7 Questions With Author Alex R. Carver
Meet Alex R. Carver. He’s worked a number of jobs over the years, none of which provided the satisfaction he got from writing, so he has now given up the day jobs to write full-time. Primarily he writes crime fiction, reflecting his interest in the seedy underbelly of life, but science fiction and kids adventure have featured in his writing, with books in those genres on the long list of titles he is preparing for release.
Book 1 of the Inspector Stone Mysteries: Where There’s A Will, is already out, as is Written In Blood, a serial killer thriller set in a small English village, while Book 2, An Eye For An Eye, is due out in September.
I couldn’t help but fall in love with the powerful titles he’s chosen for his novels, so watch out for a talent on the rise!
Esther Rabbit: Ate you a plotter or a pantser?
I try very hard to be a plotter, but often find that my plotting ends up being not much more than a vague outline. I usually start off by noting down how I want a book to begin and end, then I try to flesh it out with various scenes I want to appear in the book. After that I work on how I want the structure of each chapter to go.
Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, rarely does my plotting and planning last past the point where I start writing. It always seems as though the moment I begin actually drafting a book the idea takes on a life of its own and races off in whatever direction it fancies.
Esther Rabbit: Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your journey?
I would definitely advise myself to have much more realistic expectations from the start. I never expected overnight success, or success on the level of what Stephen King has, but I did expect more from my books than turned out to be reasonable.
The best advice I could give myself would be to expect things to take a long time, to set small and achievable goals, and to plan carefully — this is something I still haven’t quite mastered, though I keep trying.
Esther Rabbit:What are the steps you usually take from writing your first draft to publishing?
I have a moderately extensive process for my books that I have developed over the years. Each book goes through 3 drafts, during which I work on tightening up the language and getting the flow of scenes right, which may involve expanding or reducing them, or even cutting them outright.
This is also where I identify the bits I need to do research on, which can prove a little diverting, I often find myself diving down rabbit holes as one bit of research leads to many interesting things, which may, though more likely won’t, end up in the book.
Once I’m happy with my draft I send the book out to my beta readers. I have 3 very lovely ladies as beta readers, and I have so far been lucky enough to always be able to find 2 out of the 3 available whenever I have a book ready for beta reading. They point out anything that needs changing or expanding, and are even eagle-eyed enough to point out many of the typos that have slipped into the book during drafting.
The next step, when I am done fixing the plot issues my betas have discovered is editing. I generally go through four or five passes, altering the font style, size, and colour, and the background, to help me spot different issues. I even read the book in different programs, which seems to bring things to my attention that I miss in other read throughs.
Only when I have gone through all of that and I am satisfied do I release a book.
Esther Rabbit: What were some major setbacks of this profession?
For me there are 2 major setbacks, though I prefer to think of them as obstacles, when it comes to writing/publishing — money and mental health issues.
I have limited funds, which restricts me when it comes to using paid promotional opportunities. You need money to make money, and some of the best promotional sites are quite expensive, so getting my books moving has proven tough.
My mental health issues are the other main obstacle for me. I have generalised anxiety and social anxiety, amongst other issues, and they make it difficult for me when it comes to promoting without a financial outlay. Social media can produce good results for people with the right skills, unfortunately because of my anxiety issues I have a hard time putting myself out there on sites like Twitter.
I am trying to overcome this, and figure out ways to promote that don’t cost too much and won’t trigger my anxiety, it’s one of my goals for the coming year.
Esther Rabbit: What’s the best advice/feedback on writing you’ve ever received?
The best advice I received was more to do with handling reviews than with writing.
I was told not to focus on individual reviews but rather on the average rating, so long as my average rating is reasonable there’s no point worrying about the occasional negative review, unless they all mention the same issue.
I was also told to read the reviews received by books considered to be among the best ever written, and to read reviews on popular/successful books, especially the 1* reviews they got.
Every book that has achieved any kind of success receives 1* reviews because no book has universal appeal.
Esther Rabbit: What’s your favorite genre as a reader?
My favourite genres as a reader are fantasy and paranormal.
I’m a big fan of anything that involves dragons, but I also like finding a series that takes a different route to the norm, perhaps viewing a common story from a different angle. Even better is finding books that feature mythological or fantasy creatures that are little known or completely new.
I stumbled across Laurell K Hamilton a few years ago and really enjoyed how she uses a small and relatively physically weak female as her central character and develops her to become powerful enough to fight and defeat all kinds of mythological creatures, including some I had never heard of before.
Esther Rabbit: Just how much research is there behind a novel? Tell us how it looks behind the scenes.
For me the level of research involved in writing a book varies. It all depends on what the plot is and how important I feel it is to get a particular detail or plot point accurate.
Sometimes a detail is important, in which case I can spend hours researching across a variety of sites to ensure that I get it, and anything connected to it, right, so as not to be called out in reviews for inaccuracy. Other times, a detail is not important, and I am okay with keeping it more vague, because I am less worried that reviewers are going to point it out.
Over the years I have had to research things as diverse as post-mortem injuries, the relative flight speeds of military and civilian jets, the location of a military base in Spain, and the order of succession for English monarchs to be sure I am mentioning the right king in the right year. I have also looked up information on historic crimes for blog articles, which has led to some interesting, if not exactly pleasant, discoveries.
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And if you’re a fan of Paranormal Romance, check out Lost in Amber:
“A new Interplanetary Alliance ambassador on an earthbound mission.
A handful of genetically altered humans to be rescued.
Meeting her changed everything.“