The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Alex Woolf
|The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Alex Woolf|
|Summary: The second volume of the futuristic Chronoshpere series sees the heroes learn more of where they're spending their time-suspended lives. We were keen to take the opportunity to ask Alex Woolf a few questions.|
|Date: 15 August 2011|
|Interviewer: John Lloyd|
The second volume of the futuristic Chronoshpere series sees the heroes learn more of where they're spending their time-suspended lives. We were keen to take the opportunity to ask Alex Woolf a few questions.
- Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
Alex Woolf: That's a difficult question to answer as I've never done this. I hope they might be everyone and anyone, from the wonderful teenagers I've met on my school visits to people like my mum and dad.
- BB: Was the Chronosphere series always destined to be a trilogy?
AW: No. It began as a short story, which eventually turned into a 120,000-word novel. The publishers asked me to cut the original novel in two, which became Books 1 and 2. Book 3 came about because I was curious about what happened to my characters after the first adventure was over and I had to write it so I could find out.
- BB: How long did it take from initial ideas to full series plan, and did you start on the writing at all before that work was finished?
AW: I began writing very soon after I had the initial idea. In my original drafts my character didn't 'buy time' but he 'borrowed it', in the way that one might borrow money from a bank, but I couldn't work out a satisfactory way of having him 'pay it back'. My original short story idea did not involve the Chronosphere much at all, but was mostly about what happened afterwards when he couldn't make the payments on his time-loan. My plans for that story remain unwritten, and may one day form the plot of another story. Once I'd come up with the idea of the Time Store, the rest of the plot (for what became Books 1 and 2) followed pretty quickly. I worked out the plot in its entirety before embarking on the writing, as I always do. However, I always allow myself some flexibility. If a great idea occurs to me midway through the writing, I'll run with it, even if it means abandoning part of the original plot. Book 3 was planned and written as a separate project after Books 1 and 2 were completed and delivered.
- BB: You're gifted an extra year of your life in Halcyon luxury. What three books do you re-read?
AW: The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro; Nine Stories by J D Salinger; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- BB: ... But what are you reading in the only-time-for-everything-once reality?
AW: I've just finished Stephen King's Full Dark, No Stars and am currently reading 'Revolutionary Road' by Richard Yates. Also by my bedside is Scott Westerfield's Leviathan.
- BB: Do you have to read many teen / YA titles in order to write for that audience, and if so, is that ongoing?
AW: I’ve read a few. I liked Michael Grant’s Gone for sheer visceral entertainment, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials for its epic imagination, and Rhiannon Lassiter’s Bad Blood for its creepy atmosphere. For me, the best YA titles were never classified as such – George Orwell's 1984, Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, Stephen King's The Long Walk, Fleming's Bond novels, and science fiction by John Wyndham, Frederick Pohl, Philip K Dick and Isaac Asimov. I loved all these as a teenager, not realizing or caring who they were written for.
- BB: Where and how do you write?
AW: I write at my desk in a very small study crammed with books. I use an ageing iMac to write on, and I carry an iPhone around with me to jot down any ideas that occur to me during the day or night.
- BB: If the opportunity came through for Chronosphere to become a film, game or manga, how easily would you let someone else take the reins and adapt it?
AW: I think quite easily, so long as I can trust them to do it justice. I don't have the technical ability or experience to write a film script or create a game, but I would be very interested in getting involved in a graphic novelisation of Chronosphere, if it ever came about.
- BB: Which aspects of your Chronosphere life or future would you most - and which least - wish on your own children's children?
AW: I think the premise of being able to buy time would be fantastic. It's a cliche, but it happens to be true, that life is too short. There are so many other Alex Woolfs I'd have liked to have been, given the chance, and that's not to say I haven't enjoyed being this one. But the idea that one could spend a year or more doing something (and being someone) entirely different, while not losing more than a minute of your actual life, would be life-enhancing in the truest sense. As for the aspects I think my future relations could do without, I would say the virtuarium would have to be high on the list, not to mention time-shifted prison cells, spaghetti beef-tomato sorbets (which sound horrible), and MAIDS with added 'personalities'.
- BB: What's next for Alex Woolf?
AW: I've recently completed an interactive e-novel for teenagers called Soul Shadows, published by Fiction Express. My YA novel about a young Victorian psychic detective, Aldo Moon and the Case of the Ghost at Gravewood Hall, published by Scribo, is due out next year. This will hopefully also form part of a series.
- BB: Thanks for talking to us, Alex and we're looking forward to seeing what you do next.
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