I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Today I have an interview with Alex South, featuring his latest short story collection, Seven Stories High. Welcome to the blog, Alex.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
I am a writer from Manchester. It’s a mad city, which is perhaps why I feel so at home here. ;) I have released two books so far – both collections of short stories. I also blog about writing (www.sevenstorieshigh.com).
2. Please tell us about your latest work.
Of the two books I have written, Seven Stories High is the one I’m proudest of, and has been the best received by readers. It’s a collection of seven short stories. The stories are all very different. For example, in the first, Rob is on his way to the pub when he sees a perfect clone of himself in the living room. The situation escalates as more start to arrive, and we follow him as he tries to figure out what to do! Whereas the next story is about a teenager that starts receiving strange letters in his locker, telling him to do bizarre things and promising him a new world, in which he will have considerable influence.
3. What drew you to writing science fiction?
For me, science fiction is the freedom of ideas. It’s the ‘what if?’ genre. I have a big imagination, and love the freedom science fiction gives me to explore these ideas and see how they can affect the characters in the story. Of course, these ideas often raise interesting questions about morality and society. Take Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. There is a huge consideration of empathy and the extent to which it can be ascribed to artificial intelligence. Philosophical curiosity and science fiction go hand in hand.
4. How do you get the inspiration for your stories?
As I alluded to, it’s the ‘what if?’. What if you had to eat your friends to survive? What if the laws of physics started to disappear? The rest of the story comes from that initial question.
5. Of all the stories you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
Copy and paste from Seven Stories High, which is the one I mentioned earlier with the clones. I really like the problems that the main character has to deal with. For example, because all the clones have the same mind they ‘sync up’ which is basically where they start having exactly the same thoughts and saying the same things at the same time. They all start talking in complete unison. It was fun writing the dialogue and getting the characters to think about how to get out of sync. Readers often say that it is their favorite as well, which makes me like it even more.
6. What other genres do you write besides science fiction?
Any! I’ve written stories about everyday people chasing their dreams, about gangs and drugs, about insanity, about witches and curses – ghosts and cannibalism. I’m currently writing a detective thriller. A good story is a good story. It doesn’t really matter what genre they fall under as long as I enjoy writing it and it’s a good read.
7. Who are your favorite authors and why do you admire them?
I’ve been fortunate enough to assimilate a lot of books in my life, and good or bad they’ve all had an impact on me. I’d also like to point out that not just books, but films, poetry, conversations, and even song lyrics have all inspired me and further led me to fall in love with words and stories. However, if I had to choose an author from the zillions of people (all artists in their own way) that have inspired me, I would pick Hubert Selby, Jr. At certain key points he employs this really heartfelt poetic prose that just hits you in the right way. He sum up what it is to be – to exist and think and feel and live – in a really beautiful and very relatable way. I really admire that.
8. What other writing projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on a detective thriller. Basically the idea is that the main character (the detective) is borderline insane, but that you can kind of relate to him. It’s going to be a mix of interesting character development and suspense. I’m hoping I can add something original to a well-established genre. I think eccentric detectives are nothing new, but I reckon I can take the madness to a new level.
9. What’s one of the goals you hope to achieve with your writing?
To entertain people, to give them joy and new ideas.
10. What advice do you have for other authors who want to self-publish?
Keep learning and improving and you can’t fail. I would also tell them to watch this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEMEBBwO6J8
11. What strategies do you use to promote your work?
Well, I’m quite new to this so I’m still working that out! But I’ll give anyone a free book if they want to review it. I also write a blog www.sevenstorieshigh.com which not only helps me promote but helps me learn from talking to my readers. Also doing stuff like this (this interview) helps.
12. What’s something people wouldn’t be able to guess about you just by looking at you?
Hmm well I don’t know what people think when they look at me! I guess I’m quite a laid-back and positive person. I also must come across quite strong-willed. They probably wouldn’t guess how sad, lost, confused and unsure I have been at different stages in my life. But I think it’s safe to assume that almost everyone has felt those things at some point – it’s human. Anyway, don’t judge a book by its cover (apart from mine because it took ages).