rom the beginning, Alex felt things very deeply. One of her mom’s favorite anecdotes is about the first time she took young Alex to see a movie in the movie theatre. It was your typical kids’ movie—it was animated, rated G, and had a happy ending. But when the credits rolled and the lights came one, Alex’s mom looked over at her youngest daughter to see that she was silently weeping. It wasn’t that the story was sad—remember the happy ending!—it was that the enormity of all those characters’ emotions on the big screen was just too much for her to handle.
Get to know Alex Kiester
Young Alex feeling something very deeply
Feeling this deeply could make life exhausting. She forgot to bring her textbook home from school? Calamity! She got the role of Juliet in her eight-grade rendition of Romeo and Juliet? Joy of joys! She was starting high school and had to learn the layout of a new building? Someone get this girl a Xanax.
While she was navigating the world with this overactive amygdala, Alex was also busy dreaming of becoming a novelist. Some of her earliest memories are of wandering her neighborhood barefoot as she narrated a novel in her head (usually involving animal friends and young girls who lived in the wilderness). She set to work on her first novel (about a haunted cabin and a young female sleuth) at the age of twelve and hasn’t stopped writing since. And so, six years later, Alex headed off to Rhodes College in Memphis, where she majored in creative writing and minored in film studies, setting herself up very nicely for job prospects when she graduated in 2010 at the height of the recession.
During her college years, she met some of the best people she would ever meet, drank too much booze, read a lot of books by dead white men, and wrote many bad short stories and perhaps a few decent ones. Although, also, perhaps not.
Upon graduation, with a liberal arts diploma and a few hundred dollars from bartending on Beale Street, she moved right back into her childhood room in her hometown of Austin, TX. Her first job was as a technical writer for a distressed properties institute, which to this day, Alex still has no idea what that means. She quickly got fired, not for a lack of effort, which was the best thing that could have happened, other than probably not getting hired in the first place. She eventually got a copy editing job at the journal for the Texas House of Representatives during the legislative session, which was exciting for the first few months and then terribly mundane. From there, she became a book editor at a boutique romance publishing house, which, yes, is a euphemism for erotica (sorry, Dad).
As Alex worked on book after book that she was not the author of, she increasingly felt that she could eventually work on one that she was. She began writing her own romance novel, which, no, is not a euphemism for erotica (you’re welcome, Dad). She wrote it primarily on her lunch breaks, and was only a little dejected when she got the rejection letter from Harlequin, because in writing a novel, she’d proven to herself that she could. And now she had the bug.
Also right around this time, the owners of the publishing house called Alex with an ultimatum: stop missing work to audition or quit. You see, alongside writing and editing and, oh yeah, teaching Zumba, Alex was acting. Her eight-grade theatre stint as Juliet had led to many more roles throughout high school, and she’d recently picked it up again. So she quit a steady, full-time job to pursue acting and writing, which, looking back, should have scared Alex a lot more than it did. Then again, she’s always been optimistic and just a little bit delusional. She began her second manuscript—a mystery involving secrets and corporate corruption—and took any paid acting gig she could find. She also eventually became the reader/assistant for a prominent local casting director and gem of a human being, which was easily the best job she’d ever had.
It was as she tried to find a literary agent for her second book that Alex realized something was wrong. Her manuscript’s future was looking surprisingly bright. It placed as a finalist in the international Writers’ League of Texas manuscript contest and had garnered a bit of interest from agents, but rather than excited about these prospects, Alex was terrified. Ironically, the more time she spent in the acting world, the more performance anxiety she had, and that anxiety had begun to bleed into her everyday life. She’d dealt with the intensity of her emotions for almost three decades, but now she was experiencing very few ups and too many downs. She quit acting, put her manuscript on the shelf, and started a new one. But this time, she’d write a book for herself.
Alex's first novel written at
Alex trying very hard to act like a cop on the set of ABC's In An Instant
Alex's first novel
In Her Skin is about an anxiety-ridden author who is so paralyzed at the thought of public speaking, she hires a small-time actress to portray her during her debut book tour. It was by exploring her fears through writing that Alex finally realized the intensity of her emotions wasn’t a weakness after all; as a writer, it is her greatest asset. She’d put everything she felt into her book, and this time, it wasn’t rejected. Well, it was of course, but then, it wasn’t. When it won first place in the international Writers’ League of Texas manuscript contest, Alex jumped up and down. When she received an offer from an agent to represent it, she fell to her knees and wept. When she got the deal from Audible, she screamed.
Today, Alex can be found working on her next novel, reading with a cup of coffee in the morning, reading in the bath at night, going to the lake with her husband, talking on the phone with her mom, taking long walks, or practicing her public speaking at one of her two Toastmaster clubs (because fear does not face itself). She continues to feel things very deeply and she’ll continue to write these feelings down for a very long time to come.