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Alex Smith

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Indie Publishers Rock

Alex & Son (1)When it comes to publishing, most authors dream of glittering prizes, bidding wars and six figure book deals with one of the ‘BIG 5′ (Random House Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Macmillan), but having recently witnessed the process, seeing what happens when a writer becomes an author with a major book deal, it is clear that big deals don’t come without a price, there’s a bit of a Faustian element to becoming an expensive acquisition, and perhaps all the hype (and what it takes to make it) is not what a gregarious loner (typical personality of a writer, apparently) really wants in his or her life.

But there is life beyond the Big 5 powerhouses of consolidation, and some say this has become a new golden age of Indie publishing. Indie Publishers, like Indie Record Labels, are willing to take risks on unknowns and novels that don’t quite fit any obvious marketing brief.

‘Devilskein & Dearlove’ was fortunate to find it’s way into the hands of brilliant, Cherry Potts, a UK based author, story teller and Indie Publisher, whose
Arachne Press
is set to publish the novel in July 2014. Working with Cherry has been a writer’s dream, her genius and passion for all aspects of making a novel into a book with an audience, is inspiring. From cover design to marketing, ‘Devilskein & Dearlove’ has been lovingly tended to and cared for, and what’s more Cherry has involved me every step of the way. At the moment, I’m simply gobsmacked by the developing animated trailer for the book – Cherry wrote a script, and together with musicians and four actors, created a brilliant mood video, which an artist is now turning into action stills. devilskeinfrontVia Dropbox, I keep getting new seconds of the trailer to view and they are breathtaking. The wonderful thing is (thanks to technology) being so close to the action and having a say in what happens as it all unfolds. So for richer or poorer, I say, Indie publishers rock. And actually this whole blog came about because Cherry has involved me in a blog hop for which I need to answer some questions, as follows:

What am I working on?

Always more than one thing at a time and at the moment it’s a short story and two novels. The story is inspired by a session of photographing doors in Long Street for my novel soon to be published, ‘Devilskein & Dearlove’. One of the novels is a YA set in Miami and called ‘My Little Demon’ – it has become too dark for my present state of mind, it’s a completed draft, but I don’t like it anymore. And I’ve started a new novel, which I’m excited about, it involves something dear to baby Elias’s heart: Dinosaurs. We visit the Natural History Museum every couple of weeks and he is utterly smitten with the displays of dinosaurs ripping flesh off each other! Since my travels have been limited of late and since I am always inspired by my travels, my inspiration now comes from the local explorations I do with Elias as he discovers the universe, hence dinosaurs.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I suppose work differs from writer to writer because of each writer’s unique perspective on the world. By nature I’m an optimist, but not an idealist. Having grown up in South Africa, so within an oppressive (in the past) and still fairly violent context, my work contains elements of injustice, oppression, loss and violence, and very often, ways of escaping these – in my writing these ways usually turn out to be fantastical, surreal or magic real. I’ve spent a great deal of time in China, Thailand, the UK and traveled widely in other parts, so another aspect of my work is multiculturalism and strong sense of place.

Why do I write what I do?

Perhaps out of curiosity? I like to explore.I suppose writing is the ultimate escape, the ultimate medium of exploration – it might be exploring a place, an idea, a concept, a type of character, even exploring alternative ways of dealing with something like loss or oppression.

How does my writing process work?

Since my son Elias was born, every aspect of my life has changed including my writing process. I used to write at least seven hours a day and now that is impossible. There is no process now, I just do the best I can. I’m typing these answers in my car on my laptop while Elias dozes before we go into the Library. If he sleeps longer I’ll do some work on the short story. Oh, maybe all that’s just an excuse, I’ve always been haphazard in my approach (‘process’) to making stories, chaotic even messy, like my desk, I just had more time to sort of the chaos than I do now. So thank goodness for brilliant editors!

And next I’m handing the blog hopping baton over to two other simply brilliant women,
Multi-award-winning author S.A. Partridge, most recently shortlisted for the MER prize for Sharp Edges and

multi-lingual literary critic with acclaimed debut novel, Invisibile Others, Karina Magdelina Szczurek


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