1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
I am Alex Howerton. My pretentious author’s name is B. Alexander Howerton (and like Rumplestiltskin, I’m not telling what the “B” stands for!)
I have a blog that discusses the ideas in my books, and whatever else strikes my fancy, here:
I have an Amazon author page
and I have a Goodreads author page
2. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?
I’m a pretty boring dad these days. I love playing MarioKart with my kids and catching up on movies. I watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report avidly, and my wife and I crack up together at Modern Family.
But when I was young and energetic, I loved bicycling, skiing, sailing, all-night Risk marathons, and bonfires. Maybe I’ll do all that again when I’m a Man of Leisure from my bestselling novels
3. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written? They don’t have to be published.
20 years. 4 books (and countless other types of writing). They’re all listed at the author page links
4. What genres do you like writing the most? And why? Is this genre the same as the one you prefer to read?
My books are “genre jumpers,” and that’s why I’ve had such a hard time interesting the traditional publishing industry in my books. That is why I love the growing indie author opportunities that sites like Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords are making available.
My latest novel Gravettian Goddess, for example, weaves together the styles of many genres without falling squarely into any one of them: thriller, suspense, paranormal, historical, alternative history, fantasy (retold myth), speculative fiction. I write to express my hard-to-categorize ideas, not to fit into a preconceived genre.
When I read fiction, I prefer hard SF. The best SF takes a technological innovation and examines its social and cultural ramifications. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein is one of the finest examples. Also the recent Divergent series by Veronica Roth nails it for me. Aliens are cheating – Unless it’s a brilliant examination of what First Contact would really be like, like Carl Sagan’s Contact.
I also read a lot of non-fiction, mostly history and biography. Well-told history is as good or better than any work of fiction. Justinian’s Flea, about the causes of the collapse of the Roman Empire, was brilliant.
5. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…
I am plotting out the sequel to Gravettian Goddess, called “13”. It is the story of how the world represented in Gravettian Goddess came into being (and why 13 is the luckiest number possible). So when you dear readers make Gravettian Goddess a smashing success and start clamoring for more, I’ll be ready for you!
6. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?
I strive to answer questions I have as an observer of culture and history. I am a lifelong student of mythology and Joseph Campbell, so for Gravettian Goddess, I asked myself, “We have been fully articulated and creative humans for at least 40,000 years, but writing only goes back 5,000 years. What were the stories we told ourselves for that 35,000 year period when the tales were only told around campfires?” The result of that inquiry is Gravettian Goddess. But, I felt a need to dress it up for a modern audience, so I wrapped the whole package up in a Dan-Brown-type adventure/thriller.
My previous novel, the Wyrding Stone, came about from a relationship gone bad. We seemed like soulmates, but when we got into bed, it all fell apart. She really bought into the whole past lives thing, so I asked myself, “What if we knew each other in past lives, but screwed things up so badly that we’re still paying the karmic price?” The result is The Wyrding Stone, a love story that spans 40,000 years (and launches well into the future).
7. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
I am strong on the ideas behind the story. I have no weaknesses (just kidding!) I’ve been rereading The Hobbit with my 8 year old. Tolkien was the master of creating a landscape and a geography through words. I bow to the Master, because I am not worthy.
8. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?
With Gravettian Goddess I’ve gone full on electronic and social. I only offer the book through Amazon Kindle Direct (for now), and I’ve created a blog and author pages. I found indie-sympathetic reviewers here: http://www.stepbystepselfpublishing.net/reviewer-list.html and here: http://www.theindieview.com/, of which our current kind host R. G. Dole is one.
9. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
Well, as I’ve said, it’s almost sinfully easy to get the word out these days, with all the internet resources and social media. As an old horse who’s been around the track a few times, I would say this: Be patient, keep your day job, know why you’re writing and what you want to get out of it, realize that everything you do and plan is going to take at least twice as long as you expect, and don’t expect to be an overnight sensation. With that being said, follow your bliss, and never give up.