Today I welcome author Alex Hurst to my blog. She is currently promoting the anthology, Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains, which comes out December 1st.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a fantasy and speculative fiction writer based in Kyoto, Japan. I was born in Louisiana, but my family made their way out to the west coast when I was in my teens. I’ve been writing ever since I learned to type, but have only considered it professionally for the last two years. In that time, I’ve taken on a role as an admin in one of Facebook’s largest writer communities, Fiction Writers Group, and also learned a lot more about the production side of books than I ever thought I would need! I keep a blog, where I chronicle my adventures in Japan, interview fantasy and sci-fi illustrators, and post occasional updates about current releases. You can find me at alex-hurst.com.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
I’d like to think that very little of my personal experiences are in my works. I like keeping my work separate, as I don’t want my experiential bias to limit the story. That being said, there are several archetypes that I find myself repeatedly drawn to in my work, and I have to actively check and make sure I’m not writing the same character or story over and over again.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
Yes, my next project is a serialized, hero science fiction. While I’m trying to make the science believable, I wouldn’t call it a hard science fiction, as there is a fair amount of comic book flare in the narrative.
The story follows the trials of Alta Williams, a woman expulsed from the elite genetic class of a future Earth, after a chemical fire corrupts her DNA irreparably. In addition to the loss of genetic privilege, Alta also loses 98% of her natural skin, which is replaced with a synthetic version bio-engineered by nanoTech, a company with a monopoly on nano technology. This skin, the first of its kind, allows her to meet an abandoned computer program known as the Digital Nano-Accelerator, or D.N.A.
N.A. enlists Alta to help uncover illegal genetic trials and government cover-ups, while giving her the extraordinary power to alter her skin’s genetic code at will. The series is called “D.N.A.” for this reason. I plan to serialize it in about a dozen novellas, the first of which is being released on December 1st, in Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains.
Please tell us about your current release.
Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains is the third installment of an anthology project put on by Fiction Writers Group. The group currently is home to 6,000 members, and since last year, has published (or has had a hand in publishing) six full-size anthologies and two drabble collections.
The book itself is themed around the idea of heroes & villains, and what differentiates one from another. Authors were allowed to write in any genre, as long as this subject was the centerpiece of their work. Because of this open-ended submission process, we’ve got a bunch of amazing stories from over seven genres, with characters across the entire spectrum. To name a few, Heroes & Villains has werewolves, tooth fairies, Egyptian gods, an evil pool cleaner, ancient Greek beauties, loyal dogs, and a variety of compelling superheroes and their arch nemeses.
Heroes and Villains has twenty-four riveting stories from authors all around the world, and I am honored to be listed among them. I also did all of the design for the book, and highly recommend the paperback edition—there are a lot of beautiful little touches that couldn’t transfer to the ebook version.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
Alta is actually one of my favorite characters in recent memory. I really enjoy her ability to act as she needs to, even when she is feeling scared or confused. She’s become a wonderful foil to discuss identity issues: not just what defines a hero, but also what defines a human, a woman, and courage. She has a lot to say, and she’s not afraid to say those things on the page, which defers a great deal from my usually reserved and collected protagonists.
I actually do dislike a few of my characters, though as far as I can remember, none of them are in published works yet. If I did have to choose from those available, I would have to say that Decebal from “The Bell Tower” would have to be one of my more annoying characters. My feelings on him come more from a development standpoint than any real dislike of the actual character, though. In the original version of the story, he was a young tax accountant for a variety of supernatural families, but in the final version, he was a clock maintenance man, and about sixty-seven years old. He has had to be one of my most illusive characters to pin down so far.
If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?
Writers’ Anarchy is an annual anthology series, where the theme consistently changes. The next volume will release in October 2015, and is all about horror.
As far as Alta William’s future, as I mentioned, I do plan on serializing more of her adventures. Something that I want to really focus in on with her narrative is the price of immense power (not in the cliché ‘corruption of power’ way, but rather, the corruption of her actual human-ness, the more she comes to rely on D.N.A.’s abilities to fight the foes she is up against.) I will be releasing her novella as a solo in January or early February, which will include original artwork and some amazing comic-style covers from artist Dali Kosta.
What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?
The prose! I am prone to writing in an emotive and descriptive way, but the nature of D.N.A.’s story required I keep the text sharp and focused. I felt completely out of my element writing that way, but it was a really good exercise to see all of the different ways you can play with tension, simply by using different techniques to get those moments on the page. Second to that, the dialogue, while hard, was a blast to write. I really tried to use as few dialogue attributes as possible, and that necessitated very clear personalities in the way each character spoke. According to those that have gotten the ‘first look’, I seem to have pulled it off (somehow!)
Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?
Oh, no. I would say the only bits that remained exactly how I imagined them would be the opening scenes, and one of the more emotionally charged portions in the first half. Otherwise, quite a bit changed. Partly because of a word count limit, and partly because beta readers kindly pointed out some logical flaws in the flow of the story, the narrative changed a great deal from its earlier drafts. I think it’s much stronger than its original incarnation, while maintaining the energy of its source.
One of the specific bits that changed from the original draft that changed, which I can share here, is how Alta goes about rescuing the patients at nanoTech. A reader mentioned that there was no way the mission would risk the objective by dawdling at nanoTech headquarters, in order to get the necessary medicines. Specifically, they said “Why couldn’t it have been made at any other lab in the country, if they have the ‘recipe’?” and I realized that they were right. I ended up having to cut almost 1,000 words of action from the story, but at least it makes more logical sense, which is one of things I definitely wanted. Nothing pulls a reader out of a story faster than losing their suspension of disbelief!
If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?
A tough question, as there’s so many places that would be cool (but also terrifying) to live in. I think I would want to live in Jim C. Hines’s Libriomancer series, but only if I could be a libriomancer. The magic system is just a really cool idea, and I could use it to use the magic from other literary worlds I’ve enjoyed in my lifetime (Zelazny’s trump cards, Aladdin’s magic carpet, or Hermoine’s time turner, how cool!) The other reason I think Libriomancer would be my choice is that I think it would actually be pretty bad to live in a lot of those worlds, considering how many wars go on (and how many side characters die), and besides, in Hines’s world, you also get to keep all the benefits of our modern world.
We all wear masks.
Fiction Writers Group strikes again with Writers Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains, an action-packed anthology of truly epic proportions. What makes a hero? What makes a villain? Can good and evil really be separated so easily?
Travel from the distant past of epic poems to the high-tech futures of tomorrow as our contributors consider these questions, as well as external influences that mold and shape us into the heroes, or villains, that we become.
Writers Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains isn’t all about the latex, though the collection boasts stories like “The Rise and Fall of Red Brick and Humble Pie”, “The Truth About Tony”, “Hero Hazha”, “Birth of a Villain”, “Let Sirius into Fire Melt”, “The Matchmaker”, and “D.N.A.” for those seeking all things super.
Fall in with kidnappers, werewolves, ancient warriors, Egyptian gods, tooth fairies, and thieves. Animals and humans alike grace the pages of this wildly diverse anthology that blurs the line between right and wrong.
Which mask fits you?
About the Author
She was raised in the wilds of the south. Lightning storms and hurricanes created the playpens of her youth, and in the summers, she used to spend all of her time dodging horseflies in a golden river, catching fish and snakes with her bare hands, swinging from vines, and falling out of magnolia trees.
In the dawn of her adolescence, her family took her on a journey across the United States, from the white sands of Pensacola, FL, to the razor’s edge of the Hell’s Backbone in Utah. They finally landed in Marin, CA, where lotus eaters tried to make city folk out of them (but miserably failed.) She currently lives in Kyoto, Japan, working as a writer and dream-smith.
She also freelances as an editor for the Writers’ Anarchy anthology series, designs book interiors at Country Mouse Design, and admins on the Fiction Writers community on Facebook, assisting emerging writers.
You can learn more about Alex on her blog.
Writers’ Anarchy III:Heroes & Villains comes out on December 1. You can pre-order it on Amazon.