Welcome to the three hundred and sixty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with romance suspense author Alexa Bourne. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Alexa.
Morgen: You’re so welcome. 🙂 Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Alexa: I’m a teacher by day and a romantic suspense writer by weekends, nights and all school holidays. I’ve travelled to several countries, lived in 5 different states here in the US, and at the moment I live in Texas.
Morgen: I love your dedication, you must have a very understanding family. What have you had published to-date?
Alexa: Her Highland Champion, my romantic suspense novella from Decadent Publishing, is my first published book. It released March 23rd.
Morgen: Yay, congratulations. How thrilling is that. Let’s get the negativity out the way early on, have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Alexa: I’ve had PLENTY of rejections, and I anticipate getting more. I actually had 63 rejections before I sold. As for dealing with them, I always give myself 24 hours to whine, complain, have a drink (or two) and pig out on chocolate. Then I push myself back into professional mode and decide what to do next.
Morgen: I’m up to 28 rejections so I have some way to go. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Alexa: I do not have an agent yet. I would like to get one eventually because I would love to have someone else to discuss my writing career, to steer me in the right direction, and someone to deal with more of the “business” side of writing.
Morgen: And give you more time to actually write. Is your book available as an eBook? If so, how involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Alexa: My book is only available as an eBook. I used to only read print books, but more and more of my friends started publishing eBooks, so I’m now reading both print and eBooks.
Morgen: Me too. In theory paper at home, Kindle ‘away’ but I’m reading Jane Wenham-Jones’ Prime Time at the moment (or rather having it read to me, I have the Kindle Touch :)) as I’m going on her Writing Workshop in Ramsgate, Kent 20th May so would like to have some feedback on it (invaluable to a writer although I may be more picky than a reader would be :)). Do you have a favourite of all books / stories you’ve written or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Alexa: I imagine asking a writer to choose a favourite of her books is a lot like asking a parent to choose a favourite child. I love all my stories for different reasons. As for actors, it’s funny because I have to have the cast in my head before I can truly get into my story. I do not share the names of the actors I use as my cast because I wouldn’t want to influence a reader’s impression. Plus, what I think of as a handsome man may be VERY different from my readers.
Morgen: That’s a point. It’s like Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher. Apparently Tom Cruise is lined up to play him and yet he’s supposed to be really tall (although I’d be more than happy if Tom played one of my characters :)). You’re with a publisher, did you have any say in the title / cover of your book? How important do you think they are?
Alexa: My original title was used, which thrilled me! As for the cover, I was able to give quite a bit of input, but ultimately the Decadent artist created the cover. Luckily, Decadent has WONDERFUL artists so I was over the moon with my cover.
Morgen: It’s a great cover. Being English (though not Scottish) I can vouch for Scotland being famous for their castles and tartans (I wonder if anyone reading this interview could tell us which clan yours is from). What are you working on at the moment / next?
Alexa: I am waiting to hear whether my publisher wants my next novella, set in Sunderland, and I’m revising a 3rd UK novella, set in Edinburgh during Hogmanay.
Morgen: Being the aforementioned Brit, I love that you’ve set your books here, and Hogmanay can be such fun… I used to work in Corby (a mini Scotland). 🙂 Earlier you said you write outside your job’s working hours, do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Alexa: I’m not one of those people who writes every day. For me, that doesn’t work. It becomes a chore. I do better if I give myself a certain amount of writing to do per week, that way I can skip a day or two and still make my deadline. I do suffer from writer’s block, but it’s usually when I haven’t been reading enough.
Morgen: I don’t read nearly enough. I keep saying I’ll have Wednesday evenings as just a reading evening but it hasn’t happened so far (I’m a snatch-time reader) but I have a new lodger moving in next week so I’m hoping she’ll be strict with me. 🙂 Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Alexa: I am a pantser. I get an idea and then run with it in the rough draft. THEN I plot, plan and start the second draft.
Morgen: Me too, and most of my interviewees have said the same thing. Even those you plan like mad concede that it goes (part-way) to pot when they actually start writing and the characters take over (my favourite aspect). Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Alexa: I truly believe the characters pick their own names. Several times I’ve tried to change a name to something I like better, but then I can’t focus on the story. Ultimately I go back to the name that feels right for the character even if I don’t like it.
Morgen: That’s so funny. 🙂 Setting your books in a different country to where you live, do you have to do much research?
Alexa: With Champion, I didn’t have to do too much research because I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Scottish Highlands a few times. For some of the specific questions I couldn’t answer, I also wrote to the manager of the Glenfinnan House Hotel, the place that inspired my hero’s hotel. The staff was more than helpful!
Morgen: I’ve found that when I’ve asked for assistance. When I asked my vet for a parrot-related disease (for my chick-lit that I’m currently re-editing) and told him why I wanted to know, he looked awe-eyed and said “Is that what you do?” He’s the cutest vet I’ve ever seen (married, sadly) but still a very pleasant experience. 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Alexa: My very first romance will never see the light of day. LOL! But most of my other ones have bits and pieces that will be revised at some point. Her Highland Champion was actually my very first romantic suspense written many years ago. I loved the story and the characters, so I promised myself when I became a better writer I’d revise it. (I’m so glad I did!)
Morgen: It’s amazing what time can do, plus if you’ve been writing ever since it’s easier to see the holes. Writing is like anything, it’s all practice. I said earlier about how I love characters taking over, what’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Alexa: My favourite aspect of writing is revising. I know a lot of people hate revising, but I go through 4-6 drafts per book, and it’s during the revising that the beauty of the story takes shape for me.
Morgen: I take my hat off to you, it’s one of my least favourite, although I do love it when I replace a mediocre part for something far better, it’s like creating all over again. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Alexa: If you want it badly enough, don’t give up. Keep doing whatever you need to in order to become a better writer.
Morgen: Absolutely. I gave up my job seven weeks ago… only recommended for the fool hardy but I LOVE being at home. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Alexa: What a tough question! I would invite Thomas Jefferson, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Steve McQueen. For the record, I’m a microwave queen so I’d definitely be using food in takeaway containers!
Morgen: Me too and agree with your choice of Steve McQueen and his hero-blue-eyes. 🙂 Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Alexa: I teach online writing classes through Romance Writers of America chapters. I love teaching, and last year I decided I finally had “wisdom” to share. At the moment, I teach classes about Killer Openings and Contests, and next year I’ll be teaching a class about what to expect during the first year as a published author.
Morgen: Oh great, maybe you’d like to guest blog for me. 🙂 What do you do when you’re not writing?
Alexa: I LOVE to travel, exercise, visit with friends and family, read, watch sports. (For the record, if I could only watch one sport for the rest of my life it would be English football / soccer! I hope to see a game live someday!)
Morgen: I’ve only ever been once, when I was about 11, to Bristol City vs Bristol Rovers (at Bristol, unsurprisingly). I’m not a football fan but loved it, especially as it was a small game (probably even more so by today’s standards). It’s a shame that football’s become so big money and taken so seriously (and not always in a good way). 😦 Alexa, where can we find out about you and your work?
Alexa: You can find out more than you probably want to know on my website, www.alexabourne.com. Also, I have a blog http://alexabourne.blogspot.com where I’m blogging about every step of my writing process. I’m a regular contributor to the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers blog. I’m also on Twitter (@AlexaBourne) and Facebook. I’m still learning about the benefits of Goodreads, but I’m in there!
Morgen: Me too. I’ve had loads of friend requests (all accepted) but I don’t think I’ve listed any books that I’ve read. I’ve listed my books (and claimed two that had been listed as MorgAn, a common mistake). My eBooks have received great reviews elsewhere have been generally slated on Goodreads, which is a shame. 😦 Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Alexa: My mother grew up in England, and she and my grandparents came to the US when she was 16. I’m very close to my British family, and I love to get back there as much as I can. With Her Highland Champion, and my next 2 novella projects, I hope I make my British friends and relatives proud!
Morgen: Ah ha, there’s the connection… I was wondering (and could have asked, of course). Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Alexa: No, but thank you for having me!
Morgen: You’re very welcome, thank you for joining me.
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