’t be ignored.

How do you do so many things at once? Or why?

Hahahah. I get asked this a lot, actually. I slowly became a busier and busier person after my mom passed away when I was in middle school. I missed her, so I took on the project of writing a full-length book for the first time. I finished that book and then made a physical copy, complete with a mock copyright page and author’s bio, at a community book program. When I finished that, I don’t think I ever looked back. I always had professional and creative development projects running concurrently in addition to school. In high school, I volunteered at an animal shelter, interned at an animal clinic, moderated an online forum, and did graphic and web design for MySpace (back when it was cool).  My freelance career really began in seventh grade, when I started creating graphics and web layouts for clients online. I learned Photoshop and how to make animated images just for fun. I practiced typography and video editing. In college, I learned the true meaning of busy when I took 6 classes, an internship, 2 on-campus jobs (tutor and writing consultant), and a senior honors thesis at once. I woke up every morning at 6:00 and went to bed at around 1:00. It was exhausting, but I learned how much I can get done if I just hustle.

Another why? Besides development and keeping busy, I’m a hard worker. I have goals and I’m determined to accomplish them. If taking on multiple internships and editing and social media roles at once is the way to do it, it’s what I’ll do.

I want a job/to get into graduate school/to get published/to do something you’ve done. Any advice?

Yes. Email me at alainaleary@gmail.com. Please be specific about what advice you want, but I promise to do my best.

What do you like to do for fun?

Write (for fun, I write fiction and creative non-fiction). Read (especially books, but I also regularly read magazines and newspapers). Take long walks. Go to the beach. Take photos (I have a Canon EOS Rebel). Edit photos. Pet my cats. Fashion design. Decorate my apartment. DIY crafts. Cook and bake. Use Photoshop, and make graphics. Write letters by hand. Add glitter to things to make them pretty. Take the train; I know, who does that for fun? I’m weird, okay?

What causes do you believe in?

Equal rights for all people. Animal rights, especially no-kill shelters. Diversity in the media, including books, TV, movies, magazines, digital media, and every other aspect. Intersectional feminism. Promoting safe and consensual sex. Confronting the stigma against marginalized groups of people, like people of color, LGBTQIA people, disabled people, mentally and chronically ill communities, and any other oppressed groups. I really, sincerely believe in human rights and in making spaces accessible and safe for all people.

Would you consider offering your writing, editing, social media, design, or marketing services?

Yup, if you pay me! I’m available for freelance roles. If you can’t pay me, because you’re a small company or a nonprofit or an individual in need, still shoot me an email. I do pro bono work sometimes, especially if I like you or what you’re doing or what you stand for.