The great thing about social media is the ability to connect with some fabulous people. Alex Segura is one of them. What impressed me about Alex: his debut novel, his love of comics and the adoration he shows for his lovely wife. I was hooked! Alex’s debut novel, SILENT CITY, is a Thriller set in Miami. It carries that old school Noir feeling and keeps you intrigued from page one. I highly recommend it for your next suspense read!
CL: This book was a fast paced, nail biting read. I finished it in two nights. Tell me a little something about where your inspiration came from in regards to your main character, Pete Fernandez.
AS: Cynthia – thanks so much for the kind words and for reading the book. It really does mean a lot, and I never get tired of hearing about what people think. Especially when it’s so nice.
Pete and I have some similarities – we’re both around the same age and from the same area in Miami and we’re both Cuban American. I like to think that’s where it ends. I really wanted to create a protagonist that not only seemed real to me, but also struck me as a person I could see myself hanging out with. Pete has issues – he drinks too much, is hung up on his ex and thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. But those are all issues we’ve grappled with at some point in our lives, and I think at his core, he’s a good guy who wants to do what’s right, even if that is the harder path to take. That’s why I like him.
CL: I loved that it was set in Miami…why did you choose this location? What sort of research did you do?
AS: I set it there, simply, because I’m from Miami. I also didn’t feel like there were a lot of books set in my hometown that featured the kind of people I knew and that showed the “real” – for lack of a better word – city, as opposed to the TV version or movie version, with the palm trees and umbrella drinks. I wanted to show the Miami that the residents see, the Miami that isn’t as clean and shiny as people think. I’m a fan of gritty, noir crime fiction – with flawed protagonists and consequences. I wanted the setting to feel real and the characters to feel some kind of blowback for their actions. Miami, to me, is a great setting for a crime novel, because underneath the neon lights and tropical weather, you have a place with a long history of violence, corruption and class issues. Miami’s a fertile spot for a series, and that was my hope with Pete.
That being said, there are some great Miami/South Florida crime novels – I suggest people read Vicki Hendricks’s amazing Miami Purity and look into the work of James W. Hall, Jonathon King and Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, for starters.
CL: You love comics…tell me something about your comic venture and did it play a role in this novel?
AS: I do. I grew up reading comics, first Archie Comics and later superhero books like Spider-Man, Batman and more. I currently work at Archie – very cool – as their head of Publicity and Marketing. I also oversee the company’s superhero titles, which will be relaunching in the fall. In addition to that, I write Archie comics from time to time – like Archie Meets KISS (yes, the band!) and a handful of one-off issues, like “Occupy Riverdale.” It’s really fun, fulfilling and creative. I don’t feel like it’s work, which is the best situation to be in when you have an office job.
I try to keep my novel writing relatively separate from my comic book career, so I don’t think there was a moment where I thought, for example, let me make Silent City a comic, or something along those lines. However, I have learned a lot about storytelling from comics (and journalism, and novels). Mainly, less is more, show don’t tell and so on. I think if there’s one thing I took from comics, is that I tried my best to visualize the story in Silent City clearly in my head before putting pen to paper for each scene. I wanted to give readers the feeling they were watching a good television series or movie. It’s up to them whether I succeeded or not.
CL: What are you working on now? Can you tell us something about your next book?
AS: I’m knee-deep in revisions for the second Pete book, titled Down the Darkest Street. As the title suggests, it is a darker book that pits Pete against a much bigger, more layered challenge. We’ll see him really struggle in this one, and I’m hoping fans will respond well to how he handles it, and the way it all rolls out. It’s been great fun to write, and I’m excited to see it come to life. I’m at the point where I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is gratifying. In addition to that, I have a few short stories I’m working on – a few Pete stories set between the novels and a sci-fi story I’m co-writing with my good friend Justin Aclin – and some comic book stuff, including a horror story and some more issues for Archie. So…keeping busy! Which is the way I like it.
CL: Nice! What authors have influenced you in your writing career?
AS: Oh, so many. It’s hard to list them all. It was a borrowed copy of George Pelecanos’s A Firing Offense that got me hooked, and helped me decide to try my hand at writing. I’m constantly inspired by the work of Dennis Lehane, Megan Abbott, Richard Price, Lawrence Block, Laura Lippman, classics like Chandler, Thompson, Ross Macdonald. So many. I love everything Sara Gran writes. I’ve gotten hooked on Kelly Braffet’s books. I also read a lot of comics, so I’m constantly inspired by the work of the Hernandez Bros, Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka (also a great novelist!), Brian K. Vaughn, David Lapham and more. I’m going to kick myself when I read this because there are so many great writers, that I hate listing them. But there you go!
CL: What advice do you have for debut authors?
AS: Write as much as you can. Get the bad stuff out. Revise so you get to the good stuff. Don’t only draw inspiration from the genre or area you want to write in. If you want to write comics, read books and biographies and so on. If you want to write crime novels, read outside your genre so you have something unique to bring to the table. Don’t try to be a second-rate version of someone else, but the best version of you. Don’t be disheartened, either. Publishing can feel like a series of rejections and lots of lonely hours. But sometimes it’s a few victories and lots of lonely hours. Ha!
Lastly, do it for the love, because writing is never easy. As Block said, “If you want to write fiction, the best thing you can do is take two aspirins, lie down in a dark room, and wait for the feeling to pass.” If you do that and still want to write, more power to you. It’s a passion not a trade, I think. There are people that are obsessed with telling stories and want to tell theirs no matter how, and if you’re one of those people, then you’re off. Enjoy the ride.
To find out more about Alex Segura, see his website here
You can purchase Alex’s debut novel below: