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, two dogs, and two rabbits. His work explores nontraditional settings within speculative fiction, bending and blending genres to create rich worlds and unique approachable characters.

Yeah, It's Still Weird

Yeah, It’s Still Weird

Lately, I haven’t been blogging as much as I’d like. Like everyone else, this shelter-in-place/stay-at-home/stay-indoors/quarantine/pick-your-homebound-term life has disrupted a lot of my normal flow. Creative work still haunts me, but it’s easy to find myself distracted and not doing the stuff I want to be doing. I know I’m not alone. A lot of my fellow creators are feeling it as well. That being said, it’s odd—in all honesty, the day-to-day in the Alexander household hasn’t changed all that much. We’re both fortunate we can work from home, and work has certainly continued. Recently I’ve gotten a few questions from readers, so in the vein of John Scalzi, I’m going to answer those questions through a self-interview.

So hey, where’s Gleam Upon the Waves?

Hmmm, right off the bat, eh? I figured this question would come, and I have an answer for it. Work has continued in fits and starts, despite me feeling weirdly oppressed by the world right now. It’s sitting at 106k words—which means it’s grown a little (sidebar says it was near 100k when it was “done”) as I’ve clarified or added bits and pieces to the whole. It feels like it’s in a pretty good place now. The initial goal was to try a launch in 2020. But, like everything else in the world, I’m playing that by ear now—we’ll have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, I’ve also started working on some short stories set in the universe as well, and I’ll be releasing those for free. So stick around. Follow along, we’ll be back to the Territories before you know it.

What about map stuff?

I haven’t completely abandoned my mapping projects. But they’ve taken a backseat to other creative work after finishing my goal last year. I’ve found a few wonderful sources that I feel will be great additions to the set as a whole, and I’ll keep plugging away with the intent to release more sets. In the meantime, if you’ve used my brushes in your maps, please shoot me a message and let me see ’em! I love seeing how they get used.

Also, over on Twitter, John Hornor Jacobs asked if I had any brushes to help people map out dungeons. I don’t, but the request got me thinking. I could see some benefits and uses in floorplan-style brushes. As with my other sets, I’ll want to make sure they’re historically accurate and rooted in antiquity. So, we’ll see how I do finding sources.

 Anything new around here?

Yeah, actually. I have a few new posts in the works, and I still have more Raunch Reviews coming. I have a Trip Report queued, but I haven’t launched it yet. It documents our trip to Portland we took back in January for Kari-Lise’s birthday. It was a blast and mostly filled with loads of eating. But, it feels kinda odd looking back now, with the world in so much turmoil January was like a lifetime ago. So I keep hemming and hawing over releasing it or not—I will eventually—but it makes me miss restaurants, people, and normal life.

There’s also a plan in the works where soon I’ll begin interviewing my writer friends. They’re good people, and they write good books, and—since I don’t have anything fresh right now—I decided I should step out of my own book world and promote them. So stay tuned!

So, like… how are you feeling?

Fine, and yet weird. Kari-Lise and I are both healthy. I’ve been dealing with some allergy issues, but they’ve mostly subsided. We’ve been at home for three weeks now, and as I said, our day-to-day hasn’t changed all that much. I’ve got some low-key anxiety these days, which isn’t something I’ve really experienced before—mostly me worried about the health and livelihood of friends and family.

I know a lot of freelancers, artists, and small business owners, and the economic downturn has been particularly rough on all of them. So please keep them in mind when we emerge from this. Those books, movies, music, poetry, art, and so on—those things keeping us sane as we’re all at home—yeah, artists made those. Art is essential, especially in times like these, let’s remember that on the other side.


Hopefully, that answers some questions. If you have anything else, you want to ask me, feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment below. Life in my household has settled into a bit of a rhythm. We’re looking into making our own masks for the times we need to get out of the house. We avoid social media these days. Seattle remains on lockdown for the foreseeable future—at least through May 4th, but I think it’ll be extended. I honestly don’t see how any of this changes until widespread testing is available for everyone. Until then, we’ll all be living in a perpetual state of what-if and rolling the dice with the health of friends and family, and it’s hard to operate in a society where that is happening.

I’m very grateful for our governor and the local officials handling the virus here in Washington State. The response has been phenomenal, and I feel very proud to be a Washingtonian. They made hard decisions early, and it’s made a big difference. Seattle was once the hotspot for this outbreak, and every day we fall further down the list. Staying home saves lives and it shows.

I know I’m not alone in feeling grateful for the doctors and nurses who face this daily. Those people are heroes, and they deserve our utmost admiration and honor. I’m also thankful for the people still making sure we have power and internet and running water. I’m grateful for the folks who make deliveries, carry the mail, pick up the garbage, and work in the grocery stores. They’re also heroes. It’s been encouraging to see validation that “low skill” workers are, in fact, critical to our society. They should be compensated accordingly for their labor and service—I just wish it didn’t take a pandemic to open some people’s eyes. My hope is we’ll see a change when this is all over.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Wash your hands.

Raunch Review: Harry Potter

Raunch Review: Harry Potter


Quick Note: I wrote this post ages ago, before COVID-19, shelter-in-place, and social distancing was a thing. I debated posting it, but eventually decided it should go live. I want to help foster a sense of normalcy during these difficult times. So, with that as a goal, let’s side-eye some of the faux-profanity from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, eh?


Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Review: Harry Potter
Raunch Review: Harry Potter
The Author: J. K. Rowling
Work in Question: The Harry Potter Series
The Profanity: “Merlin’s Beard”

Within the Harry Potter series, there is one example of faux-profanity that is a bit of a conundrum for me. Partly because it’s played for laughs, but mostly because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. “Merlin’s Beard” desperately wants to be profanity. It reads like a pejorative. It follows typical stylings of oaths evoking a name and pairing it with a physical feature. We don’t see these often today, but many oaths of this kind were popular in the Middle Ages, and later due to semantic drift, they became the mild-minced oaths popular in the 20th century.

But even in the magic-filled world of the Potter series, Merlin remains little more than a historical figure. He’s not worshiped or viewed as a deity, he was merely a respected wizard of antiquity, so evoking his name carries little weight. It’s not blasphemous, and this makes it odd to see his name employed in this manner, with no reason for its usage given. Oaths are rooted in a rebellion toward authority, and there’s no rebelling here. It’d be like an American swearing by Martin Luther King, Jr. or Abraham Lincoln. It wouldn’t carry any punch. So, while Harry Potter has done well in the past, it stumbles here, leaving us with a pseudo-oath more befuddled than anything else.

Score: Half Swear (2.0)

🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Love in the Time of COVID

Love in the Time of COVID

With everything happening around the world today, it feels like a strange time to write a blog post—yet, here I am. As many of you know, I live in Seattle, Washington. One of the United State’s hotbeds during our outbreak of COVID-19—the novel coronavirus currently wreaking havoc across… well, everything.

As it stands, Kari-Lise and I are currently doing our part to social distance ourselves away from others, and we’re lucky that we’re both able to work from home. Not everyone can, and that adds a lot of extra stress into people’s day-to-day. Since last Wednesday, I’ve really only left my house to get groceries.

It’s been surreal watching this roll across daily life. People have lost their jobs. Events have been canceled. Much of the city is on lockdown—schools, restaurants, bars, churches, gyms, theaters, etc. are closed. Businesses have reduced their hours, some have closed completely, a few permanently. Nothing here is normal. Everything feels slightly off and a little uncertain. Time stretches past in long intervals. It’s easy to get distracted reading and re-reading the same gibberish over and over. There’s an odd pall hanging over everything you do and a mild panic bubbling beneath the surface. I have a few friends both here and abroad who suspect they might have contracted COVID and knowing that gets your mind spinning. Thankfully, all are staying home, resting up, and all seem to be on the mend.

At the time of me writing this, Washington State has passed a thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19—hopefully, with the city shut down and the stay-at-home measures in place, we’ll start to see a slowdown sooner rather than later. I’d love for all of this to be over in a few weeks, but honestly, I don’t see that happening. I don’t know how this is sustainable. It boggles my mind that corporate America isn’t demanding comprehensive and expansive testing. We’d be able to properly quarantine and care for the sick and wouldn’t have to shut down entire swaths of a city based on assumptions.

Regardless of the next two weeks, it’s becoming more and more clear to me that this pandemic will have a profound impact on the economy, our society, and ultimately our culture. It’s important to reflect on this. The world as we knew it won’t ever go back to the way it was, it never does, it can’t—it’ll emerge different, changed by what we’re experiencing now, hopefully for the better.

I’m not sure if a post like this is helpful or not to the grand dialog as a whole, but it’s useful to me. I’m usually not as open on here about the day-to-day of life, but perhaps I should be—being vulnerable in times like this is how we can come together and build empathy for our varied experiences. Humans are stronger together, and one way or another, I’m sure we’ll get through this. Until then…

Be kind to everyone. Give grace. Don’t horde. Help where you can. Love each other.


The image above comes from the cover of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s El amor en los tiempos del cólera, or as we know it in English: Love in the Time of Cholera—of which I shamelessly stole as a title for this post.

Have questions for me? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

Five Genre-Busting Fiction Writers You Should Read

Five Genre-Busting Fiction Writers You Should Read

When it comes to reading, I always appreciate the weird. I’m drawn to tales that are on the fringe, stories that are difficult to place within traditional genres. Weird fiction—as a result, calls to me. There’s something about those category-defying stories that make me feel at home. Perhaps you also enjoy stories like this? (If you read and enjoyed my books, I’d wager you did.)

It’s been a while—Halloween, actually—since I’ve given book recommendations. So, let’s rectify that today. Below I’ve shared five authors who write fiction that’s a little hard to pin down. As of this year, whenever I share books, all links will now go to IndieBound instead of Amazon—be sure to support your local bookstore. Also, where possible, I am now linking to each author’s official website. So be sure to give those a visit as well.


"Trail of Lightning" by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse

Recommended Book: Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1)

What begins as a gritty desert-focused modern fantasy following a Navajo monster hunter quickly expands into something more—Roanhorse takes the contemporary threat of environmental catastrophe creates a refreshing post-apocalyptic setting in which she places her southwest desert setting. What you end up with is a world that reworks your standard monster-hunting tropes and takes them into fresh and wonderfully strange territory. A fantastic read.

Also by Roanhorse: Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2), Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience (Short Story)


Fonda Lee

Recommended Book: Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)

Transcending your standard genres and weaving an intricate wuxia tale of criminal clans in a pseudo-1980s city, Lee goes in places no other fantasy has before. A story of family, crime, and honor, complete with magic enhanced abilities and kung-fu style action. Here you’ll find complex characters, a visceral world, and a high body count. A perfect blend of genres to create a unique and utterly refreshing experience.

Also by Lee: Jade War (The Green Bone Saga #2), Exo


"All the Birds in the Sky" by Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders

Recommended Book: All the Birds in the Sky

A strange and often surreal tale that weaves together a helping of science fiction, a dash of awkward romance, a smattering of academy fantasy, and a hefty serving of the downright bizarre. It’s hard to truly pin down this tale of love during that awkward twenty-something malaise—it’s been called magic realism, it’s been called fantasy, and it’s something right in the middle. Polarizing it might be, but it’s solidly unique.

Also by Anders: The City in the Middle of the Night


"Winter Tide" by Ruthanna Emrys

Ruthanna Emrys

Recommended Book: Winter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy #1)

Often it’s easy for series rooted in Lovecraft to slip entirely into the horror genre. However, Emrys takes a different approach. Here she creates a forlorn experience that reexamines the atrocities and ramifications of American internment camps and the Cold War through a slightly stranger lens. History and horror are woven together here in a fascinating (if not polarizing) tale of human nature.

Also by Emrys: Deep Roots (The Innsmouth Legacy #2), Imperfect Commentaries


"Chapelwood" by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest

Recommended Book: Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches #2)

Taking the historical account of Lizzie Borden and coupling it with Lovecraftian Horror, Priest manages to create an engaging and wonderfully weird series in The Borden Dispatches. While her first book is delightful, her second is divine. The characters are more established, the plot tighter, the world richer, and the events within more distressing with every page turn.

Also by Priest: The Toll, Brimstone


If you’ve spent any time here, you’ve undoubtedly you’ve heard me sing the praises of one of these authors before. But, perhaps they’re new to you, and hopefully, you find something here to enthrall you, and you’ll discover a new genre-defying world to explore. Have a suggestion of your own? Is there a favorite genre-busting author who’s work you enjoyed? Leave a comment below and let me know!


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