Interview with M. Alex Hennessy

What's the story behind your latest book?
"Howlers in Heat" is a real departure for me, both in the vivid descriptions of sexual intimacy and in trying to crawl deep inside the mind of a strong female character. As with most fictional heroines, Hayley Sundstrom is a composite of actual persons, and her journey is somewhat unique, in that it involves a young, lustful, attractive woman coming to grips with an "id-force" that drives her into some odd, embarrassing, and ultimately life-threatening situations in the exotic jungle setting of Corcovado Nacional Park in Costa Rica. I wanted to write something piquant, arousing, funny and compelling. Many of the erotic novels I read to develop a sense of the genre struck me as being a series of graphic romps strung together by weak and forgettable plots. With "Howlers..." I wanted to imbed strong and exciting sexual episodes in the framework of a rich and thoughtful story that builds to an exciting climax. While I believe I've done that, it ultimately resides with the readers to determine how successfully I achieved that goal.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing fiction is something I've done for virtually my entire life, with varying degrees of success. But it's not about "finding success," although that's certainly the goal of most writers, to be able to support yourself with your craft and focus on writing every day. I write because without writing, I'd be spiritually and intellectually dead. Writing has pushed me to read more, to learn more, to discover more than if I didn't write. It's a function, like loving, eating and sleeping, and an integral part of my daily routine. Even when I'm not actually at the keyboard hammering away on a story, I think about writing, and plots, and characters, and that in itself is a gift for which I'm constantly grateful.
What do you read for pleasure?
I enjoy fiction and nonfiction, and try to balance the two. Interestingly, as I was writing "Howlers in Heat" I used Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" as a reference for some character motivations. I hadn't read the novel in decades, so when I started to reread it I realized I was processing the writer's view of humanity from a totally different age perspective. I also just completed Bob Woodward's "State of Denial," which describes the wholesale and entrenched incompetence of the Bush Administration during the Iraq war. Sad, but fascinating.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing since I was about 11, when I got up and read a lengthy war story in front of Mrs. Weltz's 6th grade class. Everyone loved it and I had something of a Stephen Dedalus moment.
Describe your desk
My desk...mmm. It's a surplus black Steelcase job supporting a high-end Sony sound system, my computer stuff, and a classic double-flourescent lamp from the '50's. I try to keep it neat but it's a dust, paper, and junk-mail magnet.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm still new at this and am experimenting with alot of stuff. But in anticipation of the "Howlers..." release, I got active on Twitter a few months ago and am already up to 250+ followers. I see that there's also alot of marketing tools available on the Smashwords site, which I'm now exploring.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle, which is kind'a cool. I resisted getting one, being an old-school paper page-turner, but e-books are quite convenient and easy to read. And hey, since "Howlers..." is an ebook, I need to embrace the medium as much as possible, right?
Published 2015-09-13.
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