2020 Debut Author Interview: Alex Richards!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Alex Richards and her novel, ACCIDENTAL, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Alex on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

[CW: This book contains accidental gun violence.]

Alex  Richards

Alex Richards has been writing young adult fiction since the age of ten, with stacks of spiral notebooks to prove it. Also a freelance magazine contributor, Alex enjoys making no-budget horror movies, taking photographs, and crafting. Raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Alex lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two very silly kids.

Keep up with Alex: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be publishing another great book?
Alex: Thank you! It feels amazing! Actually, it also feels super nerve wracking. After years of writing and failing and writing, it is almost surreal that I am finally going to see my book on bookshelves! And the whole process takes such a long time--from drafting to selling to editing and pass pages etc--that I can barely remember writing ACCIDENTAL in the first place! But, no, I’m really excited. 
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what is the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Alex: All of it and none of it! Hah. I really love first drafts because furiously typing away to get the thoughts out of your brain can be really exhilarating. It’s an accomplishment to see how many words you can knock out in a day. But I also love editing. Sometimes marveling -- sometimes cringing -- at the sentences I’ve created, and then (with my agent’s/editor’s advice) reworking it into something better. Aaand, i also like pass pages, which come after the ARC has been printed, because it’s so frigging cool to see how close you are to the finish line!!!

The Book Bratz: Where did you get your inspiration for ACCIDENTAL?
Alex: Unfortunately, Johanna’s story is not unique. For years, I have read stories of toddlers finding unsecured guns and firing them without any idea what they were doing. It is horrifying and tragic. I don’t think it was until after I had kids of my own that I started reading these stories and really wondering on a deeper level, about each innocent child and what happens to him/her. Whether or not they grow up with the knowledge of what they’ve done, or if their parents/guardians try to keep the tragic accident from them. 

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the hardest?
Alex: I loved writing the protagonist, Johanna. Trying to get inside her head and weigh her different emotions and reactions to finding out what she’d done. Also, the supporting characters -- her ride or die best friends, with so much heart and personality. Oh, and her hot, understanding boyfriend. Hardest character: the bullies! I know a lot of actors like playing dark characters, but I felt kind of dirty and depressed after getting in the head of anyone trying to stand in the way of my main character. 

The Book Bratz: This book has a lot to do with secrets, betrayal, and figuring out who to trust. How did you weave together such an intricate and emotional story? What's your planning process?
Alex: Great question! This was one of the first manuscripts I’ve written with a detailed outline and I think that really helped. Before I started writing, I had a clear vision of what needed to be accomplished (and what roadblocks need to be overcome). It took a lot of work with my agent and then my editor to get the book to a point where I felt readers would be able to sense the betrayal, and who to trust, while still keeping it from the characters. 

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from ACCIDENTAL?
Alex: I hope it will make people think about the after effects of leaving a loaded gun unlocked in a place where a child could grab it and fire it.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of ACCIDENTAL in the future, or do you have another project in mind? Can you tell us anything about it?
Alex: I would love to explore the world of ACCIDENTAL again . . . but I think Johanna deserves a break! All good books create conflict, and I’d like to imagine Johanna living conflict-free for a while. Off in New York, studying fashion and FaceTiming with her friends and grandparents, finally having forgiven herself for her actions. As for what’s next . . . well, it is another contemporary story that tackles forgiveness, but in an entirely different way. I guess I’ve returned to the ‘world’ of ACCIDENTAL, in as much as it’s in the same town (Santa Fe, where I grew up!), and the kids all attend the same fictional school. This next book tackles family secrets, betrayal, and learning who to trust. I guess that’s my happy place. ;)

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Title: Accidental
Author: Alex Richards
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: July 7th, 2020

Summary: Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she's being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy. Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna's father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that's not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn't kill Mandy--it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun. Now Johanna has to sort through it all--the return of her absentee father, her grandparents' lies, her part in her mother's death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?

Thank you so much to Alex for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about ACCIDENTAL and can't wait for it to be out in the world on July 7th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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