Interview with Author Alex Bledsoe, Part 2

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Welcome back for part two in our chat with Alex Bledsoe, author of The Omai Gods, which is part of the steampunk anthology, Steampunk World .

Read Part one here.

 

Airship Ambassador: How long did it take to write, and rewrite, The Omai Gods?

Alex Bledsoe: Not long; for me, short stories tend to come quickly. I knew the deadline from the start, so I worked toward it. Having worked as a journalist, with deadlines of hours, having weeks or months to finish a story is no problem.

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AA: Some people find writing a short story with memorable, meaningful characters and concise story to be a challenge, while others find that easier and writing novels is the challenge. How is that situation for you, and what is your approach to make it easier?

AB: I think every story idea is inherently either short or long, and part of the trick that comes with experience is being able to recognize the difference. This story was conceived from the start as a short one, so I knew the time frame would be compressed, and that the location would essentially stay the same, and that the word count would be approximately 5,000 words. Like Nicholas Meyer says, “Art thrives on restriction,” so having those parameters set actually made the process go more smoothly.

 

AA: If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like The Omai Gods. What is “X”?

AB: If someone likes old-school SF that showcases the way technology, in this case alien technology, affects a society, I think they’ll enjoy this story. It’s very much an attempt to recapture the feel of the first SF stories I read.

 

AA: How are new readers finding you?

AB: Mostly word of mouth, I think. It’s kind of hard to tell, but I know a lot of the ones I meet mention hearing about me from friends. Certainly cons, and blogging—and interviews—help. Social media is a big thing, too.

 

AA: What has your general publishing experience been like?

AB: I took the long way. I started writing my first novel, THE SWORD-EDGED BLONDE, when I was 17, and it was published when I was 44. The only “trick” I used was not giving up. I had no industry contacts; I got my agent through a blind submission.

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AA: That is the long way around, but not only are you published, but there’s quite a few short stories and novels out there in print. For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?

AB: Because both agents and editors serve as gatekeepers to publication, a lot of new authors see them as adversaries. That’s not true: they don’t make money unless the author does. They’re on the author’s side, and any suggestions they make are to improve the author’s work, not damage it. Plus, improving manuscripts is their job; they do it all the time, so they’re good at it. Trust them, don’t work against them.

 

AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?

AB: I’ve been to lots of events in the last ten years, and the fans have always been gracious and kind. I don’t think the stories and novels I write lend themselves to that slightly unbalanced fandom some authors experience, and I’m grateful for that; my fans tend to be pretty smart and level-headed.

 

AA: What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?

AB: I’m the stay-at-home parent of three small children, so the balance asserts itself.

 

AA: Just taking care of three children would be quite the balancing act in itself! Do you get to talk much with other writers to compare notes?

AB: I have a friend who’s a playwright, and we meet at least once a week to talk shop. I’m also friends with a newspaper editor who’s an avid reader, and it’s fun to trade recommendations with him.

 

AA: Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too.

AB: Oh, definitely. It’s like any professional development, you never stop learning. Particularly in genre fiction, you need to know what’s going on out there.

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AA: As a reader, what has made you stop reading something before finishing it? How do you try to avoid that issue in your own writing?

AB: One of Elmore Leonard’s rules is to “leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” As a reader, when I’m confronted with page after page of text with no dialogue and few paragraph breaks, I tend to skip ahead to the next time someone talks. As a writer, I try to never include passages like that.

 

AA: What do you consider your first real writing experience? Was it the back-to-school exercise of “What I did this Summer” or something you just did on your own?

AB: I took a Batman comic book and rewrote it as a prose story. I used up all the ink on my dad’s manual typewriter, which he kept for typing up the church session minutes. So in a way, my first story was an offense to God.

 

AA: LOL! Somehow, I think God would rather read your creative story than meeting minutes. How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

AB: I’ve gotten less patient with inanity as I’ve gotten older. I hope that shows in my work, and it’s gotten deeper and better as a result.

 

AA: In your experience as a writer, what have been the hardest and most useful skills to learn?

AB: The most useful skill is the ability to write anywhere, at any time. When I hear beginning writers say they “can’t” write unless everything is JUST SO (right tea, favorite pen, special desk), I know they’ll never make it. I can write as well at a McDonald’s as I can at home in my study.

 

The hardest skill remains evaluating my own stuff with an objective eye.

We’ll pause here in chatting with Alex. Join us for the conclusion where he talks about remaining creative, and other interests and hobbies.

Keep up to date with Alex’s latest news on his website and Twitter.

You can support Alex and our community by getting your copy of Steampunk World here.

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Published in: on November 9, 2016 at 8:22 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Read Part Two here. […]


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