Author Interview: K. M. Alexander
Hi, K.M. thanks for the interview
Thank you for the opportunity. I enjoy this sort of thing.
What have you written?
My first book The Stars Were Right came out last year and has been getting great reviews. It’s a Lovecraftian-influenced urban fantasy. It’s firmly rooted in weird fictions but carries elements from a lot of other genres as well. I’ve had fans describe it as a thriller, horror, and even sci-fi. So it’s definitely genre bending and I like that.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am currently working on the sequel, Old Broken Road, with my editor. I just finished the first draft of the third book, Red Litten World, as well. There’s also a fantasy novella that I have been kicking around for a while, progress on it has been rapid and I really like where it’s going.
How have your personal experiences affected your writing?
Writing itself is an intensely personal experience. It’s hard for it not to be. I’d say most art is that way, especially when an artist works alone. My wife is a painter (kari-lise.com) and she would agree with me: everything she paints is coming from somewhere inside her her personal life and experiences come out in pigment instead of prose.
How have my experiences affected me? I would say they’ve shaped the way I approach everything from character creation to world building. There’s not a direct one-to-one correlation but everything from my daily life to my childhood has influenced what I write and how I write it. I think a lot of authors are observers: we see how people handle situations and we take that and explore it in our writing.
What genre of books do you like to read?
When I was growing up it was weird fiction, horror, and sci-fi. These days I read everything: horror, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, non-fiction, literary, hell even romance. I think it’s important to read outside one’s wheelhouse. Influences can come from anywhere and everywhere.
Have you even experienced any spooky?
Not really, nothing supernatural or anything.
Were you always good at writing?
Nope, but you have to start somewhere. Like anything creative the more one works at their craft the more improvement they’ll see. Practice makes perfect and all that.
How do you get started with writing a story (how do you start developing the story, how do you get inspired for it?)
Inspiration comes from everywhere and I think it’s different for every writer. I have heard some folks being inspired by news stories, personal experiences, or events in history. I highly recommend branching out into genres you’re uncomfortable with: if you want to write horror by all means, write horror, but read romance, historical fiction, literature, and sci-fi. You’ll be surprised where inspiration can come from.
As far as development goes, I tend to plot everything out in a big ol’ outline. I hit major points in my outline but I treat it as a living document. A lot of times as I write I come up with a great idea and it will have cascading effects throughout a story. It’s important for me to keep track of those changes. Keeping good notes helps with that.
I also ponder plot points for a while. I don’t keep a notebook of ideas. This is one of the few ways Stephen King and I work alike. In a 2012 Q&A sessions King said: “People will say, ‘do you keep a notebook.’ And the answer is I think a writer’s notebook is the best way in the world to immortalize bad ideas. My idea about a good idea is one that sticks around and sticks around and sticks around.” I find that’s true for me as well.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I find writing advice only gets you so far. The tricks that work for one writer don’t always work for others. You need to find your own process. You know how you do that? Go write. Quit doing whatever you are doing that is keeping you from writing and write. Even if you don’t want too. Eventually you’ll find your stride.
How do you conceive your plot ideas?
History has been a big influence on me lately, but it’s the less grandiose and more personal stories I’ve been inspired by. The struggle of one man or woman vs. the struggle of a nation. There’s a lot there. I think trying to remain grounded in that personal connection, even while writing tales of great monsters returning to earth, can help readers get more attached to the characters. Show the struggle not just the battle.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Oh, of course, I bet every writer has a few of these. For me it was a non-traditional steampunk-ish fantasy. I still have it and from time to time I’ve considered revisiting it and maybe even going the indie publishing route.
How long did it take you to publish your first book, after you started trying?
It took a while and I had a few bumps, but throughout the process I learned a lot. Old Broken Road had been significantly more streamlined and Red Litten World is an improvement even on that. Finding the right team was real important to that end.
Did you ever think you’d ever become an author?
I didn’t. I wanted to make games but realized that my desire to make games was born out of a desire to tell a story. So I sat down and began telling stories. Something clicked and it seems to be working.
If you had a cat….what hat would you put on the cat?
A capotain for obvious reasons.
If you could work with any author who would it be?
I’m a huge admirer of Neil Gaiman and China Miéville, but I’d probably pick Cormac McCarthy. I’d love to be able to write prose like him. No one else can transport me to a local or get me inside the head of someone quite like McCarthy.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I love this question because I have been thinking about this a lot. With the advent of print-on-demand and the rise of indie publishing thanks to Smashwords and Amazon and other platforms I think we’re going to see publishing move towards an agency style approach. Obviously we need editors and designers and marketers. So we’re starting to see small teams of professionals editors, designers, and marketers who work with a handful of authors to create books tailored to specific audiences for a percentage of the sales. Gone are the days when you need to have the capital of massive publishers to print and store thousands of copies and set up and manage distribution channels. So as a result I think publishing will become leaner and smaller and work more like a design agency rather than a lumbering publishing house.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Create > Consume.
Which famous person (living or dead) would you like to meet and why?
Mark Twain, not only is he a huge influence on me but he seemed like a pretty awesome guy. I’ve mentioned before that it’s amazing to me that a hundred years after his death a guy like Twain can still be laugh-out-loud funny to a modern reader.
What is your favorite book and why?
Oh man, it’s hard to pick a favorite, there’s so many to choose from. American Gods has long been a favorite of mine; I love the way Neil Gaiman is able to create such a fascinating world blending in different mythologies in an engaging way. I’d also include Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy is an amazing writer. His descriptions alone are worth reading.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website is at: http://kmalexander.com.
I tweet a lot, probably too much: http://twitter.com/KM_Alexander.
I am a very active blogger and you can follow my blog at: http://blog.kmalexander.com.
Find out more about The Stars Were Right and read an excerpt at http://thestarswereright.com. It also has a bunch of links where you can buy the book.
And finally, of course, I am on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KMAlexander.