Interview with Alex Knight (THE FAR WILD)
When he’s not describing himself as an invasive species, Alex can generally be found filling good books with bad jokes one sentence at a time.
As an author his work includes the The Far Wild, Paragon of Blood, the Nova Online trilogy, and more.
Alex grew up a sunbaked, outdoorsy Floridian. In the veritable far wild that was Florida, he spent his days camping, fishing, scuba diving, and generally exploring the swamps, prairies, and forests of the state’s interior.
Since those simple, sweaty days Alex has lived in many places around the world, including many of the on’s—London, Boston, and (currently) Houston.
In the past Alex has worked as everything from a dish washer to a communications coordinator. After deciding he didn’t like stability or predictable paychecks he made the jump to become a freelance writer. That soon turned into ghostwriting romance novellas, then ghostwriting science fiction novels, and finally, writing his own books.
When Alex isn’t writing, he’s likely being hip checked in his amateur hockey league, getting lost in a nearby park, or plotting his triumphant return to Florida.
Welcome back to the Hive again, Alex!
Hey, thanks! My exploits are many and famous and it’s great to finally have someone recognizing them.
You’re here today because your action-packed adventure Jurassic-Park-inspired jungle baby is coming to physical format – let’s talk The Far Wild!
Oh. Oh. Right. Yes, that’s… why I’m here. (No statue raising, then?)
Not this time, we’ve found a new sculptor though, and so far they haven’t thrown your design plans back at us so *fingers crossed*
For those who haven’t yet checked it out on Audible, what can readers expect?
(Not statues, apparently…) Which is to say, you can check out The Far Wild here. To put it simply, though, it’s a fantasy novel with the adventure themes of Indiana Jones and the predator-filled tension of Jurassic Park. It’s got skyships and unexplored, primordial jungles. Also skyships crashing in unexplored, primordial jungles. Toss into the mix an apprentice naturalist, the empire’s most successful raconteur, and a plethora of hungry megafauna and you’ve got The Far Wild!
We brushed upon this last time you were here, but getting The Far Wild published has been quite the process, hasn’t it?
Publishing’s always a convoluted journey but the hardest part of this book was the research. Spending several months running from giant monsters in an untamed wilderness, singlehandedly inventing skyships, building two empires then provoking them just short all-out war against one another—I just really wanted to make sure I was writing the details of this story from experience, you know?
Oh okay it’s going to be that kind of interview Alex?
Let’s take a dive into the book itself, and I’d like to start off by setting the scene. We need to talk about the environment here, because you go so far and above the usual world building we see in fantasy. Suni is an extremely convincing naturalist – tell us about your inspirations, experiences and research that made her and this world so believable!
I’ve always loved the natural world, but it all seems so tidy when you learn about it in a book. It’s an illusion that’s decidedly shattered when you step into true wilderness. I wanted to capture that feeling—that overwhelming, frightening, exhilaration—and Suni was the perfect bookish, apprentice naturalist for the job!
Ah ok now that makes so much sense, you absolutely capture Suni’s wonder on comparing what she’s read about to what she’s now actually experiencing.
As to the environment, I grew up in central Florida canoeing the tannin-stained rivers, diving in the crystal clear springs, trekking through pine forests, swamps, and mangrove labyrinths. All the while, I was awed by the wildlife. Everything from gators to manatees, bison to wild horses, bobcats, panthers, and armadillos. It was a wild place to live and I wanted to bring it to life in The Far Wild—and maybe amp up the wonder and terror a little bit whole freakin’ lot.
And if we’re going to talk about environment, naturally we’re going to have to talk about the animals we might encounter…
Oh, there’s really not much to worry about out there. I’d recommend you kick back and relax. Sip some rum, do a bit of bird watching, maybe spot one of the endemic lizards. Don’t let the alarmists work you up, the Far Wild’s a paradise! And wendiguars don’t really exist.
I suppose we should tell everyone about the poor buggers you fling into these conditions. We’ve mentioned Suni, but she has a large accompaniment in tow. Introduce us to the rest of the team Alex (and leave the best for last!)
Well, this is a search and rescue operation, so of course we have the expected complement of skyship crew and their fearless leader, the storied Captain Barba. There’s also our guides, Oz and Elpida. The former’s a walking encyclopedia of all the creatures in the Far Wild, and the latter’s a walking encyclopedia of all the ways said creatures will devour you. And then, there’s the one and only Senesio Suleiman Nicolaou. You’ll recognize him, of course, as the empire’s most beloved adventurer (or most successful raconteur?). He’s here for everyone’s benefit and out of the goodness of his own heart. Such a sweetheart—and so handsome!
And modest! And of course humble…
We need to talk more about Senesio, just how much fun was he to write though?
Writing Senesio is always a challenge, but in the best kind of way. And also the kind of way that involves excessive hand gestures, facial expressions, and a lot of strutting about the room to really visualize his special brand of flamboyant. My poor wife has walked into the office to some scenes.
And he isn’t all just bravado and banter, you did treat us to the occasional flicker of something deeper…
Absolutely not! Senesio is the model of manly manliness. He’s stoic machismo and cool confidence the whole way down, exactly as a hero should be! A gentleman adventurer would never let himself be held back by such base concerns as emotion, or doubt. Probably.
Conversely, let’s explore Suni’s growth, because it’s quite the emotional journey we take with her, too.
Suni takes cues from the untameable jungle around her—and grows just as fervently. Surrounded with such wonderful role models as the storied Captain Barba, the experienced Elpida, and Senesio himself, how could she not? I’d like to think there’s some moving, poetic metaphor in the story wherein you could compare Suni’s physical journey through the wilderness to her emotional one. But that’d be pompous of me, so I’ll wait until I’m on a sock puppet account to wax poetical about that.
Wait, that’s not what we are?
The Far Wild isn’t just about a romp in the jungle, though, is it? How important was it to you to explore those themes of resource exploitation and warfare?
In many ways, The Far Wild is my response to the state of our current natural world. It’s brutal that most conservation news is how the world’s coral is dying, the rainforest’s being decimated, countless species are dying out, etc., etc. Mostly doom and gloom. So I created the world of the Far Wild—a world in which man will not triumph over nature. In a way, it’s wish fulfilment for me. It’s a place where I can explore themes like gluttonous resource exploitation and the sabre rattling of prideful empires. And most of all, the characters that stand up to both.
If you’d like me to be really aspirational, it’s also a medium for me to share the wonder I find in nature, and with luck, instil it in others. And maybe, in that way, we can learn to love and protect our natural world just a bit more.
Surely the next progression is to the screen – who’s your dream cast for an adaptation?
Ooh, so this actually plays into how I design characters. I love to have a picture to reference, so I tend to save pictures of people that look how I envision the characters do.
I modelled Suni after the actress Athena Karkanis. The experienced and tough-as-nails Elpida has always been Denise Staply to me. Oz’s hyper-fixation on dangerous wildlife and complete obliviousness to said danger has always had me envision him as Taika Waititi. And, perhaps the most challenging role to play, our beloved gentleman adventurer (and definitely good intentioned hero), Senesio, took several cues from Toby Schmitz (and particularly in the role of Black Sails’ Jack Rackam).
Taika! Now, when I was listening to this, my son was obsessed with Steve Backshal, and I was convinced that’s who you’d modelled Oz on!
For those of us, for whatever mad reason, itching to get back out there, is there anything your readers can turn to next? Are you going to be returning to this world?
Yes! I have a plot for book two already begun and, as long as book one sells well, I’ll start writing it as soon as possible! I won’t spoil much of my plans for book two, but I will say this:
Running’s one thing, but swimming’s a whole new kind of terror. And there’s an awful lot of hungry lurking in the rivers, swamps, and springs of the Far Wild.
For those who can’t wait for a second novel, well, you don’t have to!
Right now you can experience an all-original short story from the Far Wild (best experienced on your smart phone in Instagram), take a tour of the Far Wild, check out art from the book, or listen to the playlist!
And finally, what do you hope readers will take away from The Far Wild?
Oh, not much. An immediate demand for a sequel, an all-consuming desire to devour each of my books, and a life-long devotion to everything I write should be about enough. But failing that, I hope everyone who reads The Far Wild has a fun adventure, laughs a bit, tenses a bit more, and learns to never, ever listen to the voices in the dark. Especially when they sound like your own.
Thank you so much Alex!
As always, a pleasure! If anyone would like to assist me in the quest to have the Fantasy Hive raise a statue of me in central London, catch me online at:
My website – kinda like a statue of me, but online and less cool (and I guess you can stay up to date on my upcoming releases or whatever)
My Facebook group – great for coordinating pro-statue rallies
My Instagram – check out pics of the statue (and other fun bits like concept art, author life stuff, and a bit of experimental storytelling)
My Twitter – this one’s pretty all over the place. Uh, good luck
I mean Alex come on, none of us are even based in central London…
The Far Wild is out 29th March and is available to pre-order now from: