Interview with Alexandra Andersen

What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is a free story called the Grind (a Smashwords Exclusive). The inspiration for it was taken from one of my novella's Jilted Again.

The main character's stepsister in Jilted Again, Jaden Jablonsky was such a funny, take no prisoners character that she gave me irritated looks and snarky comments until I decided to tell her story.

Jaden owns the Green Beanery a cafe in Portland, Oregon. She's the type of woman that appears very non-expressive. She doesn't ever fully let you in and you're often wondering where you stand with her.

I wanted to show you a pivotal point in her life several years ago. The story takes place when Jaden was starting her business. It's this particular story that sets her on her current path, but also allows you to see behind her emotional iron curtain, and gain a deeper understanding of her motivations.

Jaden knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it. I enjoyed the fact that she's fearless and unafraid to become emotionally involved even when she know's it's going to cost her.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've always been a storyteller and an insatiable reader. My primary medium of self-expression was visual arts. I started drawing before I could write and I've always sketched and painted.

In my sketches I would create comic book style stories that would span several notebooks. I often entertained my younger brother and sister for hours on end when they were little with demented and slightly off-kilter fairy tales.

I'd been very successful in design as a career field, but there was this part of me dying to get free and share the worlds and characters I created. I pushed it down and tried my best to ignore it.

I think fear of not being good enough held me back. I remember in my creative writing class in 9th grade, I wrote a story I was immensely proud of and the teacher gave me a D+. (Yes, she added the plus to the grade.) She recommended that I stick to art, because I'd never make it as a writer. That planted the seed of doubt and effectively froze my writing career for a very long time.

Then I read several books by Steven Pressfield, "Do the Work," "The War of Art," and "Turning Pro," those books changed my thinking and my life. Also my best friend Shayne McClendon believed in my writing and her insights were inspirational.

It helped me get beyond myself and realize that my readers and future readers needed my unique view of the world and the stories that I write.

I went the indie route and became an indie author because I've always believed that you can have success on your own terms. I've bootstrapped all of my businesses, had parents that arrived in this country with nothing and were very successful. I knew being an indie was the way I wanted to create my success as an independent author.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I enjoy creating characters. I'm a people watcher by nature and I've always been very aware of body language, subtle shifts in perception, and unspoken behavior. One of the best things about being a writer is creating a person so alive on paper you forget you're reading and start to believe you know this character as a real person.

The emotions and the scenarios you can create to push a character over the brink of insanity or give them a flash of brilliance are pure joy for me to develop. Knowing that the character is a wanderer in the story until I give them their purpose makes it extremely fun.

Every character is different for me. Some pop into my head fully formed, I know who they are the minute I start writing. Others are like onions the layers get revealed as the story progresses. Some are just tough, I know I need this character but I'm not sure what to do with him or her. When I crack the tough ones and find their place in the story everything is magic.

Writing is like baking to me. You need to be precise to produce a cake that rises and tastes delicious. It's the same with creating a story that grips the reader and doesn't let go.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean everything to me. Without my fans I wouldn't have a readership and without them it would be pointless. My fans come from all different walks of life and various ages.

I know some authors have aspirations of being the next Hemingway or Koontz. For me it's different, I want to entertain my fans first and foremost and give them an escape. I love that they value my work and are on this journey with me for the long haul. I write stories that my readers connect to on an emotional level.

When one of my readers e-mails me or messages me on my Wine & Drama Facebook page and tells me of how they've identified with one of my characters or one of my stories made them appreciate their value as a person, that touches me deeply. It turns me into a big pile of mush and I'll go on about it for days. It's a blessing to be able to make someone laugh, feel better about themselves, change their outlook, or lift their spirits. I love my readers and I thank them for letting me be a part of their lives.
What are you working on next?
Ohhh...my bag of tricks runs deep and the rabbits keep on multiplying. I'm working on several different projects. That's just the way I work. I'm finishing up the third book in the Just a Little Series with Shayne McClendon called "Just a Little Extra," to be released early September.

Of course Jaden and Pierce from "the Grind" have a sequel coming up...there may be a third adventure in store for them.

Then "the Seventh Floor" and "Violet Sky." An interlaced but standalone trio of novellas, "Ideal," "Released," and "Unchained". Then another set of compilations with Shayne McClendon, "the Hollow Series." Along with adding my existing books to Smashwords. That's just for this year.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love this question because it's so difficult. There are so many authors I love, but I'll narrow it down to two different genres. I've always been a romantic. I'm not talking sappy bodice rippers, I'm talking about authors with heroes and heroines that kicked ass.

I've also always been obsessed with mystery and crime thrillers, if I wasn't so scary in real life I would have been a spy. However all the running around, dodging bullets, and trying not to get killed messiness, gets in the way of me wanting to get my hair colored at three in the afternoon.

Romance authors: Ancient Greek mythology (technically more crime & drama, than romance, but let's just leave it here.) Jane Austen, Charlotte & Emily Bronte, Diana Gabaldon (Even though she's multi-genre, it's hard to classify her work.), Evelyn Anthony (When I was a pre-teen I would sneak and read all of my mom's books by her. Then when I hit the big time and had my own library card, I would secretly check out her books in between my research books for school.), & Phillipa Gregory. I was big into historical romances growing up.

Crime & Mystery authors: the King James Patterson, the Queen Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta and I were BFF's in college, in my head of course.), Lee Child, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, Dominick Dunne, & Daniel Silva.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
To make a better life for myself and my family. I'm very goal oriented and I have certain milestones for my life that I've set. Making my dream happen through consistent action everyday is what motivates me to get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other, and just do it.

There's little stuff or major obstacles that threaten to derail my progress on a daily basis. But at the end of the day, I know no one owes me anything. The fact that I'm alive is proof enough that I was meant to live my life to the fullest. I could wish, hope, and feel that I need help or someone is supposed to make my life easier, but that's really an excuse. I know what I want and I know it's only up to me to make it happen.

I'm not looking to write the next blockbuster, if that happens great. But what really motivates me is that I can actually make a difference in someone's life. I can make someone happier than they were before they read one of my books and leave them satisfied. That to me is everything.

Ideas and thoughts are unstoppable, ideas change civilizations and thoughts move mountains. I want to give my reader something to enjoy. There's enough tragedy in life, I want to bring my reader entertainment, let them escape for a little, and leave them with hope that they can have the life they want.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm usually working, I run another business that's completely separate from my writing and demands a lot of my time. So I work six days a week.

I don't work on Sunday's because that's my day, no exceptions. I need one day to take care of my personal stuff and spend time with my friends and family since I'm a loner by nature. Other than that I'd have twenty people knocking down my door looking for me. I can keep them at bay until Sunday.

I enjoy yoga, drinking wine, sitting on my patio, and watching small children wreck havoc around me. My indulgences are Dr. Who, Sherlock, Luther, and any sci-fi or crime thriller on BBC that I can get on Netflix or DVR. I usually watch my shows on Sunday, since during the week I don't watch television.

I also love to cook. I'm an excellent cook, I can make anything. That comes from being taught how to chop onions and scale fish at four years old. (No, I'm not kidding. I grew up in a large family that constantly had five to ten family members randomly appearing for dinner. You'd put your kids to work too.)
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was to torture my younger brother. There are several years between us and I was tired of him following me everywhere. I couldn't play with my Barbie's in private because he always insisted on He-Man raiding the dream house.

So, I made up this ridiculous story when I was ten years old about the Cheese Man who lived behind the encyclopedia's in my parent's office. He was made of Cheddar cheese and was invisible to the naked eye.

The Cheese Man was originally created to terrify my brother, but the story flopped as a horror. My brother loved it. I mean hardcore loved it, he and the Cheese Man became friends and they would have adventures daily. My brother also insisted that I tell him about the Cheese Man's life before he became his best friend.

I wrote a story and illustrated it for my brother who was five at the time. Ultimately I was the one who was tortured and my brother made me read him "the Adventures of the Cheese Man," nightly.

It turns out ten years ago, I came across a book in Barnes & Noble and the title was "the Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales," it was written in 1992. Since my stories were written in the late '80's I'm confident mine are the real deal and that book is an impostor. Besides the Cheese Man we knew, would never allow himself to be called 'stinky'. *wink*
How do you approach cover design?
I've always been an artist. Drawing and painting are my first loves. Cover design to me is a fluid process. Since my background is in professional design and marketing, I know the design process inside and out.

The cover to me represents the capture of the intangible feeling behind the book. Once I distill the book into the feeling that I want it to evoke in the reader then I design the cover.

I choose to use abstract images that represent the identity of the book rather than people. I feel that a muscled chest or a frilly pirate blouse doesn't take you to the emotional place where you can connect the idea of the book with the title. To me the cover needs to merge the written title with the feeling and the mood that book will inspire in the reader.

It has to sell itself. In our hyper-visual world images sell first followed by persuasive words. If you don't capture the readers imagination it's hard to capture their readership. I know first hand from the hundreds of clients that I've worked with that capturing an idea in the visual form is often the hardest thing to do, because it's subjective. There's no right or wrong. You only know it when you see it.

Also a great cover helps me stand out and catches attention. It's easy to get lost in a crowded space, having a visually stunning cover helps move me forward.
Describe your desk
It's made of mahogany wood and rather small. Most people assume I have a stately desk, since I work from home, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I do have two huge monitors on my desk that take up most of the desk space. I like to keep my desk empty, it helps me think clearly. If I see clutter on my desk, I'll get distracted until it's cleaned up. Which means I'm cleaning and not working.

I keep a notebook to write down notes mainly for business meetings and planning. My idea file is on my laptop and Evernote. I also keep a lot of pens on my desk in a holder.

In the morning there's a huge cup of coffee on my desk and during the day a Tervis tumbler filled with ice water and lemons. Sometimes I get fancy and fill the tumbler with sparkling water and cucumbers. If it's after nine o'clock at night more than likely the water is replaced by red wine.
Published 2013-08-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Jilted Again
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 47,330. Language: American English. Published: December 9, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Comedy/Humor
Noelle Fournier dreamed of being a bride ever since she was born. After a devastating broken engagement five years ago, she’s now engaged to the dashing Dmitri Orlov and more than ready for her happy ending complete with an antique tiara and Tiffany wedding cake. Her world is suddenly shattered when Dmitri reveals on their wedding day, he’s given his heart and soul to someone else. Chaos ensues.
The Grind
Price: Free! Words: 15,760. Language: English. Published: August 23, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Contemporary, Fiction » Erotica » Couples Erotica
(4.71)
Jaden Jablonsky is determined to make it on her own terms. Behind her easy tomboy attitude lies the mind of a business tycoon. Nothing will stop her dreams. When Jaden travels to the rainforest and meets her guide, the enigmatic Pierce Griffith, she knows it will cost her. Will Jaden gamble her feelings and her upstart coffee empire on the charming Australian with dangerous secrets of his own?