When Alex Kiester was 7, she knew she wanted to be a writer. “When I was a kid, I walked around making up stories in my head.”
This proved to be a useful skill for the driven young novelist, who achieved notable success at an early age.
At 25, she began to write seriously. At 29, the Westlake High School graduate achieved her first commercial success with her debut novel, “In Her Skin” was released after winning a Writers’ League of Texas competition. This led to an offer from a literary agent.
“In Her Skin” launched Kiester’s career when his voice book appeared as an Audible original on the Audible website and app. His mystery thriller was ranked in the Top 10 Audible Originals the month it was released.
Like most novelists, she admits there’s a lot of herself in her work. This is the case of “In Her Skin”. The protagonist, a writer, is so terrified of live audiences that she hires an actress to portray her on the book’s promotional tour. After the tour, the actress mysteriously disappears.
In real life, Kiester overcame his fear of public speaking by joining a Toastmasters International group to prepare for author readings and book tours.
“It’s terrifying to have a book out in the world when it’s so personal,” she said. “You expose yourself to criticism. It’s hard to separate yourself from your book because a lot of it goes into it.
Kiester’s new mystery novel, “The Truth About Ben and June,” will be released again on Audible, in bookstores and on Amazon on June 28. She will do a discussion on Austin at Book People the same day.
“It’s a contemporary fictional book about marriage, with suspense, mystery and emotion. I write about things that I can’t help but think about,” Kiester said. In this book, I explored my biggest fear and my ambivalence. I didn’t know if I wanted children.
The story begins with the disappearance of June, a former dancer with Martha Graham’s Dance Company in New York, who abandons her career after she and her husband Ben had their first child.
Ben, a hardworking attorney at a busy Manhattan law firm, wakes up one morning to find their baby crying and his wife gone – of her own free will, without warning or note.
The 320-page book explores the challenges of modern parenthood and what would drive a seemingly content mother to disappear.
“I’m a feminist, so my works will always be presented through a feminist lens,” Kiester said.
Its plot was inspired by the story of the Greek author Euripède “Medea”, but it changed the mistress of a princess’s husband to her own career.
Readers get a glimpse into June’s mind from a diary she leaves behind which is discovered by Ben. It details his struggles with the recent death of his mother, the reality that his son and his mother will never meet, and his mother will not be there to share his wisdom. She also explores the heartache of giving up on her career.
“Ben works as a lawyer for his family,” Kiester said. “Our society says that’s a good thing, but the parallel I draw to Medea is that it reinforces the problematic gender paradigm that says a man’s only responsibility is to be a good provider.”
Her target audience is herself.
“You can’t organize yourself to write a book for other people,” she said. “You have to write the book you want to read. I think that’s how the best art is created. I’m hungry and I’m motivated. My goal is to keep writing and trying. Fortunately, I’m motivated I sit at my desk and work all day It’s easier if you make it a habit.
Finding an agent was “a long and difficult process, but I’m an organized Type-A personality who had a spreadsheet with a list of agents I wanted to work with,” Kiester said. It took seven months to find representation, but she got an offer from an agent with big vision for her book and her career.
“I’m lucky to have someone ambitious and kind,” she said. “She’s a fantastic lawyer for me.”