Behind the Words with Alexis Morgan
Welcome, Alexis, we’re excited to have you on Reader’s Entertainment. First, tell our readers a bit about yourself.
Where you’re from, where you live? Is writing your full-time job?
I grew up near St. Louis and earned my BA in English at the University of Missouri—St. Louis, where I also met my husband. We eventually moved to the Seattle area because we wanted to live near mountains. After all this time, I still love seeing the Cascades and Olympics in the distance, not to mention the volcanoes that tower over them.
I’ve held several different jobs over the years, but I’ve been a full-time writer for the past fifteen years.
How long have you been writing?
My first book, a short contemporary romance, came out in 1993. Since then, I’ve published about forty-five full length books along with several novellas and short stories. I’ve mostly written different types of romances (American West, contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal), but my most recent books are all part of a cozy mystery series.
What is a typical day of writing like:
For me, I usually start my writing day getting caught up on email and checking in on my social media accounts. After that, I read the pages that I wrote the previous day to correct typos, to catch word repetitions, and correct grammar. Oddly, it’s the word repetitions that are the hardest to find. I know it sounds weird, but I seem to have a new favorite adjective or phrase in each book I write. Seriously, I wrote one story where literally something brought every major character “to their knees”—a punch, a kiss, a shocking discovery. Reading the previous day’s pages also serves to get me back into the flow of the story and helps get me going again. I try to write 5-8 pages a day, but life sometimes interferes. As a result, I actually set a weekly goal rather than a daily one.
When I’m between books, I’m usually plotting the next story I want to write. That might mean researching something that will play a key role in the plot or picking out names for new characters, which is harder than you might think. I try not to use names I’ve used before, but that is getting more difficult considering the number of books I’ve written.
To keep everything organized, I use a different three-ring binder for each book. Like most writers I know, I love going to the office supply store and get really excited when I discover a new color of notebook! I include sections for a spreadsheet of the characters, pictures of what I think they look like, floor plans for their homes and places of business, and any research articles or notes that I may need to refer to as I write the book.
As much as I enjoy all of the bits and pieces that go into writing a book, I really think the best part about being a writer is getting to share my stories with readers.
Tell us about your latest release? Where the idea came from? Perhaps some fun moments, or not so fun moments?
My latest release is DEATH BY AUCTION, my third Abby McCree Mystery. It’s a cozy mystery series set in the fictional town of Snowberry Creek near the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. I started off with the idea of Abby having to organize a bachelor/bachelorette auction to raise money for the local veterans group. The auction will be followed by a USO-style dance. It’s been a lot of work for her. The one plus is that she plans to bid on Tripp, her handsome tenant, so they can attend the dance together.
Unfortunately, a last second sniper bid from a beautiful stranger puts an end to that dream. I should probably apologize to Abby for letting her find out in such a public way that Trip had been married at some point in the past. Since she’s divorced herself, that wasn’t the problem. It was more that Tripp’s ex is tall, gorgeous, successful, and apparently determined to rekindle what the two of them shared in the past. To help deal with the situation, Abby comes up with a secret nickname for the woman—she calls her the Barnacle because of the way Valerie clings to Tripp every chance she gets. I’m never sure where my subconscious comes up with details like that, but it was perfect for the story and still makes me smile.
Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book? Perhaps a juicy bit of back-story, or something only you know about a character.
Actually, there is one ongoing mystery that has continued from the first book all the way through this current one—what Tripp’s major is at the university. Not long before the first book began, Tripp retired after twenty years in the Special Forces and went back to school to finish college. So far, he hasn’t told Abby (or me, for that matter) what degree he is pursuing. It’s become an ongoing joke between the two of them as she tries to figure it out. Some of her guesses have been pretty funny—somehow I can’t quite picture him as a kindergarten teacher. ☺
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? Why?
I have a hard time writing characters who are behaving in ways that are not exactly likeable. I really struggle to not soften their edges to make them more appealing to the reader. The real answer is to make it clear why they act the way they do, so the readers can understand the motivation behind their questionable behavior. In the case of Death by Auction, I had a hard time writing about Valerie, Tripp’s ex-wife. At times, she comes across as incredibly selfish, but eventually Abby realizes that a lot can be forgiven if some of Val’s bad behavior stems from a need to protect someone she cares about.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
I think I would like to be Bridey Kyser, the owner of Something’s Brewing, the local bakery/coffee shop. It’s located on Main Street right in the heart of Snowberry Creek. I’d love to spend a day seeing the town through her eyes and chatting with the steady stream of customers who pass through her shop every day. People love to talk to Bridey, and I would learn so much more about the town and the people who live there.
All writers are readers. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Both as a reader and writer, fully developed characters are the most important element in a story. After all, if I don’t care about the people in a book, why would I care what happens to them? With that in mind, I’d have to say Linda Howard is one author who influenced me very early on in my career. I always cared about the characters she created because of the powerful emotional impact her storytelling had on the reader. I definitely wanted to learn how to create that special connection with readers in in my own stories. Suzanne Brockmann is another author whose writing had a profound effect on my storytelling. She has an amazing talent for creating and managing a large ensemble cast of characters, which adds so much depth to the world in her books. As a result, the reader is always glad to spend more time with the community of people who surround the main character in her books. That’s why I try to make Snowberry Creek, the town where Abby McCree now lives, as real and three dimensional as possible.
Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!
A Mocha Frappuccino always goes a long way toward making everything better!
Do you have a favorite quote about writing that inspires you?
I have a plaque sitting on the bookcase that I think really explains the nature of a writer’s mind. It reads: Madness does not always howl. Sometimes, it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “Hey, is there room in your head for one more?”
Thank you so much for being with us today, Alexis!
Here’s a look at Alexis’ latest release DEATH BY AUCTION…………………
Not only did Abby McCree inherit her aunt’s house in Snowberry Creek, Washington, she inherited a handsome tenant and a whole lot of trouble . . .
It’s hard to say no to Tripp Blackston. That’s how Abby found herself on yet another committee, organizing a bachelors’ auction to raise money for Tripp’s veterans group. The former Special Forces soldier is mortified when Abby enlists him to be one of the prizes, but she has a covert plan to bid on him herself. Before she can, she’s foiled by a sniper bid from a gorgeous stranger, who turns out to be Tripp’s ex-wife, Valerie.
Still reeling from the shock that Tripp was married and wondering what his ex is suddenly doing in town, Abby goes looking to pay the auction’s emcee, radio personality Bryce Cadigan. She finds him in the parking lot, dead in his car. Valerie appears to be the last one to have seen Bryce alive, so she’s the cops’ best bid for suspect. When she asks Tripp for help—and lodgings—it’s Abby’s turn to block by inviting Val to stay with her. But did she just open her home to a murderer?
YOU CAN PURCHASE DEATH BY AUCTION AT:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
USA Today Best-selling author Alexis Morgan graduated from the University of Missouri—St. Louis, with a B.A. in English. She has always loved reading and now spends her days imagining worlds filled with strong alpha heroes and gutsy heroines. She is the author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; and contemporary romances. She is excited about her latest venture—The Abby McCree Mysteries from Kensington Publishing.
Find out more about Alexis and her books at: