Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TBR welcomes Alex Granados

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Alex. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Alex: Well, Cemetery Plot is the first novel I’ve ever completed. I’m one of those people who has spent his entire life saying he wanted to be a novelist without ever completing a novel. When I was 32, last year, I’d finally had enough of half-finished manuscripts and decided to go all the way. The result is Cemetery Plot.

I grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, but moved to Raleigh, North Carolina when I was young. I’ve spent most of my life here with a few years living here and there. I’m a journalism buff and have worked in newspapers and radio. Currently, I’m the director of a talk show called The State of Things on North Carolina Public Radio WUNC. It’s my dream job. All I do is research and book people to talk about things that interest me… including science fiction and fantasy.

TBR: Tell us about Cemetery Plot.
Alex: As I mentioned, I finished Cemetery Plot last year. I picked November, National Novel Writing month, as the right time to perform my experiment. I got about halfway through November before I decided I didn’t like the novel I was working on. It was about a future where cemeteries had overtaken the planet. I started work on a second novel, and about halfway through that, by the end of November, I’d decided I didn’t like it either. It was about a zombie apocalypse. Altogether, I’d written about 50,000 words, so I decided to see if I could combine the two and make one functional novel. Cemetery Plot was born.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Alex: This is a scene that introduces one of my main characters, Nathan.

“Hi. My name is Nathan Mickels. I guess I could tell you about the end of the world, and being one of the last remaining humans on earth or some of that apocalyptic crap. But the truth is that the world hasn’t changed much since it ended. Sure, the dead are walking and people are dying. But there’s still money to be made.
“Take me for instance. I specialize in a particular trade. You see, these Living Dead, they’re not the brightest creatures. Any mother hoping that her little Annie was going to come back and sit at her knee had a rude awakening. Little Annie was much more likely to bite her and turn her into a zombie than give her a hug.
“Nevertheless, people find out that the dead are coming back to life, and they just got to see. That’s where I come in. It’s my job to hunt down the Living Dead. Specific ones. If your uncle Andrew died last year, you might hire me to find him and bring him to you. Of course, if you were smart, you already checked out the graveyard. You probably only come to me if you find a hole where your uncle should have been.
“So out I go, and I track down your uncle. But what good is he going to be to you as a grunting hulk of shit for brains? None, that’s what. I have a unique talent that I get paid for. I’m kind of like what people used to think mediums were like. You know, they figured they could talk to the dead and all that crap. Well, I can talk to the dead. It takes some doing and some concentration, but leave me alone with a walker for a good six hours, and I can start getting something intelligible out of them.
“Mind you, it’s not what you’d think of as intelligible, but it’s a language of sorts. Some kind of guttural, grunting and wheezing that resolves itself into meaning in my head. Well, you don’t believe me? Ask me anything? How old was Uncle Andrew when he lost his virginity? What did he really do to lose that sales job? Was he really just being friendly with his niece that time you caught them together in the bedroom? (Here’s a hint. No. You ought to kill that bastard all over again.)
“Anyway. That’s me. The Living Dead medium.”

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Alex: I’ve been a fan of zombie themed literature and media for years. The earliest zombie movie I remember seeing was the original Dawn of the Dead. I remember being freaked out by the idea of somebody having to kill themselves because he was about to be eaten by a crowd of zombies. It was horrifying.

The idea for this book really came about when I was walking my dog Zoey. We walk past this graveyard everyday. It’s a historic graveyard, and people have a hard time being buried there because it’s nearly full and it’s reserved for people who have some sort of wealth or fame.

Anyway, I started thinking about the limited space provided by graveyards. I wondered what would happen on a long enough timeline. If you don’t get rid of any graveyards, but you keep on having to bury people, then far enough in the future, maybe a thousand years, maybe more, won’t all the available land be taken up by graveyards?

That was my initial thought. Then I started imagining that as the premise of a novel. Of course, I had to take away alternative forms of dealing with remains, so I invented a disease that made cremation impossible. Voila, a world full of cemeteries. 

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Alex: I’m definitely a pantser. I start writing and I just see where it takes me. Often, I have no idea what’s going to happen next, though I do try to think about it in between bouts of reading.

I’ve started to change my strategy some lately. I’m working on a new novel, and I’m plotting it out ahead of time with a detailed outline.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Alex:  My characters just come to me. I write and they flow out of the pen. Oftentimes, they end up being thinly-disguised versions of people I actually know. In Cemetery Plot, I make an appearance, as does one of my ex-girlfriends. I won’t tell you who’s who. I’ll leave it to your imagination.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Alex: I’ve heard variations on this quote, but the sentiment remains the same. It’s by Kurt Vonnegut: “Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.”

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Alex: One of the most surprising things I’ve learned is the power of persistence. In the past, I’ve found that my thoughts tend to stymie me. I’ll stop working on something because I don’t like it or don’t think others will like it. Last year, when I decided to just try finishing novels no matter if I thought they were good or bad, something wonderful happened. I discovered that with revision, all things are possible. A bad novel can become good. All I had to do was finish. That’s the most important thing for me right now. Finishing what I start.

TBR: What's next for you?
Alex: I’m working on a novel loosely based on some of my childhood friends. I fell in with a rough group of kids and we had what you might call a wayward youth. I’m going to use that youthful time as the setting for a murder mystery. I want to explore the horrible things that people sometimes find themselves doing… the horrible things that we never imagined ourselves capable of. It’s a fascinating subject to me.

TBR: Any other published works?
Alex: Not yet, but I’m working on it.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Alex: The most challenging part of writing for me is sticking with it. There is a voice in the back of my head that is constantly telling me that I’m not good enough and I should just stop. Ignoring that voice is a challenge. The most rewarding part for me is when I have finished writing a novel, revised numerous times and arrived at the point where I know I’m finished and it’s time to send it off. I get a tremendous feeling of peace at that point.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Alex: My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. I like all of his books, even the ones that aren’t very good. He inspired me to see how Science Fiction could be synonymous with literature. At least in my opinion. At the moment, I’m reading a collection of great sci-fi novels. Currently, I’m on “The Stars My Destination.”

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Alex: Find me at

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Alex: In the battle between independent novels and novels published by the big publishing houses, which do you find yourself drawn to and why?

TBR: Readers, Alex will give away one of his books to one lucky commenter.  He'll pick a winner next week and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so he can contact you.

Thanks for visiting TBR, Alex. Happy Halloween!


  1. Welcome Alex! Thanks for being my Halloween guest!

  2. I really enjoyed this interview and learning more about Alex and his book, even though I've "known" Alex for a few years now. As to Alex's question, as a reader I'm drawn to whichever publishers put good books into my local bookstores and libraries. Unfortunately this is something that the independents have really struggled at achieving, though it's getting more likely that I can special order a book. But the chances of discovering a book on the shelf from an indie author are very low.


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