ALEXI LAWLESS: PASSION IS A LIFE CALLING
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Alexi Lawless’s latest novel Complicated Creatures Part Two was published few days ago. The book already received astonishing 16 out of 16 5-stars Amazon reviews. Our next featured author had another very interesting story how became a full time writer. Do you want to hear it? Sit on your chair and read the Q&A.
– What is your last book Complicated Creatures Part Two about?
– Complicated Creatures Part Two continues the story of Samantha Wyatt. It’s part international thriller, part romantic suspense, and it creates as many new questions as it answers old. The action takes place in Rio, Kabul, DC, and Chicago. It has a little bit of everything: action, romance, suspense, a love triangle, cool villains, and awesome supporting characters.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– My plan was to write a simple love story? Yeah… that became much more complicated when I took the governor off the engine and let the story flow. The character’s individual personalities, unique foibles and the quandaries they were working through both within themselves and with each other created a sui generis story that overreached the original plotline.
I went from two main characters to three and added a couple major supporting characters to two separate families, a team of men from Special Forces from all over the world and a couple of nemeses who’d make the watchlists of any number of governments. At this point, Complicated Creatures has a life of its own.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Honestly, the hardest part is not editing myself while I write. I can be really hard on the scene if I let myself go there too early. I’ve been working on “Let go, let flow” with Part 2 and worrying about the editing and clean-up as more of a back-end, iterative process. Sometimes just getting everything out and down on to paper is the hardest for me, especially if I’m having a difficult time with a character or a scene.
Writers are naturally hard on ourselves. We question everything– would the character say that? Did I do the scene justice? Is this what I’m trying to portray, etc., ad nauseum. That process is endless and rarely productive to me if I let it go on for too long.
When that starts to happen, I take a step back, even if I don’t want to. Perspective is the only way to move forward when you get in the quagmire of self-doubt.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– I took what I liked most about male leads in some of my favorite stories and turned the whole thing on its head. I started thinking, “What if James Bond were a woman? What if she was the head of the multinational corporation? What if she led a team of commandos from all over the world–what would that be like?”
And as I considered all the possibilities, she became crystal clear in my mind. I saw a modern Pallas Athena with true grit, style and the kind of savvy we admire but rarely see in female characters in a romance genre. Samantha’s no wilting flower, and she doesn’t want for much, so that makes for an intriguing question–what kind of man can get a woman like that? And would she even let him?
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– Complicated Creatures Part Two was written and published in four months. It was a grueling schedule.
– Do you have any other books or short stories?
– Complicated Creatures Part One, and the companion novella, Complicated Creatures 1.5.
– Who are you?
– I describe myself as a Corporate Runaway. Novelist. Wanderer. Bourbon Drinker.
I have been a closeted writer for thirty-odd years—from way back when I was banging out stories on a Commodore 64 to my years writing the corporate strategies for some of the largest companies in the world. But it was two years ago, laid up after foot surgery, that I started to seriously consider whether it was time to come out as the novelist I’d always wanted to be.
Armed with a laptop and an around-the-world ticket, I quit the corporate scene and set out to see if my passion for writing was more than a pipe-dream. Less than a year later, I published my first novel, Complicated Creatures: Part One, and the second book along with a companion novella were published the same year. And while you may catch me sipping a drink in Miami Beach, you’re more likely to find me indulging my nomadic tendencies somewhere in Latin America or Southeast Asia.
Interested in following me? You can stalk me here at: AlexiLAWLESS.com.
– What are your writing habits?
– I’m an early riser, much to my dismay. My body’s natural circadian rhythm drags me out of bed at 5am, sometimes earlier. I like to start writing immediately, before the sun is up and the world around me is moving, because I’m still only semi-conscious and the story can flow out of me with little editing or impatience so characteristic of my afternoon hours.
I generally write uninterrupted until mid-morning, take a break for lunch and a workout or sightseeing if I’m traveling, then back to the grind late afternoon until about 9pm. My goal is typically 1,600 good words a day. And by good, I mean decent and unedited. My max is about 6,000. Past that and the writing becomes incoherent. Less than 1,600 and I start to seriously consider Hari Kari. It’s the Type-A in me. But don’t worry–after a couple bourbons, I’m generally pretty alright with the world.
The reality about writing is that it’s work. Fun, exciting, creative, awesome work–but work, nevertheless. If there’s a muse, I’ve never met her. I don’t think there’s such a thing as writer’s block. I do believe you can’t force good writing to come– that happens on its own– but first, you have to sit down and knock it out. The right words won’t come without your sitting down and writing them first.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
– I can’t think of my writing in terms of sales, although my most recent promotional efforts did result in over 7,000 copies of Complicated Creatures Part One being downloaded. I will keep writing because the alternative is too frightening to consider.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I hired David and Shadra Bruce at dashfactor.com
– Do you have a day job, except your writings and how you manage to combine both – writings and working?
– I made the decision to write full-time because I’m an “all or nothing” kind of gal when it comes to working. I also feel like it’s the time in my life to fully commit to my craft. For me, that translates into several hours of writing almost daily, beginning at sunrise. My goal is about 1,600-3,000 good words a day. That’s a full-time job. Some writers can do that in one sitting. For me, it takes a few hours to get there and I generally write in 20-30 minute increments with short breaks in between to keep it fresh.
– Do you remember the moment when you decide to become a novelist?
– I wanted to be a photojournalist when I was a kid. My father always had copies of LIFE, National Geographic, and TIME magazines lying around and the idea of taking pictures for a living while traveling the world seemed like one hell of way to make a living to me, even then. I’m a casual photographer, and I’ve got a decent eye, but it’s never been something I was destined to be top-in-class at.
Reading was always my addiction (still is)–and when I stumbled upon Anne Rice at 13 or 14 years old, I was done. I thought, “THIS. This is it. Writing is what I want to do.” I was so certain until I hit my early 20s and started thinking, “Maybe that’s too hard. Maybe I’m not good enough,” and I discovered that while I didn’t have a great and unending passion for business, I was skilled at it. So I detoured for the better part of a decade and climbed the corporate ladder until I got to the rarefied air and thought… What am I doing here? Is this what I even want?
I had exchanged vacations for bonuses, business trips for board meetings, and creative writing for PowerPoint. Until weeks of overtime became years, and I looked up one day and realized I’d given away so much of myself, there was very little left for private ruminations, creative endeavors, and my own dreaming. I lived and breathed work. I was outwardly the symbol of success with all the trappings. But that’s just it… they were trappings. And I’d done it to myself–beguiled my mind into believing the more I had, the happier I’d be. But I knew the following to be true: I was a closet creative in a corporate strategist’s body, and I wanted out. No, I needed out.
Do I regret it? Not at all, but I do think the old saying about a passion not being a coincidence is true. It’s a life calling. It’ll find you eventually. Or you will find it. Either way, writing professionally was just a matter of time for me. I guess I figured– why not sooner than later?
Take a look at the books
Complicated Creatures: Part One in a Romantic Suspense Thriller
Complicated Creatures: Part 1.5: A Novella
Complicated Creatures: Part Two in a Romantic Suspense Thriller Series