H is for Hurst. Alex Hurst.
With the wide-reach of the internet, it’s easy to connect with hundreds, if not thousands, of people who share your passions. I found mine in the online group Fiction Writers Group on Facebook.
One of the people I found connection with is Alex Hurst, an American writer living Japan. She has a passion for fantasy writing and a seemingly tireless work ethic. No matter how many projects Alex was already on, she was still usually the first to volunteer for another. Ever helpful, Alex is always there will some advice, a helpful link, the answer to a question, or some encouraging words.
Let’s have a chat with Alex:
What made you start writing?
Always a tough question. I think a lot of writers would say that writing is something that they needed rather than chose, and I certainly fall into that category as well. Characters are always talking, plotlines must be caught before they drift away in the ever-revolving carousel that is my mind. Getting it out on paper is simply satisfying, and it’s something that I sort of just fell into the moment I learned how to spell.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everywhere. When I was on a roadtrip to Colorado once, I saw a truck company logo, and promptly stole their name, Ruan, for a character. In particular, little bits of speculation in conversation always give way to the fun ideas for flash fiction. But I think the most important thing for me is daydreaming. Most of my plotting and doctoring happens while I’m walking, commuting, listening to music, or jogging.
Who are your favourite authors?
I love a lot of the classic authors, of course: Herman Hesse, Edgar Allen Poe, Murasaki Shikibu, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Cao Xuiqin––but I’m also fond of modern authors, like Jane Yolen, Irene Radford, Neil Gaiman, as well as indie authors Sarah Diemer and GT Lines.
What are you willing to share about your writing process?
I’d be happy to share it, though it’s not the most effective process, haha.
Generally, if I’m working with a predetermined theme for an anthology or some such thing, I build my ideas around that. Sometimes I go for tongue-in-cheek, and other times I consider the social ramifications of the setting. Above all, though, I try to build up a main character that is fun and interesting in some way. My story usually evolves through the character, so the character building is the most important part.
Of course, sometimes this means I have a great character, but no story to place them in, so I have to go back to the drawing board. And that’s okay. My first published work, “The Bell Tower” in Writers’ Anarchy I, was actually a repurposed character and plot from another project that never went anywhere. So, nothing gets thrown away, it just takes a long time to complete something that I’m satisfied with.
Where do you like to write?
The place I’m writing doesn’t matter as much as the noise level. I write very poorly when I’m distracted by another person nearby or noises outside, or my dog, etc., so it’s important for me to be in a place that is quiet and well-lit. Part of the reason for this is that even though I’m a fast typer, my brain still moves faster than my fingers, and noises sometimes distract me before I can get a phrase of words I really like down. Things like that make me lose my momentum. If I can get both of those things, then I can write easily.
What do you prefer to write? (short story, novel, poetry, etc.)
Though I long to complete my first novel, short story writing seems to come easiest to me, so for now, all of my work is under the 8,000 word range. A lot of that has to do with stamina and patience, both of which I am admittedly lacking in at present, but those are workable issues, and I am slowly but surely pecking away at my novel-length WIP.
Who do you trust to read your writing first, how does that person provide feedback, and how will it affect the finished product?
The first gatekeeper on any of my work is my girlfriend. We have an understanding that she is to be merciless, and she always is. It is very rare for me to send my second draft to her and not get it back littered in red, and that’s exactly what I want. I love having my stuff ripped apart by trusted people; it’s all about growing and challenging myself, and I’m never going to get any better if I decide what I do now is the best it’s ever going to get.
What have you written and where can people find it?
Though I’ve written a lot in my lifetime, not much of it has seen (or will ever see) print. Nonetheless, the some works that have actually made it passed my intense scrutiny, and links to all of those can be found at http://alex-hurst.com/works/. I write primarily character-driven fantasy, though my short fiction leans more heavily into the speculative fiction and contemporary genres. I also write LGBT fiction.
Tell us more interesting stuff about yourself?
I suppose there are a few things that might be interesting about me. I was born in Louisiana, but raised in the Bay Area. I majored in Japanese at UC Berkeley and then moved to Kyoto with my Canadian girlfriend, where we’ve lived for the last four years.
I only started immersing myself in the professional writing community a year ago, but since then, I have become the admin of a fiction writing group (where I had the pleasure of meeting J.W. Martin), was the editor of the eco-horror anthology Growing Concerns put together by Chupa Cabra House, and have been the compiler and designer for all three of the Writers’ Anarchy anthologies, as well as the digital designer for Flash It!, both sponsored by Fiction Writers Group. It’s been a busy year!
During my spare time, I keep up with my blog at alex-hurst.com, where I write various posts about life in Japan and writing, as well as interview traditional and professional cover artists that are willing to work with indie authors. I’m hoping that eventually my catalog will help authors find quality, vetted illustrators for their work.
Oh, and I also run an inexpensive formatting and book-doctoring service at http://countrymousedesign.com.
Some people call me a machine but, I just like to stay busy!
Follow along with Alex on her blog: alex-hurst.com