Alex Hughes was here not too long ago answering a whole different set of questions about herself and her first book, Clean, and now she’s back in the darkened corridors of terribleminds, inc. to answer ten more questions about the second in the series: Clean.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?
(Waves.) Hi, I’m Alex. I’m a hopeless nerd, science geek, history buff, major foodie, and I write things. Sometimes people read these things and like them.
GIVE US THE 140-CHARACTER STORY PITCH:
A telepath and ex-addict helps the police in future Atlanta solve crimes. This time, the victim is one of his old students.
WHERE DOES THIS STORY COME FROM?
Sharp is the second book in the Mindspace Investigations series. I knew when I finished Clean (the first book) that I wasn’t done with the character yet. There were consequences from some of his choices that had to play out in the real world (vague only to avoid spoilers). Plus I wanted to see what would happen if he was under more pressure from different sources. And the Guild. We definitely needed to see more from the Telepath’s Guild and Enforcement–who by the way, is investigating Adam.
HOW IS THIS A STORY ONLY YOU COULD’VE WRITTEN?
Where else are you going to find physics-based telepathy, addiction, an interesting war in the backstory, a grumpy workaholic love interest, and a Telepaths’ Guild in the same book? I mean, obviously. Plus there’s a murder investigation, and a new character, Michael, who’s recently been promoted to detective and dealing with two very strange coworkers. It’s a story only I could have written because–well, because I wrote it. Enough said.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT WRITING SHARP?
Learning to write on a deadline. I also attempted to write on an outline, which did not work out as well as I’d hoped. I ended up throwing out 15,000 words, many of which eventually became the novella Payoff (also available for purchase; it works much better as a shorter story). Then I wrote on another outline, threw that out, and started over with my original ideas and process. I also blocked out nine books total in broad terms so I’d know where the story was going, which took up time most people would have used writing. But, as my writers’ group knows, I find the sheer panic of an impending deadline to be very focusing. I turned in the book a little early, even.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN WRITING SHARP?
Writing books is hard. The second book in a series is even harder; you have to be as amazing as the first one, but also new. Oh, and that deadline thing? Changes everything. You can’t sit and think about a scene’s “heart” for three days in a row; you have to write the next damn scene. This is both a wonderful and terrible thing.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT SHARP?
I love the subplot with Jacob and how Cherabino asks for help. I love the interactions between Adam and Kara in the book. And I love what Michael does for the dynamic of the team. Plus the villain(s) in this one is (are) a lot more interesting. [Again, vagueness to avoid spoilers, sorry.] And the cool science moments are pretty cool.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?
Do a little less writing under the sheer panic of the impending deadline, stop trying to do the outline thing which isn’t me at all, and relax. This writing thing is hard, but it’s also super fun.
GIVE US YOUR FAVORITE PARAGRAPH FROM THE STORY:
This answer changes depending on the day you ask me. Today it’s a cool science moment:
As we waited for the local TCO officer to show, I watched the Sigmacrete heal itself. The nanoid cells moved too slowly for the eye to pick up, but you looked away for a moment and came back, and a piece of the interstate’s long skid damage had filled in. A tiny piece, sure, less than the width of a thumbnail, but over time, the deep grooves were getting narrower and narrower, less and less deep. It was fun to watch, or try to.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AS A STORYTELLER?
Try Cool Stuff. Write More In the Series. Write More Not in the Series. Be Bold, Be Fearless, Be Me. With plenty of capitalization.
Alex Hughes: Website