Author Spotlight Interview: Alexa Padgett
Today’s interview is with USA Today Bestselling Author Alexa Padgett. She writes contemporary romance, mystery and fantasy and her books have garnered accolades from prestigious organizations, including Kirkus Reviews, National Indie Excellence Awards, and Publishers Weekly. It was an absolute pleasure to get to know more about her writing style, life outside of writing and upcoming projects!
HG: How would you describe yourself to somebody who isn’t familiar with your writing yet?
AP: I write deep stories about real people. Some of my books are angsty, some are emotional, all are about family, acceptance, and growth. I love all the feels.
HG: Fantastic! What feeling do you want to leave people with when they finish one of your novels?
AP: I want people to feel emotionally complete. We’ve all experienced setbacks, heartbreak, grief, frustration, anger….
I read so that I have a safe place to feel those emotions but also because I need to escape them. I think this past year made that need more acute for me, and that’s why I’m focused on creating the closure we so often do not get in our day-to-day lives.
HG: Ah, love that. Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Has it changed since the pandemic? Where and when you write?
AP: Oh, yes, it’s changed! Substantially. But, then, most people I talk to have vastly different work lives now.
My three kids came home on March 13, 2020. They have different school days, times, extracurriculars—everything. It’s crazy!
I now write in my bedroom. Seriously. It’s the only place I can shut and lock a door. Usually, I can manage two to three hours of writing time before some crisis occurs….
I also spend less time per day writing now. I can’t decide if, overall, that’s good or bad. I guess it just is.
HG: I can understand that! How do you switch gears between projects, genres?
AP: I’ve found that inspiration strikes are random. I typically have my Notes app in my phone or, better, a pen and paper in my purse to jot down snippets of ideas as they come to me.
I prefer to write a draft of one manuscript before starting another, but I do like having multiple ideas to move through in case I get really stuck in the deep murky swamp of a plot (or my mind).
I’ve learned over the years to relax when I feel blocked because my mind is busy on the problem (typically a character growth issue and occasionally a plotting one). Eventually, I find a solution, so working on something else is simply a method to get out of my own way.
HG: Fascinating! Where does the inspiration come from?
AP: I wish I knew! Life, I guess. Though, for me, I typically get a pivotal or climactic scene first before I start writing a book.
For example, I had this crazy idea for a birth scene—nothing else. But I’d wanted to write about a young, female architect who was the baby of a family of protective older brothers. From that grew the character of Aidy Wright, the heroine in Magnetic Medic that launched last week (April 4).
From that birth scene, I worked backward to create Dr. Ryder Mackay. Why was he delivering Aidy’s baby in the grocery store? What would he be feeling during the delivery? Did he have any emotions about Aidy? To her baby? I jotted down those ideas and Ryder began to take shape. Once I knew Aidy and Ryder, I was able to build out the storyline for Arrogant Architect, book two in the series that releases May 16.
Now, I’ll take the mentions of Nico from those two books and create Nico’s story. I have about one-quarter of it written already with the climax already written. I’m looking forward to that book!
HG: That’s awesome. How do you come up with the character names?
AP: Years ago, between high school and college, I worked for a doctor. I found the patients’ names fascinating, and I wanted to know their stories. I’ve paid attention to names ever since. No, I’ve never used a patient’s name. I couldn’t remember them now, anyway.
In my first series, I wanted Dahlia and Briar to have interesting flower names. Cici Gurule’s name came to me while I was on a walk. Actually, her entire character popped in my head, and I’m very thankful for that walk and my brain’s workings. Typically, though, I have to work for names.
Occasionally, when I’m writing, I type a name for a new character, and it’s like, “Okay. I guess that’s your name.”
Other times, I go look up a name I want based on nationality or meaning. Baby name websites are my friend! So are news stories, names on the radio, people I meet (which is totally limited now), the rodeo, a concert…just whatever catches my fancy.
I’ve never used a full name I’ve read or heard, but I may use either a first or last name if it suits my character.
HG: How cool! It’s so neat to hear about your processes. When did you make the plunge into becoming an author? Did you have a different career beforehand?
AP: I did. I worked as the marketing director for a sports agency, a communications coordinator for a web firm back in the very early 2000s (yes, we had a dog in the office. Wilson was a fabulous golden retriever!), an editor and proofreader for a variety of magazines in the Dallas area, and an associate literary agent for Irene Webb Literary.
Clearly, I like words. Lots of words. “Words, words, words,” as Hamlet said.
HG: Words, words, words. Switching gears, I understand you occasionally like to channel your inner Barefoot Contessa. Soooo, what’s for dinner tonight?
AP: I adore cooking. I find it relaxing. I like to sip a glass of red wine while I’m in the kitchen. It’s a great start to unwinding for the evening. My husband almost always cleans up because he’s amazing, so I don’t even have to worry about how many pots I’m using. That’s very liberating.
Last night we ate homemade barbecue chicken and pesto/tomato pizza on whole wheat crust. Tonight, it’s chicken marsala with fettuccine and roasted broccoli.
HG: Oh yum! If we weren’t in a pandemic I’d invite myself over for dinner, LOL. What else do you enjoy doing when not writing?
AP: I like to walk. My husband and I try to do a three-mile loop with our Great Pyrenees every day. Now that the weather’s warmer, we walk on our lunch break. Before Covid, one of my friends and I met up four or five mornings per week to walk our dogs together. I miss those mornings with her.
I’m just starting to get back in the habit. I’m meeting up with a friend this weekend. I haven’t seen her in a year, so I’m really looking forward to it!
I also enjoy at-home yoga videos. This was a new hobby I picked up during Covid, but I do hope I continue with my practice. I feel stronger, more settled, and I’m totally loving my better balance.
I love to read. Anything. Everything. Currently, I’m finishing Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Agatha Christie’s The Murder On The Links. I’ll probably pull up a romance on my Kindle, too. I read what I’m in the mood for, so sometimes it takes me longer to finish a specific book, especially if I get on a kick. My last one was sci-fi romances. I probably read thirty novels in that genre.
As a family, we love Friday “MCU” night. First, we went through the entire catalog of movies, then WandaVision, and now The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
My husband and I used to enjoy nice dinners out and the occasional art-house film or play. I do hope we can partake in those activities again soon.
HG: Aw, that all sounds lovely and yes hopefully pre-pandemic activities will be possible soon! Now, if you could ask your author idol one question about their writing, writing process, or books, what would it be?
AP: Hmmm….this is a tough question! But, I’m glad you didn’t ask who my writing idol is because I don’t know. There are so many fabulous authors out there that I’ve learned from over the years, whether it be gorgeous prose, unexpected metaphors, craft, or a story that kept me up way too late that I just had to finish…
I guess I’d most like to know which novel or character challenged them most. I’d like to know why and how they overcame those issues. Maybe, then, I could apply their ideas to my work.
HG: Good one! Back to your writing for a minute, what can you tell us about the projects you’re currently working on? What can readers look forward to?
AP: As I mentioned before, I’m working on Nico’s novel in The Wright Family series. I’m completing revisions on a four-novella, same-couple rock star romance series that I hope to launch late this summer or early fall.
I write mysteries under my J. J. Cagney pen name, and I sent my sixth novel in the Cici Gurule series titled Counsel of Death to the editor later this month. I’ve sketched out a cat-and-mouse thriller set in the northern American West that I hope to complete early next year.
HG: Oooh, exciting! We’ll be on the lookout. Alexa, thanks so much for taking the time to allow us to get to know you! For readers that want to find out more about your stories and future projects, where should they go to connect or learn more?
AP: I’m inevitable—LOL. Just kidding! (My mind’s still on MCU Friday night, apparently.)
I am, however, everywhere on social media Well, except TikTok. Yes, I have an account but I don’t post there. I’m most often in my Facebook Reader Group, Team Alexa. But you can find me on most social media platforms:
Want to learn more about me (and see puppy pics)? Join my Facebook Reader Group.
Meet my Great Pyr, Ash, and follow my photo musings on Instagram.
Keep up with my new releases with Bookbub.
I’d love to be in your Goodreads TBR.
Love ARCs? Join my Master List so you have first dibs on all my books.
Other places you can find me:
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