Interview with Alex Gates, author of The Girls On Poppy Drive
18 Oct 2017
What can you tell us about your new release, The Girls On Poppy Drive?
Poppy Drive might be my favorite book yet, but it’s hard to describe without giving a ton of twists away. Basically, it’s a suburban nightmare—over seven years, three little girls have been kidnapped from a single street. The book is full of surprises, but I think my favorite element is that it focuses more on the heroine (Detective London McKenna) than on any graphic or terrible heart-breaking material. The book really examines how a terrible case can impact the investigator—her professional life, her interactions with the victims, and what happens to her relationship when she brings that darkness home.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I remember reading Harry Potter as a kid…and hating it. Probably the only kid in the world who wasn’t a fan, but I figured…if JK Rowling can do it, I can too. (Don’t worry, lower the pitchforks, JK and I are cool now.) I had always wanted to write and used to do little stories, so in seventh grade, I started writing my first fantasy series. By the time I reached college, that series was over three hundred thousand words long and was just terrible.
But I learned a lot from it—including the rush you get when you finish a book. So I started another….then another…Eventually romance seemed more popular than anything, so I ducked into romance and have two successful romance pen names which no one will ever learn. 😉
Once I was a bit stable, I started writing the Detective London McKenna series, and now nothing will ever be the same. Thrillers and crime novels are my lifeblood. I love them!
What’s the last book you read?
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. The man was an absolute genius. I love, love, love his entire Discworld series.
What fictional literary world would you mot like to viit?
It’s not fictional, but I’m addicted to Minecraft at the moment. I’d love a world full of diamond blocks as big as your head!
Hmm…my books are set in Pittsburgh…that’s not really fun. If it has to be literary…I’d say the world in the Riddle Master of Hed series by Patricia A McKillip. It’s not a world where there’s the imminent invasion of orcs or any sort of impending destruction. Just a quaint sort of small-town rural fiefdom type life. People in the hero’s kingdom are just making ale and sweeping floors. Sort of like the world in In The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Nothing too dangerous, just good old fashioned medieval romanticism. No antibiotics or internet, but at least you’re not in imminent danger of dagger impalement
What’s a typical day like for you?
I’ll warn you…it isn’t glamorous. If I’m under a time crunch, I might not see the sun for a couple weeks.
I’ll wake up, sit at my computer, and I’ll alternate twenty minutes of writing with ten minutes of the computer game Overwatch (Mercy Main, woo!) and just try to write it all down.
Unfortunately, this summer was a bit rough. I had to take some time off writing because I lost my father, so I had to write Poppy in about a month. Most of it was sitting at my desk for sixteen hours at a time just working my butt off. But I honestly think I work better with impending, dire deadlines.
Fortunately, my husband is amazing. He takes care of everything—food, laundry, bills, etc. He’s either the most supportive man I know, or he’s a complete enabler to this madness. I think it’s a bit of both. 😉
What makes your world go round? Why does it bring you joy?
My husband, but that’s a corny answer.
I love sushi. It’s probably my biggest motivator. We can get sushi when I’m done writing the chapter? Well, hot damn. Looks like I’m killing off this particular character so I can get my rainbow roll!
Of course, the real story behind the sushi is that it’s a date with my husband. Something fun we can do together as time away from my computer. When we go out, I can be a normal person again who is actually dressed, wearing makeup, styling my hair, not just tossing on a pair of sweats and heading to the computer to work. 😉
What scene in The Girls On Poppy Drive was your favorite to write?
The epilogue, lol! And I can’t say what it is, what it involves, or why it’s important except to say that it’s setting up the fourth book in the series, and that is the one everyone has been dying to read. It answers all the questions about London’s past, and it should be fantastic. So…essentially, I wrote eighty thousand words of Poppy Drive just to get to the epilogue. Ha!
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I feel like I *should* have something, but I also feel like Dory from Finding Nemo – Just keep writing, just keep writing…
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