Q: How did you get into fantasy?
I was a dinosaur kid. Some of the first words I learned were ‘ankylosaurs’ and ‘diplodocus’. An interest in fantasy grew out of that, I think. My mother read stories set in Narnia and Prydain to me, and by grade 3 I was reading Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books. I’ve always been attracted to stories (or paintings or movies) that can elicit a soaring sense of wonder – and by that I mean a feeling of ‘otherworldness’, that tingling that suggests another reality has touched our own. I’ve always wanted to create that same feeling in others. In Grade 2 I wrote my first fantasy book. I’ve always had the dream, but for much of my adult life I set it aside. Then three years ago I took it out and dusted it off and set to work.
Q: What is your latest fantasy release?
My latest is a sword-and-sorcery novelette called Twilight’s End. But the work I’m most well-known for is my debut, released last December, which was The Crimson Queen. It’s epic fantasy, and the start of a new series.
Q: What inspired you to write your first fantasy book? How long did it take?
I would say the literary inspiration for The Crimson Queen is mostly George RR Martin, although my book isn’t nearly as dark and sprawling as The Song of Ice and Fire. What I wanted to do was try and merge the nuanced characters and deep world building and quality writing of Game with the tone and feeling of the old TSR fantasies (Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance again) I grew up reading. Basically, a less dark and gritty Martin, or a more refined pulpy fantasy adventure.
Q: What sub-genre of fantasy do your books/series fall under? Is there a different sub-genre of fantasy that you would like to experiment writing in and why?
I like writing epic fantasy and sword and sorcery. I know it’s trite, but I enjoy adventuring in medieval-style worlds. Castles and swords and fortresses clinging to the sides of mountains. I know a lot of readers are tired of this millieu – but not me.
Q: Which of your books do you believe resonated with readers the most? Why do you think it received that attention?
The Crimson Queen shocked me with its success. I was hoping to sell a few hundred copies this first year, and after seven months I’m verging on 20,000 copies sold (ebook, full reads in KU, audiobooks, and print combined). I think there’s a hunger for non-YA medieval style epic fantasy that has a bit of depth to the characters and plot.
Q: What are some professional milestones that you’re proud you reached?
Today I just reached 1k ratings on Goodreads for The Crimson Queen. I think Goodreads ratings is a better measure that Amazon reviews (and harder to game) for reader satisfaction, so I’m quite pleased. I’m also quite happy that even though I’ve had a large number of reviews, the averages are still high, with 4.36 / 5 on Goodreads and 4.7 / 5 on Amazon.
Q: What is the next project you’re working on? When do you hope to have it available?
I’m writing two short stories that I hope to include in anthologies in the fall. Otherwise, I’m working hard on the sequel to Queen. I hope to have it out this winter.
You can find Alec’s books on Amazon.