Today I welcome Alex Harrow to the blog to answer a few questions for Author Interview³.
1) Tell us 3 fun facts about your writing history
• My first piece of writing was an absolutely horrendous novella of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction I wrote on an electric typewriter because we didn’t have a computer at the time. I was thirteen and of course I had to send it right to the publisher of all the Buffy books I was reading at the time. I never heard back from them, which is probably very much for the best.
• I still remember how it felt to read my first fantasy novel featuring LGBTQ+ main characters in my early twenties and see myself represented on the page. That’s when I decided to actively pursue publication, because I figured that the best way to see more queer books on shelves was to write them.
• My debut science fiction novel, Empire of Light, started out as something that was inspired by Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the grit and found-family dynamics in Final Fantasy 7 and Firefly, and my love for action movies, except with an unapologetically queer cast.
2) Describe your writing style in 3 words
Bold, evocative, and very queer.
3) Name 3 of your literary influences
• Ursula K. Le Guin, whose ideas about gender in The Left Hand of Darkness blew the doors of my mind wide open.
• Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, who is a writing machine and whose writing has taught me so much about building complex characters you can’t help but fall in love with.
• Elizabeth Bear, whose work I devoured because of how I felt myself seen in her words and worlds when I first came out.
4) Share your 3 favourite books
• The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
• Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford
• A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
5) What are your 3 essential writing tools?
• Scrivener and Microsoft Word
• My rainbow typewriter keyboard (yes, it’s magical)
• Noise-cancelling headphones because it’s awfully people-y out there
6) Where are your 3 favourite places to write?
• My writing nook in the library that my amazing wife built me for my 30th birthday.
• My favorite coffee shop (shout-out to High Point Coffee in West Jordan, UT!)
• The Book Bar in Denver, which is just as fantastic as it sounds, and books, booze, and coffee is just about the best combination ever.
7) Name 3 items on your writing wish list
• Write a comic or graphic novel
• Write a serial with a large cast of interconnected characters
• Write space opera where everyone is queer (stay tuned for this one!)
8) What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?
• Find your people. The writing community, especially the queer writing community, has some of the very best people in this world. Put yourself out there. Be vulnerable and genuine. It’s going to be okay.
• Read widely in your genre and beyond. I don’t remember who said it but breathe like an author: reading is the inhale, writing is the exhale.
• Never stop learning and asking questions, and above all else, be kind to those around you.
9) Tell us 3 of your writing plans for the year ahead
• Finish editing and query my alternate history fantasy featuring a bi secret agent, a genderqueer boxer and former pilot, people that activate abilities through trauma, and post-WWII queer underground bars
• Write the sequel to Empire of Light
• Write a space opera about queer assassins stealing a rogue planet
10) Tell us about your latest release
Empire of Light is my first novel, pitched as gay Firefly with magic. It’s my love letter to action movies and found families with a diverse and queer cast, because when I first started writing it, I really wanted to see LGBTQ+ action stars and to make that happen, I decided to write them. Empire of Light is set on a near-future Earth, a little more than 100 years from now where war and a lack of basic resources has forced the world into a unified government and Voyants, magic users with psychokinetic powers, are feared and ruthlessly hunted. It combines and subverts some of my favorite tropes, including a cast where basically everyone is queer, deadly magic, found families, enemies to lovers, and lots of morally gray characters. I can’t wait to introduce you all to Damian, Aris, and Raeyn and hope you will enjoy reading about their shenanigans as much as I did writing them. Prepare for queerness with a chance of explosion and a main character who will set the world on fire to save the guy he loves.
Coming 4 February 2019 from NineStar Press!!
Empire of Light
4 February 2019
Warning: allusions to past sexual assault and trauma, anxiety, violence, and death
Holed up aboard a wrecked spaceship in a junkyard, Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.
Then his latest mark, Raeyn, a suave revolutionary in need of an assassin, kicks Damian’s ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.
But the Empire’s on to Damian and Aris is slipping away, his control over his powers crumbling. Worse, the Empire targets Aris to twist him into their weapon.
Damian’s only chance is to team up with Raeyn. If he wants to survive and protect his friends, Damian has to make this revolution work. Even if it means going up against the entire Empire and getting way too close to Raeyn, who blackmailed Damian into this in the first place.
To save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.
Alex Harrow is a queer author of science fiction and fantasy with LGBTQ+ protagonists. When not writing queerness with a chance of explosions, Alex is a high school English teacher, waging epic battles against comma splices and misused apostrophes. Their debut science fiction novel, EMPIRE OF LIGHT, releases on February 4, 2019. Follow them on Twitter @AlexHarrowSFF and find out more about them on alexharrow.com.