Alexandra Rowland grew up on a sailboat in the Bahamas and then in a house in Florida. Sick to death of the tropics, she attended Truman State University in northern Missouri, where she studied world literature, mythology, and folklore.
She now lives in western Massachusetts where she works as a game monitor at an escape room company, occasional bespoke seamstress, and writer under the stern supervision of her feline quality control manager.
Her first book, IN THE END, was self-published in 2012. Alex sees the book as a monument to the accomplishments of Alex of 2012 and feels she learned a lot about what it takes to publish a quality book as a result of finishing and releasing her debut novel, including layout and design, book promotion, and editing.
She then began writing another story in a world that would later be introduced to readers in A CONSPIRACY OF TRUTHS (Saga Press, November 2018). The book began as an experiment in how much world building she could cram into a story. It wasn’t ever supposed to be anything. She also wrote a YA Steampunk Novel, which was what she queried to her agent, DongWon Song. He didn’t want steampunk in fall of 2016, but he liked her writing and knew she had another story in first draft mode (it was a week old, people).
“Don’t send your work out on query if you finished it last week.” (But she did—per the agent’s request, it should be noted—and it worked.)
A CONSPIRACY OF TRUTHS is a mashup of K J Parker, Les Miserables, and 1,001 Knights: A wandering storyteller gets arrested on charges of witchcraft, accidentally indicts himself for espionage, and starts a civil war from inside a jail cell by telling stories to the queens.
Working with Navah Wolfe (The Starlit Wood) and DongWon Song, Alex was able to cultivate her vision (without getting away with any writer shenanigans). Their communication worked very well and NW was able to draw the best version of the story out of Alex. (YMMV: every agent/author/editor triad will have its own dynamic.)
DongWon Song has emphasized author branding to his author clients. He jokes that his authors must never change their hairstyle (Alex has long hair). You do need to be aware of how you present yourself, and be consistent: distill the image you want to project. At conferences, you are ‘working’ and visible to your peers and readers. Alex dresses with the intention of being taken seriously.
Pro Tip: Don’t change your social media profile photo and display name at the same time (you may throw off your enemies, but you will also confuse those who follow you). Keep your ‘branding’ of social media consistent across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Alexandra Rowland can be spotted occasionally wearing a corset made from her jacket proofs.
Alex created a post on tumblr in July 2017 coining the term “hopepunk” (there’s water in the glass) to describe a third point on a triangle, opposite “grimdark” (glass is half empty) and “noblebright” (glass is half full) stories. It’s about forgiving and accepting imperfection regardless of whether one is ‘winning’ the struggle for perfection. Both Noblebright and Grimdark have a static approach to the world while Hopepunk creates a dynamic worldview (it’s about the choices and doing the work, rather than having no choice).
The term took on some traction because people are seeking that sense that the world is worth fighting for. Within six months of her article going around, the term starting showing up at conference panels, and Alex was recently invited onto NPR 1A WAMU to be interviewed about the Hopepunk worldview.
Be The Serpent Podcast
Alex is one of three co-hosts of Be The Serpent (with Jennifer Mace and Freya Marske), a podcast of extremely deep literary merit, which is responsible for making Rekka appreciative of the quality fanfic that is available in the world.
Brian makes the argument that there’s “so much bad fanfic” out there. Alex gets a chance to argue that there is so much fan fiction out there that is worth looking for. Fan Fiction is an art form that people spend a lot of time on and invest a huge amount of emotional work in. While fan fic is often dismissed as being ‘lesser’, but there are some peer review processes that are more rigorous than some academic review processes.
To those who use one million words as the standard for legitimacy, many fan fic writers are well beyond that level (and some also go write in their own universes to much success, such as Seanan McGuire and N.K. Jemisin).
We all get our ideas from so many places, every work you read is a conversation that the author is having with every other piece they have read. Fan fiction is just a bit more explicit because it stays in the world they comment on.
In the fic Victory Condition, astolat responds to The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas via a sexually explicit Transformers setting that Alex describes as one of the most philosophically deep stories she has ever read.
Alex has a tip for finding the good stuff in fan fic. On Archive of Our Own (AO3): go to the fandom category, sort by kudos, and start at the top. When a work is tremendously long, it will have more kudos, but in terms of single chapters, this system works. Alex occasionally also will stick to works with 10% kudos versus their total reads (so, 100 kudos per 1000 hits).
Alex finds it more difficult to locate a high quality indie book than AO3 titles.
People who have never read fan fic and want to know what it’s all about, can read “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” by synecdochic (from the Stargate: Atlantis Fandom). Alex refers to it as a story that accomplishes things that a professional work can’t do because the reader begins with an understanding of the world. According to Alex, you could watch two episodes of Stargate: Atlantis and then read this fic and have this amazing emotional journey.
And read CONSPIRACY OF TRUTHS!