Welcome Alexandrina. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m eighteen, a student of Psychology and Philosophy (which means I alternate between writing lab reports and dismantling arguments), and will be officially confirmed as a Catholic in July. Non-academically, my interests range from Italian culture and good wine to astronomy and temporal paradoxes the like seen in Doctor Who and Back to the Future. And I’m dreadfully English, in case that wasn’t obvious. Some of my favourite authors include Lewis Carroll, Agatha Christie, and Lemony Snicket.
Tell us about your story in Fauxpocalypse. How did you come up with the idea?
My story, Revelation, finds an orphaned student of Oxford University making a last-minute prayer deal in a chaplaincy; if God saves them, they’ll become a Catholic. When the comet soars over the chaplaincy, the student must face the intellectual consequences of their wishful thinking, and consider what life they’ll take now the world still stands.
The title is, of course, the last book of The Bible, reflecting the physical destruction of the world at the end, but it is also meant to chime a non-religious note, revelation as “an enlightening or astonishing disclosure”. In a way, the story is more about the protagonist’s worldview and how it changes, than it ever was about God’s existence.
I’d seen Misha’s call for submissions when I was still in the middle of my A Level exams, so I let it settle in my mind for a while, especially since, whilst I loved the idea, I was lacking in inspiration or plot. It was, (ironically since the setting is quintessentially English) only when I was in Uganda a month and a half later that one image from the story came to me: Oxford’s main shopping street, empty, except for a tumbleweed of old newspaper across the tarmac. “Once-busy Oxford streets had been swept of people, as if they were pieces of rubbish for the clean-up.”
How realistic do you think the future you predicted in Revelation is?
I don’t know about realism on a universal scale, but I think the sense of emptiness in Revelation will chime with some readers. When faced with the end of everything, some people would want to live their last hours in hedonism, but others would rather sit and contemplate their lives. This is what I believe my protagonist would do, since thinking outside of any box is a prerequisite for an Oxford student. Also, I think there are people who, if they thought the world was going to end, would not think of themselves, but go on a mission to save others less fortunate or less wise.
If you thought that the world was going to end, what would you do?
I’d probably run to the person I love most in the world and try and spend my last hours with him. I’d also love to find a way to preserve my writing, but that would probably be impossible. I can think of a dozen activities I’ve never had the guts to do, like skydiving, but they’d all take time and training and money, so that’d be improbable.
What inspires you to write?
Music definitely acts as an inspiration for me, though I tend not to listen to music when crafting first drafts.
I wrote the first draft of Revelation during one of my last days at school and, for our Leaver’s Mass, we were singing The Scientist by Coldplay, a song about love, loss, and regret. I just love the poignant wisdom of the lyrics: “Questions of science, science and progress, that don’t speak as loud as my heart.” It fit so well with the thoughts of my protagonist in Revelation. Science has always stood at the forefront, but what if science has been wrong? What’s deeper than science?
My Spotify playlists are all over the place, but I have a few dedicated purely to writing. My ‘Editing – for tension’ playlist has bands like Hinder, Halestorm, The Pretty Reckless, Paramore, and All Time Low, but I don’t tend to actually use it during editing, because as a guitarist, drummer, and vocalist, I get way too distracted with those rockier pieces of music.
As for my favourite music… Well, I listen to most genres, except heavy metal. One of my favourite classical pieces makes it into Revelation: the Latin choral Requiem. I sung it two years ago and the melody stayed with me.
I guess most of my other inspiration comes from the world around me. I listen to the chemical information given by stimuli and I change it into pictorial ideas in my mind, which find the page in the shapes of words and characters. I’ve quite a holistic approach to writing.
Tell us about the book you are writing.
When the Clock Broke is the book I’m currently prepping for querying. Its protagonists live in an alternate Earth where two continents are at war with each other and the social hierarchy has become more important to individuals by 2010 than ever before. Upper-class star Phillip is engaged to middle-class Aidelle at the chagrin of his parents.
A fight between the lovers breaks the mantelpiece clock of their new home as Phillip storms out. When he returns from a series of war battles, the house is a ruin – and Aidelle long gone.
Or so he thinks. In fact, the breaking of the clock sealed her in a frozen version of the house in-between ‘timelines’. Stranded, her only escape will be to rewrite her past actions before time runs out, and both lovers and their future family become erased from existence.
I’ve been told its not “spaceships and robots” enough to be called a sci-fi, so its current genre is as New Adult Fantasy Romance, since Phillip and Aidelle’s relationship is a driving force behind all of their actions.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished UNTEACHABLE by Leah Raeder, which was phenomenal, even when its content was more explicit than I’m used to reading. In my other currently-reading/halfway-through pile is REAL VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE by Amy Fecteau and THE THIRTEEN SECRETS by Michelle Harrison.
I hear you play Quidditch – sounds like fun. How did you get involved in that? (Did you go to Hogwarts?)
Haha, sadly no! A friend of mine invited me to watch the Quidditch Summer Games last summer, which was a series of matches in Oxford between the main international Quidditch teams. And that was when I decided that, as Quidditch can be interpreted as a combination of netball and rugby [and dodgeball], it would be a sport in which I could actually compete.
This summer, the same friend and I went to LeakyCon (the main Harry Potter convention) in London and, at the Quidditch panel, I met both the coach and the captain of the team of the university that was, at that time, my first choice. When I got my results and was fully accepted as a student, I thought I might as well try out for the team.
What do you imagine yourself doing ten years from now?
Uh, difficult question. I hope to have an agent by then and to be writing at least semi-professionally. In terms of employment – if not of the writing/performing type – I’d like to be a secondary school teacher in a Catholic private school. It may sound like a naïve thought, but I also hope to be married and a mother by then.
10. How can readers connect with you?
My blog is http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/
My Twitter is @Caelestia_Flora