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Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014


Please welcome Alex Hughes to The Qwillery. Alex's most recent novel is Marked which will be published on April 1st. In addition Rabbit Trick, which includes a Mindspace Investigations story, was published on March 4, 2014.



Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014




TQ:  Welcome back to The Qwillery. The first two novels in the Mindspace Investigations Series, Clean and Sharp, were published in 2012 and 2013 respectively and Marked will be out tomorrow. How was your writing process changed since your first novel was published?

Alex:  Thank you so much for having me on the blog. It's good to be back :)

My writing process is still developing, and every novel feels different as I'm working out not only plots and character arcs but also the best ways to work with my muse in a way that makes us both happy. Marked had to be written in about four and a half months, about half the time it took to write Sharp, so the process and the stress was accelerated. As I'm writing Book #4 right now, it's a different experience still, much slower and incremental, with layers building as I go. I'm still adjusting my process with every book, and it may take awhile to get it right. By nature, I'm a pantser (I write by the seat of my pants) but this is a very inefficient and illogical process. I'm trying to add more structure and planning to this to make the process easier, but if I overshoot, I can hobble my muse. So I'm still learning and trying new things.



TQ:  The Mindspace Investigations series is set in an alternate future Atlanta. Why did you set the series in Atlanta?

Alex:  I live in Atlanta. Specifically, I lived in Decatur in college, where the Mindspace series was set. They were constantly telling me in creative writing class to write what you know, so when I came up with the core idea for the series, it was set there, mostly to prove I could do it.



TQ:  You've written two e-shorts set in the Mind Space Investigations universe: Payoff in 2013 and Rabbit Trick earlier in March, which includes some extra stories. Can you tell us about Rabbit Trick?

Alex:  Thanks for asking! "Rabbit Trick" was a story I wrote about eighteen months ago, right before I finished the draft of Sharp. Without going into spoilers, one of the characters in Sharp has a history with Adam and Cherabino that I wanted to explore. "Rabbit Trick" is the first time they come into contact with this character's handiwork. Since the story is set before the events of Clean, Adam deliberately doesn't have a name, and his and Cherabino's relationship is still pretty rocky. They're called in to consult on the murder of a fellow police officer, which Cherabino takes hard. When they show up, though, Adam discovers there was a kid at the crime scene... a kid no one can find.

I had a blast writing "Rabbit Trick" and the two other stories in other worlds, and I wanted to share that with the readers. Since you guys seemed to like Payoff so well, an e-short seemed the right format.



TQ:   After Sharp (book 2) was published I asked you which character surprised you the most in the series to that point. Is Paulson still the character who has surprised you the most?

Alex:  At this point, I think it's Kara. Her loyalties and motivations shift with the tides, so that I'm never quite sure at any given moment which side of the fence she'll land on. That makes her fun (and frustrating) to write.



TQ:  The novels have been described as "dark noir" and "SF mysteries and/or thrillers." Would you agree? What is noir?

Alex:  Noir, the way I understand it, comes from the look and feel of old forties films in the black-and-white Film Noir style. There's dramatic lighting, strong contrasts between shadows and lights, and also elevated dialogue and stakes. The heroes are always a little gritty, and the situations always a little more dramatic than normal, and there's usually some kind of hardboiled crime story. I love this genre, though I wasn't intending to write in it; it's apparently where my ideas naturally go. I was definitely trying for a cop-show feeling, and a speculative element pulling from real science concepts. What I ended up with works, but it's hard to categorize.



TQ:   What's next?

Alex:  I'll have more Mindspace stories as we go, but I'm also working on additional ideas for other worlds. One of which is actually set in the 1940s, speaking of noir. And I'm working on a collaborative project about a hotel ghost with critique partner Kerry Schafer this year as well. To make sure you stay up to date with all the latest news (and get periodic free short stories from me), sign up for my email newsletter at http://www.ahugheswriter.com/email-signup.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alex:  Thank you so much for having me here! I had a great time.





Mindspace Investigations

Marked
Mindspace Investigations 3
Roc, April 1, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014
FORESEE NO EVIL.

Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.

When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.

Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death.…


Sharp
Mindspace Investigations 2
Roc, April 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014
HISTORY HAS A WAY OF REPEATING ITSELF, EVEN FOR TELEPATHS.…

As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident.

And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.

Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherbino's longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all...


Payoff
A Mindspace Investigations Novella
Roc, March 5, 2014
eNovella, 112 pages

Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014
Being a telepath, I should have seen the hell I was getting myself into…

I used to be one of the most powerful telepaths in the guild. That was before my drug addiction and before they kicked me out. But I'm not a bad guy. Now I help the Atlanta PD solve murders. And even though there are only a few people I call friends, I'd do most anything to keep their trust.

So when a judge asks me to help investigate a missing college kid, I'm down for it. No questions asked. No problem. But in this dark world, things are never easy and a favor is never just a favor. Turns out, politicians don’t like being murder suspects. And it's bad to anger someone with more power than you. I thought I had nothing to lose... I was wrong.

Includes a preview of Alex Hughes’s Sharp


Clean
Mindspace Investigations 1
Roc, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014
A RUTHLESS KILLER—
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND


I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.

My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.

Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city— and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.


Rabbit Trick
Mindspace Investigations .5
Alex Hughes, March 4, 2014
eBook

Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014
New short story in the Mindspace Investigations universe (with two bonus short stories in other worlds from author Alex Hughes).

Open Mind

When the cops call me in the middle of the night, I know it’s bad. One of their own is dead, strangled in her car by a professional killer, and it’s up to me, telepath consultant extraordinaire, to pull the rabbit out of my hat and solve the case. Only this time I’m not so sure I can.

Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino is breathing down my neck. The dead cop’s partner is too. And now, the worst—there was a five-year-old kid in the car, a kid no one can find.

Note from the author: “Rabbit Trick” takes place before the events of Clean, so the hero intentionally remains nameless.





About Alex

Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014
Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a Semi-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novels 2011. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily at the same time! You can visit her at Twitter at @ahugheswriter or on the web at http://www.ahugheswriter.com. Or, join her email newsletter for free short stories at http://www.ahugheswriter.com/email-signup.

Facebook  ~  Twitter @ahugheswriter


Interview with Alex Hughes, author of Clean - September 5, 2012

Please welcome Alex Hughes to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Clean (Mindspace Investigations 1) was published on September 4, 2012. You may read Alex's Guest Blog - Crossing Genres - here.


Interview with Alex Hughes, author of Clean - September 5, 2012


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

Alex:  Oddly enough, I seem to write better with a scented candle or aromatherapy oil warmer going. A strong smell is very focusing for me, and I tend to change the smell depending on mood and what I’m writing.


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

Alex:  This is a very tough question because the list would be so long. As a teenager I read Robert Heinlein, Mercedes Lackey, Dick Francis, David Weber, C.J. Cherryh, Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey, and their books definitely have influenced how I approach fiction and what I think makes up a good novel. I ran into Laurell K. Hamilton’s books in college, and the way she uses language, with long sentences and lush description, has influenced me greatly. As far as writing teachers go, my big three influences would be Dan Marshall (writing professor at my college who mentored me for many years), Holly Lisle in the form of her incomparable writing classes online, and the amazing Jeane Cavelos at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, who should be given sainthood for her patience, teaching, and detailed critiques. I was self-taught as a writer for many years, learning from books and from studying other authors, so finally having teachers who could show me the craft I was missing was extraordinary.


TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Alex:  Great question. Traditionally, I’ve been a total pantser, to the point where I’d sit down at the keyboard knowing nothing but the first sentence or a strong image or character. The last few years, though, I’ve been trying to train myself to be an outline writer, but it hasn’t stuck as well as I would have hoped. The result is that I tend to sketch things out before I write, but many of the plot points, characters, and details change as I go. For me, I think that’s part of the fun; I get to discover the world and the characters as much as the reader does. So the answer is – perhaps halfway in between.


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

Alex:  The blank page, especially when I’m not sure where I’m going and the outline feels wrong. Emotionally, that’s the hardest spot, to back up and figure out what my brain is trying to tell me is wrong and figure out how to fix it. In terms of craft, probably the biggest thing I had to work on – other than revision in general – is structure and pacing. It’s still the first thing I work on in a draft.


TQ:  Describe Clean (Mindspace Investigations 1) in 140 characters or less.

Alex:  “A recovering addict telepath helps the police in future Atlanta solve a series of crimes where the killer kills with the mind.”


TQ:  What inspired you to write Clean?

Alex:  I read the book Catspaw by Joan D. Vinge, which is a cyberpunk book about a tortured telepath. One of my good friends at the time was a recovering anorexic/bulimic, and seeing her struggle to try to reach health really made a deep impression on me. I grew up on Star Trek and cop shows – my family would watch the television together and talk about the shows long after they were over. So when I sat down to write the short story that would eventually (many years and drafts later) become Clean, I wanted to write a tortured telepath struggling to recover from an addiction while solving a police case in a cyberpunk world. The result was mostly what I wanted – but I couldn’t quite manage the cyberpunk, so I ended up noir, which is a lot more me anyway.


TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Clean?

Alex:  I’ve done many interviews of an older AA sponsor, the man who became a model for Swartz, and visited an AA meeting with him talking about the program. I’ve read some of the literature, done research online, and pulled from my experience with my friend and others I’ve known with addictions. I also did a lot of reading on neuroscience, the brain and behavior (go read Oliver Sacks, he’s awesome), and some of the up and coming science ideas, such as air conditioning as a side effect of the right kind of magnetic field. That stuff’s so cool.


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

Alex:  Oddly, the narrator of the book ended up being pretty easy. He showed up one day and started talking, and for awhile there he wouldn’t shut up; as much trouble as he’s given me at times, he likes telling his story, and for that I’m very grateful. On the other hand, Cherabino gave me fits in earlier drafts. She was originally Irish, and blonde (yes, I know), and did a lot of hitting my hero for no reason. After a while, we sat down together, she grew up, and I figured out the trauma in her backstory that makes her who she is. She also picked up a better name and family, and told me in no uncertain terms she was far too serious to be blonde.


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

Alex:  I love the location of the final showdown, which (I think) is clever and interesting. I love the scene at the graveyard. And I love the pigeons on the roof in one of the crime scenes; those pigeons are cool.


TQ:  What's next?

Alex:  Next I keep writing more books in the Mindspace Investigations series, and start working on other ideas.


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Alex:  Thank you for having me. It’s been an honor.



Mindspace Investigations

Clean
Mindspace Investigations 1
Roc, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Alex Hughes, author of Clean - September 5, 2012
A RUTHLESS KILLER—
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.

My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.

Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.
PreOrder



About Alex

Alex has written since early childhood, and loves great stories in any form including scifi, fantasy, and mystery. Over the years, Alex has lived in many neighborhoods of the sprawling metro Atlanta area. Decatur, the neighborhood on which Clean is centered, was Alex’s college home.

On any given week you can find Alex in the kitchen cooking gourmet Italian food, watching hours of police procedural dramas, and typing madly.


Guest Blog by Alex Hughes - Crossing Genres

Please welcome Alex Hughes to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Clean (Mindspace Investigations 1) will be published on September 4, 2012.


Guest Blog by Alex Hughes - Crossing Genres


Crossing Genres

Genre – or categories – of fiction are things that people made up to sell books. Or, if you prefer, to figure out how to shelve books in a big, confusing bookstore. It’s helpful. It makes our brains happy. It sorts through all the books in the world and shows me the ones that are most likely to give me the happy romance feeling, the big explosions, the crazy mystery, or the exciting impossible fantasy. I like those feelings, and in a particular mood, I like to be able to find them quickly. The trouble is, those feelings are not mutually exclusive – nor are the genres built around them the only kinds of stories out there.

The idea of cross-genre books is the same idea of good writers everywhere. Let me take this new idea or interesting character and collide him or her with this other interesting idea or new character and see what happens.

For Linnea Sinclair this means taking rollicking good-fun science fiction space opera adventure and putting a heartfelt, deep-level romance in the middle of it. The result is so successful that I’ve seen her shelved both in the science fiction and romance categories. She doesn’t scrimp on action or worldbuilding – two things space opera fans love – but she doesn’t apologize for the deep emotions and meaningful sex the romance fans crave. Keeping both sets of fans happy has got to be tough, but she does it well.

For J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts), genre bending means writing mysteries in a futuristic world. Of course, because she’s Nora, there’s a strong and successful romance thread in the series, but the level of detail she puts into her worldbuilding and society of the future gets impressive over time. She stands up – if you give her several books – to many leading purely-science-fiction authors, and also manages to put an incredible depth of detail into the mystery plots she weaves. She does her research, she plants her red herrings, and she brings you to a satisfying ending in every book – something that keeps the mystery readers coming back for more every time.

For Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, the genres she crosses are a little less mainstream. Remember the old sailing ship books a la Patrick O’Brien? Imagine those with dragons. Fighting dragons, in His Majesty’s Air Force. While the book has all the things people love about dragon stories and a vigorously-built world for the fantasy fans, what makes the series one of my favorites is the depth of the historical detail. She builds a world in which dragons interact with real historical events and personages – and with the food, the customs, and all the rest so carefully described, the world feels authentic.

There are, of course, stories that don’t fit quite so neatly into just two categories. Look at Kylie Chan, writing urban fantasy-type fiction with Chinese Mythology in modern Hong Kong. How do you categorize that? Or Laurell K. Hamilton’s urban fantasy / thriller / romance / horror Anita Blake series? Or the small-town travails of Sookie Stackhouse in Charlene Harris’s books? What these stories all have in common is the richness of their detail, and the way they stay authentic to the story they’re telling – in all its facets, with all its genre expectations.

So, when it came time for me to sit down with my novel Clean, having realized that the story would hit multiple genres, I had big shoes to fill. I had to stay completely authentic to the story I was telling, put in great detail, and still do my best to make the genre readers happy on all sides. The book is about a telepath detective recovering from a drug addiction. That’s two major genres - telepath means science fiction/fantasy and detective means mystery / thriller - and a specific kind of character struggle (recovering addict) all working together.

In science fiction, readers expect cool pseudoscience moments and consistent rules of the world – so I had to work those in. Mystery readers expect the hero to solve the case clue by clue and then (for the turn to a thriller) for the hero to track down the bad guy and confront him in an exciting way. So I worked on the structure over and over until the clues sang and the ending was as exciting as I could possibly made it. And then – for those folks reading for character and the struggle of the main character – I carefully layered in as much depth of character and meaningful growth as I could make fit in the remaining space. It took careful structuring to give enough page time to everything, but I knew the readers deserved the best book I could make it.

The truth is, as readers many of us love more than one thing – we read more than one kind of book on a regular basis. And so, when we’re given a chance to have two or more of our favorite things in the same package, it’s exciting. When the author can give us what we love from both genres, layer in rich detail, and be authentic to the story he or she is telling, well, that’s when the story becomes magic.



Mindspace Investigations

Clean
Mindspace Investigations 1
Roc, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Guest Blog by Alex Hughes - Crossing Genres
A RUTHLESS KILLER—
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.

My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.

Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.
PreOrder



About Alex

Alex has written since early childhood, and loves great stories in any form including scifi, fantasy, and mystery. Over the years, Alex has lived in many neighborhoods of the sprawling metro Atlanta area. Decatur, the neighborhood on which Clean is centered, was Alex’s college home.

On any given week you can find Alex in the kitchen cooking gourmet Italian food, watching hours of police procedural dramas, and typing madly.




The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Clean (Mindspace Investigations 1) from The Qwillery. Please note that the winner will not receive the novel until after it is released in September.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:


Cross Genre novels - love them or leave them?

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.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter 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 Wednesday, August 15, 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 Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations - March 31, 2014Interview with Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations, and Giveaway - April 30, 2013Interview with Alex Hughes, author of Clean - September 5, 2012Guest Blog by Alex Hughes - Crossing Genres

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