Meet Novelist Dawn Alexander

Dawn is a Romantic Suspense/Mystery writer who spends her days teaching high school students and her evenings plotting murders. She lives in Texas with her husband, Scott, two elementary-school-aged daughters, and her four-legged writing partner, Cooper.

Dawn is always shooting people. When she isn’t thinking up places to hide the bodies, she has a camera in her hand either at her husband’s hockey games or her kids’ activities.  If there is nothing around to photograph, Dawn has a book in her hand. Reading is a dangerous pursuit for her since she always has to finish the book she starts.


Since Dawn’s a teacher, I’m turning the tables on her and using my Writer’s Quiz interview format. Rest assured, there are no grades involved. Dawn is already a winner in my book. 🙂

Multiple Choice Questions

(Please explain your answers.)

1) When did you first experience your love of writing?

  1. I came out of the womb with a pen in my hand.
  2. I dabbled in high school but didn’t get serious until recently.
  3. I read a romance novel, fell in love, and had to write one.
  4. None of the above.

A. I always had a very active imagination. In elementary school, I wrote several “novels”. They were bound in folders with brads. I made sure they had a title page, a back-of-the-book blurb and a space for readers to leave comments. At some point, I started keeping my work to myself, but I never stopped writing.

A few years ago, I decided if it was really possible I was going to be 30 years old, then one day I might actually be 40 years old (!) and that shouldn’t happen unless I had at least attempted my dream of becoming published.

2) How many stories have you completed?

  1. I’ve finished my first story but can’t stop editing it.
  2. I finished my first story and moved right on to the next one.
  3. So many that I’ve lost count.
  4. None of the above.

C. I have no idea how many I have completed. Right now, I have four in various stages of revision that are all over 50k.

3) What kind of stories do you write?

  1. Mystery
  2. Romantic Suspense
  3. Contemporary Romance
  4. None of the above
  5. All of the above

E. As I said, I have four working right now. One is a mystery, one is Romantic Suspense and two are Contemporary Romance. I have to say suspense is my first love, though.

Essay Questions

(Maximum of two paragraphs per question.)

1) What have been the high points of your writing journey so far?

I would have to say the high point has been joining a writers’ group and attending my first conference. Being in the company of people who ask questions like, “What do you write?” and understand talking about characters like they were real people, is a terrific experience for someone who hid her love of writing for years.

2) What aspects of writing do you find most challenging? Most rewarding?

Most challenging has to be the discipline to go back and revise, revise, revise. Most rewarding is having a best friend say, “While I was reading, I forgot it was you who wrote it.” Meaning, she heard the character’s voices, not mine. That was a great compliment.

3) How has your day job as a teacher served you in your writing endeavors?

I definitely have no shortage of character material. My teaching doesn’t lend itself to actual writing. I think the process of being creative in my lesson plans spills over into being creative with my storytelling. Unfortunately, my obsessive planning for my class does not translate into obsessive plotting for my writing.

True or False

(Please explain your answers.)

1) I can’t imagine starting a story without plotting it first.

False! Plotting makes my eye twitch. I am a full-fledged pantser.

2) I get my story ideas from crime reports in the paper.

True. As you can tell from the Friday Plot Swaps on my blog, crime stories can be a useful source of inspiration. I would never want to be a true crime writer. Sometimes, just the snippet of the news story gets my mind moving.

3) I must have music playing when I write.

False. I am easily distracted. I use music for inspiration or to set the mood for a particular scene, but once I start writing I have to turn it off.

Fill in the Blank

1) My favorite writing buddy is: _____________________________.

Cooper, my furry companion who shares the other side of the love seat where I write.

Cooper

2) I love writing romantic suspense because: ___________________.

I love mystery and danger from the comfort of my home. I don’t ever want to actually face down a bad guy. I am a big ‘fraidy cat! But instead of cowering in the corner, my characters jump in and kick some tail.

3) The members of The Dawn Alexander Fan Club are: ____________.

My husband, Scott, who is amazingly supportive and helps me make sure my male characters sound like real men.

My two best friends, who aren’t writers, but are my “first readers”. They already have plans for my book signings someday. Everyone should have that kind of support.

My critique partner, Teri Anne Stanley, as well as all my other writer friends. Writers are a very supportive community.

Story Problems: Just for Fun

(X is an unknown number. You get extra credit for tackling these. :-))

1) Your hubby calls to tell you he’s taking you out to dinner at one of your favorite X restaurants. What will be the choices, and which one will win out?

Either Saltgrass Steak House, Joe’s Crab Shack or Cheddar’s.  Saltgrass would win because it is near the house and I like steak!

2) Your best friend, who knows you very well, suggests taking a road trip to your favorite X Texas locales—her treat. What places will you visit, and why?

Austin. Absolutely. I love Austin. There is just a good vibe there, lots of good memories and they have the coolest book store (Book People). There is also plenty of shopping, which with my best friend, is what we do best.

3) Your daughters talk you into a trip to the mall where you visit your favorite X stores. Which are they, and what items are likely to capture your attention?

I am really not a mall person. I worked in one forever and now I have students working at almost every shop I go in. I try to avoid the mall as much as possible 🙂

Dawn’s Question for You

I often give my characters a talent I don’t have, but wish I did. One of them is an artist, another has a beautiful singing voice. One is a sharp shooter and I have never even fired a gun.

Other than writing, what kind of talent do you have? Do you pass these along to your characters or do you give them the ability to do what you wish you could?

Dawn’s Drawing

Dawn has generously offered to give away a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card and, if the winner would like, a first-chapter critique.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Dawn by August 1st and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process.

On August 2nd I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well as in a comment and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address.

Congratulations to Candie L. Campbell, winner of the drawing!

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Prizes will be mailed to U.S. addresses only.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Learn More About Dawn

Visit her personal blog ~ Writer in Waiting

Friend her on Facebook ~ Dawn Alexander

Follow her on Twitter ~ @dawn_alexander

Add her to your Circles on Google+ : Dawn Alexander

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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41 Responses to Meet Novelist Dawn Alexander

  1. Yay, Dawn! Great interview. We had a Cheddars when I lived in MO. I miss that place. 🙂

  2. Hello Dawn! Wow, what a great interview, LOVE the multiply choice feature!! I should remember that someday. 😉

    Besides writing…??? I’m actually not very creative, but I do love to knit and I haven’t given that ability to any of my characters, yet, but we’ll see. 🙂

    Off to check out your pages!!

    • Hi, Casey!
      I think knitting is great. I loved the idea of Madame Defarge knitting in secret code in A Tale of Two Cities.
      Also, being a mystery writer, I think those needles could make for an interesting twist.

  3. candidkerry says:

    Hi Dawn and Keli,

    Love this interview style. So fun! It’s great to meet you Dawn.

    Your writing buddy is so cute! My writing buddy/shadow is a pointer mix, Jedi, but he keeps my feet warm because he’s not allowed on the couch. 🙂 He also whines at me when I sit too long at the laptop!

    I don’t know if it’s considered a talent, but I’m athletic and love to exercise. Weird, I know. I did pass on that hobby – working out – to one of my characters. I also wish I had a beautiful singing voice, but definitely don’t. 🙂

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about Cheddar’s…we’ll have to check it out. 🙂 It was great to meet you, Dawn!

    • Great to meet you!
      Yes, my writing buddy was never supposed to be allowed on the couch. But, I am not the only adult living here and someone (my husband) thought it was cute to have the puppy snuggling up next to him.

      Well, the puppy is 40 lbs and still growing! He also likes to drop slobbery tennis balls in the middle of my keyboard if he thinks I have been working too long, the dog~ not my husband.

      I have a character who is an avid jogger. I come from the “no need to run unless you are being chased” school of thought.
      If you check out Cheddar’s, you should try a Cookie Monster.

  4. Kathy says:

    what a fun interview! No need to enter me in the drawing. I just wanted to come and meet and greet. 😀

    • Kathy says:

      and I meant to answer the question, but my trigger finger hit “send” too soon. 😀 One of my heroines plays piano–something I never mastered, but grew up hearing. My mother would fill our apartment with the beautiful tones of an upright grand, and it created such a lovely ambiance to our home. Another heroine sings hymns. I sing, but I don’t know if it has the same affect on my husband as it does on my hero. 😉

      • Thanks for meeting and greeting!
        I always wanted to play the piano, too! My great uncle was a concert pianist. I loved him but, by the time I was old enough to play he was too sick to give me lessons.
        I tell people the only time I sing is in church because the Bible just says, “Make a joyful noise.” It doesn’t require it to be a melodic one!
        Nice to meet you!

  5. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Dawn! It’s great to have you as my guest and learn more about you and your writing.

    I’m more likely to give my characters traits I possess than talents. However, I love giving them talents I don’t have. The hero and heroine in my debut novel play the violin, but I don’t. The hero’s mother is an excellent seamstress, but I stay as far away from needle and thread as possible. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for having me, Keli!
      I loved your interview style. So much fun.
      I know what you mean, I had to have a friend sew on my oldest’s Girl Scout patches because I don’t even know how to turn on a sewing machine!

  6. Well you can definitely count me as a member of Dawn’s fan club, as a writer and a person!

  7. Jeanne T says:

    Keli and Dawn, what a fun, fun intervew! Keli, you write an awfully challenging test. 🙂 Dawn, it was great to get to know you a little bit. I have a teaching back ground too, and it’s always fun to “meet” others who do/did teach. 🙂

    I am a pretty new writer, so I haven’t written a lot of characters yet, but my heroine is a teacher. She loves music (like me), but she isn’t necessarily musically gifted (I enjoy singing). She likes dancing though, which I am not very good at.

    The Saltgrass is one of my favorites too. Thanks so much for sharing about yourself, Dawn!

    • Hi, Jeanne!
      I love meeting other teachers, too! Keli does write a challenging interview. While I was working on it, my daughter climbed up next to me and said, “Wow, you have to do essay questions even in the summer!”

  8. markrhunter says:

    Well done, Dawn! You’ve picked two of the most difficult, challenging, rewarding, and lowest paying careers there are: teaching and writing. But with a partner like Cooper, how could you go wrong?

  9. Dawn and Keli,

    Great interview!

    Dawn, your personality shines and why didn’t I know your husband plays hockey?

    Thanks for sharing, it was great fun to read.

    Candie

    • Candie,
      Thanks for stopping by! You are awesome. My husband plays in a Men’s league (Not for the Stars or anything). I almost blew everything on our first date when he asked if I liked hockey. I said, “Not really.” and he said, “Oh, I play on four different teams.”
      I learned to love it real quick.

      • My husband plays men’s rec also and our youngest son plays two tiers below the NHL, on his way up. Yay! I have lot’s of love for the game and anyone who plays.

  10. Thanks, Mark. 🙂
    You can imagine my parents’ disappoint when I announced that I was not going to be a Criminal defense attorney no matter how many times they told me I should.

  11. Angi Morgan says:

    Hey Dawn, I’ll be in your favorite Texas locale today…
    Great interview. It’s funny the specialities I give my characters. Or that they give themselves. Darby had a penchant for detail and paperwork. (I can’t stand paperwork).
    ~Angi

  12. cynthiaherron says:

    Greetings, Dawn and Keli!

    It was great getting to know you better, Dawn. 🙂

    In high school, I was in drama. I loved acting and getting into a different character mode. Our oldest is now completing his college career, but he’s been active in the theater while in school and so I guess the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree! (However, he’s sings/dances much better than Mom ever did!)

    I sometimes give my characters some interesting talents/gifts that I certainly don’t possess because I think we all tend to live a little vicariously through the folks we create.

    • Hi Cynthia,
      I did acting in high school also. My daughter is getting into it now, even though everyone in the family agrees the girl does not need any more drama lessons!

      I definitely live vicariously through my characters. It’s the best part of writing.:)

  13. Anonymous says:

    So much fun to get to know you better. And Cooper!

    aka Clover Autrey

  14. Love this interview format. What fun!

    Great interview, Dawn. And what a cute little writing partner you have!

  15. Teri Stanley says:

    My writing partner is an Emporer Zurg Room Protector. He and Buzz Lightyear are always getting into it, tho. It’s very distracting. At least, that’s my excuse!

  16. tammybarley says:

    “spends her days teaching high school students and her evenings plotting murders” LOL! No connection, I hope?

    Nature plays a big role in my novels. Breathtaking places and animals with character tend to make appearances. 🙂

  17. Keli, I love this format, the title, and picture. Looks like the Northwest.

    Dawn is really cool, and I’m delighted to claim her as a chapter mate. The exciting and vibrant person who comes across in this interview is just what you get in person. I love that your puppy (we call all our dogs puppy, even though they are long past that description) sits with you. One or both of ours ( a long haired red Chihuahua and a Jack Russell Terrier) will lay on the rug by my chair. Rather than making me get up and move, they make me stay in my seat, which is probably a good thing. (I don’t want to disturb then.)

    To answer your question. My third completed book has a heroine who is a performer. My younger daughter took after my theatrical bent and traveled around the country doing musicals. My 6th book is barely underway, but it, too has a theatre person (an executive director of a community theatre rather than strictly a performer). I have to say, my characters all connect to me, my family members, or friends. I write romantic suspense with older characters. And I so don’t get you pantser people. Talk about gifted! Wow. Thanks for sharing, Dawn.
    Marsha

  18. Thank you, Marsha. (Marsha is awesome, by the way.)

  19. Leanna Morris says:

    I liked the format of this interview…it was great! I am always in awe of authors who are so gifted!
    Thank you for sharing.

  20. Karen Hernandez says:

    What a fun interview! I love that I am getting to watch my teacher friend become a writer friend! Love the assessment style interview! You got a 100% in my book!

  21. Hi Karen! Thanks so much for stopping by! I knew you would like the style of the interview. Pretty cool, huh? (Karen and I were first-year teachers together, therefore are forever bonded.)

  22. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by to learn more about Dawn and to those who left a comment for her.

    I’ve held the drawing for the $20 Barnes & Noble gift card, which Dawn so generously offered as a prize, and the winner is Candie L. Campbell.

    Congratulations, Candie! I’ll be in touch.

  23. Yay, Candie!
    Thank you again to everyone who stopped by. This was a terrific experience.

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