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Interview with Alex Adams and Giveaway - April 17, 2012

Please welcome Alex Adams to The Qwillery.  Alex's debut, White Horse, is published today. Happy Release Day to Alex!  You can read Alex's guest blog - The sky isn't falling, or: How an optimist came to write an apocalyptic novel - here.  You can read my 4 1/2 Qwill review of White Horse here.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Alex:  Oh wow, I don't think I have any writing quirks, interesting or not. The closest I come to a quirk is my preference for having two documents open at the same time: one is the current draft and the other is my "Stuff" file. That's where I jot down all kinds of miscellaneous story-related notes, fragments of dialogue, etc..

Okay, so sometimes I talk to myself, but I think that's a common trait many writers share.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Alex:  This is a torture test, isn't it? My answers tend to vary on a daily basis because I love the work of so many authors. Today it's Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Jim Butcher, and Lee Child.

Influence is even harder to pin down; every book I've read has altered me in some way. Two writers did change the way I approached prose: Vladimir Nabokov and Terry Pratchett. They're both master wordsmiths, who make every word fight for its life on the page. I'd love to have that level of control over my prose.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Alex:  Both. I'm a planster. I almost always know what the finish line will be. Some of the signposts are set in concrete, but everything else is shifting sands. My best writing happens when I surprise myself. If I plan too heavily I find the story is already told, so there's no reason for me to tell it. At that point it becomes stale.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alex:  The writing. I wish I was joking, but it's so true that I'm laughing out loud thinking about it. Some days the words fall on to the page in pretty patterns. Other days I have to dive in and beat them out of their hiding places. But I love it so much, whether it's a good writing day or not.

TQ:  Describe White Horse in 140 characters or less.

Alex:  Pregnant woman crosses continents to find her lost love as world is ending. Here there be monsters.

TQ:  What inspired you to write White Horse?

Alex:  Let me hop in the time machine here and travel back to summer 2009. I had a new boyfriend (we're engaged now), also a writer, and we were swapping and critting each other's stories. I decided I wanted to write something new and different, something he'd enjoy reading. We're both mythology fans, so after a little brainstorming I began tossing words onto a page, thinking I was writing a short story loosely based on the myth of Pandora's Box. After the first scene or two I said to my guy, "I think this wants to be a novel." So I kept on going. The whole story just kind of...happened.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for White Horse?

Alex:  Most of my research revolved around geography. There was a lot of time spent figuring out walking times and distances. Google probably thinks I'm some kind of map stalker. Compared to that, everything else was minor: place names, info about pharmaceutical companies, viruses. You know, light stuff.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Alex:  Zoe was by far the easiest. She was upfront and present all the time so her story flowed well. There was no banging my head on the desk, wondering What the heck would Zoe do next? I wish all characters were that forthright. The Swiss (my antagonist) was trickier. Compared to Zoe, the Swiss told me almost nothing about himself. I had to learn it all on the fly, through his actions, much the way Zoe did. There's a fine line between villainy and comedy, too. We've all seen those bad guys in movies, and in books, where we roll our eyes and go, "As if." I really needed him to be intense and frightening, but clever. The most terrifying villain of all time, to me, is Hannibal Lecter, precisely because he's so damn brilliant. No one laughs at Lecter.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in White Horse?

Alex:  Any of the scenes between Zoe and her sister, Lisa, or Morris. You can tell a lot about a woman by her relationships and interactions with other women.

TQ:  What's next?

Alex:  I'm wrapping up Red Horse, which is book two in the trilogy. I'm juggling that with a short story for my German publisher, Piper Verlag. It's a middlequel of sorts (look at me, inventing new words!) about events that take place after Zoe arrives in Italy. But it follows a different character. I'm sure it'll be available in English, too, at some point.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alex:  Thank you for having me. It's been fun!


About White Horse

White Horse
(First in a Trilogy)
Atria/Emily Bestler Books, April, 17, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Alex Adams and Giveaway - April 17, 2012
The world has ended, but her journey has just begun.

Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.


About Alex

Interview with Alex Adams and Giveaway - April 17, 2012
Alex Adams was born in New Zealand, raised in Greece and Australia, and currently lives in Oregon–which is a whole lot like New Zealand, minus those freaky-looking wetas. Her debut novel, White Horse (Emily Bestler Books/Atria) hits shelves April 17, 2012. Her fingers are crossed that the world won’t end before then.

Alex's Links

Website 
Twitter
Facebook


The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a printed Advanced Reading Copy of White Horse generously provided by Alex!

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What is your favorite Greek myth or Greek god or goddess?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Relase Day Review - White Horse by Alex Adams - 4 1/2 Qwills

White Horse
AuthorAlex Adams
Series:  White Horse
Format:  Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher:  Atria/Emily Bestler Books, April, 17, 2012
Price:  $19.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Fantasy/Post-apocalyptic
ISBN:  9781451642995
Review Copy:  ARC provided by Author

Relase Day Review - White Horse by Alex Adams - 4 1/2  Qwills
The world has ended, but her journey has just begun.

Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.

My thoughts:

White Horse is a novel that not only entertains with a good story but also makes you think. On the macro level White Horse is a story of what makes us human. On the micro level its about one woman's journey through a ravaged world and her attempt to retain her humanity. Zoe Marshall is the woman at the center of White Horse.

After a devastating loss, she's working a menial job at a pharmaceutical company. One day a mysterious jar appears in her apartment. There are no records of deliveries, no alarm company record of a anyone entering the apartment. Zoe is afraid of the jar and begins to see a therapist. After the jar appears strange things begin to happen. Cats disappear. Then people start dying. Zoe loses everyone close to her due to a strange illness dubbed White Horse. Other world changing events are happening as well - cyberattacks, wars, and weather wars. But it is White Horse that decimates the population of the world. No one knows where it came from. Zoe tries to find out. Against this backdrop, Zoe also finds love and sets off on a dangerous journey to find him.

There is a lot happening in White Horse. The novel gracefully slips between "Then" and "Now." I like this because it was an easy way to keep track of pre- and post- apocalypse in the narrative. "Now" is harrowing, dangerous, and horrifying. "Then" shows the world slipping away so it was equally frightening. On her travels Zoe encounters good and evil, sane and insane all the while trying to remain human - a compassionate human. She encounters pure evil in the form of The Swiss, another traveler. The Swiss is a remarkable villain. While Zoe wants to retain her humanity, I wanted her to kill him. Zoe struggles with whether she should or shouldn't. The Swiss is the other side of the coin from Zoe. He will kill on a whim. He is a villain I loved to hate.

White Horse is also a love story. This part of the story is interwoven well. It's what sets Zoe on her quest and adds to the fabric of the novel. We don't get to know Zoe's love interest as well as Zoe and The Swiss, but the love relationship itself is not the main focus.

The story moves along at a good pace. There were a number of surprises that I did not see coming and were well done. I enjoyed the references to classical mythology that form a backdrop to the events in the novel.

Bottom LineWhite Horse is a horrifying look at a post-apocalyptic world that shows us that our humanity is a reflection of our inner landscape and how we act. It's also a good read.

I give White Horse 4 1/2 Qwills.

Relase Day Review - White Horse by Alex Adams - 4 1/2  Qwills

Guest Blog by Alex Adams - The sky isn't falling, or: How an optimist came to write an apocalyptic novel.

Please welcome Alex Adams to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Alex's debut, White Horse, will be published on April 17, 2012.



The sky isn't falling, or: How an optimist came 
to write an apocalyptic novel.


Do you know what my mother said the first time I told her what White Horse was about, right down to the body count? "How gruesome!"

At the time I was stumbling around like a still-blind kitten, rendered a drooling, stammering loon by the stunning news that White Horse (and two subsequent books) had sold at auction. If I'd had my wits about me, I might have said something clever, like, "Gruesome? But you read King and Kellerman and Koontz! Compared to them my teensy little apocalypse is gruesome-lite!" Instead, I responded with the ultra-witty: "Ha-ha." (There might have been a third "ha" in there; it's all foggy now.)

What she probably expected—what a lot of people expected—was something...funnier. My mother is a woman who gave birth to two daughters, but wound up raising a pair of hams. If you ever meet my sister, ask her to do "Rickets Girl," or her "Soylent Green is people!" act. She can out-Heston Heston. My talents lean more toward an inability to tell jokes without falling on the floor laughing and crying, while those listening strain to interpret what I'm saying. I've ruined so many punchlines with my poorly-timed laughter that I should come with a warning label. Luckily, my laughter tends to be infectious, so a good time is had by all, even if they never get to hear the whole joke.

Nearly everything I'd written prior to White Horse leaned toward funny. I'm not a super-serious person. If a one-liner isn't falling out of my mouth, I can guarantee it's hanging around there, probably ensnared on my epiglottis or uvula--one of those silly-sounding body parts. I penned a funny mystery or two, funny women's fiction, funny fantasy, funny—you get the picture. Funny. But when I sat down and thought about it—really thought about it—comedy wasn't really what I wanted to write. Being funny as a job didn't appeal to me at all. Funny is what I do for fun.

Let me say this right now, before we go any further: I didn't intend to end the world.

White Horse started out as a short. What is now the prologue was supposed to be the opening to a three-thousand word story about a modern-day Pandora. You know, the one with the box that isn't really a box, but is in fact really a jar? My fiancé and I share a love for mythology; we're both writers, so I wanted to write something super-serious to entertain him. And I wanted it to have its roots in Greek mythology.

But something happened. One of my gears slipped. Whatever. When I began writing that second scene, it didn't go where I expected it to go. Instead of remaining local and small, it went all the way to a farmhouse in Italy, to an endless rain and a young blind woman in a ghastly situation. My heroine—my Pandora, whose name is actually Zoe--was there with her, with two thoughts in mind: I have to go. And she has to come with me. Mankind, as we know it, was already circling the drain—clockwise and counterclockwise.

After that, the bad times just kept on rollin'. And I was no longer writing a short story. The end of the world was on and poor Zoe was there with a blind woman for company and an impossible mission ahead. Neither she or I had clue one about how we'd get to the last page.

I'm still not sure how I got there. Directions aren't my thing. I got lost driving to Oregon. Ask my guy. I was right behind him when I took a wrong highway back in California. If not for GPS and his laughter-tinged, "Well, look at the numbers on the side of the road!" I'd be in Canada right now.

I love end-of-the-world scenarios. All you have to do is say "apocalypse" and I'm already making plans to see your movie, buy your book, play your game. I'm the person who bought Deep Impact on DVD. Do not ask me how many hours I sank into killing super mutants in Fallout 3. It's a three-digit number.

Why do I love them?

Because the possibility of The End simultaneously slaps all my buttons. It's the ultimate beyond-our-control scenario. Most of us don't have the power to stop a plague or a war; none of us can suppress a volcano or reach out and divert a meteor (except maybe you, Bruce Willis.) And there's no way to predict who or what would be left standing. Imagine trying to survive with the one guy who did that thing you hate for company; terrifying!

Yes, an apocalypse is frightening, but, for a fiction writer, all that literary potential... What could we do with a blank, damaged slate? It's do-overs on steroids, a chance to build a new world on the broken bones of the old.

And despite the horror, the fear, and the devastation, I find that strangely optimistic.


About White Horse

White Horse
(1st in a trilogy)
Atria / Emily Bestler Books, April 17, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

Guest Blog by Alex Adams - The sky isn't falling, or: How an optimist came to write an apocalyptic novel.
White Horse is the first book in an absolutely unique debut trilogy—a post-apocalyptic thriller chronicling one woman’s quest to nurture those she holds dear against the backdrop of a shocking, new world.

Thirty-year-old Zoe wants to go back to college. That’s why she cleans cages and floors at GeneTech. If she can keep her head down, do her job, and avoid naming the mice she’ll be fine. Her life is calm, maybe even boring, until the end of the world when the President of the United States announces that humans are no longer a viable species.

Zoe starts running the moment she realizes everyone she loves is gone. Her boyfriend Nick, fearing he’s contracted the virus, leaves for Greece. When Zoe discovers she’s pregnant—and entirely alone—she treks across the world to find Nick and reunite her growing family. On the way she encounters characters both needy and nefarious—some human, some monster, and some uncertain beings altered by genetic mutation. On her journey, Zoe comes to see that humanity is defined not by genetic code, but by soulful actions and choices.

Told in alternating before and after chapters, White Horse is a terrifying and romantic story that readers will be unable to put down.


White Horse UK Cover
April 22, 2012
Guest Blog by Alex Adams - The sky isn't falling, or: How an optimist came to write an apocalyptic novel.



About Alex

Guest Blog by Alex Adams - The sky isn't falling, or: How an optimist came to write an apocalyptic novel.
Alex Adams was born in New Zealand, raised in Greece and Australia, and currently lives in Oregon–which is a whole lot like New Zealand, minus those freaky-looking wetas. Her debut novel, White Horse (Emily Bestler Books/Atria) hits shelves April 17, 2012. Her fingers are crossed that the world won’t end before then.

Alex's Links

Website 
Twitter
Facebook





The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  Three commenters will each win a printed Advanced Reading Copy of White Horse generously provided by Alex!

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What is/are your favorite apocalyptic movie(s), comics or novel(s)?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, March 2, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*
Interview with Alex Adams and Giveaway - April 17, 2012Relase Day Review - White Horse by Alex Adams - 4 1/2  QwillsGuest Blog by Alex Adams - The sky isn't falling, or: How an optimist came to write an apocalyptic novel.

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