Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Interview with Alex Erickson

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Death by Espresso. It's the sixth book in the Bookstore Cafe mystery series.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
Characters, for me, develop naturally as I write. I might get a general idea of what kind of person someone will be before I write, but they don't form until I see them in action. They have to talk to me. Sometimes, that means a character might be flat, or change personalities three or four times in the first draft. Eventually, they feel right and I fix it in later drafts.

Locations require a little more thought ahead of time, but I still like to develop them as I go. Even if a location is based on a real place, it has to feel right. I'm big on feel. Names, locations, and personalities need to work for me on some subconscious level. Even if I like the way a place is described, if a part of me feels it is out of place or awkward, I'll adjust it.

Pine Hills was developed based partly on where I live, where I went to school (it was tiny,) and partly made up entirely in my head. I'd say 90% of it is pure fiction, with only 10% having any basis in reality.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening?
For me, I have a set time, in a set place, with a set drink (orange juice if you're curious,) with a certain laptop. I tend to start writing at around 10 a.m., and finish up when my brain starts to feel like mush. Sometimes, I hammer out 4,000 to 5,000 words within two hours and stop because I've run out of steam. Sometimes, I work at a slower pace. I rarely work anywhere outside my usual spot and usual time. It can be done, but I'm far less productive. My rituals are important to me; they help me get into the right frame of mind.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
Yes and no. I make infrequent visits to two writers groups nearby, made up of people in different stages of their writing careers. Some are completely new. Others have been working at it for years. Some are dedicated writers, working to hit the big time, while others are dabblers. I often do best dealing with other people online (thanks social anxiety!) so I do struggle meeting people face to face too often.

I still find, however, that these interactions do help. Getting with others, listening to what causes them trouble, and helping them get through it, works for me as well. It also helps being around others, seeing how they act, speak, think. And if ever I need guidance, if I'm struggling with a plot or idea, I can get input from all these wonderful people.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Not on purpose. Certain elements might seep in, like perhaps a personality quirk. Sometimes if a character acts a certain way, I might think of someone else who is similar and use their mannerisms, their way of speaking and acting, to help mold the character so that they are more believable. I have used first names of people I know, but the personalities are completely different.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Someone new. I'd love for them to cast a virtually unknown actress, one who not only acts the part, but looks it as well. Someone who could put their heart into it. I'd prefer people to see Krissy Hancock when they watched the movie, not Famous Actress 003.

Who is your favorite author?
I don't have a single favorite. I read a lot of genres and have favorites among them, sure, but that list would be huge. I do have only a couple of authors who are release day buys. Stephen King was the author who made me want to write, so he's there. Brandon Sanderson is my big fantasy author. I also rush out and buy every Kathy Reichs book I can get my hands on. I think those are the big three. There are other authors whose books I've collected and will buy everything they publish, but I believe these three are the ones I get most excited about whenever a new release hits.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
After the book has gone through all the edits and has been proofed, I go back and reread it, plucking out all the details. I have a sheet dedicated solely to characters, another to locations, and another to chapter summaries. So, if in book 7, I need to look up a detail that happened early in book 3, I can bring up the document, and it's right there. Need to know what color someone's hair is? What quirks they might have? Where they were injured in book 2? Bring up the character sheet and check!

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I'm not sure I could be anything else. I have other interests, sure, but nothing I'd want to do as a career. Screenwriter, maybe? Yeah, we'll go with that, even though it's kind of cheating!

For a review of Death by Espresso, click here. 

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