Stephanie Alexander - Love, mystery, Ghosts, and the Lowcountry
Stephanie Alexander is an award-winning author and practicing family court attorney. Her personal experience rebuilding her life after divorce influences both her legal work and her fiction. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, their blended family of five children, and their two miniature dachshunds, Trinket and Tipsy. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Charleston Green.
Please give us a short introduction to what Charleston Green is about.
Charleston Green is the story of Tipsy Collins, a clairvoyant single mom who moves into a historic haunted house in the South Carolina Lowcountry. She inherits ghostly roommates: a married couple who hate each other. She must solve their century-old murder mystery while rebuilding her life after a devastating divorce.
What inspired you to write about someone who inherits ghostly roommates?
After my own divorce, I was thinking about the concept of "till death do us part," which sparked the question: what if you couldn't escape a terrible marriage even after death? The idea of a trapped, unhappy ghostly couple seemed like a unique way to explore themes of divorce, rebuilding, and "moving on."
Tell us more about Tipsy Collins. What makes her so special?
I love Tipsy because I feel like she's strong, smart, and somewhat ingenious while also being flawed in a very relatable way. Of course, she also has these fabulous powers that make her even more unique.
You are a practicing family court attorney. How has this influenced your writing?
I'm a family court attorney and I've also been through a divorce myself. I have three children of my own and two stepchildren. I feel like I have a lot of personal experience, through my own life and observing my clients, that gives me special insight into the patterns and behaviors typical of people going through the divorce process, as well as a good sense for how long it takes to recover and how in the end, it's usually for the best. Of course, I also have a lot of knowledge about the law and legal procedure that make it easier to write about litigation.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
When I was younger, I was a pretty good artist myself, although I'm hopelessly out of practice at this point.
Why did you decide to write about ghosts with marital problems?
I really wanted to explore themes around marriage and divorce in a unique, metaphorical way. All of my fiction is heavy on metaphor, one of the primary reasons I use speculative elements like magic and the paranormal.
Readers say your characters are very relatable. How did you pull this off?
I think my characters are relatable because they have everyday problems. They're not perfect by any means, and they make mistakes, regret their actions, or embarrass themselves. No one in my books is all good or all bad, which is the truth of real life.
If you could meet up with anybody, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Queen Elizabeth I of England. I'd love to talk to her about being a strong female leader, especially since she did it when women generally had no power over their personal lives, let alone entire empires. I'd also love to meet her mother, Anne Boleyn. I'm sort of obsessed with Anne Boleyn!
Does this book contain a hidden message? What do you hope readers will take away from this?
There are multiple metaphors in the story, from the dynamics of Jane and Henry "moving on," to the color Charleston Green itself. I'll let readers make their own conclusions on what these metaphors mean. :)
Why did you pick Charleston as the backdrop for your story?
I have lived in Charleston for much of my life, starting when I came to town to attend the College of Charleston in 1995. It's a beautiful city and it's very romanticized, but it also has a complicated history and a very unique culture. I wanted to give readers some insight into what "real life" is like in Charleston, and I also wanted local readers to recognize not only landmarks, but cultural markers that people who are not from here might not be familiar with.
This is the first book in the Tipsy Collins series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
Yes, it can be read as a stand-alone, although hopefully, readers will love Tipsy so much that they want to continue. The sequel, Haint Blue, is also now available. I plan to write at least one more book about Tipsy, maybe more.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
First, I always write with my hair pulled back. My hair is really long, and I can't write with it in my face. Second, I write so much (between my fiction and legal work) that I developed severe carpal tunnel syndrome and had to have surgery. Third, since I work full time as an attorney, I write in the evenings and on weekends.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I'm working on a standalone novel about a group of friends from a small Lowcountry town. Two of the women are tied together by strange psychic abilities and their love for the same man. One of them disappears under mysterious circumstances, and her friends must come together to figure out what happened to her.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
These days I'm most active on Instagram (@stephaniealexanderbooks) and TikTok (@stephaniealexanderbooks). I also have a website, Stephaniealexanderbooks.com, that has a ton of information about me and my books.