With his debut novel, Hearing Voices, recently available for purchase (find it on Amazon here), Mr. Axel Cruise – the author HIMSELF – took the time to answer a few questions that I had for him. A few refer to his novel, a few pertain to his writing style, and others are just getting-to-know-you questions! I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did!
- Tell us about yourself!
I’m 26, British born, Jewish raised, and living in London. I’ve just released my first novel, Hearing Voices, and all in all have been blown away by the cult hit it’s fast becoming. I’m also a really nice guy.
- Did you have ambitions to be a writer growing up? What made you become a writer?
Kind of. I actually wanted to be a cartoonist from about the age of 4. I loved marvel comics, looney tunes, power rangers—all the good stuff. And I would constantly be drawing characters and comic strips. I always had the dream of going to New York and meeting Stan Lee. I thought that would be really cool. Growing up, though, I was never much of a reader or writer. Instead I was about the most hardcore TV watcher you can imagine. (As far as I’m concerned, I invented binging. I did seven seasons of “24” in eight days. No lies.) But I know the exact moment that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was sitting on my sofa one night, surfing around Sky TV for something to watch. I ventured into the available Box Sets and came across a series called Castle. The main character (played by the awesome Nathan Fillion) is a fiction writer. He’s struggling with writing block and decides to shadow a cop in the NYPD for inspiration. So, I start watching, and there’s this bit at the end of the first episode—a nothing scene, really—where Castle, now inspired, is sitting back and writing the first pages of a new novel. And for whatever reason, something just resonated with me and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I literally jumped up and said “That’s it! That’s me!”
- What inspires you to write? Why do you write? How often/how much do you write?
I love stories. It took me a while to appreciate how much, but now that I do, I know I want to contribute to that magic. As for what inspires me, that’s a little tougher to answer because I’m not quite sure. Certainly the sheer amount of stories I’ve taken in (be it through TV, books, cassette tapes, what have you) has ingrained a sense of the storytelling process. But in terms of content, I suppose I’m just writing the stuff that I think is cool.
- Do you write full, or part time?
Part time, whenever I can. Before work, late after work, and weekends. My dream is to be able to make up stories for a living.
- Where did you get the inspiration to write your debut novel, Hearing Voices? Where do your ideas come from for your writing?
I’m pretty sure that’s the question you’re not supposed to ask a writer! And mainly, because we don’t know. But I’ll give it my best shot. Firstly, I’m all about character. Plot’s important, yeah, but really I just want to see cool guys doing cool shit. So, when it came to writing Hearing Voices, I started out knowing that it was going to be character led, and that the character was at the very least a badass cool dude. And so, I pretty much just began with a guy (I didn’t know his name yet), in about the worst situation possible (about to be tortured), and then just had him react the way only the coolest cat could. After that, I just had to keep writing and see what happened. Which is pretty much how I go about writing now. A great opening sentence and then just see where it goes.
- Was it an easy or difficult writing process? Do you use outlines?
Well, being the cocky 23-year-old I was (as opposed to the still cocky 26 year old I am now), I naturally thought writing would be a cake walk. Other people have done it, why can’t I? And better? But then you get your first round of rejections and you sober up fairly quickly. You re-read that first line. “Well, that’s crap.” So, you start making changes, “killing your darlings”, and soon enough you realize this might be a little more complicated than you thought—especially if you don’t plot and are adamant about writing multiple, interweaving plot lines. It took about two years to get the feel of writing, and to put what’s in my head on paper. In other words, not the easiest of writing processes. But then, that was my education in the subject.
- What was the most difficult part about writing? The easiest part?
Hardest thing was understanding each character’s intention. It’s one thing to have a guy kill somebody, but if he had no reason to, you’re going to run into problems later on. You’ve got to get inside the head of each of your characters and think about who they are, what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. Do that, and everything—even plot—seems to take care of itself.
Easiest thing? Dialogue. At least to a point, anyway. But I just love that rapid back-and-forth kind of speak. Smart people, with smart mouths. It’s my favorite part of writing, hands down.
- Tell us about your main character, Isaac Blaze – what’s so special about him?
Isaac Blaze is a 28-year-old guy, of unknown origins, with zero allegiances, and every major government agency after him. He’s also got two voices in his head. Neither of which is particularly helpful, and both of which give him nothing but lip.
To quote the government’s psych assessment:
A man “whose file concludes is unpredictable, unreasonable, and without any clear set of principles, intentions, motivations, beliefs, moralities, or allegiances, which, in combination with his high intellect and proclivity toward provocation, means he must not be engaged lightly and must be considered dangerous at all times.”
Basically, you’re going to love this guy.
- How much research did you do for this novel?
Nothing much tbh. Mostly just boring logistical stuff such as terminology, geography, weapon specs, and travel times.
I did however come across an incredible article about a condition known as Voice Hearing. I was shocked to learn that there are actually people out there who have more or less the same ability as Isaac! (Naturally I’ve embellished the condition for Isaac’s sake, but still.) People with this condition hear one or more voices in their head, though, usually, these voices are just narrating the events of the person’s life. In a few rare instances, however, these voices do in fact help the person. One woman said the voice she hears often reminds her of important points when she is speaking in public!
- Will this be a series?
Yes. Second book is due out end of the year. Can’t give too much away (mainly because I don’t know that much, myself), but expect more of the same kind of madness as the first book.
- Do you have another book you’re currently working on? What is it about?
Besides the second Isaac Blaze book, I’m working on the audiobook of Hearing Voices. I mean, if ever there was a series that lends itself to audiobook, it’s this one.
- Have you ever experienced Writer’s Block? Any advice on how to combat it?
I don’t think I’m really in a position to answer this one, having only written one novel. But In my opinion, I think it’s a myth. I mean, if the majority of people outline their novels—which apparently is true—how can they get stuck? You know where you’re going, so go there! It’s also interesting to note that the writers who don’t outline, never really seem to complain about writer’s block. Having said that, sometimes you do get stuck on how best to phrase something, or when trying to come up with a great one-liner. But I don’t really consider that writer’s block. If however, you really are struggling with something, I would suggest you’ve lost sight of your characters’ intentions i.e. even they don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. In other words, when a writer is struggling, I don’t think it because the writer is suffering from writer’s block. Rather, I think their characters are suffering from character’s block.
- Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite authors? Are you currently reading anything? What’s your favorite book?
As I say, I have always been a TV man. But I can honestly say that my love for books has grown exponentially. I LOVE TO READ. I’ve always got 5 or six books on the go, from a mixture of genres, fiction and non-fiction.
Favorite authors are Lee Child, Elmore Leonard, Karin Slaughter, and Alan Glynn …And Richard Castle!
Favorite book is a tough one. But I’d probably go with The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn.
- What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Generally speaking, I’m more partial to good reviews.
If, however, you do feel the need to write a bad review, I do have a few requests.
Firstly, please make sure your review includes a healthy smattering of keywords—there’s no reason we both can’t prosper from this.
Secondly, please please please make it really bad. I’m talking scathing, outraged, Spiderman 3 bad, here. Seriously, just go all out and destroy my work. If you do it half-arsed, then I just don’t see the point. That’s just a bad bad review. The least you can do is make it a good bad review. This greatly increases the chance of your good bad review going viral.
Thirdly, if you have the means and/or the budget, please endeavour to reach out to big online newspapers and other such high traffic websites. This will be most helpful with regards a get-my-foot-in-the-door perspective.
- What advice would you give to your younger self? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Apparently, that time travel is real and to invest accordingly.
In five years’ time, I want to be married and living in New York City and writing full time as a bestselling novelist—Think big, right?
- What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
My motto is: Improve every day. I make sure to keep learning and feeding my mind. I’m a total gym rat, too. But proper stuff. Olympic lifting and gymnastics.
- Any amusing stories to tell about marketing or writing?
Well first let me say that my editor, Karin Cather, is absolutely amazing. But I did burst out laughing a number of times during the editing process. See, I consider myself to have a good sense of humour. And when I write, I try and inject that humour wherever possible. Now, usually, when Karin would catch something in the script, she’d just highlight it and then give a short suggestion in the margin. But every so often there would just be a big red line through a sentence or short piece of dialogue or some other thing that I thought was funny. No suggestion in the margin. Just Karin saying, “Yeah…no.”
- What would you tell readers who are on the fence about buying/reading your book?
I can guarantee that you’ve never read a thriller—or for that matter any other book—from this kind of perspective. See, normally you’ve got the main character doing what they do and occasionally filling us, the reader, in on their internal thoughts/intentions/desires every so often. But always—and by necessity—in the form of prose. Isaac, on the other hand, is constantly talking through all that stuff with the voices. So, you get to hear him reason out his thoughts and ideas in a more complete, and often much more entertaining, style.
If you like Deadpool, fast-paced dialogue, and hurtling action this book will be perfect for you.
Be sure to check out the book trailer, too.
- What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Stop be an aspiring author and start being an author. in other words, start writing.
If you enjoyed this interview as much as I did, let me know! Either way, definitely take a look at the book, available on Amazon, as well as the AMAZING trailer! Listen to that little voice in the back of your mind telling you to watch it and buy the book! You won’t regret it.