Thursday, 23 January 2014

Interview with NJ Alexander , author of "Past Present Future"

Today I'd like welcome NJ Alexander , author of "Past Present Future" to the Thursday interview. 
Before we get started, a quick intro!

NJ Alexander is a trained actress, journalist, accountant and now writer. She lives in the UK with her partner, their two children and neurotic dog. Past Present Future: A social network thriller is her debut novel.


1. Would you break the law to save a loved one? Why?

I guess it would depend on what I was saving them from. If it was to save them from being punished for a crime then I would like to think that I wouldn’t and rather let justice prevail. But to save a loved one in any other way – then yes I think I would. As I’m answering this, I’m thinking of my children, so of course I want them to be good, kind honest people but no doubt they will make mistakes of which there is always a price to pay and a lesson to learn. But lessons aside, my love for them is unconditional, I brought them into this world and to save them in any other way would be something I would naturally want to do.

2. What is the difference between being alive or truly living?

Sometimes the humdrum of life – routine and work means that we often forget to truly live and we become like grey ghosts trapped in a room repeating the same things over and over. To me, truly living is seeing and experiencing new things. I always feel at my most alive when I do something spontaneous outside of routine.

3. What motivates you to write?

Reading and feeling miserable. For some reason, the more miserable I feel the more I want to write. Past Present Future would never have happened had I not been going through such a lousy time. I wrote these answers instead of working on my tax return – say no more.

4.Why do humans want children?

In the late 1980s, and at sixteen most of my classmates seemed desperate to get married and have children like it was some kind of race and the only race at that. I found this difficult to relate to and so suffocating. I dreamed of travelling and living in London in a swanky minimalist apartment that was all cream and beige before it was even fashionable – so I got a job in a travel agency because access to cheap flights seemed the most logical move in this direction for someone who instead of taking exams had hit the beach in Spain. I used to say I don’t want kids and then I was in a relationship were I was being told kids weren’t on the agenda and I suddenly realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to have children – I just didn’t want them that soon. I was 29 when I fell pregnant. It definitely seems that we are programmed to want children it’s when that switch kicks that varies from person to person. Lets face it – if we weren’t programmed to procreate we would be extinct by now.

5. What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "Past Present Future"?

As a first time author every part of the process was a challenge right down to basic things like how long should a chapter be and being told in a professional critique that the first draft was effectively pants – I had to pretty much re-do the whole thing. But the biggest challenge I would say was the fact the novel is based on real events and I needed to let go of so much to make the story work as a book.

6. What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?

Trust your instincts and the only person you can truly depend on is yourself.

7. How did you come up with the title "Past Present Future"?

I had an A4 sheet of possibilities at one point. The earliest drafts were written with a working title of Face the Book. This being a play on Facebook and the fact the novel links back to an old novel called Simon Dale by Anthony Hope. But when I started submitting to agents I changed it to Purple Sky and even went as far a setting up a Facebook page for this one. Purple Sky was on the basis that the sky is really purple but we just can’t see it – this fitted in with what I was trying to say in the novel. The novel’s final title Past Present Future came to me one day as I was thinking about how long it had taken me to covert the entire manuscript from present tense to past tense as I was advised to do at one point. Some months after doing that, it occurred to me that Past Present Future would make a good title because of its connection to words and the fact the novel centres around a game of words on Facebook.

8. How do you handle personal criticism?

Initially I sulk, strop and cry, all with varying degrees depending upon the level of criticism – it makes me very difficult to live with for a little bit, not that I’m saying I’m easy at the best of times. But the tougher the criticism the more determined I become to either prove the criticism as unjustified or overcome the shortcoming. Ultimately I don’t see criticism a bad thing.

9. Why should people read your book?

I wouldn’t really say that they should read the book, but rather, I hope they want to read it and hopefully having read it they will take something from it whatever that may be. Past Present Future is a psychological read, so you don’t necessarily have to be into Facebook to enjoy it, in the same way as you didn’t need to be into emails to have enjoyed the film You’ve got Mail. Don’t expect it to be the best fictional book you will ever read either, as anything based on reality is restrictive. Perhaps read it as a fanciful memoir that you wouldn’t want to have lived through yourself.

10. Why is there something rather than nothing?

Wow, this is one of those mindboggling questions that you could write an entire essay on. It’s like trying to get your head round the fact space goes on forever. But then space is nothing and yet space is something that we can see. You can’t have nothing without there being a something.

Thanks NJ for taking the time to answer my questions & the best of luck with your new book! 

Check out her new book "Past Present Future" on

Between greed, love and obsession there is the truth we would rather not see. Flash cars and country house, but all is at stake. JUST ONE CLICK is all it would take for thirty-something mother-of-two Nicole Hollis to remove the sexy ‘what-if’ man she lusts after from her Facebook… But she just can’t do it. Instead she allows his word games to undermine her relationship with older sophisticated Richard and her sanity spirals when events she can’t fathom escalate. Nothing in her life is what it seems and who is really in control?

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