I can’t believe we’re at the end of June already and it’s time for author spotlight number four! I’m so happy to have Alexa Milne joining me to talk about her writing and her new novel, His Perfect Companion, which is out now.
So over to you Alexa…
First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi everyone. My name is Alexa Milne. I write romance stories. I was born in Wales but have lived in the north of England for forty years. I am nearly fifty-nine. I came into writing late on in my life after thirty years as a teacher. I started with fanfiction like many others then wrote my own. My first novel, Sporting Chance was published in November 2014.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I always find this one hard to answer. I’m more of a pantster than a plotter. However, I usually start with an idea for how two people meet. After this I get an A3 sheet of paper and mind map ideas for family/friends, past history, current situation, events that could happen, motives, wants and needs. Some get used. Others don’t. I have a character list for those things like who they are and what they look like which I add to as I go along. After this, I write. From here the story can go anywhere and usually does. Some stories are driven by angst and others more fluffy.
Describe your books in only three words.
Sweet, angsty, sexy.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?
My next book out is His Perfect Companion. It goes on general release on 23rd June. This book is a completely rewritten and reedited version of Rainbow Connection, a book previously published five years ago. The truth is that I was never happy with the story then so when I got the rights back, it gave me an opportunity to write the story as I wanted it. I’ve added 12K words and a completely new epilogue so now Mick and Ceri get the story they deserve. The book has a new title and cover which may tell you that one of my favourite TV programmes influences the story.
At the start of the story, Mick is a security guard, hiding himself away. Ceri delivers the water to fill the water coolers and fill the vending machines. They both have ordinary lives—sort of. These two men, with very little in common to look at them, find they share a love of Doctor Who. Each is intrigued by the other and through Doctor Who, they get to know each other, and as this is a romance, fall in love. But Mick has a past, and the question is can he get over it and allow Ceri to offer him a future?
Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
Tough question. I usually say the first one, Sporting Chance because it was the first book I wrote. I also learned a hell of a lot editing it with a professional editor. Completing it has fed into everything I’ve done since
What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Other writers. Before I started writing Sporting Chance, I’d read hardly any romance, let alone gay romance. I read lots of books in the genre and learned how to write, to shape a story, to create tension, or write a sex scene. I also learned the romance rules, though I don’t always follow them.
What inspired you to start writing?
One event got me writing back in 2009 when I started writing fanfiction. I am a huge fan of the TV series, Torchwood. In 2009, the writers killed off the character of Ianto Jones. The fandom exploded. I’d never even heard of fandoms until I looked for others as upset as myself and discovered stories. I decided to write my own to change the narrative and bring Ianto back. Eventually, I wrote somewhere around ¾ of a million words of fanfiction.
What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
There is no such thing as a typical day. I do as I said above. Most days. I stare at my laptop. On some days, words appear. I used to try to write 1000 words a day and 5000 a week but now, with things that have gone on in my life recently, not to mention the rest of the world, I write what I can and when I can. I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it. Last year I managed to produce three stories. This year, I’m two chapters away from finishing a two book story with the same MCs. For me, every word counts.
What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
I usually get an idea for how two people meet. Then I try to find out who the people are, what they want, etc. So I suppose I’m more character driven. The plot is always getting a happy ending. How this happens, is the story.
What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
In the genre, Memorizing You by Dan Skinner. It’s a beautiful book that made a huge impression on me. Dan’s language is so intelligent, it makes me feel like an adult simply reading it.
If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I suppose, if I write a trope, it tends to be that opposites attract. I love characters to find common ground that brings them together, whether that’s a love of Doctor Who, a fascination with lace panties, sharing a car, or a need the other fulfils.
What would be your three desert island books?
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein, Maurice, by EM Forster, and can I cheat and say The Widdeshins series by Jordan L Hawk?
If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
Sporting Chance – I love the thought of all those rugby games. Casting – tricky. Chris Hemsworth is nearest to Dan, the rugby player but he’s a bit old now. Recently, I’ve watched Schitts Creek so I might cast Dan Levy as Iestyn or my original choice, Gareth David Lloyd who played Ianto jones. There’s a role for John Barrowman in there somewhere too
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
When I’m not writing, I’m generally reading or watching TV. Though lately I’ve been working on a puzzle–I love researching family trees. I’ve done my own and others for friends. During the lockdown, I’ve taken to finding an interesting person on the 1911 UK census and seeing where their family came from. I find it absorbing.
Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I like a triceratops.
Originally from South Wales, Alexa has lived for over thirty years in the North West of England. Now retired, after a long career in teaching, she devotes her time to her obsessions.
Alexa began writing when her favourite character was killed in her favourite show. After producing a lot of fanfiction she ventured into original writing.
She is currently owned by a mad cat and spends her time writing about the men in her head, watching her favourite television programmes and usually crying over her favourite football team.