Book of Apex blog tour: Author Interview – Alex Bledsoe

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AAhhh, the blog tour for The Book of Apex is nearly coming to an end :(.  What an awesome round of reviews, discussions guest posts and author interviews it’s all been, pulled together by Andrea at the Little Red Reviewer – stop over here for all sorts of details about giveaways, etc.  This week I had the opportunity to interview Alex Bledsoe (more about Alex here).  Alex is the author of many books ranging from sword and sorcery, vampires, witches and mythical fae – check out this lovely blog and all the books and on top of all this there’s a great story on the blog about a band called the Tuatha Dea who have approached AB to write an EP of original songs based on the Tufa novels – how cool is that!  Anyway, I will move on…

Firstly, welcome back Alex and thanks for answering my questions:

1. I think to most people the idea of being a writer holds such appeal.  I think we all have some incredibly romantic notion about what is actually involved.  How does the reality actually compare to the dream?

Well, the popular conception of a “writer” really doesn’t leave much room for actual writing.  We don’t party every night, we don’t do hard drugs, we don’t date glamorous, doomed women (or men) and we certainly don’t plan to end up in an early grave. The writers who do live like that write in spite of it, not because of it.  Truthfully, I and most of the good writers I know live pretty sedate, stable lives.  We work regular hours, we make our deadlines and we spend a lot of time with our families.  The big perk in my life is that, as the stay-at-home parent, I get to spend lots more time with my kids than I would if I’d kept a regular job.  (I love this answer about a big perk of the job being that you get to spend lots more time with the kids!)

2. I was recently at a book reading for another fantasy author who was explaining how she took so much inspiration for her fictional characters from the everyday people that she encountered during her ‘day’ job.  How do you come up with unique people for your books and is it more difficult once you’re writing full time from home? 

I was in my forties before I was able to become a writer full time, so I promise, I’ve stored up plenty of “day job” stories.  And you also don’t give up being part of your community just because you do a solitary job like writing.

It’s especially important when you write fantasy, as I do primarily, to put as much reality into it as you can.  When you’re asking your readers to believe some pretty unlikely things, the more realistic details you can provide, the better.  I try to make sure all my fantasy characters, whatever kind of world they live in, face some of the same day-to-day issues that real people do: money, work, family problems, and so forth.  That way, when they’re confronted with something like faeries or dragons, the reader is more likely to believe their reactions.

3. I love the Tufa people.  They’re the sort of characters that you can read about and they immediately feel real and yet there’s this magical quality to them.  They feel like the kind of people where stories have been passed down about them through the ages, spoken about in whispers.  Folklore.  Where did you come up with the inspiration for the Tufa people?

They’re inspired by stories I heard as a child about a group of people called the Melungeons, who live in East Tennessee.  Of course, those real people are perfectly normal, but the tales I was told made them sound mysterious, and dangerous.  I wanted to write about a group of people like that, but it seemed more prudent (and better manners) to invent my own, so that I could give them whatever background I wanted.

4. It seems that music plays a big part in your Tufa series – would you/are you a musician?  Does music help you to write, do you listen to music whilst you think?

I’m not a musician.  You know how they say rock and roll is “three chords and the truth”?  I know two chords and some gossip.  But music has always been a huge part of my life.  Growing up in Tennessee near Memphis meant that rock and roll, soul and funk were my soundtrack.  Country was everywhere, too, but it didn’t affect me until I was much older.  And underlying all of that is gospel, the songs everyone sang in church.

When I’m writing about the Tufa, one of the real joys of the process is listening to lots of music to find songs that fit the story.  Many of them are in the public domain, but often I’ll find an obscure contemporary song that just speaks to the characters so perfectly, I track down the songwriter and ask for permission to use it.

5. I’m always a bit curious with certain characters about how much of the author’s actual personality comes through.  Would you say that you and Eddie are alike in any way?  Or do you relate strongly to any of your other characters?

People say I’m a lot like Eddie, but I think that’s just because I’m a bit of a smart-ass, as he is.  The character I feel closest to is Ry Tully, narrator of my FIREFLY WITCH stories.  I started writing them so long ago that I couldn’t help but put a lot of myself in him.  I’m better now at taking pieces of myself to make a character come to life, without necessarily making the character “like me.”

6. Sometimes you write short stories and other times longer ones  – which do you actually prefer to write and have you ever started writing a short story only for it to evolve and become much more than you originally intended.

Usually I know if an idea is short or long at the conception stage.  I haven’t had one really surprise me to that degree, although several have turned out longer or shorter than I initially thought they would.

7. Which of your stories is your favourite – or is that always your current project?  And can you give us an idea what to expect next (pretty please :D)?

I’m very proud of THE HUM AND THE SHIVER, because it continues to get great responses from readers who discover it.  But here’s a story: every author has an “ideal” version of their books in their head.  The actual book that comes out may or (most often) may not live up to that ideal.  When I was checking the page proofs of BURN ME DEADLY, the second Eddie LaCrosse novel, I realized that the book in front of me was pretty much a match for that “ideal” version in my head.  It’s the only time that’s happened, and for that reason, that book has always been special to me.

Up next will be LONG BLACK CURL, the third Tufa novel, which I’m currently writing, and which threatens to become a real epic.  We’ll see what happens.  Watch for it in the spring of 2015.  And before then, there will be some short stories in anthologies and a couple of new FIREFLY WITCH story collections.

Because I’m really nosey I have a few quick fire questions that I like to chuck in:

What is the last book you read?  READING MY FATHER by Alexandra Styron, daughter of William Styron.

What is the next book you intend to read?  LYCH WAY by Ari Berk,

People always think this is tough but could you name three books that you consider to be ‘must reads’

Any three of mine, of course. 🙂

Seriously, I’d recommend HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad, MEMORY AND DREAM by Charles De Lint, and CEREMONY by Robert B. Parker.

• If you could interview any person – be they real, fictional, from now or the past – who would it be?

Count Dracula, Elvis, or James T. Kirk.

So now of course I have more questions than I started with!!  Plus I’m really excited to read the next LaCrosse novel.  I loved the answer to No.7 – the idea that authors have an ‘ideal’ version of the book in their head and it doesn’t always work out like that.  It’s similar to readers – most of us have this ‘ideal’ version of the book racing around in our heads after reading and I suppose that’s what sometimes makes us such noisy critics when a favourite book is converted to screen!

Thanks again Alex 😀

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