Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Interview with Alex Williams

Alex Williams lives in Southern Oregon with his wife, Kalinda, and his four, rapidly growing boys; Kellen, Kyan, Jensen, and Ethan. Besides being a family man, Alex spends the majority of his time writing novels and screenplays, making movies, reading, or playing video games. His favorite authors include Stephen King, R.L. Stine, James Patterson and J.K. Rowling.

Q. What inspired the plot for The Boy From the Moon? What inspired your idea for the Queen Anne series? 

The Queen Anne series is the result of a quick evolution of ideas and years of loving similar books and television shows. I'm a huge fan of the TV show, Supernatural, but my children feel like it's a bit too intense for them. I thought it'd be awesome to have a similar show, but aimed at families. At first, it was meant to be a web series, then, I wanted to pitch it as a TV show. Finally I decided that I really just wanted to get the stories out and decided to write it as a monthly book series like two of my favorites, Goosebumps and Fear Street. Each book is based off an idea I had for an episode of the show, and each year would represent about one season on TV, so you can expect some bigger storylines around the 11th and 12th books.

As for The Boy from the Moon, my inspiration began as the spine of the overall story. What would be one case that haunts Jacob forever? I decided to go with an alien story because it was a challenge for me. I've always been able to write monsters and ghosts, but I've never tried aliens.

Q. Would you say that you and Jacob are similar or completely opposite? 

Jacob and I are actually very very similar. Had I been born twelve years ago instead of nearly thirty, I'd probably be exactly like him. I loved the paranormal when I was a kid and always fantasized about being somebody that researches that sort of thing. It seemed like such an unlikely dream, that I settled for telling stories about the paranormal. 

As an interesting fact, Jacob's life is loosely based on my experience as a kid. Queen Anne is a real street in my hometown, and it's very similar to how it's described in the book, with a few additions to the neighborhood. I attended the elementary school that is on Queen Anne and had a best friend named Andrew that lived on the street. If you haven't read the book yet, there's an elementary school on Queen Anne, and Jacob's best friend is Andrew.

Q. At what age did you realize writing was something you wanted to pursue? 

Actually I didn't know I wanted to be a writer until I was an adult. When I was a child, I wanted to be an actor. In middle school, I decided the best way to do that was to write a screenplay for me to star in. After I found out that it would be nearly impossible to sell the script and land a role in it, I decided to produce and direct as well. As a result of all of that, I learned screenwriting throughout high school and really started to fall in love with it. As an adult, I still wanted to direct, but I knew that if it came down to choosing only one hat to wear, I'd write screenplays. When it comes to novel writing, I've always toyed with the idea, but never actually realized it until Queen Anne #1. Finishing this book has been one of the greatest feelings I've ever had creatively.

Q. Describe your writing ritual.

At first there's a lot of pacing, procrastinating, and brainstorming. It seems like it takes forever to actually get started. Technically speaking, I still write my novels like I write my screenplays. I structure them the same with outlining. I use notecards and use a mix of Christopher Vogler's "Writer's Journey" method and Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" method. Once my story is completely outlined, I sit and write. Very quickly, I write. I never go back and edit while I write. I do a rough draft first, then go back and edit.

Q. What are your writing goals for the rest of 2014? How about your writing goals for 2015?

Even though Queen Anne is supposed to be a monthly series, right now I'm doing my best. Between work and family right now, it's tough to meet a book a month goal. Preferably, by the end of 2014 Queen Anne will have gained a small fan base that is always looking forward to the next book. In 2015, I hope that I will have written far enough ahead in the series to take a little time off and write a larger novel meant for adults.

Q. What is your favorite thing to munch on while writing? 

Whoa, a bit personal, don't you think? Hah, this is actually a great question. Normally, I don't eat anything while I write. Like most writers, I like to drink while I write instead. Unlike the cliche writer, it's never alcohol. I drink Diet Pepsi. If I'm not careful, I can go through quite a bit while I'm writing.

Q. What book(s) are you currently reading? 

I'm currently on a Stephen King binge. I've decided my reading goal for 2014 is to read ALL of his published books chronologically. I just finished Carrie and Salem's Lot, and am now on The Shining. I also LOVE comic books. I'm currently catching up on The Walking Dead and just finished Locke & Key, which is an amazing series, I can't suggest it more. Locke & Key is for adults and responsible teens only.

Q. If the Queen Anne series were a movie, who would you like to see play the main characters? 

Fresh faces! Since I wanted to make this into a TV show originally, I always pictured brand new actors, or non-famous actors in the main roles. I'd love some bigger actors to guest star in certain episodes, but definitely fresh faces for the main crew. Since I do have to have a picture of someone in my head when writing them, I used actors from movies that I love. Jacob was always the hardest to pin down, but I saw him as Sean Astin from Goonies, or a young Elijah Wood. Emily is played by Elle Fanning from Super 8, and Andrew is played by Robert Capron, who played Rowley in Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Q. What can your fans expect from this series? What can they expect after this novel, The Boy From the Moon? 

The cool thing, I think, about Queen Anne, is that it is a series where, if you wanted, you could pick up any book, out of sequence, and enjoy it. However, if you read it in order, you'll get a better sense of the characters and enjoy the story a bit more. I think they can expect excitement, humor, and definitely some chills. Maybe even a scary dream or two. 

Being the first book in the series, you can expect bigger introductions to our main characters in The Boy from the Moon than you will in the proceeding books. This is also meant to be a case that Jacob keeps coming back to, so you can expect to be a bigger story in this book than is written. We will return to this story later in the series.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

I have three tips for aspiring authors. The first two are from other writers.
  • Read! Read all the time. If you don't read, expect to have a lot of trouble writing. That's like wanting to make movies, but never watching movies. Read all kinds of books, all kinds of styles, geared at all kinds of audiences. It'll help you find your style, and you'll start to catch on to certain styles of writing meant for different types of readers.
  • Write! Write all the time! If you can't consistently come up with stories to write, start a blog and write about your day, current events, movie reviews, anything! If you're not writing or working on writing (which includes reading or brainstorming), then you're hurting you're ability to write.
  • Finally, Self-Publish. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with traditional publishing, in fact, if you think you have a book good enough to break through all the barriers, go for it! But, write something and self publish. Get your work out there. If even a few people read it and let you know what they think, you're next book will be better for it.

Connect with Alex

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