Author K.M. Alexander celebrated the release of his second novel, Old Broken Road, earlier this week. An independent publisher, Alexander writes in the Pacific Northwest where he creates worlds where Lovecraft and Urban Fantasy find a happy medium. To discuss his latest release, we set up an interview and below is what followed.
1) First off, congratulations on the release of your second novel, Old Broken Road. What’s the story for the uninitiated?
Thank you very much! It’s nice to get this one out into the world.
The story: in Old Broken Road, Waldo Bell—the protagonist from the prequel, The Stars Were Right—has to lead a caravan down a longabandoned trail. It’s one of those places swirling with myth and legends; not a place most folks go. Halfway into their journey creepy stuff begins to happen, they start seeing strangers watching them from a distance and strange sounds plague them from the sky. Wal is forced to confront a past still haunting him from the previous book while facing this new mysterious threat.
2) This narrative follows Caravan Master Waldo Bell, your main character from your first work, The Stars Were Right. What makes Bell such a great character that you felt his story wasn’t finished?
There’s always been a bigger arc planned for the books but I do love writing Wal. I think he’s really easy for people to connect with. You know how during elections the 24/7 news stations have that “have a beer with” litmus for candidates? Wal would pass that. His humanness really shines through. He makes mistakes, but he dusts himself off and keeps on going for better or worse. That’s something we all have to do in our daily lives. I think there’s an appeal there.
3) How much further do you plan on traveling with the Caravan Master?
Well, I’m well into book three, Red Litten World, and I know there will be a few more after that. So, he’ll be around for a while.
4) Black Heart Magazine praised your first novel, and described it as “Part thriller, part urban fantasy.” How do you decide which tropes to allow in and where to tread your own path?
This wasn’t really a conscious decision on my part. A friend of mine and I had been talking about a world where Lovecraft’s elder gods had returned and wrecked shop and then disappeared. What sort of place would the earth be like? How would culture change in a hundred years? A thousand? I wanted to explore that but still make the world feel grounded and believable. So if I was making choices, it was more to allow for a place like the Territories to not only exist, but feel real.
Really, it came down to control. I like the control that indie publishing provides. It allows me to do and try things a traditional publisher might not be willing to risk. Everything from cover design to advertising, to presentation. Makes things fun (and a bit nerve wracking at times.) I come from a startup background and that meshes really well with indie publishing.
6) How important has social media played into your book marketing efforts? Any favorite platforms?
For me social media is very important, in particular Twitter. The conversations that happen on Twitter aren’t something I have seen happen on other platforms. In that way it’s helpful, not only as a marketing platform, but a way for an author to connect with readers. I like that readers can reach out to me at any time. I think that connection is really important, especially in independent publishing.
7) Any lessons learned on the hard road to publication you’d share with aspiring writers, established authors even?
Remember that you’re a small business. Your brand is important and do what you can to maintain it’s integrity. Hire smart and trustworthy people to do the stuff you can’t, be honest with your own shortcomings and be willing to do whatever is necessary to put out a quality product. That last part is real important: quality. We all know it when we see it, but often folks aren’t willing to give their own work the same critical eye we’ll give to others.
8) You have a cohesive design from your book covers to your Twitter page, you even have Swag Packs. How did you design on the look and feel?
Thank you! It’s really evolved over time, I am sure as I release new work it’ll continue to change. A lot of the current theme is born of the covers for The Stars Were Right and Old Broken Road. The goal was to create a recognizable brand and right now that’s a lot of black and white, hand-lettering, and creepy old etchings.
9) Who designs all of that and what is the process in such a massive artistic endeavor that encapsulates you as an author?
I do all the design. I have a background in design, though I often hire illustrators to help me out with things I know I can’t do well. Jon Contino is the guy who did the lettering for both The Stars Were Right and Old Broken Road covers. Sean Cumiskey created the Bell Caravans logo which I have been using with the Old Broken Road launch. It’s been fun exploring concepts that serve the overall brand. When you’re your own client you can be extra critical. If something not working I can change it, and if something is working, I can try and repeat those successes. It’s a lot to keep track of. I make a lot of lists.
10) Where can people connect with you?
Twitter is always a good place, I’m @KM_Alexander. Also there’s my blog where I post news and other things that strike my fancy. That’s at blog.kmalexander.com. Oh and subscribing to my newsletter is the best way to get the important stuff. I send it out very infrequently, but I make sure newsletter subscribers get the important information before anyone else. You can subscribe by clicking here.
11) What’s up next for you? Hard earned vacation or answering the call of another muse?
Heh, I’m never not working, even on vacation. Next up is Red Litten World, which would be book three. Keeping that plot on the downlow for now. The first draft was finished in the summer so now I’m onto revisions! I’m also writing a new nontraditional fantasy that’s loosely based on Aboriginal myth and legend. It’s been a big change of pace for me, but I am enjoying it. Hoping to release that as a serial next year.