Interview with Mario Alba

When did you first start writing?
As far as I can remember, I have always written. I did it for fun when I was little, laboriously writing longhand about my Star Wars and Masters of the Universe action figures with a blunt pencil. I did it in school, as I was that kid who loved writing book reports and creative essays. And I do it now, every chance I get, even though it is not as often as I would like to.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do not, but chances are it involved several Star Wars or Masters of the Universe characters. When I was little, I loved to play with my Star Wars action figures and my Masters of the Universe, and I would regularly write and draw stories about them. I wish I still had them!
What is your writing process?
It really depends on the story. I used to be a big believer of Stephen King's method, in which you start with an idea or situation, and write and write and write until the story is over. This is a fun, exhilarating process because you keep being surprised at every turn, and you want to write more to see what is going to happen next. While I still do that on occasion, I have moved to a more controlled, self-aware process in which I have a pretty good idea of what the story is and what is going to happen, and I build all the blocks before I start writing. "The Golden Theme" and "Invisible Ink" by Brian McDonald are the main responsibles for this shift. If you haven't read them, you absolutely should!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
They are usually recommended to me by my wife, or by one of those smart algorithms that will tell you what you might like based on other ebooks you have read and hopefully enjoyed.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love stories, both reading them and crafting them. When I am writing, I am transported to whatever place my story is taking place in, and the hours go by in a blur as I am finding out what happens to my characters, how they get out of dangerous predicaments, and how they make all the pieces connect.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many authors I follow and revere: Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Scott Lynch, Greg Keyes, Bill Bryson, Sue Grafton, Kevin Hearne, Carlos Ruiz-Zafón, Javier Marías, Arturo Pérez-Reverte... The list goes on and on.
What do you read for pleasure?
I mostly read fiction, but I can also be found reading art books and reference books to help me improve my craft. As far as fiction goes, I enjoy pretty much every genre, but a quick look at my shelf would show obvious preferences like horror, fantasy, and mystery/thrillers.
How do you approach cover design?
I usually ask my wife Crystal, who is a professional photographer, to do this for me. I will tell her what I envision on the cover based on the story, and I will let her work her magic. Needless to say, she always surpasses my expectations!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
If I'm not writing, I'm usually reading, drawing, helping my wife with her photography business, or playing video games. Great pastimes, all of them!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle that I love more than I probably should. My wife and I have a matching set, and we love taking them on trips and reading the same books at the same time to discuss them as we go.
What are you working on next?
I am going to write a story starring anthropomorphic animals that I already have laid out. I can't wait to get started!
Published 2015-11-23.
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