Author Spotlight – ALEXANDER S. FINDLAY
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Alexander S. Findlay!
Alexander Findlay was born in Durban, South Africa in 1985. He graduated from the University of KwaZulu Natal with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science with majors in Linguistics and French. Throughout his life, Alex has always been passionate about literature and history, and is himself an avid reader of fantasy and historical fiction, amongst other genres.
Alex currently resides in Israel with his wife and two children where he works full time as a photographer, writer and editor. If you enjoy Alex’s writing and wish to read more by this author as he progresses in the craft, you can follow him on his website: alexfindlayauthor.com
Welcome to the Hive, Alex. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
If I may mention three in one go: I have recently finished Richard K. Morgan’s trilogy about the “Land Fit for Heroes” and I really enjoyed it! The characters were a play on fantasy stereotypes and I think that Morgan snuck in a great deal of his societal outlook into the setting which made it a really interesting – if rather dark – world to explore.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
I would love to say that I would be a half-elf ranger leading the way, but if it were an accurate reality warp, then I would be a half-elf fighter because I was in uniform for a significant part of my adult life.
Sticking to what you know!
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
A great question! I am a plotter, guilty as charged!
I tend to be more creative between 10PM and 3AM. This does not mean that I write constantly throughout the night. To do so would be very taxing, as I am a father of two, and I work during the day. I am usually fully clothed in a quiet, air-conditioned room.
Music does not always accompany my writing sessions unless I am really stuck on a scene and require some inspiration. For example, in The Redemption of Anaìr, (henceforth referred to as TROA) I would listen to “Way Down We Go” By Kaleo for the first scene which involved my MC thinking of his father. For the scenes with his love interest, who is an immortal forest daemon and the ruling Matriarch of his nation, I would play “Trøllabundin” (by Eivør).
In fact, “Trøllabundin” heavily inspired some of the scenes in TROA, even if the Orvinarr are a more Germanic styled people whilst the Solati more Gaelic. This is not set in stone though. I do not feel comfortable overusing tropes from our own history.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
I would be lying if I did not credit George RR Martin. He took a hell of a lot from history and made it into a really compelling epic. Papa Tolkien is close to my heart, and Ursula K. Le Guin was my first taste of reading fantasy. The second series which I have in mind after TROA is actually set in a “bronze age style” setting with some parts – not all – inspired by the setting of Earthsea. I read quite a lot when I get a chance but between making a living, raising children and trying to find time to write, my reading time has taken quite a hit of late.
I would really love to work on an historical fiction piece with my mother one day. She has published an HF novella already, The Boleyn Countess.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
I think that GoT was the last real series into which I invested time to watch. I chose to watch it because I really enjoyed the novels. I have recently been playing a lot of Kingdom Come: Deliverance. I really enjoyed the game play and the open world vibe. The detail and precision regarding weapons and armour is also really worth mentioning and helped inspire some of the armour for the soldiers in my own novella.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
With my family! Having children is such a privilege and I want to savour every day that I can with my wife and daughters.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
The Redemption of Anaìr is supposed to be a series of around five novellas. So, that is going to keep me pretty busy for the next couple of years – I hope.
I have another series in mind which is set in a fantasy world during its bronze age. This, I think, will be quite different and fun – a change from the usual fantasy tropes, as there will be no elves, no dwarves, no dragons. The people pray to gods and statues and nothing happens – the clergy of the various cultures just use the usual ‘so-and-so works in mysterious ways’ excuse. Then all of a sudden somebody who can do something comes along…
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I think that the most helpful advice was an old writing tip from my mother: “show, don’t tell.”
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Sometimes, I just play music that is appropriate to the scene. I will play the same song over and over again, until I feel that I have the appropriate vibe with the scene. In other instances, when I have block, I just force myself to write and let something out. If what comes out is not very enjoyable, I move it aside. If what comes out is workable, then I try and touch it up.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Roman Britain. There is an HF piece of work which I would really like to get going with. I don’t know how popular I would be with a Northern name like Findlay, but I reckon if I practised my Latin enough to explain my diverse heritage, then I am sure that the local authorities would see reason and not hinder me!
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. 3.61 on Goodreads!!? What are people smoking? Demane was one of the most well-written and complicated characters I have come across. That, and the story has such a vibe to it! I recommend this story and give it 5.0!
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Because it is a raw and vivid piece of writing which focuses heavily on character development, yet also manages to have an elaborate plot and a well thought out setting to tie into it all.
That’s brilliant, thank you for joining us today Alex!
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to participate in this interview!
The Redemption of Anaìr is available now.