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Interview with Adam Alexander

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
A. I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States, but I wasn’t born there. I grew up in the United Kingdom. My parents were Scots and Nigerian, which made for an interesting family dynamic.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
A. I very much hope so. In addition to the Andromeda Brown series, I have written a YA dystopian (a little darker, for slightly older readers) called Archangel which was well received. 
I am in the process of sketching out the sequel to that one. I have the plot almost completed, but I have no idea about the title. On top of that, I have completed the manuscript for a deep-space sci-fi called (probably) Braking Day.  Hopefully, that will see the light of day in the very near future.

Q.3 Where do you get your ideas?
A. Oh, my goodness! Who knows, really? I am one of those people who believes that there is no such thing as a trivial fact, its just information you don’t have a use for as yet. As a result, there are all sorts of things floating around my head at any given time. Sometimes they collide with each other and a useful idea pops out. 

For instance, the first Andromeda Brown book, The Shifter’s Trail was triggered by a meteor burning up over Russia some years ago. There was (and is) an enormous amount of video of that event on the internet. A local school had its windows blown in by the shockwave which got me to thinking about starting a novel with a crashing spaceship that blows in the windows of the protagonist’s school. Of course, a spaceship that survives such a noisy event is going to be discovered very quickly, unless you can hide it somewhere.  A walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago (trivial fact: the lake is as much as 300m deep in places) presented a solution to that problem, and The Shifter’s Trail was born.

Q.4 What advice do you have for writers?
A. 1. Read a lot of books.
2. Outline your whole story (otherwise you’ll get lost in the middle)
3. Write something every day. It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be written. You can always tidy it up later.

Q.5 Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A. I try to write stories that I would enjoy reading and hope my readers agree with me. These are genre novels, so you have to keep within the conventions to a certain extent.  However, I like to think my worlds are different enough to keep people’s interest, and I like to have strong female characters. Strong female characters are still in short supply, which is a terrible thing to be saying in the 21st Century.

Q.6 If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
A. See Q.4!

Q.7 What are the most important magazines or websites for writers to subscribe to?
A. This is an ever-changing field. Book blogs can be fascinating sources, and they talk about things you might never have considered on your own. For writers based in the West or interested in writing for the Western market, I would also recommend subscribing to Writer’s Digest (magazine or website or both). It’s a gateway to all sorts of useful information.

Q.8 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. All of it! But I like the challenge; it’s more interesting for me. I spend a lot of time listening to how girls talk to each other and reading a lot of books and magazines marketed at young women (which draws some very strange looks sometimes). I think when it comes to plotting out a scenario; a male solution to many problems involves athleticism. This is a good solution for males because they are, after all, very strong. Most women are not, so their solutions have to be different. If your character is as strong as the men, that’s great, but you’re likely to end up putting a male character in a female body, which defeats the object of the exercise. In The Deep Tunnel, the Mhairi's character is not strong at all.  But she is clever, loyal, and brave, which allows her to accomplish a great deal without having to beat anyone up.

Q.9 How do you select the names of your characters?
A. I come across names I like in my day to day life and file them away for future use. I’ve liked Andromeda from the very first time I heard it. I was about six years old at the time.

Q.10 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
A. I do. I don’t mind criticism. The critic either knows what she’s talking about, or she doesn’t. If it’s a thoughtful critique, I try and make improvements in my future work, if it’s not, I simply ignore it. The only thing that genuinely irritates me about reviews is where the reviewer DIDN’T READ THE BOOK!!! That happens way more than it should. They read the first chapter or two, decide they have enough to write something down and throw something on to their website. If you’re going to do something, do it properly or don’t do it at all!

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?
A. Yes. They allow me the time and space to do what I love, for which I am very grateful.

Q.12 What do your fans mean to you?
A. Everything. It’s hard to explain, but your characters don’t become “real” until you hear other people talking about them. It is very empowering to discover you’ve made someone’s day a little better or a little more interesting. And if someone has been inspired to do something in their own life because of something you wrote, it is about the most joyous and humbling thing you will ever experience.

Q.13 How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A. Four in total. Three published: The Shifter’s Trail and The Deep Tunnel are Books 1 and 2 of my Andromeda Brown series; Archangel is Book 1 of my YA dystopian Saviors series. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I have a deep-space sci-fi novel (tentatively titled “Braking Day”) which is written but not yet available for purchase.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I’m not sure. I do like to write in a public place; a coffee shop, or a park if the weather is nice. Writing is a lonely business, so I like to be surrounded by people. I don’t know if that’s unique or quirky, but it’s the best I can do.

Q.15 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. My daughter, no question. Although I am really taking credit for her accomplishments.

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. That’s tricky. Any time money is flowing from the author to someone else you are entering an ethical minefield.  However, I think organizations that mislead you into believing that if you pay them money your book will suddenly be propelled on to the bestseller lists should be ashamed of themselves.

Q.17 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
A. It is self-edited. I do rely quite heavily on beta readers for feedback, however. I am fairly critical about my work, and I’m a lawyer by training, so self-editing with beta readers seems to work. However, I do not recommend it as a general rule. I’ve read too many indie novels that would have been genuinely great (instead of awful) because the author either did not have or (even worse) did not listen to an editor.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Gosh, that’s a surprisingly difficult question. I don’t have a deep interest in people who are famous as opposed to people generally. People are just really interesting, whether they’re famous or not, and fame is often the result of luck or accident rather than anything particularly interesting about the person. If you put me on the spot, though, I would like to meet Cicero, the brilliant Roman orator (and weasel politician). How many people’s thoughts and words (however gifted) have lasted for 2000 years? I would love to know how he would feel about that.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. I have read too many to have a single favorite. But I have fond memories of The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov and Masters of the Vortex by E.E. Doc Smith. They were the first grown-up sci-fi books I ever read (I was about 10 at the time), and they instilled in me a love of the genre that has lasted my whole life. They’re quaint and dated now, but I still love them.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. I love writing and I love being read. But above all, I like the challenge of learning from each manuscript so I can get better with the next one!

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