Alex, what inspired you to start writing? –
– Getting old. I had a birthday coming up that had a zero in it, and I realised that I’d been working on a story in my head for over twenty years, and if I didn’t write it down sharpish, I would never do it. I suffer from insomnia from time to time, so I would fill the long hours spent staring at the ceiling with narratives and ‘what if’s, but I’d never had the confidence to actually commit any of them to paper. I still don’t have much confidence, but at least I’m writing things down.
Do you have another job (paid or otherwise) apart from being an author? If so, how do you juggle your time? –
– I do. I’m self-employed so in terms of how I juggle my time – I’d say ‘badly’. I do it badly. There are many benefits of working from home, but it does mean I spend an awful lot of time in my pyjamas and I’m never really sure what day it is. But, for example, I’ve been able to take this month to concentrate on finishing a novel, and then next month I can prioritize my other job. I feel very lucky to be able to do that.
What did it feel like watching your first story fledge and leave the nest? –
– That just happened! I’ve written fanfic and stuff for friends before, but having something published was a very different experience for me, mostly as it felt very much like a group effort. I always have friends or betas check my work, but I definitely had the sense that there was a team working on this one – making the cover art, organizing things, writing and rewriting, proofing. It was actually very reassuring. Then once the story was published, that was very scary. Showing work to friends is one thing. Knowing that my characters are out there, alone, where anyone and everyone can see them…that’s properly frightening. I feel very lucky, though. So far everyone’s been very nice.
Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent? –
– I actually don’t know. Plot is important to me. I like to have an overall arc, with recurring themes and a strong sense of story. But it’s the characters that drive that. The story always has to be deeply embedded in their expression and development. As to the characters unexpected behaviour – I just go with it. Last week, I had to write a quick segue into a chapter using the main character. Suddenly, all this stuff is coming out about him previously being a soldier and having terrible dreams about the battlefield…I still have no clue where that came from. In hindsight it makes sense, but it was still a bit of a shock. But yes, I never fight the muse. I figure she knows what she’s doing.
If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why? –
– That’s easy. I have a detective story I’m working on. The main character is an ex-cop called John. He has many good characteristics. He’s loyal, and sweet, and smart, and professional. But we find out at the end of the first book that he has a darkness inside him – a really cruel, sociopathic streak – that means he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the people he loves. I’d definitely feel safe with him on my side.
If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write? –
– I don’t think time or fortune, or lack thereof, would stop me from writing, but in terms of being able to really concentrate on one thing, and have time stop for a little while, it would be the detective series. I’ve got the first draft of the first novel down and I’d always planned to write more. But then I recently roughly plotted out another four books in my head, all with an intertwining story arc. Ideally, I’d like to take the time to write them all together. Sometimes things come up that I’d like to be able to go back and give them a better set up, or a character develops in a way that I’d want to hint at before hand. It would be lovely to be able to really take my time doing that.
Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn’t finish? –
– On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I tried, I really, really did, but I think that was the first time I thought, “I’m gonna die reading this. It’s not worth it.” It’s very rare that I come across a story I have to mark as DNF. I almost always find a reason to keep reading. On The Road is still on my shelf. I used to have delusions that one day I might find a way to power through it, but quite frankly, I’m of a mind now that I can’t imagine why I’d bother, not when there are so many other books that I enjoy.
What’s your favourite gay romance/other genre book? And why? –
– Noooooo! That’s a terrible thing to ask! No way I can pick just one! It’s no secret I love Stephen King. I love the fact that he’s such a good storyteller, which is something to which I aspire; I’d rather be a good storyteller than a great writer. I’ve read The Stand more times than I’d care to admit. Gay romance is actually relatively new to me. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can talk about my favourites without sounding like a complete suck-up. But other than the Cambridge Fellows, I read Ethan, who loved Carter by Ryan Loveless a few weeks ago, and I’m still reeling, so that definitely goes on the list. Also, Jordan L. Hawke rocks my world. But yeah, it’s Orlando and Jonty all the way for me, I’m afraid. Their humour, their passion, all the little things like Orlando’s awkwardness, and Jonty sitting in a window watching the rain at night…all of it. I love detective stories, and they are just perfectly imperfect for the job.
What’s your next project?
– My current project is trying to finish the first draft of my Old West Werewolf novel by the end of the month. I’m on schedule so that bodes well. I’d actually like to try to get it published this year, but I’ll have to see how that goes. After that, I think I might get down to writing the follow-up to “Something Beginning With ‘V'”. I have a good idea of how I want it to go, and people have already started asking for it, so I probably shouldn’t leave it too long. Plus, I miss Daniel and Elliot already. It’s ridiculous, but I do. Don’t judge me.
Charlie’s note: not judging, but blushing furiously.