THEY CALL ME ALEXANDRA GASTONE
By T.A. Maclagan
When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real?
Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation.
She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash.
Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.
For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing.
But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.
Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur.
Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?
Please tell us a little bit about your current projects?
My most current project came out in May and is a YA (adult crossover) spy novel called They Call Me Alexandra Gastone. It’s about a teen sleeper agent living in Washington D.C. who gets pulled into active duty years early. YA spy books tend to fall into two categories: 1.) light-hearted adventures and 2.) darker, more serious, more realistic espionage fiction. Alexandra falls into the darker, more serious category. It’s about loyalty, family, and making the tough decisions. There’s also a really sweet romance thrown in for good measure.
When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
I think it was when I hit ‘the end’ on my first attempt at a novel! I decided to try my hand at fiction after writing my very long and very dry dissertation, which bored me to death. Books always seemed like such a huge undertaking but when I finished the dissertation, I’d basically written a book so I thought why not try writing a fun one. When I finished ‘the fun one’ I knew I was hooked and I’ve never looked back!
Describe the “perfect” hero. What about the “perfect” hero for you?
I think the perfect hero depends on the heroine. For some it will be your classic alpha warrior male and for others it could be someone totally different, maybe a socially awkward geek type with a heart of gold. Probably my favorite hero/heroine pair is Jamie and Claire Fraser because they are both such strong individuals. Similarly, I also really liked Four and Tris.
For me personally, I like sporty, geek types with a bit of game but not too much! I really loved Auggie in Covert Affairs and if I was younger, I’d be totally into Stiles in Teen Wolf.
What are some of your favorite pastimes? Do you have any hobbies or collections?
I have a 4 year old so free time is a bit limited these days but I still love to carve time out for yoga, photography and reading! I rode horses as a kid and plan to get back into that in the next couple of years, fingers crossed! I really miss horses!
What has been your biggest adventure to date?
In my other life, I was an anthropologist/biologist type and spent summers studying Howler Monkeys in the rainforests of Panama and Poison Dart Frogs in Costa Rica!
If your fairy godmother waved her wand and whisked you away to the location of your choice, which place would you choose, and why?
Good question! And a tough one! The adventurer side of me would love an Africa trip with visits to Uganda for the gorillas and Tanzania for a safari. I love travel/landscape photography and being able to shoot in Africa would be a dream. That said, the over-tired side of me that hasn’t gotten to sleep through the night in four years thinks a Tahitian vacation (sans child and husband optional) with a loaded kindle sounds pretty stellar.
When it comes to food, are you the adventurous type who will try anything once, or do you prefer to stick to tried and true foods and recipes?
I’m decently adventurous in that when I’m traveling I’m happy to try new things. I’m also a lazy cook though, so I don’t go out of my way to find and prepare adventurous foods at home. In my head, I’d like to be an adventurous cook, but the drive to actual do it has yet to materialize!
What is the one modern convenience that you cannot do without?
Would a shower be considered a modern convenience? If so, that’s the one I’d like to keep should the apocalypse arrive. I don’t mind getting really grubby if I’m hiking or camping or whatever but after that’s done there’s nothing I love more than a good hot shower!
How do you describe yourself? How would your family and friends describe you?
Kind, idealistic, loyal, introverted and adventurous. I think my friends would describe me quite similarlyJ
What is your favorite comfort food?
Kraft mac n’ cheese but I prefer it cold and congealed. Everyone thinks it’s gross but I LOVE it that way! I will make a batch, then stick it in the freezer for 20 minutes before eating it. I also really love mashed potatoes and chocolate cake with caramel icing.
What is your favorite season? What do you love about it?
I’m a total autumn person! I don’t thermo-regulate well, so I like the crisp weather that’s not too hot or cold. I also love the autumn colors. Living in New Zealand where almost all the trees are evergreen has really thrown me for a loop. Winter sneaks up on me every year and I find myself really missing the color change in autumn.
What project are you working on next?
I’m working on the sequel to They Call Me Alexandra Gastone! It’s a duology so all the big questions will be answered soon. Very soon!
Any place we can find you in person or on the net this month or next?
I blog two to three times a week on my blog tamaclagan.com! I’m also on twitter (@tamaclagan) and facebook (/tamaclagan) a bunch. I love chatting with other readers, so don’t be shy!
About the Author:
T.A. Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, son and four pampered cats. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is her first novel.
You can find her online at: