Marcus Alexander is the author of a three book fantasy adventure series, Keeper of the Realms, a set of books packed with energy and adrenalin, and ideal for the 11+ crowd looking for adventure and thrills.
Charlie Keeper has discovered that under her family home there is a gateway to the mythical, magical realm that is Bellania. But Bellania’s fate hangs in the balance, and Charlie Keeper holds the key. Before she can untangle the mystery that will save Bellania, Charlie Keeper needs the answer to a life-changing secret her guardian, the dastardly Mr Crow, has been keeping from her …Just who is Charlie Keeper?
To find out more about Charlie Keeper you’ll have to read the books, but if you want to find out more about Marcus, why not eavesdrop on our recent conversation:
FCBG: Where does this adrenalin and passion which informs so much of what you do come from?
Marcus: Books! I guess you could say it was jealousy of the life the heroes were living in all the novels that I devoured as a teenager that inspired me to go out and get something fresh and wild of my own.
FCBG: And how does this buzzing inside you, this energy marry with being an author, which at a very basic level has to involve sitting down and working quietly on your own?
Marcus: It’s an odd cycle. Books cause me to go out and taste the extreme but in return, once I’ve temporarily sated my thirst I’ve an urge to write. It ebbs and flows but each urge seems to compliment the other.
FCBG: Or maybe you don’t sit down to write? Where do you write best? With hubbub around you? Music on?
Marcus: I can’t write at home! It’s too easy to procrastinate so I do my best writing elsewhere. (If there’s music on you know I’m going to have to dance, right? jeje)
FCBG: Or does writing offer you an opportunity for quiet and solitude which allows you to refuel for other parts of your life?
Marcus: A period of quiet is always necessary. It’s a great way to recharge before going out and chasing the ‘X’ again.
FCBG: You’re a big believer in thinking outside the box – is this something which fed into the approach you took to getting published?
Marcus: Thinking outside the box is a must. It’s helped me to overcome all the obstacles in my life. Particularly getting published. I wasn’t rich, famous or had any industry hook ups and I wasn’t keen on the idea of giving an agent 15% of my cut so I was left with no option other than to look for different path. I know most authors get captivated with the story but books are products and publishing houses need to make profit so I approached the issue from a business point of view. I self published 2000 units with an intent to prove the commercial validity of my product. I sold 1,500 and gave away 500 for marketing and reviews. Finally armed with my sales figures, reviews and fan following (and Charlie Keeper inspired graffiti artwork that had boomed across London) I went straight to Puffin without the need for an agent.
FCBG You’ve described yourself as “a complete and utter bookworm” as a child – what fantasy books and comics/graphic novels did you particularly enjoy?
Marcus: Being a Brit kid I was hooked on 2000AD and Judge Dredd (Yeah, I know, typical 80s brat, right? Lol) But I started reading furiously at ages 3-4 and it was (don’t laugh!) ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and anything Dr. Seuss that really opened that window in my brain to other worlds and fantasy. It was these in particular that cranked my imagination and kindled that flame within my heart.
FCBG: What’s the most recent book you’ve read which you really loved?
Marcus: I’m a fan of Steph Swainston and her ‘The Year of Our War’ with the winged messenger Jant. I can’t stand first person books but she does it with so much flavour and style that she’s completely changed my opinion. Awesome prose and storytelling! (And Steph, if you’re reading this, dude, please put pen to paper and bring out some more books sooooooon!)
FCBG: The Keeper of the Realms series has fantastic artwork by Zul Kamarrudin – how do you work with Zul? Does he show drafts on which you get some input? Is he someone Puffin teamed you up with or someone you knew already?
Marcus: Zul has been with me since my self published book ‘Who is Charlie Keeper?’ I sourced him off Deviantart.com and he’s been epic ever since. I’ll send him a storyboard layout for each character with researched imagery of clothing, pose, hair, jewellery and he’ll get to work. He’ll ping back (he’s based in Malaysia!) some rough drafts and I’ll okay it or suggest changes and after several initial sketches we’ll agree on a final at which point it’ll be taken to completion. Zul, without a doubt, rocks with his graphic floetry.
FCBG: The third volume of the Keeper of the Realms series came out earlier this year. Will there be a fourth volume? Or have you started work on something completely new?
Marcus: Blood & Fire is the last in this instalment of Charlie’s adventures. There will always be more Charlie Keeper coming but for the time being I need a break from the realm of Bellania. It’s simply been too many years and I need to build something new. It’s been a hectic year with tours but with some downtime booked over Easter (going to Sri Lanka, whoop-whoop!) I’d like to start planning a new fantasy series in a different realm.
FCBG: You’ve recently taken up skydiving – I guess partly because of your belief that when you’re not writing it’s important to keep learning new skills to keep the imagination flowing. What parallels do you see between writing and skydiving? The need to have faith? The need to commit?
Marcus: The need to overcome my fear. I used to fight because it terrified me but as the years passed I grew more confident and no longer felt the need to jump into the ring. Skydiving however terrifies me. Not the free fall or deploying the ‘chute but having to suck up the guts for that initial jump out the plane. For me, facing and overcoming your fear is a true source of strength. Adrenaline sports gives a lot to writers, the rush, the joy and that taste of fear and for a fantasy writer that fixates on action it’s a great boon.
FCBG: Reading between the lines in various interviews and comments you’ve made on videos on your youtube channel, I get the sense you like your food. In a ideal world, what would you put on your hospitality rider in terms of snacks to eat / lunch to share with kids at school visits?
Marcus: Seared kangaroo with homemade sweet chilli sauce?
Caramelised duck breast with a honey and ginger jus?
Or that old school classic of salt and pepper ice cream?
FCBG: Travel has always been a large part of your life. What locations are still on your dream list for the future?
Marcus: Africa! The largest continent with the most countries. I’ve got to get that done. (I’ve done Morocco and the Sahara but I don’t think that that really counts.)
South America with the tequila, history and amazing dance styles.
China for its landscapes.
Japan for its deep powder, beautiful gardens, fashion and style.
FCBG: What can schools expect from a visit by you?
Marcus: Schools can expect one big, bald, ugly dude coming to their campus and:
A standard day normally includes:
[FCBG adds: Author event promo video can be found on youtube here: http://youtu.be/brBc32b_dr4]
FCBG: What are the strangest questions you’ve been asked by your readers?
Marcus: Weirdest questions to date are:
FCBG: Thank you Marcus!
Marcus Alexander’s website: http://whoischarliekeeper.com/
Marcus Alexander on Twitter: https://twitter.com/getyourreadon
Marcus Alexander’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/marcusalexanderprose
Marcus Alexander’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/marcusalexanderauthor