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January 9, 2020

Tasha Alexander and Andrew Grant Talk About Their Latest Books, Living in Wyoming and More


Authors Tasha Alexander and Andrew Grant have been married since 2010. At no point during these 10 years have their books come out on the same day. Until now, that is. January 7th saw the releases of IN THE SHADOW OF VESUVIUS, Tasha’s latest Lady Emily mystery, and TOO CLOSE TO HOME, the second installment in Andrew’s series featuring intelligence agent-turned-courthouse janitor Paul McGrath. In this fun and informative conversation, Tasha and Andrew talk about relocating from Chicago to Wyoming, and explain how their new environment (with its “sense of space and isolation --- combined with stunning landscapes and amazing wildlife”) has enriched every aspect of their lives, especially their writing careers.









Tasha Alexander: It’s been more than a decade since I picked you up at a bar in Baltimore (best decision of my life). In the ensuing years, we’ve celebrated many, many book launches, but this year is a little different. Our new novels both come out on the same day. It seems fitting, given that life in our house revolves almost entirely around books, both reading and writing them. And that’s something that’s become easier in a lot of ways since we moved to Wyoming. During our years in Chicago, we didn’t have a lot of space. Your office was barely big enough to turn around in and was more or less an extension of our laundry room. I worked sitting on our bed and dragged around a library cart with research books on it.

Andrew Grant: It was fun living in the city, but it wasn’t always the easiest place to work. It seemed like every time I sat down at my computer a neighbor’s contractors began some huge new remodeling project or the building started renovating something that involved extensive --- and loud! --- demolition. I certainly find that the peace and quiet here allows me to be much more productive.

Tasha: We couldn’t do much about the noise, but we knew we needed more room. Two people working full-time out of a two-bedroom apartment isn’t easy. We looked at a number of bigger places in Chicago, but in the end realized there was no practical way to get enough space in the city. I’ve always loved the New York Times column “What You Get,” which perfectly illustrates what you can afford in different parts of the country. It was time for us to look further afield. Our kids had all headed off to college, so we no longer were tied to a specific location. This gave us the flexibility to find a place that perfectly suited our requirements. We both love the west --- Wyoming in particular --- and decided it was where we wanted to be.

Andrew: I fell in love with Wyoming the moment I set foot in the state. People I grew up with often ask me if I ever imagined myself living somewhere like it, and my honest answer is “no” because there simply isn’t anything like it in England. The state of Wyoming is physically larger than the entire UK, and yet its population is half of the city where I was born. The sense of space and isolation --- combined with stunning landscapes and amazing wildlife --- is something I’d never experienced before. I feel like I’ve finally found my place in the world.

Tasha: Wyoming did more than just give us space. Yes, for the first time, we each have an office. We also have a dedicated library, which gives us a place to sit and read, and also to browse books (yes, we have a lot of them), which is like nourishment to a novelist. But it’s not just the number of rooms that matters. The layout of the house has proven a boon to the creative process. You work downstairs, I work upstairs. Neither of us are in the other’s hair when we need to focus. We knew that would make life easier, but I hadn’t anticipated what a difference it makes to have no one doing any work on the main floor. We can actually get a respite from work. It’s not always surrounding us like it used to. Let’s face it, there was nowhere in the apartment to hide my library cart.

Andrew: I hadn’t anticipated how the layout of the house would benefit us, either, but you’re right --- having a neutral floor separating our offices has made a world of difference. As has the ability to get away from our work spaces. And not just to relax. I find that at certain times while I’m writing --- coming up with the initial concept, fixing problematic plot points, etc. --- it’s essential to find a way to sideline my conscious thoughts and let the mysterious part at the back of my brain get on with figuring the hard stuff out. Our new environment gives us so many opportunities to do this --- hiking, skiing, kayaking, and all the other things I never imagined myself doing, like cutting firewood and stacking logs.

Tasha: I couldn’t agree more. The mental space that comes from living in the wilderness has a profound effect on creativity. We get asked a lot about what it’s like to have two novelists living together. I’ve long appreciated having a partner who fully understands every stage of bringing a book into the world: the genesis of an idea, getting buried in research, banging out words on the keyboard, arguing about covers and titles, navigating the publishing process. Now we’re in a position where we can “go” to work and then come home to each other, all without leaving the house. Which makes it even more satisfying that, after so many years, our books are coming out on the same day. It’s as if everything has finally come together. We’re where we belong, in a place that makes it possible for us to do our best work.

Andrew: I’ll raise a glass to that. Here’s to hoping that we can look forward to launching books on the same day for many years to come.