We’re finally back with my Author Spotlights and this time, I was honored with the presence of fiery personality and horror author, Alexander James, known as @DrunkScribe on Twitter. He was featured in not one, but two episodes of the Don’t Make It Weird podcast, and is currently on sub, which we get to talk about below!
You’re a chef. You’re a writer. It would seem obvious and yet, you’re not a food critic? Was there ever a point where you thought of becoming a food critic?
AJ: Absolutely not. I’ve met some atrocious food critics who were complete snobs and it put me off the profession. There are some good ones, to be sure, but mostly I find they’re out to belittle and besmirch hardworking chefs.
We know you’re a Sag King, but what is your Hogwarts House?
AJ: 100% Slytherin, but that’s a surprise to no one. I like to flatter myself that I’ve got a little Ravenclaw smarty-pants in me, but that’s as much a piece of fiction as most of my books.
What story, movie, book, conspiracy, urban legend, etc introduced you to the horror genre and which of those made you realize you wanted to write in that genre?
AJ: In 6th grade, Will Klayman started bragging that he’d been reading a scary book. I went home and told my parents I wanted to read a scarier book than whatever Will Klayman was reading. My father handed me Stephen King’s seminal classic, It. Beyond that (because everyone and their mother has a Stephen King origin story) I’d have to say telling spooky stories around campfires growing up. There’s still always something special to me about the ritual. The smoke in your lungs, the creeping darkness in your peripheral vision.
I understand you’re on sub. The decision to go the traditional route had to be a difficult one, with the accessibility of self-publishing right at your fingertips. What steered you towards traditional publishing?
AJ: I’m desperate for external validation. But I also got overwhelmed very early by the flood of things one has to do to become successful at self-publishing. There’s marketing, sales, cover designs, blurbs, where to get it bound if you choose… it seemed easier to me to just write a better book and have an agent sell it for me. It is a tough choice, though. I recognize how lucky I am.
Do you set reading and writing goals for yourself? If so, what does that look like for you (monthly, yearly resolutions, etc.)?
AJ: When I’m drafting, 3k a day. I’ll sometimes treat myself and take Sundays off. I wrote three books and edited another two in 2021 and that felt pretty good. I think I’ll try that again for 2022.
As a chef, what are your opinions on Gordon Ramsay and how do you feel about the Great British Bake-Off (give it to me gently if you hate the latter, because it’s one of my comfort shows)?
AJ: Gordon Ramsay occupies a venerated exception in my overall opinion about Food Network shows, which generally speaking I find to be the most rotton form of excrement. He started in truly legit, Michelin-starred restaurants, and is making his money now from a persona. I consider him to be more a skilled actor than a chef, but he is still a chef. British Bake-Off, however, is one of my all-time comfort shows. It’s amazing.
What does your writing routine look like? Would you consider yourself a pantser, plantser or planner?
AJ: My alarm goes off at 4:45. I’m in front of the computer with coffee by 4:50, then it’s a hard sprint until I have to leave for work at 5:30. I can usually get a thousand words, maybe 1200 if I really know where the scene is going. Then work, blah blah boring, and as soon as I get home and shower, it’s back to writing. Whatever it takes to get to 3k words for the day and then I can take a break.
I’m 100% a planner – I need a strong outline to start a book. It inevitably shoots off the rails from there, but by that point I know who the characters are and I can trust them to lead me wherever they need to!
Do you have any future projects for 2022, and how much can you spoil for us?
AJ: I DO. My agent and I are going on sub with a novel about a kid coming up through the Michelin-starred restaurants of San Francisco and New York while struggling with addiction and mental health issues. I can tell you it was frighteningly easy to write, because it’s exactly what would have happened to me if I hadn’t seen it coming and made other, smarter choices.
Last, and most importantly, if you were any monster or ethereal horroshow being, what would you be and why?
AJ: Great question. I quite like the idea of a fear-based shapeshifter like It, but that feels like I’m punching above my weight. I’m gonna go with Clockwerk, the evil-genius mechanical owl from the Sly Cooper video game series. He declared intellectual war on Sly Cooper‘s treacherous, ring-tailed ancestors and nursed a hatred for 2000 years, replacing his body with machinery as they failed with time, until he was entirely machine and insane. I aspire to much the same fate.