Interview with Alex Fedyr

What motivated you to become an indie author?
Indie author? As opposed to just "author"?
Well, I started working for a small publisher, and I realized that all the things we were doing for our authors were things I could do myself. So, when it came time to publish my own book, I decided that the control freak in me wanted a chance at the reigns.
Don't get me wrong, I think traditional publishing houses are great. If a Big 5 publisher came up and offered me a deal, I would definitely take it. "Sell out," you say? Well, there are things that a Big 5 publishing house can do that I can't even fathom. Never underestimate the power of experienced, talented groups of people. But for now, I'm having fun wearing all the hats.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm weird. I don't write because I necessarily want to, I write because I feel like I must.
When I was a kid I absolutely loved writing. Give me a pen and a paper and I was the happiest, quietest kid you ever met. I read tons of books and I thought, "I want to write stories that great. In fact, someday I'm going to write books that are BETTER!"
Somewhere along the path to adulthood I started writing and reading less. But that craving to write never left me. Except, the voice got older too. It no longer said, "Let's write all the magical things!" It became more grim. It said, "You can do this thing. You can write a story. In fact, you NEED to write a story. It's in your bones. It must come out."
And yet, despite the grim tone of the voice that pushed me back into writing, once I actually did it, once I could sit back and look at the words I created, I felt so damn happy. There was so much pride at having finally created something I could hold in my hands. Sure, some days I look at my writing and think, "I am sorry, world, for inflicting this upon you." Other days I look through the pages and think, "Damn. Did I really write that?"
What do your fans mean to you?
EVERYTHING! I mean, right now the only real "fans" I have are my immediate family, but still, they're great! They are the ones who got me to this point. Without them, I would still be wallowing in a bit of self-doubt.
I'm hoping the debut of my first novel will expand that family. I look forward to hearing what people have to say about ESTRANGED, and I am excited to interact with the community! (*hint* *hint* C'mon friends, send me your tweets!)
What are you working on next?
I am bouncing between a couple projects at the moment. One is, obviously, the sequel to ESTRANGED, but I am also putting together a new science fiction novel. I am hoping to explore the limits of technology, LGBT issues, and cultural diversity through a diverse group of characters. Of course, I am not necessarily qualified to tackle these topics, but by-golly, I'm going to try! Someone's got to do it, am I right?
Who are your favorite authors?
So many...
Right now I would have to say.... Mark Lawrence, Peter V. Brett, John Scalzi, and Brandon Sanderson. That's just where my tastes are at the moment. Honorable mentions would have to go to: J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Ursula K. Le Guin, Orson Scott Card, Robert Heinlein, Tamora Pierce, Kevin Hearne... shoot! My memory fails me! My apologies to the many I missed!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My cat. He yowls at me because he wants to go for walks. (He's really a dog, I swear.)
But honestly, it's projects like Estranged. I wake up and I think, "Oh, there's still that new cover design I want to put together. And I have to shoot new footage for that book trailer. What am I going to do with Kalei in this next scene? What's trending on Twitter today? Mayhaps I can introduce Estranged to some new friends." Even though this sounds incredibly tedious, to me, it's incredibly exciting. I love working on my own projects, I love putting on a hundred different hats and pinging through a dozen different tasks. I guess that's why I enjoy being an indie author.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Video games. Lots of video games. Occasionally I read, because I believe you can't be a good author if you aren't in the habit of reading. But in truth, my heart lies with video games. And Netflix. If left to my own devices, I will sit in front of my computer or Xbone and switch between the two all day.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly through recommendations, or tracking down the latest from my favorite authors. Occasionally I find a great title via Twitter. Although, the best recommendation I've had recently was from my tattoo artist. Have you ever heard of "Flight of the Silvers"? Alternate dimensions + superpowers = epic!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I can't exactly remember the first story I wrote. I wrote tons of them as soon as I could hold a pen. But I can remember the first story I was serious about. It was a science fiction about Uganda taking over the world, and the rebels lived in Antarctica until they were rescued by aliens. I was thirteen, I didn't know anything about Uganda. I got all the way to the last chapter, more than 200 pages into the story, when I realized the story wasn't coming together at all. I scrapped the entire thing, attempted a couple rewrites, then never went back. Nowadays I put a lot more thought into the end before I get too far into the writing. Every story needs a destination. At least, that's my philosophy.
What is your writing process?
Again, I am a weird writer. A lot of writers sit down and knock out thousands of words each day. Me? I write in 500 word bursts.
I do a lot of heavy lifting off the page in my head, I spend hours thinking about backstories and the city's underlying economy. I do this because when I write a first draft I feel like I am building a bridge out over open air, and sometimes I hit that point where I feel like I need to make sure the foundation is sound before I go further.
It sounds like it would take forever to write a book that way, but actually, Estranged was finished within a year. Most of it was written during 30 minute lunch breaks at my day job. (No word documents, I would write myself emails.) I told myself, "You don't have to conquer the whole world today. I know you don't have time. Just put down something. Anything. One line will suffice." I focused on habit more than anything. Surprisingly, the days when I didn't want to write were the days when a couple thousand words would spontaneously fall onto the page, my phone ringing off the hook in cubicle land. Whoops, half hour break turned into an hour and a half break. Sorry!
I also focus a lot on action in the first draft. When I finished the first draft of Estranged, it was only 40,000 words and read more like a script than a novel. It was after all that was down that I went back and layered in the descriptions and finer character details. The final draft is about 96,000 words. (It's amazing what description can do to a word count!)
One last point, bear with me.
Here's why my first drafts are so sparse: when I'm in the moment of that first draft, I already know all the details. I just want to hurry up and know what happens next! So the action is all that makes it onto the page. But of course, at some point I've got to clue in everyone else on the colors of the walls. The good news is, I love editing more than I love writing. So while I may only sit down for an hour at a time writing, I can easily sit down for two, three hours tweaking and adding to the word choice of each paragraph. So it all balances out in the end.
Did I mention I'm weird?
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I read was the Berenstain Bears. I don't remember much about the story itself, I just remember that my sister and parents were tired of reading it to me. They were "too busy." (The tragedy of every child's life, am I right?) But that wasn't going to fly, because I wanted to read it again. I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to read it on my terms, then I would have to learn to read it myself. So I did.
How do you approach cover design?
Well, university schooling has taught me to be terrified of using anything that is not mine or documented with a hundred sources. (Plagiarism, copyright, EEE!) So I prefer to use my own pictures in my work.
When it came time to make the cover for Estranged, I picked up my camera and said, "What can I take a picture of that can capture Kalei's world?" Voila, the royalty-free, copyright owned picture is done. From there I drop it into gimp, pick up some free fonts from fontsquirrel.com and away we go.
You may have noticed that I'm a cheapskate. But hey, it serves me well.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Shoot, this must be the most difficult question in the world. Especially since it is so subjective. What I answer today will be totally different than what I answer tomorrow. *Deep breath* Ok, here we go, in no particular order:
The Hunger Games: I feel like in this book Suzanne Collins is a genius at suspense. Even though the Hunger Games don't start until halfway through the book, at the end of every chapter I found that my hands were literally glued to the book. Forget sleep. Forget dinner. I have to know what happens next. I just have to.
The Left Hand of Darkness: As an Anthropology major, I love it when social norms are pulled into question. I especially love it when they are flipped on their head. Even more so if it involves gender roles. So many aspects of our society are founded on gender roles, and I think it is stupid. Back on point, in The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula delivers on all accounts splendidly. I'll admit, it's far slower and drier than my usual taste, but it is definitely an excellent book.
The Harry Potter Series: Because, duh, who doesn't want to be a wizard?
Speaker for the Dead: Don't get me wrong, Ender's Game was fantastic. In fact, it almost took this spot. But then I remembered how much I love Speaker for the Dead. It goes back to the Anthropologist in me. I love how this book shows how drastically different cultures can be, and the damage we can do to one another when we can't wrap our heads around those differences. Sure, there are a lot of domestic disputes to trudge through in the book, not my cup of tea, but the payout is worth it.
The Prince of Thorns: This book has THE BEST anti-hero I have ever seen. Take everything evil, and dump it into a character. Then make the reader love him. I think Mark Lawrence is the only guy in the world who can pull it off. It's one of those books that I never want to be made into a movie, because I can't imagine anyone delivering that fine balance of evil and charisma in the way it should be.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm weird. I read medieval fantasy, I watch action/science fiction, and I write urban fantasy. I can't say that I've ever read an urban fantasy. Too many vampires and werewolves. I know it's a big no-no to write in a genre you don't read, but hey, I'm an adult, I do what I want. YOLO!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle. I got one for Christmas, I have the app on my phone, and I haven't had any reason to switch to anything else. I am quite comfy in my Kindle shell.
Describe your desk
Hahaha! Now there is an excellent question. My desk is organized chaos, and I love every inch of it.
On the right I have my PC, complete with wireless keyboard, gaming mouse, and Tomb Raider mousepad. Tomb Raider is the best game on the whole ***damn planet. Don't deny it. And the keyboard is excellent because it has an this on/off switch to prevent my cat from mashing a million keys when I'm not looking. Or even when I am looking. That cat is a speedy bastard.
On the left I have my Mac. I love it dearly because it works with video like a champ, and I can sync all manner of things to my phone. Sometimes when I lose my phone I will message myself from my Mac to find it. I love technology. My Mac also has a Borderlands 2 mousepad with the character Zer0 on it. My favorite character from my second favorite game on the whole ***damn planet. Lootcrate is the freakin' best.
And skewed amidst all of this is an assortment of papers, post-its, pens, a journal... Like I said, it is chaos. And I love it.
When did you first start writing?
When I didn't even know letters yet, I would sit down with a piece of paper and scribble line after line, mimicking my dad's cursive handwriting.
Later, I remember coming home from the first week of school, and I was so freaking excited because I had just learned how to spell my first words. I explained fervently to my mom how "I" and "eye" sounded the same, but were totally different. Once my mom had a firm understanding of what I was telling her, I sat down and wrote a list of all the words I knew because I was so excited and proud of what I was learning.
It soon became apparent that a list of words would be impossible, I was learning too many. So I started to write as an excuse to put more words on paper. Despite being an introvert, I was a VERY talkative kid, and people didn't always have the patience to keep up with my motor mouth. So, I started talking to my notepads. Then eventually I started reading more books, and rambling turned into storytelling. It was great.
What's the story behind your latest book?
You mean, how did it come about?
Honestly, it was a dream. I was going through depression at the time, and I dreamt that I was in an alley. As I looked down at my nails I realized that I could see my depression in my nails as black... just black. As I pulled back my depression and tried to tuck it away, the blackness retreated from my nails as well. But I couldn't hold it back for very long.
At this point I became aware of other people in the alley, and somehow I knew that I could not allow myself to touch them. I didn't want to hurt them. So I pulled my arms in close to my body, and I dodged the various people until I emerged in a shady parking lot. It was one of those parking lots that is really just a triple-wide alley. There I ran into an acquaintance from school, and again, I knew that I couldn't allow her to touch me. She was cheerful, and excited to see me. She stepped toward me, asking how I had been. I sidled away from her, making some half-baked excuses just to get her off my case, but she was persistent. At this point I was close to another alley on the right, so I quickly ducked down it and got away from her.
Then the dream drifted, as dreams often do. It was all a blur of events and impressions. Then, I remembered climbing onto a bike. There were two guys chasing me on bikes, and the only way I could get away was if I was on a bike as well. I fired it up and took off, thrilled at the speed of the two wheels. Eager for more speed, eager to outrun my pursuers, I put on more gas. Put it didn't respond. In fact, the more I put the gas on, the slower it went. I looked down at the bike, and saw that the entire right side was completely demolished. I was frustrated as hell, and a sharp urgency grew in my chest as I realized my pursuers were gaining on me. I had no way to outrun them. The next part happened just like it did in the book. I looked over my shoulder to see my attackers, then I planted my foot, swung the bike around, and launched it at them. Then I woke up.
Briefly. Then I rolled over and replayed that last bit again and again because it was just that awesome.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
In leaps and bounds! I can't say much to the specifics at the moment, because my book it currently in pre-order and hasn't sold any copies yet. But I can say that it has saved me a TON of time. Being able to upload one book to one site and then seeing it for sale on dozens of other sites is a lifesaver.
Published 2015-07-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Estranged
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 93,840. Language: American English. Published: September 12, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
Kalei was born and raised in Celan, the first city to have an Estranged problem. It was seventeen years ago when they appeared, and the citizens learned the hard truth: that it only takes a bit of skin-on-skin contact to turn their loved ones into corpses, or Estranged. No one really knows why some people turn and some people die, they just know that anyone touched is gone.