Interview with Alex Clay

What are your five favorite books, and why?
I don't really have favourites. Anything that entertains me at the time. I've read many books and some of them stick with me. It can be a best seller or a tiny indie author I stumbled across one day.
What do you read for pleasure?
Comedies, horrors, Young Adult. As long as I feel something for the characters and the plot makes sense, I'm happy.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
The basic modern(ish) Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
If I ever find a technique that works,I'll let you know! Getting people to spend a very small amount of money on several days of entertainment seems to be impossible. Making books free seems to work, but it's hard to know how many people read something when they don't leave a review or send a tweet (hint, hint).
Describe your desk
It's black, it's desky...err, it is mostly clear and has a monitor, a mouse and a super keyboard with louder clicks than a West Side Story fight scene. I often write at a small coffee table (like now), my dining table or balanced on my lap too. I've written when I should have been working. I've written on a notebook parked in a car park. I've written alone and I've written in front of other people. I'm not very attached to my desk!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In the suburbs, London(ish). It was a very direct influence on Moderate Expectations. All my life I have been surrounded by normal people with normal lives, and I had an idea about a man who was desperate for something...normal.
When did you first start writing?
When I was three. I was very clever as a child. Oh, you mean stories. I used to write comedy sketches and things to amuse my friends around my mid-teens. I've continued on and off since then. I regret the 'off' moments, but I think sometimes you have to live your life to have something to write about.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Moderate Expectations is about a divorced man whose whole life revolved around his ex-wife. When they divorced he was stuck in a rut. He had no real social life without her and his career was going nowhere. It's a look at the way the time between being 20 and 35 flies by without you knowing it. So many dreams fell by along the way, but if you can find something (or someone) you love to share your life with things won't be too bad. Even if you're able to read this, you're probably richer and more educated than 95% of the world. It's something to be grateful for.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It was more that I wanted to write but nobody wanted to publish it. That's the honest answer. I had a choice of letting the characters die in a draw somewhere or letting them out into the world to meet some readers. It is a slightly more difficult choice than it seems. Now this book is out in the world, I can't get it back. If I had a brilliant idea one day that reuses half the story, tough! I can't use it now.

I have a few friends and acquaintances who were 'signed' but became 'indie' later and prefer the indie life.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When things start to come together; a character who suddenly become 'real' in my head, or a scene that really works. Or the days when I'm typing away and realise I've not moved for hours but 5000 words have appeared on the page. Also, probably the main thing for me is when someone else gets to read and enjoy it. For me, it's a sad moment when the little people who formed in my head don't get to spend some time in other heads.
What do your fans mean to you?
A way of keeping cool in the summer? Well, OK, I have so few fans they've basically all become friends. I don't hear a lot from the others. If the several hundred of you who downloaded my book want to get in touch, please come and find me on Twitter. There should be a link on my bio.
What are you working on next?
I have a few projects. One of them is Young Adult and one of them is another comedy but I can't decide if it should be romantic or not. I write in a few genres. It can make focussing on one thing a little tricky.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The alarm clock! I'm not one for inspirational messages and that sort of thing. You might as well get up to break up the time between sleeps.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Sleeping! Also walking in the woods. I like the odd glass of wine and enjoy a good film or a good television series. Obviously, I read too.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Random luck, reviews (if you enjoy something, please take a moment to rate if so people like me get the chance to enjoy it too), browsing through genres, meeting people online and going to discover their work.
What is your writing process?
For a full novel, lots of little ideas or snippets of characters form in my head and I keep developing them until they start to form a story. I then write a small list of about 40 scenes in a very basic form (1. woman has bad day at work, 2. arrives home, finds husband in bed with her sister, etc.) Then the characters form a bit more so they can deal with the things I'm about to put them through. Do they need any special skills? Do they have an inspiring friend or will they meet someone to help them?

From then, I tend to write the first few chapters to see how it feels and if it's working. Then I write the rest of it. I usually write in order. At the end, I edit.

If it's a short story it's a lot more simple. They're normally a few characters and an idea. I just sit and type that until it's done. Then I add a bit more flesh in the edit.
Published 2014-01-09.
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