Today, we're featuring another debut author interview. These interviews are an amazing resource for writers, because they allow you to hear the story of a successful writer and determine what did or didn't work for them.
K. C. Alexander, author of NECROTECH (Sept 2016, Angry Robot), is mostly human and occasional Outer God. Previous writing credits include a critically acclaimed stint as Karina Cooper, where she won an RT Award for her steampunk urban fantasy series and contributed to well-received collections such as Fireside Fiction, Protectors 2: Heroes, and Last Night, a Superhero Saved My Life. After peeling off sixteen layers of multidimensional outer chitin and hiding the evidence, K. C. is now indistinguishable from the rest of the human species. She intends to make the most of this by writing transhumanist sci-fi, epic fantasy, and speculative fiction of all stripes. Visit her at kcalexander.com.
What is the book’s genre/category? (For example, mainstream, literary, fantasy, YA…)
Transhumanist science fiction. I like to call it the bastard hate-child of Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan and forward-facing vintage cyberpunk. I suppose if you had to really narrow it, it's straight up sci-fi.
Month/year of release?
Angry Robot Books
Please describe what the story/book is about in one sentence.
Riko's got serious problems—not the least of which is her tech-corrupted girlfriend, the mercs who think Riko screwed them over, and a busted brain that may or may not have ruined her reputation for good.
Where do you write from?
I live in the Pacific Northwest, where it's currently sunny and will be nothing but rain, rain, rain. For now.
Briefly, what led up to this book?
I was writing romance and urban fantasy as a different persona. Granted, it was romance and urban fantasy often called too hard, too gritty, and too dark, but romance and UF nonetheless! And then I wrote NECROTECH—no rules, no compromises, no pulled punches. I liked it so much, I never looked back.
What was the time frame for writing this book?
I wrote this book in direct response to being told that real women didn't behave in a certain way that I behaved. I was so angry at the unrelenting amounts of "real X don't..." that I unloaded shit-talking, sex-loving, deeply-flawed, arrogant, thug Riko in the space of two months. It took almost three years to find a home.
How did you find your agent (and who is your agent)?
The deal came first, because I happened to catch the Angry Robot folks at the right time. Once I had that in hand, it was luck and fortune that put me in front of Lisa Rodgers of JAbberwocky Literay Agency. It's a match made in heaven—she gets me, gets Riko, gets what I want to do. And she's ever so patient! I think she's secretly a sorceress or something.
What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
I don't have to listen to what the "pros" are telling me to do or not do. For the first couple years, I did exactly that, and I wasn't very happy. I buckled down on "doing it right" and got more and more miserable. When I finally broke free, I found myvoice.
Turns out I really, really like breaking rules. Who knew? (Spoiler: my parents, probably.)
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in?
I could name any number of things, but there's no "right" or guaranteed method to break in. The only think I did right was put in the work. However it works for me, however it works for me, or J. K. Rowling, or [insert author here], the only guarantee is putting in the work. What form that takes will change—once I found my "right way", I felt the change.
On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?
Real talk time: If I had to do it all over again, I would have given full romance a pass—not because I didn't love it, but because I wanted and needed to be much more me than I could be. On the other hand, I'm not sure I would have learned what me was without that milestone, so maybe I wouldn't do anything differently there. Without a doubt, though, I'd love to go back and rewrite those books with more diversity, more awareness, more finesse. But hey, first books, am I right? They were a start. I try to do better now.
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Did you have a platform in place? On this topic, what are you doing the build a platform and gain readership?
I do! Well, sort of. I had a lot of cross-platform readers and fans who enjoyed my books for the intensity, the adventure, the voice. They came with me when I started writing as K. C. Alexander, and I'm pretty grateful. So far, it seems my platform consists of "that author who is open about life and takes no shit and writes balls to wall characters and oh, hey, a few awesome authors blurbed NECROTECH" and that seems to be working. I'm just me. I guest post where I can, do podcasts and interviews, and otherwise, I engage on social media. I built it. They will come. ;)
All my social media and whatnot accounts link from there.
No one favorite! It changes as I go through life. Labyrinth and Stardust are staples, as is French Kiss, pretty much any Mel Brooks movie, Star Wars... well, most of them. I don't know, I like movies.
Best piece(s) of writing advice we haven’t discussed?
If you're planning to turn your writing into a career, then you need to find the way to turn it into a business. This, too, will change depending on who you are and how you operate—some folks are "write as the muse takes you", others are "set a word count per days of the week", whatever. Somewhere, a writer is going to read this and huff dismissively at me, but here's my advice: if you aren't finishing pieces (and your whole future plan is to have finished work), then your method isn't working. Give yourself goals, deadlines, word counts, finance planning, schedules. Whatever it takes. And put in the work. That's the cornerstone to how writing becomes a career.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I can throw down Star Wars with the best of them. One of my favorite things is to correct Fake Geek flag-wavers when they try to talk about Star Wars—especially when it involves the Code. Seriously.
Next is a super secret project I can't announce yet (I will soon!) and the second book in Riko's ongoing story. I'm thinking of calling it CREDCHECK. Like we all haven't been there...
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- Ask Not What Your Readers Can Do For You.
- 3 Good Things About Disturbing Fiction.
- Happily Ever After: Romances Aren't Meant To Be Reality TV.
- Agent Spotlight: Cate Hart (Corvisiero Literary Agency) seeks YA, MG, Romance and select Erotica and LGBT.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and writing a query letter.