Today author Alex McGilvery joins us to answer 10 Questions about his writing. Alex started writing novels at a young age, but promises never to publish any of those books.
LC: Welcome, Alex!
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
AM: I don’t think I decided to become a writer, more like writing mugged me in a back alley and took over my life. I’ve been writing stories of one kind or another since middle school, so that’s almost five decades.
LC: What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
AM: I’m a binge writer most of the time. I use the three NaNo month (November and the two camps, April and July) to write my novels. The rest of the year I fit in revision in the cracks of editing for my clients. I make enough from my editing to pay for my writing habit. I’ve written books with outlines and without. They each have their strong points and drawbacks.
LC: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?
AM: I write the stories that claw their way out of my head. I’m sure when they autopsy me, they’ll find scratch marks on the inside of my skull. The most direct draw from my own experience tend to be short stories, novels are too complex with too many different characters and settings.
LC: Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
AM: Calliope is the heroine of my steampunk series. The newest Calliope and the Royal Engineers is coming out at the end of October. She’s a very competent person, but she has her weaknesses and soft spots too. She showed up in a short story which got rejected, then grew into a novel, Calliope and the Sea Serpent, then informed me I was going to write a series.
LC: Rejection can often lead to inspiration! Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
AM: Probably, I don’t try to include my personality, nor exclude, but there are pieces of me floating about in different ways.
LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.
AM: When you read them, they are more character driven, but I tend to start with a single image and build the story around that image and the emotion it evokes. I work hard on plot, but break a lot of rules because I’m more interested in doing the story and character justice than being technically correct.
LC: Did you read much as a child?
AM: I never stopped reading. I read at home, in class, anywhere I wasn’t actively involved in something else. It was my escape from reality. My family was great, the schools I went to were brutal for me.
LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?
AM: It is important to read, and read broadly. Even if I don’t plan to write romances, I’ve read a few of them, so I know how to work with the romantic elements of my stories, same with horror and the rest. Just about every genre has elements which will appear in every story.
LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?
AM: I always find this difficult. I could rattle off a list of authors or books, but the truth is my favourite author is most often the one I’m reading at the moment. Every book I’ve read has taught me something.
LC: Anything new in the works?
AM: As I mentioned Calliope and the Royal Engineers is coming out at the end of October, and I’ll be releasing book 2.5 in the series in January or February, and book 3 in late spring. They’re already written, just need beta reading and editing.
LC: Bonus question 🙂 Do you have anything you’d like to add?
AM: As an editor, I often get asked if I think a person’s story is any good. I don’t like to make that judgement, what I will say is whether I think it is ready yet. I don’t believe in bad stories, only ones which need work. So if you have a story to write, write it, then get people to help you make it ready for the world.
LC: Great advice. Thanks again for sharing your writing story with us, Alex!
Alex lives in Kamloops with his dogs near his son and grandchildren. He’s been writing for decades, and has published 16 books and numerous short stories. Writing gets him up in the morning and the dogs get him out of the house. He’s also passionate about helping other authors succeed through his freelance editing work.
You can connect with Alex at: