All posts by K. M. Alexander

About K. M. Alexander

K. M. Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native and novelist living and working in Seattle with his wife and two dogs. He is an avid hiker, cold-weather enthusiast, world traveler, wannabe cyclist, and a self-proclaimed beer snob. His work explores non-traditional settings within speculative fiction, bending and blending genres to create rich worlds and unique, approachable characters.

Fresh Boxes (of Books)

Signed Paperbacks! Free Shipping!

Don’t forget, all month long you can pick up signed paperback copies of any of my books and receive free shipping from my store. (US only, sorry.) Just use the code: BFCMONTH at checkout. Free shipping expires Halloween at midnight.

Along with books, I also have some new Bell Forging Cycle gear: hoodies, mugs, and new die-cut stickers. I think you’ll dig ’em.

Paperbacks not your thing? eBook copies are always available from a variety of stores. See the full list at any of the following pages:

The Stars Were RightOld Broken RoadRed Litten World

 


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

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Marilyn Stasio

The Gatekeeper


“I will never read a normal novel. I just can’t. I won’t. I mean, I keep saying ‘where’s the body? Kill someone. Let’s get out of here. Let’s move this along.’”

Marilyn Stasio


While the Bell Forging Cycle novels aren’t specifically Crime/Mystery, they do have elements that would be familiar to readers of those genres. (Murder!) Hence my interest. I found Stasio’s thoughts on character-driven fiction vs. puzzle/plot-driven stories were interesting ones. Especially on how she feels it relates to a book’s length. I don’t this shift is specific to novels within Mystery. Her same complaint could be leveled on some of the current trends happening within speculative fiction.

It’s a quick listen. I found this to be a fascinating glimpse into the working of a prolific reviewer. Big thanks to Kari-Lise for encouraging me to check out this episode of Criminal. I really enjoyed it and think you will as well.


Find out more Marilyn Stasio’s thoughts on crime fiction in her column:
www.nytimes.com/column/crime

Criminal is a production of Radiotopia from PRX. Subscribe and learn more at:
www.thisiscriminal.com

It's Old Broken Road's Birthday!

Happy Birthday to OLD BROKEN ROAD

Today marks the birthday of the second book in the Bell Forging Cycle and the most divisive: Old Broken Road. I say divisive because it gets a lot of interesting reactions from readers, some folks love it, some do not. It’s certainly the creepiest and most “Lovecraftian” of the three. It also won’t be the last time we see Waldo Bell adventuring beyond the levels and warrens Lovat. Book Four (whose name is out there for those bold enough to look) promises to take us into parts beyond, but probably not in the way you’re imagining.

Divisive or no, 2017 has been a good year for Old Broken Road. Earlier this year, and thanks to a BookBub sale it was propelled to the Amazon Best Seller list, and I ranked among Amazon’s Most Popular Authors in Science Fiction and Fantasy for a brief time. It was a good month, February.

So Happy Birthday, Old Broken Road and thanks for a great year. Remember! All month long you can pick up a signed version of any of my books and receive free shipping from my store. (US only, sorry.) Just use the code: BFCMONTH on checkout. The code expires Halloween at midnight.


If you’ve missed it, I’ve been posting a lot of Bell Forging Cycle related content this month. Make sure you check out some of the following posts:

Trip Report - Scotland - Photo by Kelcey Rushing

Trip Report – Scotland

Last week, Kari-Lise and I returned from a two-week trip to Scotland. It had been over a year since our last holiday, and between work, Coal Belly, and multiple gallery openings a vacation was welcome. Once again we ended up taking a long road trip through the country. Starting and finishing in Glasgow and taking us all over Scotland. I’ve driven in Ireland and Australia, so the shift from left to right wasn’t a big deal. After a few weeks, it felt completely normal.


“See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask for no guarantees, ask for no security.”

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451


For this post, I’m going to take a little time hitting the significant places we stayed and share a few photos from the trip. One resource I cannot praise enough is Atlas Obscura. Many of the strange places we visited were featured on their site, and I recommend checking them out anytime you travel. Proper research can make any trip significantly more enjoyable.

Okay! To the report! This is going to be a long post, so consider yourself warned.


Loch Lomond & Kintyre Peninsula

I can’t sleep on planes. Not sure why. Probably a combination of being both a big guy and a light sleeper. So we arrived in Scotland exhausted. Thankfully, we were traveling with our friends Kelcey Rushing and Jim Rushing. Since this was a road trip and I just got off from roughly 24-hours of travel, Jim volunteered to take the first shift driving. Thank goodness.

We didn’t have far to go for the first night, so we had a leisurely breakfast then made a pitstop at Buchanan Castle in Stirlingshire, just outside of Glasgow. It’s an incredible manor house that has slowly been overtaken by nature. The resulting ruins are nothing short of spectacular.

Kari-Lise captured this photo of me among the ruins
Kari-Lise captured this photo of me (still awake after twenty-six hours) among the ruins

We stayed overnight and the next morning, hit up Finnich’s Glen (also known as the Devil’s Pulpit) before we headed off to the Isle of Islay. Fans of the Outlander series will recognize this deep sandstone gorge as the Liar’s Spring from Season 1. Since it was an early Monday morning in September, we had the place to ourselves.


Islay

Port Ellen, Islay
Port Ellen, Islay

I love the ritual of scotch. The sound as it hits the bottom of a glass. The scents it carries that evokes the landscape from which its made. The complex layers of flavor inherited from the barrels in which it was aged. Few foods or drinks are as reflective of their history and heritage like scotch. Islay in a way was a pilgrimage and its hills and bogs holy ground for the scotch enthusiast. It’s the home of smokey malts that taste of brine, salt, and peat. It’s my favorite region.

The ferry to Port Ellen was long, a few hours but we arrived and quickly established a home base in an apartment. The following day, thanks to Jim’s planning, we began our scotch experience with a peat cutting for Laphroaig (my favorite Islay malt) which we followed with a tour of their facility. I have been a Friend of Laphroaig for nine years, and I collected the rent on my 1’x1′ piece of sod, and promptly set out to plant my flag in the bog north of the distillery.

My piece of Laphroaig was past a hillock and just beyond a depression, and while much of the field was solid, hidden springs lay everywhere sometimes many feet deep. I found my ground and turned to call to Kari-Lise stepped back and sank into what looked like a bunch of grass. It wasn’t grass. The grass had abandoned me, and I tumbled backward into a deep pool of cold, muddy water—it was a memorable cap on our visit to the distillery.

Thankfully, it was only a mile walk back to our apartment, and I changed into drier clothes, and we continued on, visiting Lagavulin (my 2nd favorite distillery) and Ardbeg before the day was over and wrapping up our visit to Islay. (I could have spent a few more days there. But there was more of Scotland to see.)

Since I know people will ask here are the scotches I added to my collection:

  • Clynelish 14 yr. (Highland)
  • Dalmore 15 yr. (Highland)
  • Ardbeg Uigeadail (Islay)
  • Ledaig 10 yr. (Island – New favorite)
  • Edradour 2002 (Highland – 14 yr. Sherry Cask)
  • Lagavulin Fèis Ìle 2017 (Islay – My ultra-special bottle)

Skye

The Stoor, Isle of Skye
On the northeastern side of Skye is The Storr

The trip to Skye was beautiful taking us through Glencoe and Glenfinnan. (Both would deserve their own section had we spent more time there.) But Skye itself was a wonder. Our cabin was off the beaten path far in the north, and it was here we spent time in the mountains and glens of the countryside. It also poured rain. Which was fitting for Scotland.

The Fairy Glen was stunning. The Storr was amazing. The Fairy Pools had become Fairy Torrents after all the rain. But the countryside was vast and open and made one feel small and insignificant. Skye is a draw for many reasons, and all of them are good.


Edinburgh

From Skye, we drove down to Edinburgh, pausing for castles and stopping at the Edradour Distillery. It was here we eventually split from Jim and Kelcey but not before we spent some time exploring the city. Many people often say Edinburgh ranks as a favorite and I can understand why. The mixture of medieval and modern creates a fascinating place of winding alleys and layered roads. Space is at a premium and nothing goes to waste. We were there only two days and just saw a fraction of the place. We climbed the Scott Monument, visited the National Gallery, toured Edinburgh Castle, explored Old Town, played in the Camera Obscura, had tea near the University, poked around Dean Village, and late at night we located the oldest Masonic Lodge in the world. All that and I feel like we barely scratched the surface. The city is impossible to grasp in a single visit. I have unfinished business in Edinburgh.


Northern Highlands

As the city faded behind us, we hoped we’d find something special in the far reaches of the Northern Highlands, and we were not disappointed. There is a vast wildness along the North Coast: tall mountains, twisting rivers, and expansive vistas that are difficult to capture on camera. Ancient castles perch above lochs that stretch to the horizon. Peaks and valleys fold into one another, and the roads that cross these spaces are windings and narrow. (See the video above.) We spent several days in the Northern Highlands exploring the coast, visiting castles, checking in on a few distilleries, eating cheese, seeing wonders, and experiencing much of the North Coast 500. In the end, we returned to Glasgow tired but fulfilled.


I cannot recommend Scotland enough, it was easily one of my favorite trips. A huge thank you to Kelcey and Jim joining us for the first week. We had an absolute blast, and it was an honor to experience Scotland alongside two of the best people I know. (Don’t be surprised if they don’t show up in photos on future trips.)

One other unexpected takeaway: outside of uploading a few pictures to Instagram I stayed off the internet for the most part, and it was grand. It really allowed me to absorb the experience and thoroughly lose myself in the rich history of the land. Standing in castles a thousand years old and seeing landscape and towns that are older than most cultures in the western hemisphere put a lot of things into perspective. It made a lot of the news happening in America (the reaction to NFL players protest in particular) look incredibly petty. I recommend taking an internet diet. The echo chamber is dumb, and the internet is not as important as we all like to pretend. Go out. Travel. Meet people. Listen to them. Get uncomfortable. (This is where I quote Mark Twain again.)


“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Mark Twain


I’m a firm believer in travel and allowing yourself to get lost in someone else’s culture. (Important aspect there, as G. K. Chesterton once said, “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”) I think travel is important for the writer as well. As I said in the trip report from California: a cleft of rock can inspire a thousand tales, a family of marmot running across a subalpine meadow can spark ideas for plots, and meeting interesting people along the way can usher forth a whole civilization of rich characters.

So that’s our trip! Coming back to work Monday was tough, but I was excited to reestablish a routine. By now, I feel like I have conquered my jet lag and its time to dive back into work. I finished a manuscript before this trip, and I have pages to edit. Also, it’s nearly time to start writing the fourth book in the Bell Forging Cycle.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Revisiting the Bell Forging Cycle Playlists

Revisiting the Bell Forging Cycle Playlists

My taste in music is… uh, eclectic. It’s not uncommon for me to be listening to southern gothic country, switch to hip-hop, move to bluegrass, then pivot to classical. I like variety. Often, songs serve as an inspiration for a setting or a character, more often I’ll find a song that captures the mood I am trying to evoke in a difficult scene. Over the years, I’ve created and shared playlists of songs that have inspired the books in the Bell Forging Cycle. I’ve posted them below (with new album artwork!) for your listening pleasure.


The Tunes Were RightThe Tunes Were Right

See the full tracklist  →

Listen on Spotify →

Listen/Watch on YouTube →

 

 

 


Old Broken PlaylistOld Broken Playlist

See the full tracklist →

Listen on Spotify →

Listen/Watch on YouTube →

 

 

 


Red Litten TracksRed Litten Tracks

See the full tracklist →

Listen on Spotify →

Listen/Watch on YouTube →

 

 

 


As I’ve begun preparations to write the fourth book (yep, it’s happening), I’ve been going back and listening to each playlist. It’s fascinating how each captures my emotional state while writing the individual novels. Introspection and discovery abound in The Tunes Were Right, there’s a root-inspired personal darkness that’s explored in the Old Broken Playlist, and the songs in Red Litten Tracks carry a frenetic punk-like energy that nails the dread that hangs over Wal. Of course, all of three have an undercurrent of jazz that runs like an artery through the soul of the Bell Forging Cycle.

How does music inspire you in your creative pursuits? Do you enjoy listening to playlists from authors? Which of these three are your favorite? Leave a comment below and let me know!

When you're feelin' it.
Jimmy Pesto Jr. is feelin’ it.

Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Screw you, Paperboy! I don't need this pressure right now.

Now Available: New Bell Forging Cycle Goodies

I’m in the throes of editing Coal Belly, but that doesn’t mean I’m completely ignoring the Bell Forging Cycle. After hitting up some conventions earlier this year, it became apparent I needed some fresh stuff in my store. Since its October, the month of the Bell Forging Cycle, I figured now would be the perfect time to announce some new goodies! What do we have? Well, let’s take a look…


Bell Caravans HoodieBell Caravans Hoodie

I’m happy to offer an official unisex Bell Caravans Hoodie using the logo designed by illustrator Sean Cumiskey. The full logo is on the back, while the small wheel-and-bell symbol resides on the front. Perfect for those chilly fall mornings, caravan guard duty, upper-level weddings, or funerals.


Cedric’s Eatery Mugs

“An in-between place for in-between folks.”
I’ve had this idea for a while and figured it’d be fun. Now you can have a mug from Waldo Bell’s favorite diner. Perfect if you’re the type who “draws one in the dark” or maybe you prefer tea. Either way, drink up!


Bell Caravans Die-cut Stickers

I have loads of stickers already. But I wanted to make something a bit more substantial. When I set out to make stuff the goal isn’t to sell more books instead I want to expand the world of the series. I won’t make swag I wouldn’t use myself, and I’m delighted how well these turned out.


I’m excited to bring these new items to the store. I’ve been kicking around some other ideas as well. Have an idea? Let me know! I’m always happy to try new stuff. Is there a specific product you want? A feelie you think would fit the Bell Forging Universe? Hats? Teeshirts? Tote-bags? Leave a comment, let me know.