An Interview with Alexis A. Hunter – Part II

Part II of my interview with Alexis A. Hunter.  Part I can be found here:

https://coffeeshopdaily.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/an-interview-with-alexis-a-hunter-part-i/

MT:  When you write, do you find yourself using similar characters throughout your works?

     AH:  That does tend to happen at times. My main characters usually have at least one thing in common – dark pasts, lives of regret and/or a potent self-hatred. I’m fascinated by the struggle between a man and his own character, and just how destructive that struggle can be. Continue reading

An Interview with Alexis A. Hunter – Part I

“The end or the beginning.

I couldn’t decide which.

The sacks of money littered across the table seemed promising.  The fellas’ laughter raucous as it echoed off the ceiling.

That smug grin on the boss man’s face said I had done well enough.”

From “Uncertain,” part of the Noir Series by Alexis Ann Hunter

     Alexis A. Hunter is an author who specializes primarily in short fictional works often fantastic or supernatural in nature, and darkly poetic in style.  She has had 3 works published, and 6 more have been accepted for publication, including her 7,500 word short story “Cruel As the Grave,” which will be published in Wicked East Press’ “Beneath the Pretty Lies” anthology.  She also runs a blog – http://idreamagain.wordpress.com – where she posts many of her short stories, and you can follow her on Twitter: @AlexisAHunter.  Alexis lives in West Virginia with her husband Bo, and her psychotic cat Ripley.

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Excuse me, you’re in my sandbox.

“Fantasy is totally wide open; all you really have to do is follow the rules you’ve set.”

Octavia Butler

“Fantasy is the only canvas large enough for me to paint on.”

Terry Brooks

     Another post about fantasy?  Yeah.

     In popular fiction, many authors create a “series” in an attempt to establish themselves.  This usually involves creating a single character who becomes the spine for the series (think Alex Cross, or the Lincoln Lawyer) – each consecutive book is about what happens or has happened to this character.  For fantasy novelists, our world is our character.

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You write thrillers, don’t you?

“As a filmmaker you get typecast just as much as an actor does,

so I’m trapped in a genre that I love, but I’m trapped in it!”

George A. Romero

“Genre categories are irrelevant. I dislike them,

but I do not have the casting vote.”

Tanith Lee

“Focus in on the genre you want to write,

and read books in that genre.”

Nicholas Sparks

“Genre aside, I’d like to make a film about people.”

Sophie Marceau

     Unfortunately for the writer seeking definitive advice on the subject of genre, there are an inane amount of conflicting viewpoints, and pithy quotes from all sides to make their case.  Fortunately for the perceptive writer, this means you can understand the subject of genre with relative ease, if you pay attention.  Please note that I used the word “understand,” and not “master.”  You won’t have mastered the subject of genre until you’re Stanley Kubrick or Steven Spielberg.  By then I doubt it will be much of a concern to you.  But for now, let’s look at this genre thing.

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Oh, fantasy? I meant a real genre.

“They can keep their heaven.  When I die, I want to go to Middle-earth.”

George R. R. Martin

“Many readers, many critics, and most editors speak of style

as if it were an ingredient of a book, like the sugar in a cake,

or something added onto the book, like the frosting on the cake.

The style, of course, is the book. If you remove the cake, all you have left is a recipe.

If you remove the style, all you have left is a synopsis of the plot.

“This is partly true of history; largely true of fiction; and absolutely true of fantasy.”

Ursula K. LeGuin

Fantasy Wallpaper: Steampunk Landscape

     More common even than the atrocious, “I’m writing a book!” seems today to be the follow-up statement “It’s a fantasy epic!”

     Let me start (or amend my opening, leastways) by saying this:  I love fantasy.  I love writing fantasy, I love reading (good) fantasy, I love finding fantasy movies and watching them.  Even when they’re bad, they’re still fun to watch.  I began in fantasy, and it’s all I initially wanted to write.  Or perhaps I should admit something and identify the problem with the fantasy genre at the same time: All I wanted to write was The Lord of the Rings.

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That’s not my voice.

“I am returning this otherwise good typing

paper to you because someone has printed

gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.”

Anon. English Professor, Ohio University

     Yesterday (from about 4am to 8am), I began work on my first thriller (book), The Long RoadThe Long Road is a story set in a small town in Northern California, a rather dark take on police corruption and murder.  I was working from a very detailed outline (some of which is line-by-line dialogue notes), and wrote 2,646 words before I finally went to bed at around 2pm.  Here’s my problem: What I’ve written looks nothing like what I intended to write.  As I was writing it, I was focusing entirely on how much I was writing, and I was entirely excited!

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Ever killed a friend?

“Don’t annoy the writer.  They may put you in a book and kill you.”

Anonymous

     It seems a popular idea that writers create characters based specifically on people they know or have crossed paths with in life.  Having not [intentionally] done so myself, I was curious how many writers actually do this.  Have you ever written a person – a friend, an enemy, a coworker, relative – from your life into one of your stories?

     Personally, I’ve always been afraid that whoever I wrote into my stories would catch on and become upset.  I have, of course, taken experiences from my life, and drawn from it mannerisms and outlooks which inspire characters, scenes and arcs.  But I often make a point of altering these enough so that it’s not a direct or obvious reference to someone in a way that might hurt them.  Truth is, any writing can be unflattering, even if we try to portray a character in the best possible light.  The only true exception is when a person you write into your stories happens to be so vain and oblivious in real life that they think the world of their fictional vicar.  An “I’m in a book/movie!” sense of personal self-adoration that somehow deludes the person into thinking that the character based on them is a model of perfection.

     So what are your thoughts?  Do you intentionally write people you know into your stories?  Accidentally?  Has anyone ever caught on?  Were they pleased or upset?