WELCOME ALEC SILLIFANT
Alec Sillifant is close to being half a century old and is frayed at the edges with plenty of scars, physical and mental, to show for his time on the planet. He has been suffering a mid-life crisis since he was seventeen and it’s only getting worse.
His jobs have been many and varied: shelf stacker, bank employee, motorcycle despatch rider, kitchen salesman, bread delivery, administrator, home shopping channel call centre operative, to name a few. Some of these jobs even ended without him being escorted off the premises by two security guards; one place even said he’d be welcome back if needed work…but nothing was ever put in writing.
He has been writing since he went to school, some of it even made sense. He had a ‘Star’ letter published in a comic when he was a lad and since then has been paid for writing all kinds of stuff: TV comedy sketches, greetings cards, short stories, children’s picture books and a novel. He is, however, mostly skint, and has not one clue as to the cure for that.
Alec bumbles through life and, thanks to some pixies or something looking out for him, has managed to stay alive so far even though he has no idea what the hell is going on or what he should be doing to count as fulfilled.
Q&A with Alec Sillifant
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Yes. Both. Next question.
However, there is rarely an event in life that happens in perfect ‘story mode’ so it’s down to the writer to make it more accessible and, maybe, more exciting to the reader. You may get the dot-to-dot outline handed to you but it’s your job to create a complete picture and colour it in. Also it helps if you add a big helping of pretentious rubbish, just like I did in the previous sentence.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
Depends. With short stories I tend to get most of it in one rush, with the concept and ending coming together leaving me to fill in the journey.
The novel, the one I actually finished, was an idea for a character and a situation, the rest of that just came along as I typed…and was mostly rubbish, so I had to type it again.
I find it hard to judge a job before finishing it and stepping back to take a look at the project from a distance. Once I have bolted down the bigger pieces I can go back in and tweak the details to suit. I also have trouble using too many engineering metaphors and they have to be taken out.
Often things take on a life of their own and what I was planning to write goes out of the window as the story takes me where it wants to go.
But with writing is anything ever perfect? I am sure I am not alone in going back over things I may have written years ago and seeing a better way to take the story or make changes to a character. I think the hard fact of it is, editing is never done but you’ve got to stop as close to ‘spot on’ as you can.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I wish I did have a routine, I need one for sure. I know the only way to get words on the paper is to get words on the paper but, man, it’s so hard to get myself sat down to do it. I want to, I really do, but the sad truth is, I’m lazy. I quite enjoy the act of writing – when it’s flowing well – but it’s just the effort to start that I find so hard, especially with a longer piece. For example I got 20,000 words into my latest attempt and then ‘phut’, I crashed and burned. My mind is determined to get back to it but my backside outweighs it and is nailed to the couch watching TV. Actually I am better at getting things done with some money up front, so if anyone reading this would like to spur me on…
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Yeah, tough one. To have a favourite author suggests I really enjoy everything they’ve written and, as with everyone, they can have off days. I enjoy reading, when my laziness allows it, and there have been very few books I have flung across the room in disgust after finishing them. Mr King is one hell of a story teller and there was one series – the name of which I can’t recall, which is a great help – that really got my attention when I was younger, couldn’t wait for the next instalment. But an all time favourite, I’ll have to pass on that one.
What are you reading now?
I’ve been trying to read some of the books you are supposed to read, you know the classics. Not the classics as in Jane Austen classics, way too heavy and…okay, boring. That’s the kind of stuff they force you to read in school which is a great help to literacy in my opinion, especially for boys. I mean the classics like ‘Tarzan’, which I read recently, and ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’ which I got to page seven on and then promptly lost the book.
Anyway at present it’s ‘Catch 22’ but, and remember I have mentioned I’m lazy, I’ve been reading it for four months and I’ve only got one chapter to go but, having said that, I am enjoying it and hope to finish it by early July.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am…kinda, it’s the one I mentioned before that got to 20,000 words but I can feel my Muse at my shoulder urging me on and I may do it right after I finish answering these questions.
It’s a comedy (I hope) a complete jump from ‘Chaos’ and it is aimed squarely at the adult market. Basically it’s my attempt to bring the living dead back onto the side of the good guys. Zombies get such a bad rap nowadays.
It’s set in Victorian Liverpool and the three main characters are recently raised from the grave, much to their confusion. It’s a thriller of sorts, although you know ‘whodunit’ from the start, and it’s more about the chase and the foiling of evil plans. There’s a mad shape-shifting butler, a mad Scottish policeman, a clown that’s really, really mad and various other mad characters to some degree or other. Actually, they’re not all mad; I just like using the word. Mad. See?
Anyway, as you can probably tell it’s all very up in the air and very much at the first draft stage. Hopefully I’ll get back to it soon but I suggest no one make a bet on that.
Your novel would be a movie, who would you cast?
You know what, that’s never even crossed my mind to dream about…but seeing as how you’ve asked…
The leads, ‘Jake’ and ‘Angel’, would be unknown actors and have the looks of people in the real world. No good looking model academy kids from the catalogue world, kids that look like we did when we were younger. In fact if they were a bit world weary before their years that would be great; the odd frown line, that kind of thing.
As for ‘Mr Packard’, I’ve got him down. Jason Isaacs, a brilliant actor I once saw in a TV play showing the scariest under played nut job ever. Frightening it was. I loved it.
All other parts would be played by me in heavy make-up.
Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?
Manuscript always typed, so much easier and my PC spells far better than I do.
Notes are handwritten…badly. I often have no idea what I was making a note of when I come to read them back and I’m sure I’ve lost some good ideas over the years down to my illegible scribble.
Favourite leisure activity/hobby
My motorbike, though as I get older I ride less and less and the weather has got to be perfect. I’m not as brave as I used to be, nor do I bounce as well as I used to and even the thought of crashing nowadays can bring me out in road rash and bruising. It’s still the only way to get a smile on your gob when travelling though.
I’m not sure. Full English? Singapore fried rice? Steak and kidney pie, chips, peas and gravy? Cheese and bacon pasta bake? I’m not sure, I quite like food, it seems to stop me dying.
“Should you wish to speak to Alec, do drop him a line on firstname.lastname@example.org “
ABOUT THE BOOK
Jake Highfield is a troubled child, abandoned at birth he spends his life bouncing between state institutions and foster homes. He lives by his own rules and answers to no one…until he is sent to The Academy, where they are used to dealing with the problem child.
Trained in the ways of espionage, Jake excels in his new role and finally accepts he has found a place he can call home until events beyond his control turn his new life upside down and he is thrust back on the streets again. But this time he is isn’t just fighting for his freedom, he’s fighting for his life.
Print Length: 352 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
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