Indie Author: 10 Quick Questions
Today we welcome K M Alexander to the 10 Quick questions. With a completed trilogy under his belt, this is an author who can reflect on the joys of being an Indie Author. Without further waffling, on with the questions!
GRM: Tell us about your book.
KMA: Oh man, so much to tell! Where to start? I am the author of The Bell Forging Cycle— currently three books, The Stars Were Right, Old Broken Road, and Red Litten World. To save time, I commonly call it “Lovecraftian Urban Fantasy” but it’s significantly more complex than that. It takes place in a world rebuilt after Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones returned, wrecked shop, and once again faded into myth. So it’s sort of a post-post-apocalyptic setting. However, their influence has fundamentally changed the world. Humanity is no longer alone. Strange species now inhabit the world alongside us. The stories follow Waldo Bell, a blue-collar Caravan Master who travels between cities and gets in adventures, whether he wants to or not. Each book is a stand-alone story that all tie into a larger arc. It’s been a blast to write.
GRM: Where did your inspiration come from?
KMA: I read a lot, and that’s always some of the best inspiration for me. I’m also a big fan of history and tend to gravitate towards that as well.
For the Bell Forging Cycle books, Lovecraft is obviously at the root. I loved his pantheon of monsters and thought they would work well in a modern adventure story. But I didn’t want to write mythos. Instead, my books are more mythos adjacent; they’re more noir pulp than horror.
Lovat—the central city in the novels—was inspired by Kowloon Walled City. I am always fascinated with cities that operate outside our typical norms. The idea of thirty thousand people living within six acres is fascinating. With Lovat, I am taking the reality of that small enclave and exploring it further by stretching that density out over an entire city.
The list goes on and on cyberpunk, westerns, dystopian societies, and even hermit kingdoms. As far as other books China Miéville’s Bas-Lag stories, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and Stephen King’s Dark Tower have all been fundamental influences on me and my work as well.
GRM: Why did you choose to go Self-Published?
KMA: Good question! For me, it was about control. I’m also a designer by trade, and I’m very particular about cover design and interior layout. A lot of time, new authors don’t have any say in those things. I wanted to make sure the entire book had the same polish that I put into my prose and indie publishing allowed me to do that.
GRM: What was the hardest part about taking this route?
KMA: It’s a lot of work! All aspects come through you. You’re not just a writer; you’re a small business, and you need to pay attention to everything from bookkeeping to advertising to the product development cycle.
GRM: Morning, afternoon or evening writer?
KMA: Evenings; although I tend to write all day on the weekends.
GRM: Architect or Gardener? Planner or Pantser?
KMA: When I started writing I was a planning architect, I outlined and outlined and outlined. Now as I’ve written more books, I find that changing. These days I have a few rough concepts worked out, but let myself discover how to get there as I work. So I’ve become a but of both, a hybrid.
GRM: Silence, music or what when writing?
KMA: Music, but it has to be instrumental. Lyrics mess with me. I’ve also been finding sites like MyNoise.net helpful for generating background noise.
GRM: What’s the weirdest fact or piece of information you had to research in order to write the book?
KMA: If you’re on the outside looking in, I cannot imagine what someone would think of my internet search history. For my current project, it has been American Civil War torture methods and terrorism and terrorist recruitment techniques. You know, relaxed evening reading.
GRM: To steal (paraphrase) from Rod Stewart, what do you wish that you know now, you knew when you started the journey to a finished and published book?
KMA: How possible it all is if you’re willing to put forth the effort. Fear holds everyone back, but we’re lucky enough to live in a time when it has never been easier to reach an audience.
GRM: You’re on a deserted island with enough food and water to survive. There no building materials around so you must wait for rescue. What three books would you have with you, to help you pass the time?
KMA: Narrowing it down to three is tough. A lot would depend on my mood, my choices today might not be my choices next week! BUT, as of today it’d be these three:
Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain – not only is Twain hilarious; but the book is also incredibly dense. I’ve read it several times and each time it feels like I am reading a new book. It’s also a wonderful mix of history, local legend, and fiction.
The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer – This is still my favourite Stephenson novel. (With Snow Crash being a close second.) There’s so much going on and so much to get lost in. It’d significantly lessen the boredom of my temporary desert island home.
The Scar by China Miéville – It was either this or Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I feel like The Scar is a richer tale with a lot more to explore. Where American Gods is a bit more linear. I occasionally reread both of them and adore each. But, in a desert island scenario I think I’d want the more complex tale. The fact it takes place on a floating pirate city would certainly fit with the nautical theme of being stranded on an island.
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