Hi, thank you for joining us! Before we begin talking about your new novel The Way Knight, we would like to know why you set out to write this book. Was it always your ambition to write a book or were you inspired by something in life?
Write or go insane. This is where I had got to. I was so infuriated with corrupt and incompetent leaders that I needed some outlet for my observations and feelings. Art, in any form, has the power to be a release and sometimes to inspire change.
Your story is based on medieval times, what exactly made you choose that setting? Why not make it a 21st century setting or maybe a futuristic story?
Medieval stories tap into the mythical and archetypal. They allow us to explore all the great themes in a noisy way!
The story is called “The Way Knight” how did you come up with the name? And what impact might the name convey to potential readers
The Way Knights are travelling warriors, who must protect anyone who pays their fee. They represent the idea of duty. Some of us feel fulfilled when enacting a set of responsibilities and will make the most of it. Others will do the bare minimum required. Sometimes people are led to do wicked things, or even give up their lives, because of duty.
Beyond that, we can each become Way Knights for each other – when we help others meet their goals and needs in a productive way. I felt that this was a good theme and a useful term. Even if it isn’t the central theme of the book, it makes a good title! ‘Knight’ conveys a sense of time and place and that the reader can expect some adventure and battle.
You have experience working with youth. Based on your experience, why do you think youth go astray or get involved in the wrong things?
Imagine you have arrived on our planet, from Mars. What would you immediately notice about the way we live? There are many things which are crazy but we have become used to them. The sleaze and corruption of our leaders, the pressure to acquire more money, the enormous amount of products human beings require, our superstitious beliefs, preoccupation with violence and the devastating inequality around the planet. Anyone who grows up conforming to everything and not lashing out in some way is the sick person.
How can we show youth the right way or maybe try to help them out? What measure should we human beings take?
Do you know the right way to live? Do I? Probably not, but we need a better fairer world if we want to nurture better human beings.
In what ways does the state help these youths? And in what ways are they not of any help?
They are of no help when they role-model selfishness, corruption and ignorance. When they destroy services and replace qualified professionals with volunteers. Of no help when they are so blatantly concerned with their own wealth and influence. But even these politicians, the worst of all people, were innocent once and may have entertained ideals and been capable of love. This theme is explored through The Way Knight’s antagonist, Sir Conrad Ernst. Conrad has compromised his best instincts a little at a time, until he can no longer recognise the man he once dreamed of becoming.
The Way Knight is about a very dangerous and dysfunctional family. Sometimes people choose to part ways with friends and families, or go ‘no contact’. Can you explain more about this?
Sometimes people remove themselves to escape abuse. Sometimes parents have insufficient love to give. Sometimes they feed on their own children. Daimonia, the heroine of The Way Knight, is the daughter of a narcissistic mother. She doubts her own worth and her emotional frustration leads her to destructive acts. She has an unresolved need to connect with her mother that overtakes her life and derails her purpose. This is true to what I have observed among young women who have been let down by their families. And then they are treated as a ‘problem’ by services.
Who are your target audience? Did you write for a specific group or is for everyone?
I wrote the book that I would enjoy, that was rich in meaning for me. I was inspired by other authors who had bought rich philosophical and political content to their work, in particular George Orwell. I don’t think this book is for everyone, as it is necessarily dark and violent. However it will appeal to people who enjoy dark fantasy, who like to do their own thinking and who are passionate about social issues.
How long did it take for you to write the novel? Did you have any help or support from friends or family?
The Way Knight took us two years to create (it is illustrated by artists Phil Ives and Anastasia Ilicheva). I had enormous support from family and friends, on both sides of publication. You can’t write a good book alone.
Most writers get to a point where they go blank. “Writer’s block” as it’s known. Did you face that in your time of writing the novel? What did you do?
I only write when I have an idea burning a hole in my brain; if not I leave it. Ideas come to me at different points in my week, when I observe human behavior or reflect on my own thinking. I usually have a list of strange observations to express on the page.
With many authors now rising from the shadows everyday on apps and various other platforms, what advice can you offer them?
Have a sense of what success means for you. If your only ambition is to become rich and famous, perhaps you don’t have the heart of a great poet!
As The Way Knight is your first novel, you must have many things in mind! What are you long term plans?
I will be returning to characters from The Way Knight. But right now I am writing some short books specifically for teenagers who hate reading. These will be very urban and contemporary and stick within a simpler vocabulary. Everyone deserves to find a book that speaks to them about their life.
Thank you very much! It has been a pleasure having you with us!
Alexander Wallis is the author of the dark fantasy novel ‘The Way Knight: A Tale of Revenge and Revolution.’ The novel was inspired by the problems facing young people, seeking love and meaning, in a narcissistic society corrupted by elites.
Alexander graduated from the University of Chichester, where he studied Youth and Community Work. He has supported many schools and youth clubs with his social learning approaches and thousands of young people have benefited from his mental health workshops.
‘The Way Knight’ is available on Amazon.