I’m so excited to have Alex Adams on the blog today! Alex is the author of the brand new dystopian novel White Horse, and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Also up for grabs is 2 copies of White Horse to 2 lucky winners, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!
Please welcome Alex to the blog!
Your brand new dystopian thriller, White Horse, just came out! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?
Writing wasn’t my childhood dream, though I did always want to be entertaining in some way. For most of my single-digit years I wanted to be Doris Day or maybe Anne Margaret. Then I went off to college to study a combination of Psych, Human Bio-science and Sociology. Probably no one would be more surprised at my writing ability than my college Sociology lecturer. The poor man asked the class to describe an apple. After reading my offering, in which I described an apple as “round and probably red,” he said, “You’re a science student, aren’t you?”
It wasn’t until I was 22 or so that I thought about writing. That idea was quickly shelved, though, when I realized I had nothing to write about—yet. I was one of those people who needed to be a little more lived-in first. Not long after I turned 30 the writing bug struck again, while I was reading a description of shoes in a chick lit book. I thought, “I can do this!” But of course I quickly discovered that writing something worth selling is massively hard.
Lucky for me, I’m quite stubborn (anyone who knows me and is reading this is either laughing or crying right now). So when I wrote a funny mystery about a pet detective and it went basically nowhere, I cast it aside and began working on the next thing. With each manuscript I gained more and more useful feedback from publishing pros. I read as widely as I could, twisting my brain like a pretzel and soaking up as much as I could about storytelling, the publishing industry, and the mechanics of writing.
I like to joke about bribing the writing gods with a combination of cakes and human sacrifices, but the reality is I just worked hard, tried different things, and didn’t quit.
How did you celebrate when you found out White Horse would be published?
To be honest I was too stunned to do much of anything; I believed it would be published eventually, but I had no idea how well. I sat on the floor with my dog and performed some highly unattractive combination of laughing and crying. Once I cleaned myself up, I went out for a burger. I think part of me was afraid that it wasn’t real, and that if I seriously celebrated it would end in a email that read “We were kidding, sucker!” (Spoiler: It was. They didn’t.)
How long did it take you to write White Horse (from writing to publication)?
The actual writing process took only a few months. But I took a break while writing so from Prologue to The End was about a year. I’d been querying for about 5-6 weeks when Alexandra Machinist, my now-agent, asked if we could talk. I signed a contract with her on October 1, 2010, and on November 1 she was calling to tell me the results of the auction. From the first words on the screen to publication date was 2 years and 8 months. Writing isn’t a short game.
Why do you think dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories are so popular right now?
I think with the world the way it is (a big old mess) we’re starting to wonder if we’re circling the drain. The whole Mayan 2012 thing isn’t helping (although I see they’re back-tracking now, telling us change is coming, not The End. Oh, those funny, changeable Mayans!) Post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories depict ways in which humankind has prevailed, despite facing world-ending events, and I think that’s appealing to readers. It’s a very hopeful thing. We want to believe we can make it through anything so we’re drawn to stories that reflect that.
There’s also something very exciting about imagining a world that used to be ours but that’s been rendered almost unrecognizable. As much as it scares a lot of us, I think we’re drawn to the idea of massive change. At least on paper and celluloid.
Are there certain books or authors that have influenced your writing the most?
Definitely. Terry Pratchett and Vladimir Nabokov have taught me a lot. Whatever you think of his stories, Nabokov knew how to make poetry out of prose. And some magical how, Pratchett makes every word count. He wrings multiple meanings out of so many of his sentences, and he knows people. Really knows them.
This is fine-point stuff, though, because I think most writers are influenced by everything they read—even junk mail. Who hasn’t drooled over really great copy from places like Trader Joe’s and Zimmerman’s?
What are you reading right now?
Lilith Saintcrow’s The Hedgewitch Queen and The Tourist, by Olen Steinhauer. Wildly different, but both are excellent. I read all over the place. I’m consistently inconsistent.
If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Today’s answer is Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably give you a different answer.
Okay, now it’s tomorrow and my answer is: all the Harry Potter books.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Lately most of my down time involves sprawling on the couch with my guy, watching movies. We’re both writers, and story-telling junkies, so all movies result in lively discussion and analysis of what we’ve just seen. Otherwise you’ll find me reading or whipping up something in the kitchen. I’d bake all day if I had the time, space, and mouths to shovel food into.
Your bio says you were born in New Zealand and raised in Greece and Australia. If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Europe. Most definitely Europe. My fiancé has never been and I’m itching to go back and show him my favorite places, and discover new things together. Basically any kind of travel that involves exploring would thrill me. I can only take lying on a beach for so long before I want to get up and do something.
Do you have any advice for struggling writers?
Read widely and try writing outside your own comfort zone. Even if you don’t like it, write some poetry, pen a play, anything to stretch those writing muscles. You won’t know what you’re capable of until you try.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
You can’t see me now, but I’m sitting here like a deer in the headlights. I never know what to say to open-ended questions, so let me just thank you for having me here!
About White Horse:
The world has ended, but her journey has just begun.
Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.
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