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Monday, September 17, 2012

Author Interview: Alex Hughes

Today, I’d like to welcome Alex Hughes to the blog to promote the recent release of Clean, the first book in the Mindspace Investigations series from Roc which came out on September 4th. You can read my review here.

Sara: How would you describe Clean, for readers who haven’t heard of it before?

Alex: Clean is a book about a guy with telepath who is recovering from a drug addiction. He and his partner-slash-love interest Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino are solving crimes for the future Atlanta police and are currently tracking a serial killer who kills with the mind.

Sara: In three words, how would you describe your main characters?

The main character: tortured brilliant telepath
Cherabino: talented haunted workaholic
Swartz: wise calm mentor
Paulsen: no-nonsense competent policewoman

Sara: Do you have a favorite character to write? Is there a character that’s a bit harder than the rest to write?

Alex: I love writing Paulsen –- she’s the boss I never had but always wish I did. Stern and ready to kick you in the ass but also reasonable, well thought-out, and competent. Sometimes Cherabino can be tough; she doesn’t like sharing a lot of her personal stuff even with me, so getting her out on the page correctly is a process.

Sara: What sets Clean apart from other urban fantasy?

Alex: If the definition of urban fantasy is an urban setting where the paranormal elements and the larger-than-life clash with normalcy and real life, then Clean is definitely an urban fantasy. It has telepathy in place of the usual magic and ghoulies, but it definitely clashes them with more normal life in cool ways. Clean has at its heart a science fiction tale instead of the usual fantasy, though. Telepathy takes on the rules of science and technology sits uncomfortably in the background, and mystery and science play big roles. The hero is dark, almost an anti-hero, but he’s making his way and trying to do the right thing. The book will definitely appeal to the urban fantasy reader (I’ve gotten lots of emails from fans of urban fantasy saying they like the book a lot) but it’s very different than the typical one.

Sara: Where did the idea for Clean come from? Is it a novel you have always wanted to write or did it sneak up on you?

Alex: This one definitely snuck up on me. I’d just read Joan D. Vinge’s Catspaw, a story about a tortured telepath, and loved it enough to try to do something similar. A friend of mine at the time was really struggling to move towards health and away from anorexia/bulimia, and her struggle really impacted me. I wanted to talk about that struggle, but I knew I’d need something that was a little easier to understand. I also loved cop shows on TV and thought it might be cool to have a detective type. Thus was born the idea of a tortured telepath who’s struggling towards health from an addiction while solving crimes.

Sara: Can we look forward to anymore novels in the Mindspace Investigations series?

Alex: Absolutely! I have nine books sketched out for the series in total. Book Two (Sharp) will be out in April, and a novella in the same series (Payoff) will be out in March.

Sara: Tell us a little about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Alex: By nature, I am definitely a pantser, but in the last few years I’ve been trying to train myself to be a plotter with outlines. The result is something in between; I know where I’m going, but I go off-book a lot. Sometimes that’s my best work, and sometimes that just puts in a lot of fat I need to trim out –- but there’s no way to know until I have an entire draft and can see the shape of the book as a whole.

Sara: What are your influences both in and out of urban fantasy?

Alex: Oh, wow. Big question. I read widely and I’m always influenced by what I read, big-name author or unknown. I’m also influenced by television, the news, and real life. To name a few UF influences, I love Laura Anne Gilman, Tanya Huff, early Laurell K. Hamilton, and Michelle Sagara. Outside of the genre I love C.J. Cherryh, Robert Heinlein, David Weber, Anne McCaffrey and Mercades Lackey, and of course Andre Norton.

Sara: What are you currently reading?

Alex: I’m rereading David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Learning how to promote the book on top of writing and editing has been a little intense, but I’m figuring it out, and Allen’s system seems to work pretty well.

Biography of the Author:
Alex has written since early childhood, and loves great stories in any form including scifi, fantasy, and mystery. Over the years, Alex has lived in many neighborhoods of the sprawling metro Atlanta area. Decatur, the neighborhood on which Clean is centered, was Alex’s college home.

On any given week you can find Alex in the kitchen cooking gourmet Italian food, watching hours of police procedural dramas, and typing madly.

You can find out more about the author and Clean at and, along with following on twitter @ahugheswriter.

Title: Clean
Author: Alex Hughes
Series: Mindspace Investigations #1

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.

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