Author’s Interview – Alex Buzzard
- What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
Both my books are about observing the world we live in and how we can build a better relationship with each other and the world of nature which all life depends upon. Consciência is a philosophical work interwoven into a novel about how we look at the world and our relationship with it. We live in a world that is often dominated by the forces of greed and fanaticism and yet it is hard to reach out to people as to how we could all build a better future. It is my belief that philosophical messages are best communicated through absorbing the reader with a story and characters that also captivates their imagination.
- How important is research to you when writing a book?
My writing directly challenges a lot of prevailing beliefs and models about religion, politics and economics. It is essential to undertake rigorous research in these areas before it is possible to present a credible alternative to the reader.
- Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I usually have an outline plot in mind when I start to write but the plot often develops and changes as the book evolves. As the characters form they take on a life of their own and steer the plot in delightfully unexpected directions!
- What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
I think this depends upon the type of work that is being written. When writing a novel, I think the most important thing is to engage with the imagination of your reader. If the reader is not in some way emotionally engaged with the plot and the characters you will lose their interest and all else is lost. My books also have a philosophical message to communicate but this will be completely lost if I don’t first gain the reader’s attention.
- What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
I think that a captivating cover is essential when trying to attract the attention of a reader that is not familiar with your work. People are strongly influenced by visual signals and the immediate impact of a cover can either persuade a potential reader to either pause or to walk on by.
- Have you ever designed your own book cover?
Both of my book covers have been the work of local artists. I love sharing thoughts and ideas with creative people in all genres and it has been a great privilege to work with talented local artists to jointly develop the book projects. The current cover of Consciência was designed after a local artist had read the book and it is her interpretation of the impression that the book left with her.
- Do you read any of your own work?
It does sound a little bit narcissistic but yes I do. My books were also a personal journey that helped me to develop my own understanding of the world around me. I find it is sometimes useful to remind myself of thoughts and ideas that have stimulated me in the past.
- Does your novel Consciência carry a message?
Consciência is a celebration of the female aspect of nature and humanity. It is about discovering the meaning of life through understanding the meaning of love. I believe that the dominance of male dominated societies, cultures and religions has led the world to the brink of disaster. Instead of a world based upon greed, selfishness and exploitation, Consciência argues that the only sustainable future for our world is to embrace love, empathy and compassion. If we do not learn to love each other and nurture nature, the Goddess, the womb of all life, then the future for humanity and all life on earth is very bleak indeed.
- How much of yourself do you put into your books?
My books are always written about subjects that I am passionate about so the reader will also have a deep insight into my thoughts and beliefs after reading my work.
- Poets and writers in general, have a reputation of committing suicide; in your opinion, why is that the case?
I think that this is also true of artists and anyone who deeply engages emotionally with the world and the environment that surrounds them. In particular many aspects of human societies are, if placed under any kind of objective scrutiny, truly pathological. The celebration of angry vengeful Gods, human greed, cruelty, senseless wars, the abuse of millions of women and the decimation of the natural world. No sane mind can be unaffected by such horrors. There is also an explosion in mental health problems within young people. I firmly believe that this is because they are struggling to make sense of lives embedded in what they sense is an often insane world. One of the main drivers of my writing is to bring a message of hope to many who feel a sense of hopelessness and despair, a sense I have too often shared in my own life.
- Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?
This may be true for a few writers but the majority of writers I have met struggle between having to earn enough to make ends meet and committing the time and energy they need to write. Very few writers are lucky enough to actually make a good living from their endeavours. For the majority of writers it is very much a labour of love.
- How do you see writing? As a hobby or a passion?
For me writing always has to be a passion, a desire to share ideas and feelings with the reader. I don’t think I could write about a subject if I wasn’t passionate about it.
- Do you make your own vocabulary words in your book or resort to the existing ones?
It is rare that I make up my own words although I had to do this in my first work, “A Certain Lack of Faith.” This book evidenced a theory that Christianity was actually self-contradictory. It was the combination of an angry vengeful male God father figure with a compassionate loving son to create a new religion. The book argued that the teachings associated with Jesus were actually consistent with an eastern wisdom tradition and totally contradictory to the Abrahamic God faith with which they were later combined. In this book I invented a word to describe those Christians primarily influenced by Jesus as “Jesians.” I named those who were primarily influenced by the vengeful judgmental God figure as “Godotians” as in followers of the God of the Old Testament. I had to invent these words as I could not find adequate descriptions to explain this perspective in existing language. It is my personal hope that the Jesian aspect of Christianity will ultimately prevail.
- Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then and there?
This is a nightmare whilst writing as your mind is constantly developing ideas and you are then terrified that you will forget them. I often carry a small pocket book with me and have a flipchart at home. Many times I have leapt out of bed in the middle of the night to scribble a thought on the chart before it is lost!
- Many books say that the characters in the book aren’t real or related, but are they really all fictional and made up?
None of my characters are an actual depiction of a person living or dead but many characters have aspects of people I have known, seen or met.
- Have you ever written a character based on the real you in some part?
There is one character in Consciência that it pretty close to the real me but I am definitely keeping this a secret with the few people who know me well enough to figure it out!
- It is often said that in order to write something, you must believe in what you are writing. Do you agree with that?
I am not sure that this has to be the case with all writers but it certainly is for me as it is my beliefs that inspire me to write.
- In case one or any of your books honor the big screen, which book would you like it to be?
It would definitely be Consciência. I have previously mentioned it is a book about the meaning of life through understanding the meaning of love. I would really like to see a film that could convey that message to all those who are in need of more love and more meaning in their lives.
- How possessive are you about your work?
I write to communicate and exchange ideas with as many people as I can and therefore I am not possessive about my work as I feel it is counterproductive. I have freely shared many extracts and passages with people who are interested in the ideas within them.
- Tell us about an interesting or memorable encounter you had with a fan?
The most interesting encounter was with an artist who ultimately designed a new cover for my book Consciência. I had no idea she had read the book and then I received this wonderful text about how she had been inspired by what she had read. This led to a valued friendship and a creative collaboration. She is a highly talented artist so it may be fair to say that I am an even bigger fan of her work now!
- How do you think concepts such as Kindle, and e-books have changed the present or future of reading?
I think any medium that brings writers and readers together can only be a good thing but I am always surprised how many people still prefer a printed copy and I count myself amongst them. I therefore think that we will still be printing books for many years to come.
- Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
There is a powerful passage in Consciência where one of the characters, Jessica, has a deeply disturbing vision that is a metaphor on what humanity is doing to our world. This was largely based on a dream I had whilst writing the novel.
- How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?
I am very active on social media, particularly in regard to following news outlets and social and political comment that is outside of normal media outlets. Most of the mainstream media is owned by wealthy and powerful vested interests that pump out virtual propaganda to maintain deep division and inequality in the world. It is only by actively seeking alternative viewpoints and research that it is possible to gain insight into what is really happening in the world about us. From this aspect I think social media has become a powerful force for change. It has also significantly influenced my own thoughts and feelings and this is reflected in my writing.