Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Interview with novelist Alexander Charalambides

Novelist Alexander Charalambides joins me today and we’re chatting about his new thriller novel, K.I.A.

During his virtual book tour, Alexander will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Alexander Charalambides was born in London and grew up in Berkshire in the UK. He studied creative writing and graduated from the Open University.

As a freelance writer, Alexander enjoys storytelling just as much as editing and analysis, but often takes time off to enjoy wind surfing, do the sickest of motorcycle flips, wrestle with deadly animals and lie about his hobbies.

In 2008, he moved to the USA and now lives in New Hampshire’s beautiful White Mountains with his family and two dogs, Gwynne and Gimli.

Welcome, Alexander. Please tell us a little bit about your current release.
Hildegard lives in a real-life dollhouse, surrounded by prop houses and actors who play friends, teachers and foster parents. Only one man ever seemed real, and after his disappearance, she’s had enough playing along. As Hildegard makes her final preparations to run away from home, a swarm of black clad soldiers appear, controlling the police and swarming across her home town. She can evade them for now, but after learning their mission, she decides to play along one last time, following them to Truman Academy, a lonely building on a freezing aleutian island. Hildegard knows it for what it is: just another prop, but not everyone feels the same way. Through the hell of endless drills and marching, Hildegard befriends the stealthy Grace and bloodthirsty David, and enlists them in an effort to unravel the plan of the man called G and his monstrous menagerie of inhuman soldiers.

What inspired you to write this book?
I took a look at the thematics of a lot of really inaccessible stuff and wondered what made it inaccessible. I mean, almost everyone has a lot in common. I just tried to transplant the themes from one genre into the context of another, not telling which so as not to colour anyone’s expectations, obviously.

I guess the short version is I thought it'd be an interesting experiment.

Excerpt from K.I.A.:

“Bacteria again,” David says. “A biological weapon?”
“I don’t know.” Islet slurps the last of his soup. “I only sequenced part of it, and they keep the different teams apart.”
“Is that what they’re going to launch from the Silo?” Grace asks.
“You knew?” Islet asks.
“We found out about the Mobile Silo a while ago,” I say. “We saw blueprints for it, orders for parts, too.”
“Well, that’s what they’ve been doing for days now,” Dr. Islet says. “Hauling down the tanks of bacteria, assembling missiles.”
“They’re going to launch.” Grace stands up as she says it.
“Right,” I say. “There’s not going to be any placement in special forces. Or graduation.”
A few students stand up, like Grace. A few gasp. Most don’t seem surprised. “If I had to guess, I’d say that once they launch, they won’t need us. It’ll be a massacre.”
“You think so?” Islet pushes his glasses back up his nose. “It could be, we’ve been getting weapon shipments with the missile parts and replacement components for the Mobile Silo.”
“Stop saying we,” David grunts. “Unless you’re with them.”
“No, no, I’m not.” Islet waves his hands back and forth. “You’re right.”
“We have to stop them,” Grace says. I can’t help but tally up the numbers. At the very least the baggers outnumber the students two to one. Almost certainly more, not counting KU Giant. Then there’s the equipment discrepancy, and the differences in energy from eating and sleeping. I know there are vehicles, too, I’ve seen plenty of personnel carriers and jeeps with mounted guns, as well as the helicopters that are always coming and going.
“Uh, Hildegard,” Grace says. “We were sort of hoping you’d come up with something.”
I only wanted to find out what happened to Cooper. To be honest, I think I might already have lost my chance. It can’t be my priority anymore. By the sound of it, it’s not just the students that are in danger.
“There’s only one way we can get enough supplies, weapons, and bodies to stop the launch.”
“Okay,” Grace says. “What’s that?”
“This should be good.” David leans back on the walls of the cabin. All the students stare at me.
“We have to take over the school.”


What exciting story are you working on next?
Formula Q (working title, the final one will probably be much, much longer) is about a high-speed, high-tech racing league in the far future. Earth is united, but at odds with an impoverished, isolationist Mars, and the heroes of the book realize the first interplanetary racing tournament is really an outlet for their planet’s rivalry, and try to stop the plot of a rising xenophobic dictator.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably the first time I actually held a book I’d written, it really didn’t dawn on me until then, maybe I’m shallow. To be honest, it still feels weird to describe myself as a writer, but isn’t it weird to describe yourself as any single thing?

Do you write full time? what’s your work day like?
I wake up, I eat breakfast, complain a little bit about the weather or the news or whatever, and then I start writing. I keep going until lunch. Then I eat lunch.

I go back to writing until mid-afternoon and then, depending on the day I get some exercise, or maybe keep going until the evening. Then I eat another meal, and if I’m feeling really driven I write through the evening too.

I make it sound like I’m really productive, but I promise I’m not.

Interesting writing quirk?
This is kind of hard for me to say, since I have a bird’s eye view of the whole thing. I know I make a point to keep the prose and the story as closely integrated as possible, to communicate story, atmosphere and character as quickly and efficiently as possible, but I can’t really say how this comes off to most readers other than “fast paced”.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This is a boring answer, but I did genuinely want to be a writer, not that I had any idea what that entailed at the time.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
This can’t be overstated; every writer needs feedback, if you like or don’t like something, please don’t hesitate to leave a review or send me a message or something. Without talking to readers, writers would never improve, so the more we talk the better.


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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Nikolina said...

I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!

Karen H said...

Great interview. So, what were your reasons for deciding to move to the US?

Unknown said...

I enjoyed getting to know your book; congrats on the tour and I hope it is a fun one for you :)

Alexander Charalambides said...

Hey everyone! I'm a bit late, but I'll be sticking around all day to answer some questions, they don't even have to be about the book. Maybe you need directions, or just some life advice?

Alexander Charalambides said...

Also, since I'm not the most techno-savvy person, i'll just post answers like this.
Karen, as for moving to the US, don't blame me, it wasn't my idea.

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing the great post!

Bernie Wallace said...

Congratulations on the book. Thanks for hosting the giveaway. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(dot)com