i recently had the privilege of meeting this very nice and talented man. Lex has a great sense of humor and is super smart. If you don’t know him yet you are missing out find him and introduce yourself. I am in the process of reading his first published book and let me assure you that you don’t want to miss it.
1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
I think I must have been about 8 years old. I remember being given a task at school to write a story for children younger than ourselves. I really enjoyed doing it and got a really good response from my teacher. I might have dabbled with stories before then, I’m sure creative writing was a task in school at ages younger than 8. But that’s the first one I remember that ‘mattered’, I guess. The first time I’d taken it seriously and really thought about the audience, about who I was writing for.
2. How many books have you written?
That’s a complicated question. I’ve got one published, but have written at least 4 others that aren’t published yet. Those are in various states of being submitted, or edited or redrafted. So let’s just say “a few”.
3. Anything you won’t write about?
This in no way a comment on those who choose to write about it, but for me I have zero interest in those ‘real life abuse’ stories. The ones you see with a sad-looking child on the front and it’s called “mum didn’t stop him” or something similar. I don’t want to get my head into that as a reader, never mind as a writer, so I just stay well clear. I know it happens, I know that writing about it for victims is cathartic in some cases, I am totally and completely respectful of that. But for me, as someone who didn’t go through anything of the sort, there is simply no need to put my head into that kind of place.
4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…
I’m 31 at the time of writing this. Not married but live with my girlfriend. I do have another job which can be explained simply as that I test software and try to break it.
5. What’s your favorite book you have written?
That’s tricky because I generally do so many drafts of each book, spend so much time on each one, that I hate it for some time afterwards as I’m sick of seeing it. It’s only down the line that I start to look at it with the benefit of distance and actually see the positives in it. That said, my own personal favourite is a series of books I am looking to get published called the Harkins series. It’s a complex story, but I suppose I’d say that series is the one I would most likely buy myself if I wasn’t the author. It follows a Victorian detective who sees the dead, but rather than the typical ‘upper class’ detective of Victorian fiction, he’s a bit rough and ready. He’ll loosen a couple of teeth and break some ribs before he’ll start analyzing your gait and the way you tie your neckerchief. It’s refreshing to write and (hopefully) refreshing to read.
6. Who or what inspired you to write?
The aforementioned teacher in question 1. I’d never really considered writing as a serious exercise until then, but after that I really thought about it. As I got older and started writing for leisure, it was always his initial encouragement that came back to me. I think when somebody sees something in you, especially at an early age, and offers encouragement (without becoming one of those pushy parent types) then that stays with you. In fact when it’s not a parent that probably counts for more. Of course your mum will say you’re the best at things, it’s your mum. But a teacher isn’t forced to, so when they spot that you’re a wonderful singer or a great poet, it’s probably worth paying attention.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I have quite a large and varied group of friends, and we do everything from day trips to DVD nights to game nights to full-on parties. I think it’s important to have different types of friends who will suggest different types of activities, so you get to try various things. If you don’t like one of them then you don’t do it again, but it’s better to give it a go at least once. I also read a lot, of course, but I think that’s so much a given for a writer that you can probably assume it without it even being said!
8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?
Have a few days of not writing or thinking about writing. It doesn’t sound like much, but for me it really is. My head is constantly full of stories. I’m one of those people that can happily sit in a room on my own for hours, because I’m not really ‘there’, I’m watching the latest story play out in my head. Once I’ve finished a book, it’s like a mental purge where nobody is living in my head for a few days. The ‘house’ is temporarily empty for a short time, so I just enjoy the quiet until the new residents move in.
9. Where do you write? Quiet or music?
I don’t have an office at home as such, and I’ve learned to write pretty much anywhere. If you become the sort of person who demands silence then you end up like Jack Nicholson in the Shining. Unless you live alone in the middle of the woods, you won’t get silence. Other people have lives too, you can’t expect the world to stop so you can write a story. There’s always going to be someone mowing the lawn or watching TV or singing and dancing. So no, I don’t need it quiet. As for music, I usually like to listen to music before I start writing, to set the right tone for where my head needs to be. Once I’m really into it then music becomes white noise in the background the same as everything else, so at that point it’s irrelevant whether it’s playing or not.
One of my “pet peeves” in the writing world is divas who can’t write unless they’re in an empty room with their particular brand of green tea and the right music playing, the temperature in the room just perfect and the walls painted just the right shade. It shouldn’t be that hard, just sit and write your story. If you’re putting more effort into the prep than you are your words then something is wrong.
10. Anything you would change about your writing?
I think I have a tendency to over-explain things sometimes. It’s hard to judge how subtly some things can safely be expressed, and when it’s vital to the story that the reader “gets” certain things, I think I worry too much about how clear it needs to be. The reverse is bad too, of course. Under explaining things and being intentionally vague can come across as pretentious, so it’s a bit of a tightrope walk.
11. What is your dream? Famous writer?
Ideally I would of course like my work to be successful enough that I’m on best seller lists, that people know my name, that TV and film adaptations are being made etc. All of that is the ‘dream’, but dream is the right word. When you look, really look, at the sort of people who meet that description, they generally fall into two categories: Lucky, or extremely dedicated.
For some people it’s ‘right place right time’. They happened to submit just the right type of story at just the right time for it to completely dominate the market.
For others they are ridiculously prolific. You hear about people like Stephen King who never stop writing. Every day they are at it, even Christmas or their birthday. With that kind of effort, combined with their obvious talent, you could argue they can’t help but become massively successful over time.
And this is where we as writers have to be honest about where we fall. For me personally, I’m not the second type. I love writing, I really do. I love people reading it and love knowing they’re enjoying it. But if I’m honest, it’s not the be all and end all of my life. I have other things beyond it that matter to me just as much. And for that reason I can’t realistically see myself as the type that writes morning noon and night every single day to the detriment of every other aspect of my life. I love writing, I just don’t “live it”. Some people do, and that’s fine. And those people will probably be more successful than me as a result, and that’s fine too. I guess some readers may be surprised by hearing that level of honesty from a writer, but frankly why lie to yourself? For one thing spending that much time doing nothing but writing would put too much pressure on me and effectively ruin the enjoyment of writing. And if you’re not enjoying what you’re writing, if it’s become too much like work, too focused on making sales, then I think that comes through on the page. I’d hate to be giving that to the reader. If someone’s spent money on my book, I want them to get as much enjoyment from it as possible. Not for them to be holding something I rushed through so I could start making sales as I was worried about paying the mortgage this month.
As for the second option, just being lucky, I don’t know. I haven’t yet, but I have lots more books in me so time will tell.
12. Where do you live?
I live in Sheffield in the North of England. If you watch Game of Thrones, Sean Bean (Ned Stark) comes from the same place in real life, and all the characters in the North based their accent on his. So that’s how I sound. And yes, people frequently tell me that I know nothing.
I have 3 cats, 3 chinchillas and the world’s fattest hamster.
14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I like getting lost in stories, whether I’m reading them, watching them or even playing them via a video game. Writing is an opportunity to get lost in a story of my own making, that can change any time I want it to. I love that feeling. Like I’m making my own world. And then I get to share it with people.
My facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/LexHJones
My twitter is @LexHJones
Amazon links for my first book:
As always, thank you Lex for letting us get to know you better. I wish you all the success and happiness!