Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the release day festivities of Alex de Campi’s newest novel, Heartbreak Incorporated, as we kickoff its official Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! This upcoming week we’ll be showcasing her steamy Supernatural Thriller tale across blogs and social media, so stay tuned for some fantastic features from our Roadies. I’m excited to hear what everyone has to say about this one – it’s going to be a fantastic week.
Alex stopped by for a chat where we discuss how her book came to fruition, her love for New York, what she hopes readers take away from this story of hers, the road ahead, and more! Keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, check out the awesome interview!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Heartbreak Incorporated. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.
JUNE 22ND – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder (IG: @whispersandwonder)
Emily Has A Bookshop (IG: @emilybkbooks)
Raven’s Bookish Blog (IG: @ravens_books)
Melissa’s Book Nook (IG: @melissarosereads)
Varietats (IG: @mpr2000)
Sadie’s Spotlight (IG: @sadiesspotlight)
The Pufflekitteh Reads (IG: @Pufflekitteh)
JUNE 28TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
From acclaimed comics writer Alex de Campi, a sexy (prose) novel about an agency that specialises in breaking up relationships, with a side hustle in the occult.
Evie Cross had big dreams of becoming an investigative journalist but at 25 and struggling to make it in New York City, she’s finally starting to admit that her dream is her side hustle and her day job is actually… her job. That is, until she signs on as a temp for a small consultancy whose principal, Misha Meserov, specializes in breaking up relationships. Misha is tall, infuriatingly handsome, and effortlessly charismatic—he can make almost anyone, man or woman, fall into bed with him. And he often does.
But the more Evie is exposed to Misha’s scandalous world, the more she becomes convinced that he’s hiding something… when a wealthy San Francisco tech CEO with a dissolving marriage starts delving into the occult and turns up dead, Evie has to decide between her journalistic desire for the truth and her growing desire for Misha.
Alex de Campi’s mostly-indie career stretches from her Eisner-nominated debut Smoke (Dark Horse) through recent Eisner nominees Bad Girls (Gallery 13) and Twisted Romance (Image). Plus company work: she’s killed off most of Riverdale, twice, in Archie vs Predator I & II. Her next projects are YA adventure The Backups (Imprint / MacMillan, 2020) and a thriller with director Duncan Jones. Catch her YA adventure Reversal on her Patreon, and action-thriller Bad Karma on Panel Syndicate. She also writes for TV and film (the Blade Runner anime & more). She is on social media as @alexdecampi. She lives in Manhattan.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Alex. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Trouble has me on speed dial. So does Lady Luck.
Give us an idea of how Heartbreak Incorporated came to fruition.
For me, books start with a character arriving in my head and living there rent-free. I then gradually build a book around that character, to give them a home they can have forever. Then a new character moves into my head. For Heartbreak Incorporated, it was Misha. I also did a short comic about him, in my anthology Twisted Romance (Image Comics) — even though chronologically it’s set before Heartbreak begins, you should read it second after Heartbreak, though, because otherwise it’ll spoil some of the twists.
Heartbreak was also inspired by an article I read in the New Yorker like 10 years ago, about “mistress dispellers” in China. There really are break-up agencies! Just… maybe not in America, not yet.
Can you share with us something about Heartbreak Incorporated that isn’t in the blurb?
I live in New York and a good part of Heartbreak is my love letter to the city. And like all long-term relationships, that between a New Yorker and the city that is our home can have rocky patches. Like the main character Jimmie says in the (wonderful) film The Last Black Man in San Francisco, “you don’t get to hate it unless you love it.”
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
I always do a ton of research. For Heartbreak, it was mostly reading up on the sordid makeups and breakups of the super-rich. Nearly all of the relationships portrayed in the book have a grain of truth in them, and were inspired by real events. Oh, and a close friend who is a magazine journalist of some note consulted on all of Evie’s conversations with Nicole at the magazine. I like to say he’s responsible for all the correct bits, and the wildly wrong stuff is all me. (Fiction needs a little leeway from reality for melodrama, after all.)
What do you hope your readers take away from Heartbreak Incorporated?
I hope a feeling of catharsis and a sense of resonance with Evie. There’s a lot of me in Evie, from her struggles with being the smart girl to the way she failed to realize her dreams but then finds her place in a way she didn’t expect at all, and I hope some of the book’s readers find a little of themselves in Evie, too.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
The characters, always. Then the story, then — finally — the plot.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
Oof. It’s always the next one. Right now in my head I’ve got a mob enforcer (Frankie), a painter who works at a gay bar (Johnnie), a cavalry scout deployed to Earth in a postapocalyptic future (Krushnic), and the drone operator who’s his overwatch (Laurie) in my head, and it’s getting kind of crowded in here. I love Sully and Ethan from BAD KARMA (action/comedy graphic novel, download it free from Panel Syndicate) a lot, because they’re so flawed, and their friendship is so nuanced and complex and real.
What do you think makes for a good story?
Make me cry. If you make me laugh or gasp, you have me for the duration of the book. Make me cry, you have me forever. Seriously, you always remember the books that provoked strong emotion in you. It always comes back to catharsis. Also, I love books that use the tricks of old pulp serials well — a good cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, excellent timing laying down its suspense cards, pacing.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
Nothing, really. I’d been publishing graphic novels for years before my debut prose novel (THE SCOTTISH BOY from Unbound, a medieval action/thriller with knights who kiss each other) and I’d worked really hard polishing my prose style on AO3 before I wrote the book, so no, honestly, I’m good with the book. Unbound were wonderful to work with so I felt super well supported editorially — to the point I stole the copyeditor, Tamsin, to come work on Heartbreak! Rebellion/Solaris have also been wonderful editorially. Comics, sometimes there isn’t a lot of… editing, and it’s nice to be working with folks who have a strong interest in making the story the best it can be before it gets into readers’ hands.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Comparison is the thief of joy. Stop sitting there and getting upset about folks bragging about their wordcount, or measuring yourself against authors who published earlier than you or got six-figure deals. That is not the work. Writing a good story is the work, and all else is distraction. (Related: spend less time on social media, and NEVER check it before you’ve got your writing done for the day.)
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea, and only Chinese tea, drunk black, as nature intended (I used to live in Hong Kong, so I drink jasmine tea like it was water. Also love a good pu erh. In winter, lapsang with a spoonful of tart red jam in it, which is a Slavic thing.)
Winter or Summer?
Summer, always. My wardrobe makes sense in summer. I love warm weather, and dresses.
Physical books or Ebooks?
Physical books. I spend all day looking at screens. Also, 90% of my reading is research, so I like to be able to mark up the book and dog-ear pages, and have it next to me when working.
Mountains or Oceans?
Islands. I have lived most of my life on islands: Hong Kong (and Lamma!), Manhattan, Great Britain, a little island in Maine. (I’m currently about 300 yards from the ocean.)
Beer or Wine?
Both. Either. Depends.
Books or Movies?
Movies. My happy place is in a nearly-empty art house theatre at the early show of something old or obscure. It totally resets my brain and inspires me. It’s one of the main reasons I live in New York!
Cowboys or Aliens?
Writing a book about aliens right now, but I have a western in my heart that I’ll write someday when it’s ready. So, both.
Pie or Cake?
Mochi. Not the crappy American kind with ice cream, though. The real kind with adzuki.
Rural or Urban?
Both. I’m either in the middle of Manhattan and loving it, or off-grid in Maine on an island with no stores or roads, living off solar power and well water, and also loving it.
Work hard or Play hard?
Work hard, but love it so much you could do nothing else.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Alex. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Finishing either of the two novels I’m currently working on. Surviving my deadlines. The usual.
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Heartbreak Incorporated tour page over at Storytellers On Tour to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to share!