Alexander Michael is a writer of speculative fiction. He currently calls Brisbane home. Everything is Summer is his second published work.
Genre: speculative, dark fantasy, horror
Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Everything is Summer is a dark fantasy novella, inspired by my solo trip to Melbourne back in early 2020, one month before COVID strangled the world. I stayed in bnbs and took myself through the suburbs, parks and bars. And the bookshops! Melbourne is fantastic for bookshops. The suburbs of Carlton, Fitzroy and Brunswick ensnared me with their graffiti, winding lanes, and the quiet and secretive courtyards of Victorian houses. Simply, it was fun to just explore. I conjured a story of an abandoned Victorian mansion and off I went.
Q2: What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft?
I wouldn’t say this book has changed much, but months after the book’s completion, I realised there was so much more to tell. I have begun working on a prequel novella set in the 1940s. I just love this setting: this mansion, this suburb.
Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?
First and foremost, the work of Clive Barker, particularly his dark/urban fantasies, ala Weaveworld. The magic realism of David Mitchell, particularly his novels Slade House and The Bone Clocks. Lastly, the surrealism of Haruki Murakami and the filmmaker David Lynch.
Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?
In the planning stages, I take myself on adventures, doing things I love: going for walks in the sun, listening to music, exercising, climbing mountains, going to the beach. Once I begin to write the first draft, it’s just work work work, writing chapter by chapter or scene by scene. Sometimes, if it’s going well, I’ll enter a fugue state and the work will write itself. If I’m tired from my day job, however, the writing comes much slower, and I can get easily frustrated when things get in the way of my writing. But once the first draft is done, I take a week off before diving into the editing and rewriting. The first initial readthrough after the first or second draft is completed is just pure joy. “I created this world? I barely remember doing it.” If I get stuck on a story problem, I’ll employ my Walking In Nature mode again until the solution arrives.
Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
Be very patient. Also, don’t be hard on yourself if the words aren’t flowing. I find you need to be happy and content to sit there for hours on end to produce the words. It will happen when it is meant to happen. Final advice, edit the hell out of your drafts, and make sure to hire a professional editor. There is nothing more important than their notes.
Q6: What is the best writing advice you have ever heard?
I think Stephen King said it best: we can’t write unless we love reading. Read a massive number of books. Without even knowing it, you will suck up into your mind methods and tips and knowledge on how to write. It’s incredible. Be well read, and your own words will always come.
Q7: How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
Take myself out and have a great lunch, a beer, and let the thoughts of the book disappear for a while. Writing a book is like a year-long obsession. Once it’s done, let it go, and have a nice Sunday.
Q8: What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?
I think a good way to improve, or to just see how other people do things, is to search out authors and books that fall within your genre of story. Your favourite writers. The big names in the field right now. Read their books. One: that is obviously what sells; two: reading those books and getting an understanding of style can help you cultivate your own voice.
Q9: What are you working on now?
I am in the rewriting stage of my third release. After that will come editing. It is my third release, but will be my first novel (the first being a large collection, the second, a novella). It will be around the 300-page mark, historical fantasy. I am very excited to jump into it. It is far less horror, far less sensual and dark. On the whole, more approachable and ‘mainstream’. I will hopefully have it released in the last quarter of 2022.
Q10: What are you currently reading?
I am working my way through the novels of Haruki Murakami, and loving every second of it. Stand outs so far have been A Wild Sheep Chase, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I am just beginning the noir/surreal/dreamlike Dance Dance Dance.
Find out more about Alexander Michael by following the links below:
More about Everything Is Summer
This splash of graffiti is young Mike's only mantra, as he wanders far from home, far from who he is and ever was.
Onwards, to the coffee vans, to the bookshops. To lose himself in this labyrinth. To forget.
But when he witnesses a young woman named Naila stealing a book from a dusty basement, Mike is catapulted into a strange underbelly, in which Explorers indulge in wonder, lunatics are wise men, and the mundane holds miracles.
To this distant city.
This abandoned mansion.
Welcome to the Undercurrent.
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