Author Interview: Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander

  1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

Well, CURRENTLY, working on a 20th anniversary edition of a book that is very dear to my heart – a fat, lush High Fantasy full secondary world novel called “Changer of Days” which runs to a quarter million words and which, when it was first published, the original publisher insisted be split into two volumes. As a duology it had limited success especially when half of it (the second book) was declared OOP by the publisher and then the front half was left to flounder on its own for a LONG time. But now it is being reissued as the book it was always meant to be, a single volume, and I couldn’t be happier about that. I am also thinking about writing a companion volume, a brand new book in the same universe, which would follow the release of this re-issued edition very closely…

  1. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

Three currently to be lifted into the light.

“The Second Star”, my first serious science fiction novel, surfaced in the summer of 2020, and created quite the splash. I’d love to nudge it back into the spotlight now that it’s a year old and so much else has crowded it out into the wings – in a nutshell, it’s a First Contact Psychological Thriller Science Fiction novel, and it is pretty much about what might happen if there is nobody to intercede between people in no position to control their lives and other people who are just “following their orders”… and what happens when somebody DOES get in the way of that. Don’t expect flash bangs and high-velocity chases – but if you like the sort of story that shines a light into shadowed corners, this might be your ticket.

“The Were Chronicles” is an omnibus edition of the three novels in that cycle, (Random, Wolf, and Shifter). I’m using my science degree for this (I hold an MSc in Molecular Biology) and part of the draw here is that I posit perfectly workable science behind the existence of were creatures. But it’s the characters who are the joy in these books, they’re very character-driven, and they are also part of a story which highlights some of the less savory parts of human nature (discrimination, bullying, prejudice…) and reveals how they can hurt, and perhaps how they can be fought.

“Fractured Fairy Tales” appeared this April, a collection of told, re-told, re-imagined, or simply re-invented “fairy tales” which are definitely not for children. This is a box of dark chocolates, reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde, and it is for absolutely everyone who loves the mystery and magic of the fairy tales which they thought had been left behind in the busyness of their lives.

  1. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

The rewriting/line editing (and finding all the mistakes)/proofreading part. I’m a storyteller, and I love telling the story – that, to me, is not work at all, that is the joy of it. My reserves of patience have always been on the thin side, though, and by the time I have to read through the story for the fifth time I’m really ready to go on and write the next story instead. Particularly since I think typos actually hide in plain sight and then breed if left undetected – and absolutely no book in print is free of them, no matter how carefully you proofread it during the editing process, which is maddening.

  1. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

The first glitter of the new idea. The putting together of the story (which for me often happens as I’m writing it – I’m not a plotter, I’m a thoroughly organic writer who starts a story and then just goes where it leads me – I often tell people that I just plant the story seed into the ground and until it sprouts even I don’t know what is going to come up, a cabbage or a redwood. The fun lies in finding that out, and then watching it GROW and become BEAUTIFUL.

  1. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

Heh. I’ll take Tolkien, for the worldbuilding, but let me just say that I want to be Ursula Le Guin when I grow up. And leave it at that…

  1. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

I can’t. Half the time I didn’t know what was going to happen to them until it happened. Don’t blame ME, it was your life and you lived it. All I did was listen to you telling the story and take dictation…

  1. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

Oh that’s easy, they will, because I have absolutely zero ability to gamble. Honestly, just take my money. The book I just finished reading is actually non-fiction, “The Year of the Nurse” by Cassandra Alexander (no relation) RN, about the travails of one ICU nurse during the Covid year (and I am sure she is not alone). She isn’t in any kind of mood to pull her punches right now and I don’t blame her, but I have a feeling she will cheerfully take up the cards if the stakes were that empathy, wisdom, and science would win the day and selfish and ignorant people could be prevented from making the epidemic far worse than it is turning out to be… and I would be the one cheering her on from the sidelines.

  1. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

If there is one thing I really want people to remember when they write is that just because you’re in a fictional world that doesn’t mean that suddenly everything’s yours for the asking – from horses who can magically gallop all night and still be fresh and sweet in the morning to using any kind of magical gift and expecting it to carry no price, to affect you not at all. TANSTAAFL, people, there really IS no such thing as a free lunch, and unless something your character does is tough enough to affect and change them… you’re not telling a story, you’re just piling words on the page. If your protagonist does not end the book a different person than the one which they were when they began it, you have not done your job properly at all.

  1. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

Look out for the special 20th Anniversary Edition of “Changer of Days” this Christmas! In the meantime please browse my Book Table (with ALL of my books! Buy them right here!) and my blog at www.AlmaAlexander.org. Concerning chocolate cake recipes, I am actually going to be doing a series of essays containing recipes from my grandmother’s recipe files on my Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/AlmaAlexander) and this will probably include reflections on the recipe that calls for EIGHTEEN EGGS. That’s Eighteen. Eggs. In a single recipe. You’d better start your own chicken coop for this one.