Alex Scarrow, Author
Alex's latest book 'TimeRiders' has recently been published.
We asked him some questions about his life and work as an author...
Where do some of your best ideas for your stories come from? What was your inspiration for writing TimeRiders?
My last job before being a writer, was a computer games designer...and there were plenty of games designs I came up with, which never went into production and ended up as 'mothballed' concepts. Thing was...there were plenty of really neat ideas tucked away there, never getting the chance to see the light of day. And so, over the last few years those ideas have been gradually re-emerging as, well, basically TimeRiders!
What's your day like? How and where do you write?
9am, out the door. Forty five minute walk into town with my laptop. Find a quiet corner in Starbucks with a plug socket and within range of some decent WiFi, and, with a black coffee and cookie in hand, I write for about two hours...which usually gives me about 1,200 raw words. Walk back home, have a wrestle with Max, my dog. Go for a walk, return to let my son in from school. Round about now, my wife comes from home, so I might nip out to another cafe with my laptop and edit my 1,200 words, and add another three or four hundred. After that, the rest of the day is mine.
Do you always write a book in the order that it ends up in? Do you go back and add in extra chapters?
Nope. I pretty much know what the storyline is before I get going on Chapter 1.
Have you got any author idols?
As a kid and young man I read a lot of Stephen King. Less so now. I think I OD'd. But, thinking about it, I do have an enduring respect and appreciation for Nevil Shute, who wrote some wartime/early cold war era novels that depicted characters so incredibly vividly. Now that guy was good...really good at depicting a complete character with no more than a dozen words.
What is the hardest part when writing a book?
For me, keeping a plot from going off-piste.
Do you have any tips on how to write an absorbing book that would also make the reader feel as if they're involved in the book as well?
Characters. That's it. Characters. If they're cheesy, two-dimensional, unconvincing stereotypical cliches...then it really doesn't matter what escapades you put them through, no one's going to care. However, make 'em real and when they bleed, the reader bleeds.
How do you research your books?
Ahem... wiki-, no just kidding. Actually I need to read around the chosen subject a little; partly to scare up the facts I need, partly looking for inspiration of ways the story might go.
When did you know you wanted to become a writer? What age were you when you wrote your first book?
Nine. Seriously. I say 'book'...it was three school exercise books. I guess if I did a word count on my scrawled first work, it would amount to little more than the slenderest of novellas. It was my first memory of really being bitten by the writing bug.
What was it like when your first book was published? How did you feel, did you think it would be as successful as it was?
Back of the net! That's what it felt like, walking into Waterstones and seeing it there on one of the center tables. An incredible buzz. Then of course the neurotic behaviour kicked in - 'why the hell isn't that customer picking up and looking at MY book?!!!' That's kinda how it goes.
If you'd like to receive a copy of TimeRiders to review for the Book club, fill out this form throughout February, and one lucky reviewer will be chosen in March.
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