Monday, August 27, 2012

Interview with Alex Bledsoe

Earlier in August I fell madly in love with Alex Bledsoe's medieval-y, noir-y hero, Eddie LaCrosse, first in The Sword-Edged Blonde and then in his newest novel, Wake of the Bloody Angel. I'm thrilled to share my Q&A with Alex Bledsoe -- I'm having a bit of a fangirl moment, I admit -- so read on to learn more about him, his writing, and what he does when he's not conjuring more adventures for Eddie.

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

There’s actually three answers to that.

The earliest thing I remember writing is turning a Batman comic book story into prose, using my dad's manual typewriter. I typed to the very edges of the page, both top to bottom and side to side. I don’t remember the plot, but I do know I got in trouble for using up all the ribbon, since my dad needed it to type up the minutes from the church session meetings. So even my very first story was an offense against God. :-)

I had delusions of becoming the next George Lucas when I went to college, so I wrote a screenplay version of the story that became my first novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde. An excerpt was published in the college literary journal, Bean Switch, in the early 80s. It was full-bore epic fantasy, with no sense of humor at all, but the plot, especially the first third of the story, was essentially the same as the finished novel.

My first published short story was also the first one I wrote after making the "time to get serious" decision about my writing in the middle 1990s. It was called, "The Chill in the Air Wakes the Ghosts Off the Ground," and it was published in a magazine called Gaslight: Tales of the Unsane. You can currently find it as the first story in my e-chapbook collection, The Firefly Witch.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I start work early, around 5 AM, and that's pretty much the extent of my rituals. Occasionally I'll listen to music, but it has to be pretty low-key instrumental stuff. I have two small children and, since I work at home, I have to be able to grab a few minutes during the day whenever I can (I'm answering this question while waiting for one kid's playdate to show up, for example).

My real training as a writer came through journalism, and one crucial aspect was the ability to write about anything, anywhere you happen to be. It's a useful skill for a parent.

Was Wake of the Bloody Angel the original title of your book?

Hah!

First, let me clear: my books all have titles that I thought up, but only half of them appear under the titles they started with. I turned in Wake of the Bloody Angel under the title, "The Two Eddies." It's a play on noir titles like The Two Jakes and The Two Mrs. Carrolls, as well as the meaning of "eddy" as a water current, and the fact that my hero, Eddie, is searching for a pirate known as Black Edward. But my editor felt it was too low-key, and asked if I had any other ideas. Fortunately one of the few "nautical noirs," is called Wake of the Red Witch, and I was able to co-op that for a title that, honestly, I really like.

As you were writing Wake of the Bloody Angel, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

There is a plot point that jumped out at me as I was writing, that's not in the outline or even in my thoughts prior to going, "Oh, wow, wouldn't it be cool if...?" It's kind of a spoiler, so I don't want to give it away here.

The other interesting story was that, as I tend to do, I buried myself in research on real pirates so that my fictional ones would have the right atmosphere and vibe. This resulted in the first draft just bogging down in detail, so that the plot lost all forward momentum. I couldn't get the perspective to see it, though, and I ended up telling the story, as it was so far, to my seven-year-old son. He listened patiently and then said, "You know, it needs monsters." And that was a revelation, because at some point I'd simply lost track of the fact that I was writing a fantasy novel. That's also why the book is dedicated to him.

This is your fourth Eddie LaCrosse novel. What do you most enjoy about returning to his story and this series?

I love writing in Eddie's voice. That's a real joy, and at this point it's very easy for me to slip into it, so easy that when I try to write anything else in first person, I have to really work at it to make sure it doesn't sound exactly like him. Also, the challenge with each book is to find the balance between giving readers what they expect from an Eddie LaCrosse novel, while at the same time presenting it in an original way so that you learn something new about Eddie and his world. Each book tends to have one unifying high-concept idea ("pirates" for Wake, for example, and King Arthur for the previous book, Dark Jenny), something I spend a lot of time researching and disassembling so that I can make it work in Eddie's world. The next novel uses Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale as a jumping-off point, so at the moment I'm immersed in Shakespearean criticism.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I'm a stay-at-home parent to two small boys, so when I'm not writing, I'm usually doing something with one or both of them. I love watching movies, although my tastes now run more to off-market, foreign and independent films than mainstream stuff. And I'm always reading something, sometimes two or three books at a time.

Read any good books recently?

One collection of short stories, Turbo's Very Life by Carroll Dale Short, just blew me away. I've also read a collection of Manly Wade Wellman's "Silver John" tales, Who Fears the Devil, and Signe Pike's exploration of fairy belief, Faery Tale. Currently I'm reading Runaway Dream, about the making of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album, and From Girl to Goddess by Valerie Estelle Frankel. Fiction-wise, I'm reading Roy and Lillie by Loren Estleman and My American Unhappiness by Dean Bakopoulos

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My thanks to Mr. Bledsoe for his time and responses.

GIVEAWAY!

I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Wake of the Bloody Angel to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/Canadian readers (no PO boxes), ends 8/31.



3 comments:

  1. Great question (and answer!) about whether characters or scenes ever surprise him!

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  2. Thanks for featuring Mr. Bledsoe for the tour! I'm a big fan of his Tufa series and I'm looking forward to checking out his other books.

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