Interview with Alexander Engel-Hodgkinson

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up mostly in Little Britain, a small town out in the country. It hasn't really influenced my writing at all in a creative sense but it was quiet enough for me to at least write in peace (most of the time).
When did you first start writing?
I was writing since I was ten. I had a dozen different ideas, all of which I told to my parents until they eventually got me a computer and taught me how to use the basics of Word. It might have just been an attempt to shut me up so that they could finally do something without me rambling on about my fantasies; in which case it was successful.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's practically my baby, I'd been working so long on it. At first when I was thirteen and fourteen, I'd attempted to write a series of novels spanning between 160-200 pages, which lasted for fourteen volumes. By the fourteenth, I felt overwhelmed by how many holes there were in the plot, like it would literally collapse on me. I scrapped that series after that and started anew.
The overall story underwent constant revisions until it'd differed from its original ideas. I guess it more-or-less 'evolved' into what it is now--something better; darker, more mature, more complex, more organized, and just overall a better writing experience.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Creative freedom. Independent work, be it novels, comics, or movies--have always caught my eye. There was something about them that made just LOOKING at them appealing. They got away with more; they were bolder, and they lacked that 'studio polish' that big-budget movies seemed to have. The books, especially those that had illustrations or were graphic novels, looked grittier, braver, and generally weren't afraid to explore the darker side of fiction. They were also accepted for their different methods of storytelling and in some cases, their intense content. I thought that was cool. I'm not exactly the 'mainstream type' so I figured I'd probably fit in more with the indie group anyway. It's a win-win.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Seeing where my own imagination takes me.
Who are your favorite authors?
Brian Jacques, Shirow Masamune, Rei Hiroe, Koushun Takami, and Frank Miller.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee and snacks at my school. And the fact that I still have things to write.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Watching movies, playing video games, reading, or drawing.
What is your writing process?
I like to develop the plot as I write, pausing only to plan ahead on how I want the overall story to go before I go too far. I like planning it out while I write, and after I write it all out, I'll go back through it and look for mistakes I'd make, and also try to figure out ways on how to make the scene better. Since I prefer to write action stories, going through the action sequences and brainstorming ideas on how to make them more radical and dynamic is the best part..
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I'd read a lot of stories, but my first full-blown novel was Redwall by Brian Jacques, which I'd read in fourth grade. I surprised a good portion of the school with the fact that I was reading this 300+-page book with almost complete ease. Since then, the Redwall series has made a huge impact on me. I wish I could read them all; I'd re-read the ones I've already read. In fact, those books are one of the primary reasons why I wanted to become an author myself.
How do you approach cover design?
Easily. I draw all my covers myself, and my favourite layout is what I call the 'Grand Theft Auto layout', with several different-coloured panels scattered across the cover like a puzzle, each with a character's face or a scene from the game on it. I love the cover art for Grand Theft Auto III especially. I copied it with my own work, trying different patterns and and even drawing shapes with the panels using this layout. It's so simple, yet it tells so much.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. Redwall by Brian Jacques: My first read, and still the novel that impacted me the most.

2. Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli: It's the definitive Daredevil story, and while I haven't ready many Daredevil stories, the style and the story within its pages were so well done. I've actually found myself making a few nods to it in some of my own work. Frank and David were at the top of their game with this one. Its bleakness and brutality stayed with me for a long time.

3. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami: Another huge inspiration for me. It's edgy, violent, dramatic 90's literature at its absolute finest. I've read it twice already, and hell--it's one of the few novels that actually had a decent--fantastic, in fact--film adaptation.

4. Hard Boiled by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow: Its insanely kinetic and over-the-top style is (aside from John Woo films and the anime Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) a huge inspiration for how I write my action setpieces. The artwork is absolutely amazing, and has also impacted my drawing. The story is unusual and fantastically written, and as a whole the book is one crazy ride, and is probably one of the weirdest things I've ever read--and I mean that in EVERY way possible!

5. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: One of the all-time best books I've ever read. It's long and complex, and the way it plays out as a whole is just plain awesome.
What do you read for pleasure?
Action thrillers and a variety of manga.
Describe your desk
Cluttered, wooden, covered in drawing stuff, CDs, books, a VHS copy of Double Impact (1991), and my drawing board. And my computer. It's also surprisingly sturdy--for a desk I dragged halfway across town from the side of the road and THEN lugged upstairs to my room. Hey, if it can survive ME for two hours in the rain, it can live through anything.
What are you working on next?
As of this writing, Dark-Boy, Vol. 2 and a Donut Shop Brothers One-Shot.
Published 2014-12-16.
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Books by This Author

Dark-Boy, Vol. 1
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 137,690. Language: English. Published: December 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Cyberpunk
Upon being released from his cryogenic prison, violent ex-soldier Damian Warkowski finds himself in a desperate struggle for survival as the entire world pursues him. In order to escape, he takes the group of teenagers that released him as prisoners, only to quickly realize that his own hostages may be even crazier than he is, and they not only outnumber him, but also may have plans of their own.