Guest Interview with Alex Hughes, Author of the Mindspace Investigations Series


Today we have the wonderful Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations series, with us to discuss her newest book in the series, Sharp. Welcome Alex and thank you for joining us! We are thrilled to have you back, murr! =^.^=

Please tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

AlexHughesA.H. – 1. My first car was my grandmother’s old Honda Accord, which was so old you had to choose between air conditioning and acceleration (you could only have one at a time). In Atlanta in August on the interstate, this was quite a choice.

2. I like really obscure music – The Gutan Project, for example, which is South American rock tango.

3. Lately I am obsessed with cardamom. It’s the spice in the Starbucks vanilla spice latte, and it’s in a lot of Indian food as well. Delicious.

Could you tell us a couple of favorite books/authors that inspired you to write?

A.H. – This answer changes depends on the day you ask me 🙂 – I’ve loved so many authors over the years and everyone has inspired me. Today I’ll pick Andre Norton (incredible), C.J. Cherryh, Julie Czerneda, and David Weber.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants, or a combination of both?

A.H. – By nature, I am a total pantser. Unfortunately, this is a very inefficient process, so I’m learning to do more planning in the beginning and as I go. I’ve learned, however, that going by a strict outline just makes me unhappy. So I’m trying different things in the middle of the road to find one that sticks. We’ll see what happens!

What has been the biggest surprise with regards to your writing career to date?

A.H. – The emails from readers! I have been blown away by the incredible response from so many amazing people. The readers make it all worth it.

Could you describe the Mindspace Investigations series a little bit about for those folks who are new to it?

A.H. – The Mindspace Investigations series is about Adam, a telepath and recovering addict, who is helping the police in future Atlanta solve a series of crimes. His partner-slash-love-interest, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is a grumpy workaholic who’s driven by a sense of justice. The series has a background in the Tech Wars that happened sixty years ago, lots of cool Abilities, and a thread of a scary organized crime group. If you like cop shows and science fiction, you’ll like this.

Please tell us 3 behind the scenes fun facts about the series.

cleanA.H. – 1. Clean took seven drafts to get right; Sharp took only three.

2. Swartz has a real-life analog I interviewed several times. He was an incredible guy; he passed away this year and will be sorely missed by many.

3. I never throw any scenes away; I have entire files on my computer full of scenes that got left on the cutting room floor from both books.

What has been the toughest challenge for you in writing a series?

A.H. – Well, first I had to figure out how to write a series. I am extremely indebted to Holly Lisle and Aaron Allston/ Michael Stackpole for their thoughts on this process, as well as so many of the incredible series-writers who’ve come before me. I studied their works, and decided that I wanted my series to have a beginning, middle and end, and for all the characters to have growth arcs. I wanted to be in control of the process and not have the series veer in any particular unplanned direction.

So, after all the study, I sat down and planned out nine books in general terms; it was important to me that I knew where I was going before I got too deep into it, so that the characters could have that satisfying growth arc. I planned an “away game” and a series villain, as well as raising stakes and larger issues to explore. It’s a big world and I had to make sure I explored it all thoroughly without losing the thread of my characters’ arcs. Having that general outline has been really helpful as my Muse has suggested this thread or that; I keep the ones that go where the series is going and get rid of the ones that don’t.

What’s your definition of a hero in fiction? Is there a specific quality that you feel all heroes must have?

A.H. – This is an interesting question for me, because to some degree Adam is an anti-hero. He’s flawed. He’s complex. He could easily go to the dark side–and has, in the past. But at the core of him, he wants to do the right thing. He’ll walk through fire to do that–and has, in the past. And he’s a free agent; he has the potential to do incredible good, and incredible evil. To me, a story hero is someone whose actions matter, and who wants to do that right thing. Who’ll go through fire without breaking, although they might be scarred by it. And in that sense Adam is a hero. But many people say that heroes have to be better than we are, more likeable, more able, more noble. And in that sense Adam is not a hero.

Since your main character works with the cops, do you do any special research prior to starting your books?

A.H. – I did the research as I went, actually. Not just a lot of Internet research, although I did plenty of that and there’s a lot of forensic and procedural information available online from the FBI and other organizations. I talked to an AA sponsor several times, and he took me to a meeting and read the first book to give me feedback. I pulled from experience as much as I could, and asked many questions of many generous people. And then I went to the Writer’s Police Academy, which was invaluable. As new issues come up, I continue to do research to try to make them as realistic as possible.

What upcoming projects are you working on and when can your fans expect to look for them?

A.H. – Books three and four are in the pipeline, and should be out sometime next year. I’m playing around with some other ideas and projects, as well–I’ll be sending out details to my email newsletter group (sign up on my website) if and when information becomes available on those.


Guilt – an excerpt from Sharp, Mindspace Investigations Book #2

By Alex Hughes

You okay? came Cherabino’s thought again, frustrated. Tap, tap, her mind against mine, tap, tap, as if she could somehow feel my distress and reacted with impatience instead of care. Tap, tap, along the long yellow line back to the real world.

I followed that line, hand over hand, inch by painful blind inch, laboriously surfacing, one overwhelming moment at a time. She kept tapping. She kept pushing. It was the only thing that got me all the way there.

I woke to the clear view of the floor and my knees, twelve inches from the bloodstain, my nose overcome with bad smells. I hadn’t thrown up. I could say that much. And—mind shaking, aching, shivering in reaction pain, I realized I was back to mind-deaf. My head rang with pain, pain—but no emotion. I was deaf and blind again.

“You okay?” Cherabino asked.

I shook my head—and immediately thought better of it; the movement made the world spin.

My eyes caught the victim’s foot, her bare foot on the tile, and I saw a small tattoo, a circle of wavy lines, neurons, encircling a stylized S and Q. I sat down hard, on the tile. I knew that tattoo.

I knew that tattoo, and in combination with it the female mind, or who she’d once been. Her name hadn’t been Hamilton when I’d known her, but she hadn’t been married. Emily, her name had been. Even through the overwhelming pain in my head, I couldn’t let go of the thought. Emily had been one of my best advanced students, years ago. Before it all fell apart. Before her mind twisted into a knot—into something not an Abled mind anymore. Before I’d done the unthinkable.

“Are you okay?” Cherabino repeated.

I fought the guilt and the disorientation of seeing Emily again, seeing her dead. I fought the exposure sickness, the injury. I sat on them, hard, and built a barrier between us with bleeding fingers. Cherabino couldn’t know. She knew too many of my failures as it was.

One small knee shuffle at a time, I moved back, away from Emily. It wasn’t her fault she smelled of urine, dried blood, and darker things, but it wasn’t mine either.

“Well, did the husband do it?” Freeman asked.

“Are you okay?” Cherabino repeated.

I pulled myself to my feet and fished out my sunglasses over my now-light-sensitive eyes. “Unless the husband’s an ex-SEAL or something,” I said in a rasp, “somebody else did it. And now, unless there’s some kind of emergency, I’ll be in the car.”

Uncaring of reactions, I stumbled out of the devil house, away from the seat of every failure I’d ever had, down the stupid steep stairs, and climbed into the backseat of the cop car. I needed to be horizontal. Now.


A Mindspace Investigations Novel, Book 2


ISBN 9780451465047


As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident.

And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.

Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherbino’s longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all…

Places to purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository / iTunes


About the Author:

Alex has written since early childhood, and loves great stories in any form including scifi, fantasy, and mystery. Over the years, she has lived in many neighborhoods of the sprawling metro Atlanta area, including Decatur, the neighborhood on which Clean is centered. Her work is dark, complex, action-filled and a little funny. Her Mindspace Investigations series has been called “A fun blend of Chinatown and Blade Runner” by James Knapp, and Publisher’s Weekly called her “a writer to watch.”

When not writing you can find Alex in the kitchen cooking gourmet Italian food, watching hours of police procedural dramas, and humming to delightfully obscure music.

Learn more about Alex and her work at

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads


As a special treat to our readers, we are able to offer you all the opportunity to win one (1) copy of CLEAN, the first book in the Mind Investigations series! To enter, please leave us your email address (we need this contact you!) and a comment or question for either Alex or us felines in the comments section below. A winner will be selected March 22 using Good luck to all who enter, murr! =^.^=

Posted on April 15, 2013, in Authors. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Books a Million ordered Sharp for me Saturday (after waiting a whole week for them to get copies in) and I can’t wait until it comes in a day or two. Can’t wait to read it! You’ve done wonderfully in both books, Alex. I’m so proud of you! Love, Grandma C.

  2. Will you compile a book of deleted scenes?

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  3. Thanks for the info on your process. As an Andre Norton fan myself (my first introduction to SciFi/Fantasy), I’m curious as to your favorite book (series).

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