Welcome to the beginning of a very special week of The Fox Hole or as the pup and I call it How to Rise from the Ashes without Looking Like an Ass! Yes, as you might have noticed or maybe you didn’t the pup and I have been MIA for the last two weeks and what a couple of weeks. Between moving into a new apartment after 15 years and losing our internet connection in the process we’re lucky we haven’t lost our bloody minds. 🙂
Well, we didn’t lose our collective minds, we got our internet back up and running, and Sunday I received an e-mail from a lovely writer that I’d spoke to a bit back about an interview. Seems both of us have had a run on life happening. To my delight Alex agreed to be my guest today on The Fox Hole, my flagship interview after telling my previous internet provider to go screw themselves, and hopping onto the cable internet choo-choo train!
So, folks grab a cup of Joe, a hot gooey cinnamon bun, pull up a chair, and help me give a warm welcome to the lovely Alex Draven, lifesaver extreme, and author extraordinaire to The Fox Hole!
Welcome, Alex, you are a true lifesaver for a scatterbrained interviewer. *chuckles* Let’s start off by having you tell the readers a little bit about yourself–okay?
I’m a librarian-writer-reader-reviewer-editor, which is to say, I’m addicted to words and stories. I’m also addicted to music, although I don’t play any instruments and should only be allowed to sing in public as part of a large choir. I love going to gigs, I love to dance at clubs and in class, I love watching dance, and my life has an almost constant soundtrack. Almost constant because I’m also a big fan of shutting up and listening to the silence sometimes. I live in London, which isn’t where I grew up, but is the city of my heart – there are many other places that are fantastic to visit, but London is home, and everytime I think about getting bored something crops up to rekindle my delight in the place, its history, its people, and its opportunities.
London? I would love to travel to the UK and London in particular. It really has a rich and colorful history. Perhaps one of these days I’ll be able to come see the city that’s captured your heart. Now that you’ve given us a peek at who you are let’s talk about the writing. Have you always wanted to be a writer? If so when did you start writing?
I’ve always thought in stories, but if you’d asked me as a kid if I wanted to be a writer I’d have either laughed or cried. ‘A writer’ sounds so – someone else. I’m dyslexic, for a start. I couldn’t read until I was seven, and my handwriting is borderline illegible to this day.
However, I am, as I mentioned, addicted to words and stories, and as soon as I got my hands on a word processor in secondary school I started typing up fragments of story for myself. And then I tripped over the internet, at a perfect moment, both in time and in my personal life, which is when I started sharing some of those stories with other people, people whose own writing I was reading and enjoying. Some of them encouraged me to write, to keep writing, and, eventually, to submit one of my stories for publication.
It sounds to me as if you were destined to be a writer despite the obstacles that life tossed your way. As a matter of fact I’ve been surprised at how many writers I’ve ran into that have dyslexia. It seems often that the people who become the best writers are those who fight to get there. As far as tripping over the internet at just the right moment–Well I get where you’re coming from. I myself did the exact same thing twelve years ago and it open me up to the possibility of becoming a writer professionally as well. Sharing those first stories can be difficult and it looks as if you found just the right people when you needed them.
Inspiration is one of the things I love to discuss with my fellow writers. It’s amazing the numerous and varied things that can inspire the creative soul. As a writer what inspires you?
People, mostly. Sometimes I think I write to try and make sense of the many multitudes of crazy in the world, both wonderful and terrible, and the rest of the time I think it’s as likely to be so I have an excuse for people-watching and listening in to conversations in public places!
That and I believe in filling yourself with a great richness of inputs because you never know what unlikely combination of things sloshing around in your head’s going to give you that ‘oh, but what if…’ moment.
Or, as is often the case, the sort of perverse ‘impossible to do, you say?’ kind of thing that sometimes kicks off an idea for me. I’m nothing if not stubborn – that’s where the idea for Sleeping Bears Lie came from – apparently it’s impossible to write a shapeshifter story where the shapeshifter doesn’t ‘come out’ to his love interest straight away… I’ve had some really polarised feedback on that story – some readers love putting together the puzzle and the open-ended nature of the tale, other readers found it somewhat confusing – so I’m not sure if I proved the point or not, but that was the motivation that got it written.
You sound like a writer to my own heart. My rallying call is always ‘Never say Never‘ and the people in my past as well as those in my present have inspired my own writing. I’m a stubborn one and get the concept of being true to yourself as a writer. There will always be readers out there for your stories and often times some won’t get it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it. There’s nothing sadder in my book than a writer that sells themselves out to the mainstream, simplified, and current ‘hot item‘.
Now here is something I’ve noticed in the interviews I’ve done. The majority of writers are voracious readers and often have lists as long as I am tall of favorite writers. Do you have any favorite writers?
Too many to list! Seriously. I might be able to manage a list of favourites in a specific genre, but they are legion. Two authors on my ‘must hunt down and read everything they write’ list are Neil Bartlett and Luke Sutherland, who have quite different styles but both write about queerness and about London.
A-Ha! You’re one of us as well in the reading department. I feel the same way and I doubt I could begin to answer my own question. *chuckles* Now this question is one of my favorites because the answer often tells me a great deal about the writer. If you could live in any time or place–where and when would you choose?
To *live* – that’s tough, because you’re competing with London, now, when it contains so many of my people! To visit for six months or a year? Assuming I can pick up a translator chip along with the time machine, Rome under Augustus, or Verulanium later in the Roman period. If not – or if I can use the time machine several times – London in the 1890s. New York in the earliest 1900s. An English country house in the 1910s. Edinburgh in the 1920s.
Oh, I’m loving you more and more! So many answers and so varied and of course you can have that translator chip. Can’t exactly visit Ancient Rome and enjoy it if you don’t speak the language. 😉
Another one of my favorites to ask is this next one. Being a professional cook at one time I believe tastes in the kitchen can reveal a great deal about a person. And besides–food can be quite seductive. Do you have a favorite food?
It’s probably a toss up between bread and cheese – so many delectable variations of both! Bread, cheese, fresh fruit and veg – that’s both the essentials and a lot of the luxuries, to me. I bake, but I haven’t tried my hand at making cheese. Yet.
Aw, yes, back to the basics. There’s really nothing better than homemade bread straight from the oven the aroma and the taste are exquisite. Damn but I’m getting the munchies now. Enough about food! *laughs* Now that I’ve picked your brain, can you tell us about your latest work? Don’t hold back!
Latest, as in what I’m working on now, because if that’s the case, the answer is about a dozen ideas, and I’m not sure which, if any of them, are going to work out. I had quite a tough time over the past year, personally and with some medical issues, so I didn’t write much and finished even less, and then fell into the trap of beating myself up over it. I’m experimenting a lot at the moment, trying out all sorts of ideas and letting myself re-learn that writing is fun, and not all stress and guilt.
I also sat down and gave a good polish to one of my older stories, Fall, which is the first story I ever had published, and is about centaurs and life breaking down the barriers we sometimes put up to cope with pain, but which block out all the good emotions too. The revised version is now available for free on my website, and in a whole range of e-Book formats via Smashwords – I’m really interested in how different platforms for e-Books are coming into play over time (when Fall was first published, you could buy it as an html file on a physical cd, if you can imagine those distant days!) and I’ve recently got a dedicated e-Book reader myself, so I wanted to experiment with making some of my free reads more available than just html on a website.
Or latest as in most recent professional release? That’s Saffron Stains – an urban fantasy story set in the South West of England. Although they’re living together amongst humans – Kael is an elf, Jem has a mixture of brownie and elf heritage, which means he has to work a lot harder than Kael at the shape shifting and illusion magic that elves are renowned for; magic which Kael is convinced is harmful. Kael would much rather be home with Jem than be in the fairy court with his mother and sister, but he has obligations. Obligations that lead to him neglecting the one thing he truly cares about. This is a story about making a long term relationship work when the going gets tough, the costs, the compromises, and the rewards.
Kael and Jem are a pair of characters I’ve had for years, and it took me years to finally write a version of their story I thought was good enough to share, so I’m extra-thrilled to have it out there in the world to be read. It’s also the first of my stories to get a custom cover, and while I’m not quite sure where the faux Chinese font came from, I’m chuffed to bits with it – the main photo that was used is stunning. I can just imagine those glamoured lines of tattoo slithering up Kael’s arms.
Saffron Stains sounds like a wonderful story and is going on my to read list. That is if I ever get a chance to set down and catch up on my reading. 🙂 Unfortunately, our time has come to an end, Alex. I cannot thank you enough for popping by to do this interview and let us know about your latest work. Anytime you’d like to drop by again you are welcome!
If you’d like to learn more about Alex’s work check out the following links:
Alex Draven’s Website
If you’re interested in what I’m tweeting, I’m on twitter
If you’re interested in what I’m reading, I’m on librarything
If you’re interested in what I’m listening to, I’m on lastfm