I first read Lexi Revellian's Remix on Authonomy and then on Slush Pile Reader. I found the first chapter so intriguing that I bought the book once I found out it was released and I was glad I did. Remix remains entertaining throughout. Caz, the narrator, is so trusting and gets in so far over her head that you can't help but root for her as she finds herself deeper and deeper in a murder mystery. At times this is funny and at times it gets suspenseful. It was as entertaining as Janet Evanovich (that is until I read too much of her). I was happy when Lexi Revellian agreed to answer my questions here. I also posted the second part of her interview (mainly on editing and marketing her book) on Slush Pile Readers ( http://blog.slushpilereader.com/)
KJ Kron: You really hooked me with your opening scene. Where did you get that idea?
Lexi: The scene where Caz takes her breakfast on to her rooftop and finds a stranger asleep was the what if seed of the book; it just popped into my head. Everything grew from there. I rewrote the first page or two so many times – in the end I sent it to Ray Rhamey’s Flogging the Quill, and got advice which enabled me to see it with fresh eyes.
KJ: The group “The Voices In My Head” harkened me back to the first album I ever bought, the Police's Zenyatta Mondatta. Did you come up with the group’s name from that song? If not, where?
Lexi: No, it wasn’t The Police, but a chance remark of my daughter’s. She said if she had a band, she’d call it The Voices In My Head, so that when someone said, “What are you listening to?” the answer would be, “The voices in my head.” I’d just started notes for Remix, and asked if I could have it. I remember vividly where that conversation took place. My daughter’s forgotten it.
KJ: What style of music do you like and does it match up with what you imagine the “Voices” sounding like?
Lexi: I have eclectic musical tastes. Favourite tracks right now: Fast Fuse by Kasabian, Urgent by Foreigner, Let’s Go All the Way by Sly Fox. Ric Kealey is my ideal of an archetypal rock star, so I know his music would be up my street.
KJ: You write with authority about the music scene and making rocking horses. Where did you get your background information?
Lexi: I researched the music scene on the internet. I got really interested in it. The web is a fantastic resource for writers – how did people manage before? Restoring rocking horses is a hobby of mine, put on hold for the moment while I write. But I’ll get back to it. I’ve never had a horse as splendid as Saladin, alas. The best Ayres horses are fantastic; I own one, the smallest size they made, called Tadpole. He has the usual beautifully-carved head.
KJ: You have so many suspects that you kept me turning the pages (or should I say tapping my Kindle’s next page button). I was just dying to find out what was going to happen next. I’m curious, what types of books do you like and who are your favorite mystery authors?
Lexi: I’m flattered you say that (and a little disbelieving)! There aren’t that many suspects…
I don’t read mysteries much. The authors Caz reads to research how to be a detective, like Raymond Chandler and Dick Francis, are those I’ve read. The problem with mysteries is the number of suspects needed to confound the reader, so that in the final chapter, when the sleuth assembles everyone, one has no idea who did it. This hampers realistic characterization. With Agatha Christie, I don’t care who did it and a month later can’t remember either.
My favourite authors are Mary Renault and Jane Austen, but there are lots of others I love, too many to list. When I was younger I read three or four books a week.
KJ: You have a host of interesting characters, including one that was violent and unpredictable. Did you base your characters on people you know from real life or are they complete creations from your imagination?
Lexi: Almost all my characters come from developing aspects of me, though some traits I borrow from people I know. For instance, Ric is a bit like my daughter in some ways – he’s very fit, climbs and eats a lot of chocolate digestives. I know it’s a terrible cliché, but characters do grow and become wilful as you write about them. Then they influence you…I swear a lot more since writing Ric and Jeff.
Perhaps if one were entirely well-balanced it would not be possible to write fiction? It may be an asset to be interestingly conflicted with the odd dark corner here and there.
KJ: I really love how Caz is a fish out of water. Trying to figure out a case without any experience. How would you describe her – strengths and weaknesses, that type of thing?
Lexi: I wanted a narrator who was intelligent and a little naïve, like Cassandra in I Capture the Castle. Caz is kind and resourceful with a nice sense of humour, and knows she is useless at telling lies. One reviewer liked that she is a happy person, and I think that’s true.
KJ: I first read your book on Authonomy and then again on Slush Pile Reader. What was your experience like on those on-line sites?
Lexi: I was lucky to be on Authonomy right from beta days, when it was a delightful site. I absolutely loved it, and was sad when it all went so wrong. The best thing about Authonomy, apart from some of the members, was the genuinely enthusiastic response I got from readers of Remix. They were hugely encouraging, and confirmed my belief (mistaken, as it happened) that I’d written a book mainstream publishers would want. Publishers have different criteria from readers.
I’ve been neglecting Slush Pile Reader since I self-published, which is a shame as it’s a good site. Remix was at number four in the chart when I last looked. There isn’t enough time…
KJ: I just loved your book. I’ve paid full price for many a book that was not nearly as entertaining as yours. Yet, I have seen that you’ve come down in price to just 99 cents. What motivated you to drop the cost when it would be a steal at ten times that price?
Lexi: I’m an unknown writer; I want to establish a readership, and the book just wasn’t selling at a higher price. Readers are reluctant to try authors they have never heard of, never seen in a bookstore. A low price encourages them to give me a chance. I lowered the price on the advice of Eric Christopherson (author of Crack-Up). To date, I’ve sold over 17,500 copies for Kindle.
I’m wondering whether to charge more for my next novel, Unofficial Girl. Tricky decision.
KJ: So tell me about Unofficial Girl. Is it under contract or do you plan to post it on Slush Pile Reader or Authonomy?
LR: Unofficial Girl is about Beth Chandler, who works in a government research institute, and is accidentally replicated. The replica has no official existence, and when she overhears plans to experiment on her she goes on the run in what she stands up in. Meanwhile, the original Beth is unaware of what has happened, and becomes romantically involved with the spec op she believes is there to protect her; in fact, he's hunting Beth 2.
As soon as UG is ready, I plan to publish on Amazon for Kindle, and maybe produce a paperback. I'll send it to a couple of agents who asked to read my next book, but I'm not going through the whole submissions thing again - I reckon it's a waste of time unless one's book resembles a surprise hit of last year :o)
KJ: Thanks for the interview and I'm looking forward to Unofficial Girl's release. To read the rest of this interview, go to: http://blog.slushpilereader.com/