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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Pete Alexander - Author Interview - #WriterlyWednesdays 4

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow author Pete Alexander to my blog. He has been kind enough to answer a few questions for an author interview about himself and his upcoming book Tortured Souls.

Pete Alexander - Author Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I've lived in Calilifornia, USA most of my life. I've traveled extensively throughout North America and hope someday to travel the rest of the world. The first thing I wrote was when I was 8. It was a screenplay for a musical based off of Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album. I had a bad experience in grade school later that same year. I wrote a puppet show for my class and my teacher mocked me in front of the class. She said that the show hadn't made any sense and was childish. I'm sure this was true. I was 8. I didn't start writing again until I was in my early twenties when I wrote several songs. In 1998, I wrote the song that you will find at the start of chapter 2 in Tortured Souls. I was enraged at the way I had been treated by someone and felt that writing it out was a better alternative than acting on my feelings.

I had my first paying job when I was 10. Since then I've worked at a nursery (plants not children), I've worked new home construction, Worked in a grocery store, as a waiter/bartender. I've been a bookkeeper/ tax preparer, sold cars, sold life insurance, been a delivery driver and cleaned up crime scenes. I've been involved with real estate investing. In 2010, I began studying to be a nurse and was accepted into a registered nursing program at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

In 2014, I realized I had a story to tell. The story became TS.

Tell us about your book(s).

TS is my first novel. To be honest, if I had known how much work it would take to bring it to fruition, I don't know that I would have started on it. But it has been a labour of love. I am now able to disappear into another world. A world of my creation. As I have written TS, I have realized that Samantha Franklin, Junior (Richard Evans), and all of the other characters have much more to tell than just the one story found in TS. Over the last year I have the outline for a total of 6 books in the Samantha Franklin Series. I cannot begin to describe how exciting that is.

What started you writing?

I had a driving need to tell a story.  The concept grabbed hold of me and would not let go.

What inspired you to start writing in your favourite genre?

I had the initial idea that became the plot for TS after some dental work that had gone awry. I had 3 teeth that had to be pulled. Those teeth had fused themselves to my jawbone. In trying to get the teeth out, my dentist broke my jawbone. All of this was done without anesthesia. The idea began as a question: What if a serial killer killed his victims in a way that it maximized their pain as he slowly took their life?

At first I tried to push the concept away, but it consumed my life. I could not stop thinking in terms of "What if?" Writing became my release. It helped me heal from the trauma of the experience.

Do you have a favourite character from your book(s)?

Samantha Franklin. Why? She's intelligent and fearless. She's analytical and will look at a situation and attempt to find meaning and answers by thinking outside of the box. She's relentless. Yet at the same time, she's flawed. Not to the point of self-destruction, but flawed none the less. And to quote a great author, the late Sir Terry Pratchett, "You can't argue with none the less."

What's easier for you, action, or dialogue, or description?

Dialogue, by far is the easiest for me. When I'm writing a scene with dialogue, the characters have their conversation in front of me, in my mind. I just write down what I see and hear.

What is the hardest part of a book to write, beginning, middle or end?

For me it has been the middle. From the first words I put down I knew how the story would begin, and how it would end. The direction the story took going from point A to B, even I didn't see coming. The characters have taken over.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write and read. Read and write. Read, particularly the genre you wish to write in, but read. Anything. Everything. Write until you can't see straight. Then write some more. Don't worry about getting the wording exactly right. That's what editing is for.

Is there any genre you won't write and why?

Romance novels. Seriously, you do not want me trying to describe a love making scene. It would not be pretty. I like the Star Wars movies, and have been a fan of George Lucas since I was a child. But Episode II, Attack of the Clones? The romantic scenes in that movie, where Anakin and Amidala declare their love for each other were painful to watch. He should have had someone else write those scenes. If I were to try and write a romance novel, it would be worse. Much, much worse.

What is your favourite genre to read and why?

Currently, I'm into murder mystery. I also enjoy horror, sci-fi/fantasy and history.

How do you publish, print, ebook or both?

I plan on releasing the book in both a paperback and e-book format. At this time I'm kicking around the idea of an audiobook, but I haven't decided yet.

Do you have conversations with your characters? 

Yes I do. There's a line in TS, when Samantha is speaking to Junior where she says that we all have something in our pasts that haunts us, something that tortures our souls. When I was developing my characters, they all told me what it was that haunted them. We commiserated. They expressed how they felt about the event. Sam told me about how close she and her sister had been. She told me how she felt not telling her sister immediately about the death of their parents and how she feels now about the fallout between them because of that decision.

Do you have any odd (writing) habits?

Before I start writing, I will usually listen to some music (Blue Oyster Cult-Don't Fear the Reaper, Rolling Stones-Paint It Black, etc.) and play Spider Solitaire or Ma Jong Tiles to get the brain fired up. It has become my pre-writing ritual.

When do you have the most fun writing a book? When you first start? When you are blazing along with the main bulk of the plot? When you are rounding it all up?

I can't say there has been a time during this process that I haven't enjoyed it. Before I started putting the words down, I had to learn who my characters were. What events have shaped them into who they are today? I probably wrote 150 pages of backstory just to find out who they are. When I was writing the main bulk of the book, I got to see how it began to come together, how a hint that I dropped in an earlier chapter that didn't seem to be relevant, how it built on another hint, and then another. Then to see it all come together at the climax, I enjoyed every moment of it.

If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

 A shy extrovert

If you could invite one character from your books to dinner, who would it be?

Darryl Powers

If you could invite one character from someone else's books to dinner, who would it be?

Larry Underwood, The Stand, Stephen King.

Do you ever cast your characters with actors in your head?

Yes. Samantha Franklin would be played by Scarlett Johansson. Junior would be played by a young Benjamin Bratt. Ruben Santiago-Hudson would play Darryl Powers.

If you could let one of your characters meet another famous character, which would you choose and why?

I won't name my character here. If I did, you'd know the end of the story. But I would have that character meet Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs). Different, yet similar personalities.

Do your characters every run away with the plot when you're not looking?

Yes. Frequently.

Are you a dog or a cat person, why? 

I love both cats and dogs equally. At one point we had 12 cats and 3 dogs. Yes, all at the same time. If I got another pet at this point, I would probably get a cat. My life is complicated enough at this point. I wouldn't have the time to give to a dog that it would deserve. I think a cat would be easier for me.

What's your favourite colour, why?

Blue. A deep, regal blue. I've always loved blue.

If you could pick one person from history to have a chat with, who would it be and why?

There are too many fascinating people in history for me to be able to name just one.

Tell us a joke!

A painting contractor gets a job to repaint a church. After they sign the contract he realizes that after the cost of the paint, there's going to very little profit for him. So he decides to thin the paint out a little bit after the first 8 feet. A little further up the wall he thins the paint some more. He continues this process until by the time he reaches the steeple top, there's hardly any paint being applied. When he finishes the building, he climbs back down the ladder. As he looks up at the newly "repainted" church, clouds begin to form over the church and a heavy downpour ensues. After a few minutes, the clouds part, the sun comes through and a voice from heaven is heard that says, "Repaint, and thin no more."

About the Author

Pete Alexander was born in Southern California in 1970. His family moved frequently. He spent equal time growing up in urban Southern California and rural Northern California. He loves to travel, to spend time with his family and friends.

Pete has had several jobs including construction worker, assistant manager of a grocery store and crime scene cleaner.

He began writing at the age of 8, very little of which saw the light of day until recently, when he began writing Tortured Souls. The song that begins chapter 2, Pete wrote in 1998. The band that performs the song was what he intended to name his band.

Pete currently lives in Long Beach, California with his wife and two children. He is currently working on the follow-up Samantha Franklin Novel, Past Sins.

About the Book

Tortured Souls

Meet Veteran Detective Samantha Franklin. She has been called to the home of Blake Covington, Heir of Covington Oil. There, she discovers a murder so shocking, even the Coroner is at a loss for words. Follow her as she trains a new partner while being taunted by a killer who prefers vivisection as a means to kill, all while facing the past events that torture her soul.

(Still under construction)

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