Today I am excited to introduce you to science fiction and fantasy newcomer author Alex Hughes, whose debut novel Clean is a unique blend of urban fantasy, dystopian thriller and sci-fi, a sort of dark and gritty dystopian version of Castle if you will 😉 Alex was kind enough to answer all my questions so give Alex a warm welcome and read on to discover more about this new series and the inspiration behind it! (and you could also win a fantastic prize 😉 )
Stella: Hi Alex, welcome to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Alex: I was born in Savannah, GA and moved to the metro Atlanta area when I was eight. I’ve moved around within Atlanta since, but never left 🙂 – It’s home. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool foodie, and I love cooking, the Food Network, and eating out at amazing restaurants. There’s nothing quite like a beautifully-prepared dish to make you think and breathe and be happy – it’s like edible art. Plus I can balance a spoon on my nose while humming the national anthem.
Stella: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Alex: By nature, I’m a pantser for certain, but the last few years I’ve been trying to train myself to write to an outline because it’s more efficient. Sometimes the training sticks, and sometimes I go way off book – but that’s part of the fun. Typical day of writing is meeting up with my group online to do sprints and exercises, then I settle into the task of the day – usually words on the current novel – late morning or right after lunch. Lately I’ve been playing around with Crockpot recipes I can do mid-day during that lunch break; I have a lot of energy then, a lot more than I do when Sam gets home, and having a meal waiting for both of us then has worked out nicely.
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Alex: A reader reads a book for amusement and entertainment. It’s fun, but it’s something he or she puts down as soon as the book gets put down. There’s nothing wrong with that, and with some books, we all settle down at this level. But for others, the real Book Lovers with their favorites, the Book Lovers sink all the way down into the story until reality disappears. The book becomes a portal to a whole new universe, and the introducer of new experiences, new friends, and a whole new life. It’s like the wardrobe in the C.S. Lewis tale – you step through to experience a whole new life and are changed by it, but when you step back through the wardrobe real life is just how you left it.
Stella: Your debut novel Clean, the 1st novel in the Mindspace Investigations series was just released on September 4, congratulations! Can you tell our readers what they can expect of the series and especially Clean?
Alex: Thank you! It’s very exciting for me. Clean is a book about a telepath who’s also a recovering addict working with the cops to solve crimes in future Atlanta. He and his partner-slash-love-interest Detective Isabellla Cherabino are currently tracking down a serial killer who kills with the mind. As for the series, the main character is going to have to face the Guild and the local crime boss, figure out Cherabino (if she’ll consent), and face all his demons under tremendous pressure. He’s going to grow into himself, and it’s going to be a fun – and intense – journey.
Stella: Could you tell our readers a bit about the unique world of Clean?
Alex: Clean is a world of flying cars, telepathy, and a lingering fear of technology left over from the Tech Wars that happened sixty years ago. The Telepath’s Guild has absolute jurisdiction over the small percentage of the population with mental Ability, the police are hamstrung by privacy laws and limited technology, and the pollution is so bad it causes cancer pretty regularly. Since the medical establishment can treat most of that, it’s okay, but occasionally a supercancer or resistant virus shows up. It’s a world of wonder and fear, much like ours, and a mix of good and bad, normal and beyond normal.
Stella: Clean is labelled as a dystopian, sci-fi or even urban fantasy novel by readers, how would YOU describe it?
Alex: Clean lives in a funny space between science fiction, mystery, and urban fantasy. Its world is full of grit and danger, so you could call it dystopian as well, and I’ve heard it called a thriller. You’re welcome to label it whatever works for you. The story works, I think, on its own terms.
Stella: Could you introduce the hero and heroine of Clean?
Hero (Nameless until end of book): Tall, skinny, brilliant but flawed, highly competent telepath who’s very good at his job, but still struggling to stay on the wagon. He’s his own worst enemy, but he has a strong system of ethics and he gets the job done.
Detective Cherabino: Curvy with a strong face, long hair, and a confident way of moving that comes from her martial arts training. Brittle and cranky to the hero, but highly, highly effective at her job. She’s a workaholic with a tragic past and a bit of a loner.
Stella: The story is told through the narrative of the hero, which is rather unusual for urban fantasies (let’s be honest, heroines are more frequent), and even male authors have heroines, so why did you decide, you a female author to feature a hero narrator? Did you find it challenging to channel a male character’s voice?
Alex: A large part of my inspiration for this idea was Joan D. Vinge’s Catspaw, a cyberpunk book featuring a tortured male telepath finding his way in the world, and the idea came well before urban fantasy was a genre (around 2002), so a male narrator seemed natural to me. At that time, male narrators were a bit more common in this kind of book; it’s just that the market has changed a bit in the intermediate time. I’m thrilled to see more heroines in fiction these last few years, and to see them be just as strong as the guys, truly. It’s been a great development in the genre. For this story, though, I wanted the main character to be a guy.
It was definitely challenging to channel a guy, especially in the beginning. I still get pinged on things at my writer’s group (apparently Christmas is not manly, for example), but over time the hero and I have come to an understanding and I can just sit down to write him without a lot of trouble.
Stella: Do you still remember what inspired the Mindspace Investigations series? Was there a specific moment/event that sparked the idea for the story?
Alex: Like I said, I had just read Catspaw, and I’ve always been a huge TV cop show fan. The last piece was a friend of mine who was really struggling to recover from anorexia/bulimia and who was very open about her struggle. It really impacted me to see her on her journey and to walk through it with her, and I wanted to write about that struggle. The trouble was, I knew that her journey was so big, so complicated, that it would take over any story I put it in. I needed an addiction that was easier to understand. And so Clean was born.
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read Clean?
Alex: Cool telepathy including Mindspace around crime scenes. High stakes, murders, and the Guild. A narrator you want to see succeed.
Stella: Can you summarize Clean for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?
Alex: Telepath and recovering addict helps future Atlanta police solve a series of murders where the killer kills with the mind.
Stella: I saw on your Goodreads page that you love to cook, any favourite recipe or any funny food-related story you could share with us?
Easy Southern Slowcooker BBQ
Beef Shoulder at least 2 lbs (or 3-4 chicken breasts; if chicken is frozen that’s fine)
At least 3 cans of real Coca-Cola
1-2 bottles Corky’s BBQ sauce plus additional to taste Burger buns (any Memphis style BBQ sauce should work as well)
1. Put beef shoulder in in slowcooker. Add Coke until meat is just covered. Cook on low heat for 10-12 hours (5-6 if unfrozen chicken – 6-8 if frozen). If desired, flip once during cooking.
2. Take shoulder out of crock-pot carefully; drain and wipe out pot. Then with two forks, shred the beef to desired consistency.
3. Return to crock-pot and add BBQ sauce to desired consistency. Cook for another hour, then serve on a bun with pickles (optional) and a little more sauce. Delicious. (Try serving with oven-baked tater-tots and ketchup, with a small salad if you’re feeling healthy.)
Stella: What is next on your schedule? Any future plans you’d like to share with us?
Alex: The second book in the series, Sharp, will be out in April, and a novella in the same universe will be out in March, and I’m already thinking about Books 3 and 4. I’m excited about this series. 😀
Clean by Alex Hughes
Book #1 in the Mindspace Investigations series
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.
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.
Alex has very generously offered a $10 USD Amazon or B&N gift card + a CLEAN cover flat to one lucky commenter!
All you have to do is either leave a question/comment for Alex or answer this question: AIf you were a telepath, whose thoughts would you like to listen/supplant thoughts into?
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).
This giveaway is open to everyone!
Giveaway ends on 6 October 2012 and we will announce the winner on Sunday.