Interview with Alex Sumner

What is your writing process?
I write "visionary fiction," sometimes referred to on websites like Amazon as "metaphysical fiction." That is to say: in order to derive the raw inspiration from my stories, I induce in myself visionary states - and then write up the results of my exertions under the guise of fiction. My favourite technique is "lucid dreaming," which is similar to "astral projection" (which I have also used on occasion). My most recent book also involved a lot of tarot divination, meditation, and even ceremonial magick.

Once I have the material upon which to draw, my writing then takes a far more conventional approach of careful planning, typing, and editing. On my very first book I tried using novel writing software. After I had finished it, however, I realised that it did nothing that I could not accomplish just with a reliable word processor.
How do you approach cover design?
I do it myself, using Adobe Photoshop.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"The Da Vinci Code" - Dan Brown. It inspired me to first take up fiction writing, with an "I can do that" attitude. In fact, it inspired me in a negative way, because what I actually thought was "I can do _better_ than that!"

"1984" - George Orwell. Orwell is for me the quintessential English author, and this is his best novel, although I like his other work such as "Homage to Catalonia," "Keep The Aspidestra Flying" and "Animal Farm."

"Elric of Melniboné" - Michael Moorcock. As a teenager I enjoyed all of Moorcock's Elric novels. Then later when I was learning my craft, I realised that Moorcock had also written a lot of very helpful stuff on the art of creative writing.

"The Alchemist" - Paulo Coelho. I admire Coelho's attempt to use the novel as a tool to inspire people. Also, coming from the background that I do, I am much in sympathy with the actual subject matter of the story.

"Master of the Temple" - Eric Ericsson. I discovered this in a second-hand bookshop many years ago. It is the story of a fictional character and his adventures in the real-life occult scene of the second half of the 20th century. From the amount of detail he went into I knew that the author was into much the same kind of interests in which I was involved! It's really the shadow-side of "The Alchemist" - the author also wanted to inspire his readers, but with the message "...But avoid the mistakes of the lead character."
What do you read for pleasure?
Non-fiction works on the occult, kabbalah, mysticism (eastern and western), secret societies, alternative science. Some fiction - speculative fiction of one sort or another.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle 6" e-ink display. In fact, apart from my lap-top, it is my _only_ e-reading device.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I publicised the launch of my last book on my Facebook page and on Goodreads. That, coupled with the fact that I did a free giveaway on Amazon via KDP Select, led to it becoming a technical Best-Seller for one day only!

I run my own website, solascendans.com, where I blog about things which interest me in general (e.g. the Occult), and my books in particular.

Mainly though, the key marketing technique I use is to participate in and help support the community of indie authors via social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc).
Describe your desk
A white-veneered chipboard affair which came in a flat-pack from MFI (a down-market version of IKEA) over 25 years ago. Currently has my lap-top, printer/scanner, a mouse & proper keyboard (I am a touch typist), and a large pile of books, sheaves of paper, and other knick-knacks that I haven't got round to clearing away yet.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I have no tales of the hardship of my upbringing to tell. I grew up in a nice town, favoured by middle-class families. The main influence it had was that it was well served by public lending libraries - reading was a favourite occupation from an early age.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is called "Taromancer" and will be available on SmashWords from March 11th 2014. It is the story of a fortune teller named Miranda who, feeling disillusioned with her profession, reluctantly agrees to make one last attempt to rekindle her enthusiasm - by undertaking a spiritual quest, based around the Tarot.

As to the story -behind- the book: I wanted to create a book which was primarily a work of Art - conceptual art in the form of a book. The "concept" I came up with was a plan for a series of magical operations of which the adventures of Miranda, the lead character in the novel, are a reflection.

That I was inspired to work in this manner I attribute to meeting the artist Lindsay Seers, who once conjured me to visible appearance using the Key of Solomon (!).
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I believe that whole myth, perpetuated by the Writers and Artists Yearbook and other such publications, that you can get a publishing deal just by sending off a nice covering letter and the first three chapters of your book to a literary agent, is a complete lie. I once met a girl who had just been taken on by a major publishing house, before she had even written her first manuscript! All she had done was to enroll in a Creative Writing Degree at Oxford University, and the incestuous connections which abound between academia and literary fiction had done the rest. Major publishing houses do *not* read your first three chapters - they are only interested if you have attended the right CW course.

It does not actually help that my subject matter of preference is too recondite for mainstream publishing houses. My aspiration is to become a break-out sensation.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are as dear to me as intimate friends and lovers. :-)
Published 2014-02-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Taromancer
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,850. Language: British English. Published: March 7, 2014. Category: Fiction » Literature » Visionary & metaphysical
"Taromancer," a novel about the Tarot, from Alex Sumner, author of "The Magus."
Shall We Kill The President?
By
Series: The Demon Detective, and Other Stories. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 38,660. Language: English. Published: January 28, 2012. Category: Fiction » Horror » Occult
Dark Fantasy novella, part of the series "The Demon Detective and other stories."
A Greater Power
By
Series: The Demon Detective, and Other Stories. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,430. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
A dark fantasy thriller, the second in the series "The Demon Detective and other stories."
The Demon Detective
By
Series: The Demon Detective, and Other Stories. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,860. Language: English. Published: September 10, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
A short story about murder and demonolatry set in modern London, by the author of "The Magus Trilogy."
Licence To Depart
By
Series: The Magus Trilogy, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 84,690. Language: British English. Published: May 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
The final instalment in the "Magus" Trilogy - a tale of murder, black magick, international conspiracy, and paganism, set in contemporary England.
Opus Secunda
By
Series: The Magus Trilogy, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 87,870. Language: British English. Published: May 11, 2011. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
The sequel to "The Magus" - a tale of murder, alchemy and sexual magick set in contemporary England.
The Magus
By
Series: The Magus Trilogy, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 76,530. Language: British English. Published: May 11, 2011. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
A steamy novel of murder, black magick and the Occult, set in contemporary London.