Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Q&A with Neely Tubati Alexander




Neely Tubati Alexander is the author of the new novel In a Not So Perfect World. She also has written the novel Love Buzz. She lives in Arizona.


Q: What inspired you to write In a Not So Perfect World, and how did you create your character Sloane?


A: When setting out to write my sophomore novel, I knew there were a few things I wanted to accomplish.


One was to write a true romcom, as my debut novel toed the line between women’s fiction and romance. On this one, I wanted to dive fully into the romance realm.


And I knew I wanted a STEM heroine as we don’t see many of those in this space (though we are seeing more thanks to authors like Ali Hazelwood!) Gaming felt like a fun, rare choice I haven’t seen made often. I like offering representation of all kinds, and girl gamers don’t get much in the romance space.


Q: The writer Jesse Q. Sutanto said of the book, “I felt like I was right there with Sloane in beautiful Turks and Caicos, and for a lighthearted vacation read, this tackles some real issues of sexism in the game industry.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think the goal of any author is to leave readers feeling immersed in the location, the scenes and the feelings you hope to inspire. Since the book is in first person, this gives the opportunity for an added layer of connection, where a reader can feel like they are in the character’s head, experiencing every emotion with them.


Because of that, this wonderful blurb from Jesse is one of the highest forms of praise a reader can give. Who doesn’t love getting swept away in a place and story when reading?


The sexism components of the book were important ones for me to tackle. As a strategic HR consultant, I’ve found myself in many situations similar to Sloane’s.


Some might find the behavior hard to believe, but there’s nothing in the book Sloane experiences that I have not experienced myself, either directly or indirectly.


I wanted to highlight how hard it is to be woman in certain spaces, and the double standards and high expectations that exist. And, because of that, how much more admirable it is when we achieve in these spaces.


Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I myself am not a gamer, so I did a ton of research on the gaming elements of the story. And I learned so much! From pre-existing platforms to build games from to the rarest games out there, I learned so much about the industry and the gaming world.


There’s a fact I included in the book which is that the gaming industry rakes in more money than the music and film/TV industries combined, which is a really staggering statistic. Yet, there isn’t a lot of representation for gamers in novels, women specifically. I loved the idea of including this kind of representation.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: Hopeful is always the word that first comes to mind. Like in my debut novel Love Buzz, I like to combine both fun, upbeat storylines with some heavier topics.


In Love Buzz it was parental loss and estranged family. In In a Not So Perfect World, it’s moving on from heartbreak and the often misogynistic world of gaming (and really any male-dominated space).


But, ultimately, my stories are always about hope and should leave a reader feeling inspired, if I did my job correctly.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve recently handed over my third novel to my agent for her notes! It was a big undertaking that once again required me to learn a new field I knew little about, but also incorporates some things I really love (like reality TV). I can’t wait to share more details soon!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Neely Tubati Alexander.

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