Please welcome Alex Hughes to The Qwillery. Alex's most recent novel is Marked which will be published on April 1st. In addition Rabbit Trick, which includes a Mindspace Investigations story, was published on March 4, 2014.
TQ: Welcome back to The Qwillery. The first two novels in the Mindspace Investigations Series, Clean and Sharp, were published in 2012 and 2013 respectively and Marked will be out tomorrow. How was your writing process changed since your first novel was published?
Alex: Thank you so much for having me on the blog. It's good to be back :)
My writing process is still developing, and every novel feels different as I'm working out not only plots and character arcs but also the best ways to work with my muse in a way that makes us both happy. Marked had to be written in about four and a half months, about half the time it took to write Sharp, so the process and the stress was accelerated. As I'm writing Book #4 right now, it's a different experience still, much slower and incremental, with layers building as I go. I'm still adjusting my process with every book, and it may take awhile to get it right. By nature, I'm a pantser (I write by the seat of my pants) but this is a very inefficient and illogical process. I'm trying to add more structure and planning to this to make the process easier, but if I overshoot, I can hobble my muse. So I'm still learning and trying new things.
TQ: The Mindspace Investigations series is set in an alternate future Atlanta. Why did you set the series in Atlanta?
Alex: I live in Atlanta. Specifically, I lived in Decatur in college, where the Mindspace series was set. They were constantly telling me in creative writing class to write what you know, so when I came up with the core idea for the series, it was set there, mostly to prove I could do it.
TQ: You've written two e-shorts set in the Mind Space Investigations universe: Payoff in 2013 and Rabbit Trick earlier in March, which includes some extra stories. Can you tell us about Rabbit Trick?
Alex: Thanks for asking! "Rabbit Trick" was a story I wrote about eighteen months ago, right before I finished the draft of Sharp. Without going into spoilers, one of the characters in Sharp has a history with Adam and Cherabino that I wanted to explore. "Rabbit Trick" is the first time they come into contact with this character's handiwork. Since the story is set before the events of Clean, Adam deliberately doesn't have a name, and his and Cherabino's relationship is still pretty rocky. They're called in to consult on the murder of a fellow police officer, which Cherabino takes hard. When they show up, though, Adam discovers there was a kid at the crime scene... a kid no one can find.
I had a blast writing "Rabbit Trick" and the two other stories in other worlds, and I wanted to share that with the readers. Since you guys seemed to like Payoff so well, an e-short seemed the right format.
TQ: After Sharp (book 2) was published I asked you which character surprised you the most in the series to that point. Is Paulson still the character who has surprised you the most?
Alex: At this point, I think it's Kara. Her loyalties and motivations shift with the tides, so that I'm never quite sure at any given moment which side of the fence she'll land on. That makes her fun (and frustrating) to write.
TQ: The novels have been described as "dark noir" and "SF mysteries and/or thrillers." Would you agree? What is noir?
Alex: Noir, the way I understand it, comes from the look and feel of old forties films in the black-and-white Film Noir style. There's dramatic lighting, strong contrasts between shadows and lights, and also elevated dialogue and stakes. The heroes are always a little gritty, and the situations always a little more dramatic than normal, and there's usually some kind of hardboiled crime story. I love this genre, though I wasn't intending to write in it; it's apparently where my ideas naturally go. I was definitely trying for a cop-show feeling, and a speculative element pulling from real science concepts. What I ended up with works, but it's hard to categorize.
TQ: What's next?
Alex: I'll have more Mindspace stories as we go, but I'm also working on additional ideas for other worlds. One of which is actually set in the 1940s, speaking of noir. And I'm working on a collaborative project about a hotel ghost with critique partner Kerry Schafer this year as well. To make sure you stay up to date with all the latest news (and get periodic free short stories from me), sign up for my email newsletter at http://www.ahugheswriter.com/email-signup.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Alex: Thank you so much for having me here! I had a great time.
Mindspace Investigations 3
Roc, April 1, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
FORESEE NO EVIL.
Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.
When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.
Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death.…
Mindspace Investigations 2
Roc, April 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
HISTORY HAS A WAY OF REPEATING ITSELF, EVEN FOR TELEPATHS.…
As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident.
And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.
Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherbino's longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all...
A Mindspace Investigations Novella
Roc, March 5, 2014
eNovella, 112 pages
Being a telepath, I should have seen the hell I was getting myself into…
I used to be one of the most powerful telepaths in the guild. That was before my drug addiction and before they kicked me out. But I'm not a bad guy. Now I help the Atlanta PD solve murders. And even though there are only a few people I call friends, I'd do most anything to keep their trust.
So when a judge asks me to help investigate a missing college kid, I'm down for it. No questions asked. No problem. But in this dark world, things are never easy and a favor is never just a favor. Turns out, politicians don’t like being murder suspects. And it's bad to anger someone with more power than you. I thought I had nothing to lose... I was wrong.
Mindspace Investigations 1
Roc, September 4, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
A RUTHLESS KILLER—
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars.
My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary.
Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city— and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.
Mindspace Investigations .5
Alex Hughes, March 4, 2014
New short story in the Mindspace Investigations universe (with two bonus short stories in other worlds from author Alex Hughes).
When the cops call me in the middle of the night, I know it’s bad. One of their own is dead, strangled in her car by a professional killer, and it’s up to me, telepath consultant extraordinaire, to pull the rabbit out of my hat and solve the case. Only this time I’m not so sure I can.
Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino is breathing down my neck. The dead cop’s partner is too. And now, the worst—there was a five-year-old kid in the car, a kid no one can find.
Note from the author: “Rabbit Trick” takes place before the events of Clean, so the hero intentionally remains nameless.
Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a Semi-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novels 2011. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily at the same time! You can visit her at Twitter at @ahugheswriter or on the web at http://www.ahugheswriter.com. Or, join her email newsletter for free short stories at http://www.ahugheswriter.com/email-signup.