Friday, July 20, 2007

What's Fresh with Alex Richards's Back Talk

Goodbye small town hell . . . hello Big Apple!

Sixteen-year-old Gemma Winters couldn’t be more ecstatic—and terrified—about scoring a summer internship at one of the hippest daytime TV talk shows, Back Talk with Kate Morgan. To top it off, she’s staying in a palatial brownstone in Manhattan with celebutante Dana Cox (a virtual E! True Hollywood Story in the making) and world-weary millionheiress America Vanderbilt. Gemma’s corn-fed naiveté melts away as she gets a taste of designer clothes, underage clubbing . . . and a cute Jonathan Rhys Meyers look-a-like.

The glamour fades by nine a.m. when Gemma becomes slave labor for harried producers. Not even her borrowed Manolo Blahniks can shield her from an office romance turned ugly and backstabbing fellow interns. When someone is unfairly fired and a show is at risk, Gemma goes out of her way to prove this small-town girl is more than just a “photocopy bitch.”

Hi Alex! Thanks for joining us for a chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Alex: I have always wanted to be a writer, but I don't have much formal training. Both my parents, my sister, and my uncle are writers, so I guess you could say it's in the blood! I've been "starting" novels since I was about 10, but it wasn't until I turned 25 that I finally finished one. Woo hoo! I showed Back Talk to agents at the Lowenstein Yost agency and they were very interested in the book, but wanted major rewrites (I changed the ages of my characters, and overall made the book edgier). So, after several revisions and shopping Back Talk around for about 6 months (a grueling, angsty 6 months, let me tell you!), my agent sold the book to Flux (a subsidiary of Llewelyn). Flux is a new and fairly small imprint, so publicity has been a challenge, but my editor and agent both worked really hard to get Back Talk in tip-top shape. Their advice and expertise were invaluable.

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Alex: Oh man, I have a very disheveled approach to writing. I try not to set too many constraints or I get writer's block. I usually ease onto the computer with a little emailing, then start editing a previous chapter to get the motor running, and then just try to dive into a new chapter. But some days I just have to avoid it entirely and go to the movies, or the park or something. I sound like a slacker, don't I?! Seriously though, I'm a motivated person but distractions are rife when you're writing a novel.

haha! Sounds like my process, too! Please tell us about your novel, Back Talk, and what we can expect from your characters.

Alex: Back Talk (Flux, July) is a fun, sassy book about a girl with a summer internship at a daytime talk show. I used to be in "the biz" and decided I had way too many funny stories and behind-the-scenes scoop to pass up this opportunity. That was a big advantage in selling the book, but I really love the heroine, Gemma. She is a real fish-out-of-water, with a lot of naivete and neuroses, but she's lovable, and it's fun to watch her character bloom throughout the course of the book. Not to mention her two celebutante friends. They add a major spark to the novel, always keeping things interesting, causing trouble, and adding a "devil's advocate" element to the book.

Can't wait to read it, Alex. What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Alex: Yes, I do have another project in the works, but it's taken me forever to finish--I just got married, and whoa momma, was that distracting!! The new book is tentatively titled Little Rock. It's another fish-out-of-water story, but this time in the reverse. The main character is a cool, spunky 16 year old who is forced to move from NYC to Little Rock when her mother gets a new job. My heroine is a blast to write. And the story is pretty fun too, if you're into rock, gossip, cute boys, and loads of snarkiness!

Congrats on your marriage and good luck with your writing career, Alex! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Alex: Hmmm... How 'bout you give me a writing tip instead! Hehe. Okay, here's one: Don't let writer's block get you down. As I mentioned earlier, starting out editing a previous chapter (or even just paragraph) really helps ease me back into the scene and the characters. I am also anti-outline. Eventually I'll sketch something out, but at first I need to allow myself to be as creative and free as possible. I let the characters tell me what they want the story to be about. Wow, that sounds cheesy. But it's true!!

Alex Richards has always been a writer, but this is her first published novel. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and moved to New York to pursue short-lived careers in photography, film, and television production. She lives in Manhattan and makes amateur horror films for fun. Please visit her at

8 fresh comments:

alexgirl said...

Hey Kelly!
Thanks so much for the interview. That was a blast. I'm so fascinating! Hahaha.

I'm in the middle of Graffiti Girl and LOVING it. I wish it was illustrated so I could see the pieces she's working on! Are you an artist also?

TinaFerraro said...

Alex, it's so much fun to see you profiled here! BACK TALK looks like a terrific book, and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Anonymous said...

ooooh Little Rock, I love the reverse drama concept.

Kelly Parra said...

You're welcome, Alex!! Thanks for sharing with us!

You are so nice for picking up GG--thank you!! I was teen artist like Angel, but not a graf one. haha. And now I fiddle with web stuff.

I'm looking forward to picking up BT!

Kelly Parra said...

Tina & Country girl, thanks for commenting! :) :)

Jessica Burkhart said...

The book sounds great, Alex! Can't wait to read it! :)

stephhale said...

This book is burning a hole in my night stand table. I've been waiting to read it for almost a week but LIFE keeps getting in the way! Congrats (late) on your release, Alex!

Kelly Parra said...

Jess & Steph, tell us what you think when you do read BT!