Monday, October 10, 2011

Alma Alexander - 2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens - Author Interview

My thanks to Alma Alexander for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for an author interview about her book, 2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens.

1. How did you come up with the title?
Spanish Gardens is (or at least was, since it is no longer among us...) a real place, and one which I used to frequent on a regular basis when I was a student at the University of Cape Town in the 80's. It was the world's best kept secret, and it really did look and feel exactly as I describe it in the book - there were no signposts for it, no indication that it existed at all, and you only knew to find it if somebody who already knew it was there told you about it or took you there. It was a deeply magical place, and one which would have inevitably found its way into my fiction - I am just surprised that it took so long... as for the 2012 part, I set the book at the "end of the world". In a nutshell the title was almost self-generating - a time and a place - and what better location to face an ultimate choice than in a magical place where you can only tell the truth and at a time when you may not have a chance to take anything back...?

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
This is the ultimate game of "what if". The question I want the reader to be left with, perhaps, is simply, "In a similar situation, what would YOU do?" But ramifications of that include a look at what, in your current (and as far as you know your only) life on this earth, do you hold dear - and what are you willing to give up...?

3. How much of the book is realistic?

As I said, the location WAS a real place and will be recognized by its ex-regulars (down to the fact that it DID make the best Irish Coffees on the planet, bar none). Of course the central premise of the book is fanciful - a choice to "change lives" - but the lives themselves, the choices within the choices, these are very very real. The issues are real, and they are explored in a real way. I think all good fiction is "realistic" in the sense that it has to be a very good lie for it to engage a willing sense of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Here, I think I take the reader on a journey some of which may be hauntingly familiar for some. I would love to hear back, in the fullness of time, if this in fact turned out to be the case for individual readers...

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
No. I told the story that I wanted to tell.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
In some ways this is a very personal book for me. Some of the choices in here...touch me. It was occasionally hard to write through that. But I am a storyteller and this was a story. That is what I do.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Came to terms with a few of my own life choices. And, no, I won't say what those were - but we all have them, at crossroads in our lives, when we have to make a decision to turn left or turn right and a life-change hangs on it. Mostly, a confirmation that the only set of expectations that anyone can reasonably be expected to live up to is your own, not somebody else's, not even if that somebody else is somebody who loves you. How you live your own life is ultimately up to you.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No, because I have ALWAYS had it. I grew up with the words playing hopscotch in my brain. I was writing awful juvenile poetry when I was five years old; I wrote my first novel at 11, my first GOOD novel at 14. I've ALWAYS been a writer.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This is a questions often asked and one I really really do not feel equipped to answer without a book-length response - because I have so MANY writers whom I admire, for so many different reasons. I read... a lot. A LOT. Favorites include Tolkien, Zelazny, Le Guin; Henryk Sienkiewicz; Ivo Andric; Sharon Penman; China Mieville. Guy Gavriel Kay. Howard Spring. The list goes on. The thing that I admire in most of these writers boils down to an understanding of people and what makes them tick, which makes for excellent and believable characters which in turn makes the stories that they are starring in interesting and engrossing.

9. Tell us your latest news.
Working on the next (and final) book, to be published in two parts next year, in my YA Worldweavers series. It is shaping to be an excellent story, but it's a tough one to write - and it's keeping me busy...

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yep - trying something new - if you're looking for something to read that's nice and short, I'm putting out a series of ebook editions of themed collections of my stories - three stories per book, known as the Alexander Triads. The first two, "Once upon a Fairy Tale" and "Cat Tales," are out both at Smashwords and at Amazon - go take a look!

About the Book
2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens

Book Details:
Price: $3.99, ebook
Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC
Published: July 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

Choices at the End of the World

On the eve of the end of the world, 20 December 2012, five friends meet in Spanish Gardens, the cafe where they had celebrated their college graduation 20 years before. Over Irish coffees, they reminisce - and reveal long-held and disturbing secrets.

Each friend in turn is given a curious set of instructions by an enigmatic bartender named Ariel:

"Your life is filled with crossroads and you are free to choose one road or another at any time. Stepping through this door takes away all choices except two -- the choice to live a different life, or return to this one...."

Each in turn passes through the portal and are faced with new lives and challenges. Their decisions show a new life -- or something far worse. Ar the end of the world, it's a chance for redemption, or a chance to learn something about themselves.

International bestselling author, Alma Alexander, mixes a world or possibilities and paths. What if you could change the past -- go right instead of left, fall in love with a different person, change careers or families, or even change your sex. 2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens brings those choices to life.

About the Author
Alma Alexander

Alma A. Hromic (who now writes as Alma Alexander) was born in 1963 in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, on the shores of the river Danube. Her father's employment with international aid agencies meant that the family spent twenty years living in various countries in Africa, including Zambia, Swaziland, and South Africa.

Educated in the United Kingdom and South Africa, Alma graduated from the University of Cape Town with an MSc in Microbiology in 1987. She quickly left the lab in order to write about it instead, and spent several years running a scientific journal for the Allergy Society of South Africa before she moved to New Zealand in 1994. She also worked as a literary critic for several publications in South Africa and England.

In New Zealand, she obtained an editorial position with an international educational publisher, where she worked for several years. In 1995 she wrote Houses in Africa (David Ling Publishing Limited, New Zealand; ISBN 0-908990-30-8), a revealing and often-amusing memoir of her two decades in Africa. The same year, she published The Dolphin's Daughter and Other Stories (Longman UK; ISBN 0582122104), a bestselling book of three fables. She has had numerous pieces of short fiction and nonfiction published internationally in South Africa, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

In 1999, when NATO launched a war against her native country, Alma started an often-tumultious e-mail correspondence with R. A. "Deck" Deckert, a freelance writer and former copy editor, wire editor and news editor for metropolitan newspapers including the Miami Herald and the Miami News. Their correspondence became the basis of an epistolary novel about these dramatic events, Letters from the Fire (HarperCollins New Zealand; ISBN 1-86950-336-8). This book went from concept to publication in fewer than five months. Alma and Deck were married in June, 2000, and she now lives in the northwestern United States.

Her fantasy duology The Hidden Queen and Changer of Days (originally published as Changer of Days vol. 1 and 2 in New Zealand in 2001 and 2002), was released in the United States in 2005. The Secrets of Jin-shei was published in the U.S. in 2004 in hardcover and 2005 in paperback and is currently available in twelve languages worldwide (including Turkish, Lituanian, and Hebrew) and is a bestseller in Spain. The follow-up, Embers of Heaven, published in the UK in September 2006, is available in five languages. Alma's latest project is the Worldweavers young adult trilogy, which debuted with Gift of the Unmage in 2007 and was followed by Spellspam in 2008 and Cybermage in 2009. A Polish edition of the first book has already been published.

She is working on a number of new ideas for the next decade of the 21st century.





  1. Sounds wonderful. :D I'll be sure to pick up a copy and I look forward to the next in the the World Weavers series! Thanks, Alma!