The Deb Ball Welcomes Alex George

We here at the Ball are so excited to have Alex George joining us today. His debut novel, A GOOD AMERICAN, was just released by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam and is already receiving rave reviews!

Here’s a quick look:

A GOOD AMERICAN is a story of immigrant hope.  Beginning with an improbable love affair ignited by the power of song, the story follows an unorthodox young couple as they flee Germany in 1904 to America, in search of a new life together.  From bare-knuckle prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies and the Kennedy assassination, their family is caught up in the sweep of history across the twentieth century as they find their place in their adopted country.  Accompanied by a chorus of unforgettable characters, from a chicken-strangling church organist to a malevolent bicycle-riding dwarf, each new generation discovers afresh what it means to be an American.

And guess what? Proving that he is indeed a “Prince” among writers, Alex has offered to giveaway a copy of his novel to one lucky commenter!

So without further ado, the dance floor is yours, Alex!

Alex George Takes the Deb Ball Interview!

Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.

Amidst all the craziness of publication of my novel, it is often easy to lose sight of what’s really important.  Around the time of a book’s release, writers get swept up in a whirlwind of promotional nuttiness, with demands for their time, and words, and heaven knows what else.  But it is the book that is important. So while my email is pinging and the phone is ringing, sometimes I like to pull the single copy of my novel that I have in the house off the shelf, and just hold it.  As a physical object, it is a thing of beauty, and every time I have it my hands I am filled with a deep sense of contentment.  Whatever else happens, this is something I have created, for better or for worse, and nothing and nobody can take that away from me.  That makes me pretty darn happy.

Where do you love to be?

Anywhere at all, if my children are with me.

Which talent do you wish you had?

Real world talent: playing killer jazz piano.

Non-real world talent: invisibility.

What time of day do you love best?

I’m probably supposed to say early mornings, because that’s when I write.  But actually it’s my evening routine with the children that I love the most.  After supper and ablutions, I read with my daughter (who is six) for half an hour on the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, and then we both climb on to the top bunk and chat for a bit before I turn her light off.  After I kiss her goodnight, my son (who is ten) and I sit on the sofa and read our books together, fending of the affectionate attentions of our puppy as we do so.  By the time both children are asleep, I’m exhausted, because of my early starts – I get up to write at five o’clock each morning.  But having them asleep in their beds above me gives me a profound sense of contentment.  There’s a magical stillness in a house with sleeping children in it.  I adore that.

Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.

Four very English things for you.

1. The title sequence for Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Pure genius.

2. This wonderful giggling fit during an international cricket match:

3. Possibly (if you’re English) the best-loved comedy skit ever:

4. Les Dawson singing “Feelings”.  Er, beautiful:


What three things would you want with you if stranded on a desert island?

My two children and our puppy.  Then I wouldn’t actually be stranded at all.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Read.  Then read some more.

Try and find a regular time to write, and once you’ve carved out that time, defend it ferociously. If you’re serious about your writing, make it a priority.

Tell the truth.  Don’t be afraid.

And read.

Don’t stop.  It’s so easy to stop.  Of all the attributes a writer needs, the most important are stamina and bull-headedness.  Keep going.  Have faith in yourself.

I highly recommend The Getaway Car, an extended essay on writing by Ann Patchett, for everyone who wants to write or is interested in the craft.  It is an honest and illuminating account of the writing life, and full of good advice, including: forgive yourself.

Did I already say read?

You might also want to cross your fingers.  It does make for slower typing, but we writers need all the luck we can get. I feel as if I’ve had more than my fair share of it.  I daren’t uncross them yet!

Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes in the middle of America.  He studied law at Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the United States in 2003. You can learn more about him at his website, and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter!

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Thank you so much for being here today, Alex! And don’t forget, friends, to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of A GOOD AMERICAN!

13 Replies to “The Deb Ball Welcomes Alex George”

  1. Welcome, Alex! We’re so happy to have you take a spin around the dance floor with us. Lovely interview. 🙂

    THE GOOD AMERICAN sounds like a rich and amazing read — can’t wait to get it into my TBR pile.

  2. Thanks so much for donning your tiara and being with us today, Alex. A GOOD AMERICAN sounds wonderful and congrats on the Indie Next list!

    p.s. how did I not remember the Holy Grail credits? Hilarious.

  3. Great interview! I loved The Getaway Car (read on your advice) and am now enjoying your novel! But this stands out as the most profound thing in this interview: “But having them asleep in their beds above me gives me a profound sense of contentment. There’s a magical stillness in a house with sleeping children in it. I adore that.” So true and what I miss so much now that my kids have gone off to college… when they’re home, I *still* get that same profound contentment.

  4. Not even 9 am and already the man’s dance card is filling up! As well it should!

    Alex, we’re so glad you’re here and so thrilled for all the praise and success of A GOOD AMERICAN.

    (Oh, and I suspect your daughter can give you tips on the heels. My four year old daughter has a dress-up pair that would make most runway models pale and she wears them with absolute confidence and balance. I’m in awe. 😉 )

  5. Congratulations on A Good American — it’s on my “read very soon” list! I’ve heard raves about the book and the audio version as well.

    Thanks for the tip on the Ann Patchett essay. I too love reading with my little ones. My six year old and I have been reading the Ramona books together for the past few months. I’m not sure who’s loving it more, me or him.

    I would really be thrilled to win a copy of A Good American, but rest assured, I’ll buy one if I don’t!

  6. This book and The Getaway Car are on my reading list! As the kid of an immigrant, pondering cultural and worldview frictions is a constant for me. Though I’m born and raised in the U.S. of A., I’ve never felt 100% “American” because of my parentage. Looking forward to reading your book (and learning how your characters construct an American identity)!

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