An interview with Alexandra Claire

Alexandra is the writer of Random Walk, a gripping story set in a Welsh dystopia, controlled by a company called e-Tel.

Remi is a rebel who works to sabotage e-Tel transmittors. Osian is a young boy blind to the danger of disobediance. And Lisa is an outsider, she is drawn to the city by a man called Oswald who has a special task for her. Most people in the city submit to the will of e-Tel. They are plugged into a virtual reality, which distracts them from real life. But these three characters are different, their stories question the fabric of the society e-Tel has created.

The world of Random Walk is a world in which the reader can become lost in. At times it is chilling and cold. Every resident is fitted with an electronic tag, their movements are tracked continuously. Amongst this moments of humanity are poignant and touching. There is a mother driven insane by the loss of her son, and a grandfather who fears for the safety of his grandson.

Like the best novels Random Walk carrys a hint of truth. It is almost Orwellian, fast forwarding to a future where technology has control. It is well worth reading.

Alexandra’s Interview

This is your first novel, can you tell me bit about yourself? What inspired you to write Random Walk?

I’m an alumnus of London Contemporary Dance School and had a ten year career in contemporary dance. I began writing seven years ago. Random Walk was conceived after I’d had a child. I think that most new parents feel a heightened sensitivity to dangers in the society in which their children are developing, and I was no different. I was already ruminating on the issues dealt with in Random Walk but being a parent strengthened my feelings.

Is your book a reflection on today’s society? Does the rise of CCTV and video games concern you?

It’s a possible extrapolation of today’s society rather than a reflection. I see no necessity for the British to be the most heavily surveyed populace on the planet; it’s part of today’s culture of fear. I wish more people would question the fear we’re so encouraged to feel. After all, a plane ride away there are small children who happily collect water, on a daily basis, from crocodile infested rivers. It seems that danger is a matter of relative perspective.

 I have some concerns about video games divorcing people from reality and lives seeping away down the backs of overly-sat upon sofas. However, as long as there is a choice about leaving screens on or switching them off, their pervasiveness remains within the control of each individual. It’s worth bearing in mind that society once decried the excessive reading of novels, and it’s also worth making sure that your choice to switch off is not taken away from you. Banksy once sprayed on a blank advertising hoarding; ‘The joy of not being sold anything’ – he had a good point.

There are some disturbing moments in Random Walk. Did you find these hard to write? Why did you choose to depict death in detail?

I found those passages exciting to write; it’s fiction after all! It was very important to depict rather than only infer violence. I prefer to write violence that seemingly comes out of nowhere – I think that’s mostly what happens in life. It’s interesting that you think I depicted death in detail, I very much thought I’d only written what was absolutely necessary.

In the novel unrestrained movement indicates rebellion. Can you tell me more about the importance of movement as  a central theme?

I found ultimate freedom in movement, it  is the root of my perspective on the world, so there was little conscious thought about the movement in the book. Another writer said of Random Walk; ‘It’s all about movement; like you.’ That seems pretty much true.

Why did you choose to set the book in Wales and to include Welsh dialogue?

The physical landscape and use of language in the book reflect those in my own life. There was no conscious choice, I wrote about home.

 Did you have a particular place in mind when you wrote the book? How did you begin to build up a picture of the world of e-Tel?

The location is a conglomeration of actual and imagined places . The world constructed itself as I wrote.

I love the illustrations in the book. Can you tell me a bit more about the artist Duca? Why did you pick these illustrations? 

The illustrations were commissioned to illustrate the novel. I came across Duca’s work through a mutual friend. We have never met as Duca lives in Vicenza, Italy. We collaborated for over a year before these illustrations were finally drawn. It took us a while to find a mutual vision and a style that we were both happy with. I really enjoyed the whole process; he’s a very talented and multi-skilled artist. Google his work; Duca HZG.

Which part of the book did you begin to write first?

I began with Osian and Remi and that passage no longer exists!

How many versions of the story did you write?

The novel took five years to write. There were about four drafts. It took me that long to work out how to write the book that I had in my head, which is essentially the one you read.

How hard was it to get your book published? How has it been doing since publication?

It was extremely difficult to get anyone to read it let alone publish it. I was about to give up and get on with my life when I received two offers in the same week. I have no idea how it’s doing! Probably too early to tell.

Are you planning to write another novel now?

 I’ve had another very different novel cooking in my head for about the same time and I’m just about ready to write.


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