Book Nerd Interview
Alex is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop and a Semi-Finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Her short pieces are published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction and White Cat Magazine. She blogs about writing craft, revision, and editing at SmallTriumphs.com.
Alex’s work is complex, dark, adventurous, and a little funny, with a emphasis on great characters and interesting worlds. She gets her inspiration from history (she majored with a European history focus in college), family members, and headlines, as well as whatever book she has in her hand. Lately she’s been reading neuroscience books; the brain’s a cool, cool place and the mind even more so.
An avid cook and foodie, Alex loves great food of any stripe – even better if she can figure out how to put it together. Great food is like a great book; it has lots of layers that work together beautifully, and the result is delicious and harmonious. She’s working on figuring out Indian food right now – suggestions welcome!
Alex loves swing dancing, tetris, music of all kinds, and has been known to get into long conversations with total strangers at restaurants about the Food Network, much to the embarrassment of her sister. She can also balance a spoon on her nose while crossing her eyes, and talk for hours about absolutely nothing.
Book Nerd Interview
Alex Hughes, Clean
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I was in drama in high school, and directed a one-act play adapted from Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle for the school’s one-act festival. It was a blast.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book at thirteen years old, about the age the writer of Eragon was. I’ve since met several other kids (and adults) who wrote books at about that age – there’s a freedom to it then, because everyone is so excited you’re doing it that no one is critical of the final product. That kind of excitement and encouragement makes it easy to finish.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to learn. The beautiful thing about the modern world is that there’s so much out there to see and interact with. If you’re interested in the way acceleration works (physics), or how the economy functions, or even the love lives of the 18th century European monarchs, well, there’s enough out there to keep you happily occupied for the rest of your life, and much of it is cheap or free to get. School – at least the schools I went to – taught me what was out there and how to go find it. So, now, when I need to know how the rationing system worked in Mobile, Alabama in 1943 (because I’m thinking of writing a story set there), I can go find out. It might take awhile, but the joy of the hunt is half the fun. J
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Smart. Funny. Sincere.
Did you learn anything from writing Clean (Mindspace Investigations #1) and what was it?
How long do we have, again? Clean was my learning book. I learned… oh, sheesh… practically everything about writing at the pro level during this book. I went through seven revisions – learning how to revise along the way. I learned dialogue, I learned first-person POV and perspective issues, I learned plot and pacing and how to kill my darlings, and most of all I learned how to fall down, get back up, and try again. Persistence. I think that’s what Clean taught me more than anything else. How to keep at it, even when it’s hard.
For those who are unfamiliar with Adam, how would you introduce him?
Adam is a telepath (a Level Eight telepath – very strong) who was kicked out of the powerful Telepath’s Guild for a drug addiction that was not wholly his fault. Now, years later, he’s working with the police in future Atlanta to solve crimes as both an interviewer and crime scene consultant. He’s also struggling to stay clean in a world where he’s the only telepath, and facing a great deal of hostility from nearly everyone at the department. His partner-slash-love-interest Cherabino has just called him in to consult on a puzzling crime scene, and he wants to impress her, and not to screw up.
What part of Isabella did you enjoy writing the most?
I like writing someone competent and testy with a past that haunts her present, but most of all I loved writing someone who could kick my ass without blinking. I’m not sure I’d be best friends with Isabella, but I want her on my team at work.
If you could introduce Adam to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think Adam would enjoy following Sherlock Holmes around and seeing how he thinks. But what I want to see is Adam go up against Chris, a character from my friend Ann Decker’s as-yet-unpublished novel who’s a supernatural hitman. I’d love to sit back, eat popcorn, and see who emerges alive. Probably it’s Adam – but only if he manages to surprise Chris with the telepathy before Chris can get out the gun.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Dan Marshall, a brilliant short story writer and college writing and English teacher, mentored me for many years along my journey. I dedicated Clean to him – though I don’t think he knows yet J
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
I’ll repeat the line from Galaxy Quest: “Never give up. Never surrender.” And I’ll add the advice from the editor of Apex Magazine: Don’t get discouraged when people reject you. Instead, “become more awesome,” until they simply must publish you / hire you / etc. from your sheer awesomeness alone.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
If you ask me if I’m mad after a big fight, I’ll probably lie. I’m mad, don’t get me wrong, but I need to think.
What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
I was a paper-grader for one of those tutoring places for young kids. Don’t get me wrong, I like tutoring, but this was grading basic math papers over and over in a little room where you weren’t allowed to talk to the other employees or play music. It was very unpleasant.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
Either my mom or my last roommate, who’s been incredible to me over the years. They’re both incredible listeners.
When was the last time you cried?
Today, actually. I tend to cry when I’m frustrated about something, and today I’m sick. And having trouble making the writing go properly. So there you go. But tomorrow will be better, and with any luck the cold meds will kick in later today.
Where can readers stalk you?
I’m very active on Twitter, and I tend to respond to comments within a few hours.
I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars. My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary. Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.
More often the setting is a major ingredient for sci-fi/fantasy books. The world that these dynamic characters live in is very damaged due to a “Tech War” that happened years ago. The sci-fi elements are well intact with a mix of fantasy that plays along well with the book’s intriguing storyline. Readers are given characters that are likably designed but are very flawed. It is this flaw that drives readers to want to see them succeed. Alex’s writing style is very descriptive and breathes life into the characters and totally immerses readers into this futuristic world. There are plenty of twists and surprises to keep readers on their toes. Clean is a grand murder mystery lead by two amazing protagonists.
You can purchase Clean at the following Retailer:
And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Alex for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a copy of Clean by Alex Hughes.
1 Winner will receive a copy of Clean by Alex Hughes.