Sometimes new authors (or in this case, new-ish) cross our paths and we feel the need to share them. This time we have the honor of interviewing Alex Langley, who has written some fabulous “geek” books as well as the upcoming graphic novel, Kill the Freshman, which was a Kickstarter that we helped fund last year.
We first picked up Alex’s books at Stan Lee’s Komikaze 2013 after meeting him at the booth. Have you talked with someone and thought, “this guy thinks like me! I’ve got to check out his stuff”? Well, that’s what happened to us. And we were not disappointed. We laughed, we cringed, we giggled, we wanted to run out and tell our friends to pick up the books! And now we can!
Recently, NerdLush caught up with Alex as he prepares for the launch of Kill the Freshman this summer.
NerdLush~ Before we dig in, what do you read? What draws you to pick up a book?
Alex Langley~ Lots of stuff- Terry Pratchett is one of the largest influences on me, creatively, and I’ve read his works since I was an awkward tween. I’m currently reading (or re-reading) Rat Queens, All-New X-Men, The Invincible Squirrel Girl, Spider-Gwen, The Nerdist Way, The Solomon Twist, Understanding Comics, Save the Cat, Scott Pilgrim, and, as always, everything by Sir Pratchett.
I’m drawn in by books with strong characters, sharp humor, and protagonists whose perspective is different than that of your run-of-the-mill Hollywood everydude hero.
NL~ Describe the books you write.
-How to pick the right college for you!
-How to take care of yourself like a grown-ass adult with dignity and self-respect!
-Which homes provide the best defense against potential zombie attacks!
-Who would win in a fight: Superman or Goku? (Spoiler alert: It’s Superman)
-Tips on pursuing your creative passion, whether it’s writing books, cosplay, or carrying hams with your butt on a competitive level.
Geek Lust, another entry in the Geek series, gives a raucous tour of the many aspects of geekdom, from fan fiction to cult TV shows.
I also write a number of young adult stories such as Kill the Freshman, my graphic novel due to arrive this summer. In a nutshell, Kill the Freshman is a mix of Mean Girls, Dragon Ball Z, and Battle Royale.
NL~ Who is your target audience? How do you draw them in?
AL~ My target audience is
-Anyone with money.
And I try to draw them in by being as funny, honest, and compelling as possible.
NL~ What first drew you to writing? What keeps it interesting for you? What inspires you?
AL~ I’ve always been fascinated by stories; their characters, their structure, what they say both to us and about us, and so writing is a natural outlet for me. I’m always interested in writing because I try to write the sort of things I’d want to read, and because I believe in the power of stories to both help us understand the world around us and as something to savor long after they’re done. A good story is like a mental hard candy— even if you’re working a crap job the next day, your brain’s still sucking on that great movie you saw or book you read.
NL~ What is something you would love to write about, but due to budget/time/etc will never happen? What’s the wishlist?
AL~ I have lots of things I’d love to write, but I’m hopeful enough to think that, maybe, anything could happen ;P
I’d love to continue my Kill the Freshman series well into the character’s senior year, maybe working with a company like Oni that breaks out of the typical comics industry mold. I’d love to write an X-Men comic (An All New Excalibur in particular), and I have numerous plans for different novels, geek books, and graphic novels in the future. Whatevs! There’s no limit as long as you’re hungry to create and willing to do what it takes to hone your craft.
NL~ Why did you choose Kickstarter?
AL~ I chose Kickstarter for Kill the Freshman because I’d approached several mainstream comics companies, but was disappointed by what I heard from them. “It’s a great looking comic,” one rep said, “but your female lead doesn’t really look like the industry standard.” It was clear that too many comics companies were looking for stories about macho white guys or sexy women, and didn’t have room for an awkward teenage girl. So, to get things off the ground, I went to Kickstarter to get the funding to pay my art team and either self-pub this mamma jamma or find that magically awesome comics company.
NL~ Talk about the experience of indie fundraising- also, how did it feel to succeed?
AL~ The Kickstarter was incredibly stressful, but very rewarding. Indie fundraising is a great new way for people to sidestep the big, traditional gatekeepers like publishing companies and instead let the general public vote something into existence or non-existence with the generosity of their wallets.
NL~ What were the funds used for?
AL~ Paying my art team. I’m lucky enough to know a group of incredibly talented artists who were willing to work for less than normal given their talent and the time involved, so every single cent from the Kickstarter went to them— and then some!
NL~ Share a fond memory from one of your projects.
AL~ It’s hard to describe how amazing it feels to see a character you’ve created, that you’ve spent hours writing and honing, brought to life by a talented artist, and time and time again I got to be blown away with that feeling while doing Kill the Freshman.
NL~ Let’s learn more about you- when you go to the movies, what genre is your #1 choice to see? Favorite movie? What do you have to watch every time it’s on?
AL~ I prefer movies with something supernatural to them, whether it’s sci-fi or fantasy, although I’m always down for a good comedy. As far as favorite movie, well, I love so many movies for so many different reasons it’s hard to pin down one that’s an all-time favorite, so I’ll just say that one of my favorites is Ghostbusters– that’s a movie I watch all the time, and have seen so much I could probably do a one-man play of it. Other faves include Groundhog Day, The Room, Iron Man, and X-Men 2.
NL~ What is the flat out geekiest thing you own or know?
AL~ Geekiest thing I know? Good grief, what to pick, what to pick…. Okay, a few of the geekiest things I know are that I can tell you the exact location of every item and boss weakness in every Mega Man game (in the classic Mega Man franchise) and in every Mega Man X game up to X4, because let’s be honest, they kinda jumped the shark after that.
I know the plot of every issue of X-Men between Giant Sized X-Men #1 and Onslaught.
I can name pretty much every voice actor in any American cartoon (not as much anime, though).
I can describe every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in idiotic detail.
And the geekiest thing I own would probably be my video game collection, which includes every current-gen system and damn near every console released back to the NES.
NL~ What is your background- professionally/educationally- and how did it lead to where you are today?
AL~ I have a Master’s degree in experimental psych, and met my incredible wife and fellow writer Katrina Hill (@actionchick) at the UCA co-ed honors dorm. I guess UCA wanted us beautiful nerds to get together 😛
And in addition to writing books, I currently write for Arcade Sushi, doing video game reviews, news, and assorted musings.
NL~ There can be no art without suffering. True or false?
AL~ D. All of the above.
NL~ If you were forced to, who would you want to trade places with for 24 hours?
AL~ Anyone with a time machine.
NL~ What is the hardest lesson you’ve ever learned?
AL~ Vampires just want you to think they’re weak against garlic.
Pirates or ninjas? Ninjas, because they bathe more often.
Coffee or tea? Neither, really.
Black & white or color? COLOR
Root beer or Dr. Pepper? Dr. Pep-pep.
Sweet or sour? Saweeet
Scuba diving or sky diving? Scuba diving somewhere shallow, like a kiddie pool or toilet.
Spring or Fall? Fall!
Thanks for stopping by Alex!