Alverne Ball Discusses His New Novel & Why He Doesn't Believe In Writer's Block
Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. Writing prose is an exhilarating passion that gets my adrenaline pumping. It's like riding a natural high. But just like all stimulants, one must come down from the high - and when that occurs, a physical and mental exhaustion sets in.
Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I thought about writing under Alverne De'Jesus or A.D. Ball once upon a time. But I wanted people that may have known me to see that I had written a novel with the hope that my accomplishment would give them strength and possibly hope for a better tomorrow.
Q: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have a long list of acquaintances such as Flannery O'Conner, Garth Ennis, Tony Bowers, Charles Johnson, Alexander Dumas, Michael Connelly, Charlie Newton and Walter Mosley, just to name a few. These writers and many more have had a massive influence on my writing because I've learned a thing or two about grammar, scene structure, point-of-view versus viewpoint and characterization. But the most important thing I've learned from these writers is that you have to sit down in the chair and write until you reach the end. Then you have to rewrite with that same vigor, but while looking to make the work even stronger than the previous draft.
Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I don't think it's changed my process since I tend to write the first draft of my novels long hand and in notebooks. I find the notebook process to be my most clearest and authentic idea about the book before outside influences such as editors, pop culture and worldly influence find their way into my manuscript. What publishing did was light an already eternal flame under my ass even more. And now I'm already looking forward to writing the third and fourth novels in what I hope to be a continual series of cases for Detective Frank Calhoun.
Q: What does literary success look like to you?
My idea of literary success would be having a writer, editor or reader from the literary world read my work and review it with a critical eye. If such a person can take the time to read my work and give it an honest opinion of its merits, then I've done my job and I've succeeded where many have tried.
Q: How do you select the names of your characters?
Most names of characters comes from people that I know. I use these names to enshrine an individual in my pages, so that deep down (whether they know it or not) they'll never be forgotten. Some character's names just tend to find me and I find myself asking who the hell is this person and how did I get their name?
Q: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
To a degree, yes. It's more of a wink and nod to a place or person that I may have grown up with. That place or person is a monument in the community and even though the monument may diminish over time, it does not diminish the people who continue to live there.
Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Having to type up all of my handwritten manuscripts. This can take hours, maybe even days, depending on how far I've dived into a chapter before coming up for air.
Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?
No. As a writer, we are always writing whether we know it or not. Ideas are always generating and the story is always unfolding around us. As writers, it's our job to keep our eyes and ears open, to look for situations that may present themselves for story ideas or even complete stories. I was listening to NPR some months ago and as the story was being reported about this heinous murder, suddenly the plot for the fourth Frank Calhoun crime novel hit me over the head. It presented a well-established story that opened up a secondary plot for the third novel. So I'm already talking about third and forth novels, even though I've just published my first novel and am fast at work on writing the second novel.
Only The Holy Remain will release on November 18.