Weis, Alexandrea

Novelspot Talks To author Alexandrea Weis

What is the most important thing that people DON'T know about your subject/genre that they need to know? 
That it is not for the squeamish. I tend to write graphic stories with bent characters that can leave a person either chilled to the bone or highly intrigued. Stay away if you have a sensitive stomach or find graphic violence not your cup of tea. The details that help make the characters, and many of my books, especially in the thriller genre, come with trigger warnings.
What inspires you? 
Inspiration is everywhere for me, especially where I live. I can come up with a book or series idea while driving to Walmart. Southeast Louisiana is a rich place, and you can’t help but write about it. The history, the atmosphere, I never run out of ideas.  
How did you get to be where you are in your life today? 
A lot of bloody hard work. It takes writing, rewriting, and working with editors to grow as a writer. I’ve been fortunate to work with some outstanding editors and be surrounded by talented writers. Being a writer is a continually changing process. You can never stop evolving.
What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?
To never stop writing and to stay out of my way. Overthinking can be a burden to many writers. You have to let your creative beast free and write without overanalyzing things. Save that for editing. To improve as a writer, you must learn to listen to that inner voice. Getting better comes from working with others, such as other writers and editors, so be open to criticism and willing to accept help with a WIP.  

I agree with you there! I was at a conference once where they called that "vomiting on the page." It's so true.  
Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

Full-time. I write my books and also work as a ghostwriter for a publisher. So writing several books a year has become the norm for me. 
What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example. 
I am an RN, have an advanced practice degree, and have worked for over thirty years as a nurse in ICU, telemetry, OR, and teaching nursing in the university setting. Seeing people at their worst and best profoundly affected me as a writer. It made me more aware of the human condition and better able to understand the motivation of characters.
A profession like RN gets you close to people in times of crisis must provide a unique perspective that gives you special insight. 
For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your books, where should they start? 
That things are never what they seem, and people can surprise you. I wanted River of Ashes to be a book that was a wake-up call for many young women who are looking for their prince charming. It’s a cautionary tale about not always believing that the boy next door is perfect. He could be a murderer. 
How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing? 
The reader should have choices for what works best for them, whether e-book or print. So I have no preference. As a writer, you want to get your story out there in any way possible. The same goes for publishing. I’m all for any avenue that can get a book to readers. I’ve self-published and worked with a small press. There are pros and cons for both, but I enjoy the challenges.  
What do you think is the future of reading/writing? 
There will always be readers and writers. There might be more AI to help put books together, write them, put them into audiobooks, and sell them, but nothing can replace human imagination.
What process did you go through to get your book published? 
It’s a long process. Writing the book is only the beginning. After I finish going through the novel a few times, it is off for content editing. Then after making those changes, it goes for line editing. Once I have a pretty tight draft, I send it to beta readers. Then the manuscript goes for proofing before finally ending up with the formatter. This is a process that can take months up to a year. After you finally have the book to bed, there is the marketing process. That’s a whole other process.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
I would hope it’s the characters. I consider myself a character writer, and I love the process of giving depth and meaning to everything a character does. The story is always important, but what would Star Wars be without the characters? Building memorable characters is essential. I come from a colorful city with so many charismatic people something had to rub off.
How do you find or make time to write?

It is like exercising. You make the time no matter what. After a while, you find you have to do something every day. Otherwise, you don’t feel accomplished. 
Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.
There is an outline developed, especially in thrillers. There are so many intricacies you have to plot everything out. The characters are another story. I get a feel for them, but as the book develops, the characters come alive for me and often change. I plot out what may happen, but the characters evolve, and I usually have to go back through the book to add insights and idiosyncrasies. It’s a process that works for me.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? 
I always had an inclination toward writing but never considered myself a writer. It just took me a while to figure that out. I studied creative writing in high school but pursued a different path in college, studying nursing. By the time I finished my Ph.D., I was reading to get back to writing. That is when I wrote my first novel.  
What do you do when you are not writing? 
I am a permitted wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. When not writing, I am rescuing orphaned and injured wildlife. Animals are my passion.
I didn't know that! I'm a real animal nut myself, and wish I were qualified in that way, even though I'm living in a metropolis with a home owners association that would have a collective cow if I brought home so much as a frog. I'm very impressed and inspired to take a look at some of your books. You're so prolific, I can't imagine where you find the time!