Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m A.L Butcher (Alexandra), a British fantasy author. I have a background in sociology, history, mythology and politics.
Thus far I have three novels in the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series: think sex and sorcery – it’s adult (definitely) fantasy/fantasy romance, several short stories set in the same world in the Tales of Erana series, and a number of other anthology pieces, including one in Heroika: Dragon Eaters – an exciting new anthology of heroic fiction from Perseid Press.
I’m working on a novella for Tales of Erana, a second edition of The Shining Citadel (Book II of the Chronicles) and Book IV of the series. Hopefully there might be a short horror collection this year – but as I have been saying that for the last 4 years don’t hold your breath!
Which writers inspire you?
Lots – Alexandre Dumas, Gaston Leroux, Mary Shelley, Terry Pratchett, JRR Tolkien, Homer, Ellis Peters, Colin Wilson, Victor Hugo, Bram Stoker.....
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
Novels no, short fiction yes. I’ve written historical style fantasy with author Diana L. Wicker. Outside the Wallsis a tale of love in the aftermath of war, and courage to do what is right.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I always get asked this – I don’t think one ‘becomes’ a writer. It’s like any other form of art either you are an artist or you’re not. Painters paint, musicians play and writers write – even if it’s just for themselves. How many songs have been written that have never been played, or stories written that are never read? Thousands, maybe more. Just because the story wasn’t published doesn’t mean someone isn’t a writer.
I’ve always been creative, writing poems and short stories all my life. Poetry helps me cope – it can be a very evocative form of expression. I think I was what’s called ‘an imaginative child’ – which translates as doesn’t concentrate because she’s off in some other world. I spent a while writing fanfic and adventures for games. The novels sort of morphed from a project I’d written for something and never used.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I have a full-time day job so I tend to write in the evening and at weekends.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I tend to see where the adventure goes. I’ve tried outlining but I usually end up doing something else entirely so I let the story take me where it needs to go. Sometimes it doesn’t work, mostly it does.
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
Not really. Readers will review – or not. Can’t make ‘em do it. As a I reader I don’t review every book I read, maybe 1 in 5. I try if it’s an indie author or I particularly liked a book, but not always.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Reviews are a particular reader’s point of view. It might vary wildly from the opinion of the next reader. Not everyone has the same tastes, looks for the same thing from a book or interprets a book in a certain way. Negative reviews happen, get over it. If an author wants a review then they must take the good and bad. A review should be honest, if a reader doesn’t like a book then they don’t like it.
As an author it’s nice to be told someone likes your work but reviews are for readers. If an author isn’t confident in their work how can they expect a reader to be?
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
My blog or my author profiles on Good Reads and Amazon.
Any comments for the blog readers?
Fantasy and folklore are at the core of our cultures – every culture had and still has folklore and myth, storytelling and song. Of course now there are movies, miniseries, books, e-books, audio, plays, radio etc. and so the scope for it is vast. Think about it – within, say even just British culture we have King Arthur, St George, dragons, fairies, ghosts, Shuck, giants, monsters, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy…. They may be stories we tell our kids, or were told as kids but they are still there ingrained in our culture. Look at the success of Harry Potter, Thor, Batman, Superman, Ironman, Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit… to a greater or lesser extent fantasy pervades and is very popular.
There are several places which claim to be Camelot, the Welsh flag has a dragon and dragonlore is big in Wales. We have the Giant’s Causeway, a few places called the Giant’s Seat, Giant’s Hill or whatnot. Of course some of the myths harken back to pre-Christian religions and beliefs, adapted Christian beliefs or simply a way for people to understand the universe. That’s part of the key though – it’s a way to understand the world – perhaps not our real world but pseudo worlds or alternate worlds. We follow heroes and antiheroes who are larger than life – gods, demigods, wizards, reluctant heroes, or even just the guy who is brave enough to step forward when the midden hits the windmill (thank you Frodo). We see part of ourselves in these heroes. It’s rarely as simple as good vs evil. Fantasy is an escape as much as anything else. For a while we find these people/creatures who slay the monster, bring the gifts, deal with the evil overlord – perhaps so we don’t have to.