Welcome to April’s Featured Blog, something I’ll be posting here on Lit and Scribbles most of the month to introduce all of you to perhaps some new future friends and get to know a little more about your blogging community.
Let’s chat with Alex Brant, writer of the blog Miss Alexandrina Brant. Tell us who you are Alex:
AB: I’m officially Alexandrina, but friends call me ‘Alex’. Alex Brant. A 17-year-old student of Latin, Religious Studies and Psychology, with stupidly curly hair, I spend most of my free-time thinking about writing, but when I’m not doing anything serious, I puzzle-solve or play computer games. Such is the life of a teenager!
J: When did you first start blogging and what is your blog about?
AB: I created the Miss Alexandrina blog January last year, but didn’t really start blogging until about October time. My tag-line is ‘the thinking space of a not-quite novelist’, and it’s true that I post anything I come up with. I’ve tried structure; it doesn’t quite work for me. Overall, I try and keep to topics of writing, music, psychology and philosophy and photography.
J: Which of your posts was the most fun to write and why?
AB: Probably the Next Big Thing one – it’s certainly attracted some of the most visitors for one post. I had to put faces to names, hunting for the perfect actors to fill the faceless mannequins in my visuo-spatial sketchpad; and, thereafter, the characters did take on a new depth. Plus, it made the idea of publishing a novel more real for me.
J: What type of stories do you write?
AB: Although When the Clock Broke, my biggest novel, is a NA steampunk-sci-fi romance, my favourite genre is actually the mystery genre, and I have written both contemporary mystery and Agatha-Christie-era novels. I tend to stay away from shorts under 10K, but, genre-wise, I think the only genres I stay away from are urban supernatural (think: werewolves, vampires, zombies) and gore-horror. I prefer psychological horror because there’s that mystery element to it.
J: Protagonist excluded, which of your characters is your favorite?
AB: Apart from the main character(s), I don’t really have firm favourites. At the moment, I like the young maid, Tia Carnassus, because she’s recently become a RC (Recurring Character) for the planned sequels, so I’m happily delving further into her character. Although she says she’s an orphan, I’ve recently found out that she has a long-lost niece, and this adds to the self-centred young women, willing to trick others for the sake of her ambition, who’s just getting acquainted with her antagonistic side.
J: Who is your favorite author?
AB: I’m gonna go with Lewis Carroll for his sheer brilliance. A wacky, creative author and a don of Maths at Oxford simultaneously. That’s inspirational, even if I would stay away from the Maths myself!
J: What are the last three books you read, and would you recommend them?
AB: ‘The Consolation of Philosophy’ by Boethius. I probably wouldn’t recommend it, simply because one has to have a strong interest in philosophical notions and theories. As a philosopher, I enjoyed the way Boethius revealed his ideas through dialogue with ‘Lady Philosophy’ instead of dictating as modern philosophers can do. ‘An Existentialist Theology’ by John Macquarie, another philosophy/theology one. Snore. Wouldn’t recommend; there was nothing to appeal to the creative reader in me; whilst the concepts were interesting, I felt like I was just sitting in a lecture, rather than being opened up by a book. ‘The Puzzle of God‘ by Peter Vardy. Now, here’s a philosophy book that I’d recommend, because it’s accessible and genuine in its voice, whilst educational without being patronising. Vardy would appeal to those who want to know more about the big questions, but who aren’t studying Philosophy or Theology.
J: Do you listen to music while you write?
AB: I hardly ever write to music because it can be so distracting for me, but I try and stick to classical music during editing (because I find editing so dull at times!). I mean, I love pop-music too much, but when I’m thinking – and if I’m stuck – that sort of music does help turn the gears. I should create a pop-soundtrack to When the Clock Broke along with the compositions….
J: Aside from writing, what are your favorite things to do?
AB: Umm, more writing? *grin* Definitely singing, from Paramore to Purcell, and acting, both of which are more like jobs for me than hobbies. Also, I enjoy studying perception of the world and thought. This helps me with my writing indefinitely; I find it so useful to try and fit myself into my protagonist and antagonist shoes.
J: If you could be granted one superpower, which would it be?
AB: For me, it’s always a tie between invisibility and being able to fly. I love the concept of invisibility, but Harry Potter has shown me that being invisible doesn’t stop someone being tangible – and I’d rather have the power to be intangible so that I could be present to events people would not need me there for. On the other hand, I’ve both had very vivid dreams about flying and have been in a wind tunnel, so I have a good knowledge of what it feels like to fly. Thinking about it, freezing time would be useful, too.
J: Where’s the farthest away from home you’ve traveled?
AB: New York. I live in England, so the flight was over eight hours. I’ve been to a lot of places, though, including the Greek islands, Costa Rica, Morocco and Jordan, so it’s difficult to say which was actually the furthest away. I travel almost every year: I’m going to Uganda this summer.
J: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known about writing earlier?
AB: Showing instead of telling. Only recently have I come across and compiled lists of tips that were originally for editing but morphed into tips for first and second drafts, too. These signposts of telling writing I could have used over a year ago. They are making editing a lot easier.
J: What advice would you give to new writers getting started on their first story?
AB: People say it all the time, but: write. Get that first draft out there, otherwise it will stay in your head – something which, believe me, is worse than rubbish writing. It’s definitely worth it when you have something on a computer page to look back upon, especially with a red pen. When editing, research even the simple things. You may think you know what an ellipsis is and how it’s used, but school teaching can never compare to learning via that experience of writing. Experience. That’s my final word.
THANKS A BUNCH, ALEX!
Okay, I think you need to do a post on your “telling editing” tips. I’m always looking for good editing tips. Being able to fly would be cool. But I wonder if you’d have to wear a winter coat if you went too high or too fast. Hmmm… I love reading your philosophical posts and everyone else, you should give them a look too sometime. Alex is a great blogger to get to know. 🙂
Have any questions for Alex? Are you into philosophy? Read any of the books Alex has? Do you ever have trouble with telling more than showing? Have you been to the places Alex has traveled? Let her know below.
And be sure to stop by Alex’s blog. You can also follow her on Twitter.
10 thoughts on “AFB: Miss Alexandrina Brant”
Hi Alex! 🙂 I definitely agree that nothing really compares to the learning you get from the experience of writing. I struggle sometimes with passive voice, but I feel like in my most recent round of edits I’m finally figuring it out. You can know what something is and know how you’re supposed to fix it, but until you try actually fixing it, I don’t think that knowledge really sinks in.
Great interview! 🙂
I agree entirely. I know I’ve definitely got better at ‘getting into a scene’, as such, rather than saying – there was X doing Y. One thing that actually really helped me was when I entered a short story competition for fun, about January time, and I spent what I personally felt was qute a bit of time editing, but still the majority of the critique I got was “this is telling instead of showing”. So, I buckled up and scoured the web for advice. We writers often don’t know the mistakes we are making until someone points them out – and that shortcoming I hate. I wish there could be some way to notice what needs to be done at first.
We should swap first chapters sometime 🙂
Great interview. And damn, that telling instead of showing thing! I always thinkI’m doing it right… until I re-read my work!
Hehe, I know that feeling!
This was a great interview..I agree on the showing instead of telling aspect..that is a pet peeve of mine in books!
Oh, look, it’s me! *innocent, forgot-this-was-coming-up face* xD
Aww, Peter Pan. Yeah, I wanna go to Neverland! I wonder if you’d get altitude sickness or run out of oxygen if you went too high, though. Flying has it’s downfalls (do it in a windtunnel; it’s a lot safer, xD!)
Reading back over it, I wished I’d mentioned that my going to Uganda is not for a holiday, it’s to do work around the sister school we support!
Still, it’ll be interesting, I’m sure, to visit Uganda. Maybe if you wish for the power to fly, wish for a better lung capacity, that you can hold your breath longer or something? 😉
Hi Alexandrina! You’ve been to some very exciting places, and I hope you have a great time in Uganda. As for superpowers, I think invisibility would be awkward at times, and I’m too afraid of heights to fly, but the ability to freeze time would be very useful.
I think if there was some definite, foolproof way of flying, I’d go for it, though I need the ability to freeze time more than I need to fly. A different power every day of the week, perhaps?!
😀 Thanks for commenting.