Author Spotlight - Alcina Faraday
Alcina Faraday is a scientist, businesswoman and stepmother who writes literary fiction about the redeeming power of love and the disturbing possibilities of modern scientific reality.
She lives in London and Devon with her engineer husband and a small colony of palmate newts.
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Why do you write?
Two reasons really. First, to share the controversial romantic view that however squalid, miserable or lonely your life gets, beauty, hope and love are never far away if your heart and mind are open.
Second - well, I can’t help it. My characters tell me their stories like friends in a bar – I’m the quiet one, nodding, saying “Right, okay...”, but thinking “Oh Tiago, what on earth possessed you to do that?” I’m a good listener but a bad friend – I never criticise.
When did you start writing?
I’ve always written stories, poems, music and songs, but I started writing the “Spiral Wound” trilogy (Beauty Love and Justice (Urbane Publications, 2015), These Modern Girls (2017) and The Commodity Fetish (2019)) in 2011 during a sabbatical year in Portugal.
Even then, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece were under pressure from the IMF and ECB, their young people – like my protagonists – were on the move, looking for work, and Europe was looking fragile.
It seems like a golden age in today’s fractured world, but I’m a defiant optimist who believes that, given the breaks, most people are decent and compassionate, and we will emerge from these dark days stronger than ever before.
What genre(s) do you write?
A bit of a Rococco mix – dark, modern European romcoms about LGBT protagonists, with quite a lot of sex (much of it rather unsuccessful), the metaphysical/mythological twist of science and fantasy, and the imagery and cultural richness of literary fiction.
What does your writing routine consist of?
I know it’s sacrilege but I don’t really have one. I’ve known the “Spiral Wound” cast of characters and their stories for over five years, but beyond having that outline I really do just write and edit when I can find time. I’ve always preferred novelty to routine of any kind so I often find it easiest to write in unfamiliar places.
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
People often ask me how I came up with ideas and plots, so my strongest suit is probably my imagination. I’m a scientist, so I’m open-minded, but I’ve also read thousands of novels, plays, poems, seen hundreds of films, and visited lots of galleries and museums, so I’ve been able to find inspiration in many places. Alongside that I’m pretty disciplined about getting some words down and cutting others out, which is something I’ve learned in my business life.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
The greatest source of inspiration for my writing is music. I get addicted to certain pieces of music and my most cathartic scenes have specific soundtracks. After music, I’d say that art, literature, the natural world, science and my own experiences are the next greatest sources of ideas. I also put lots of versions of myself into many of my characters - the writer’s ultimate superpower is the ability to live many lives.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I write broad outlines and after that I write very fast, except with specific, pivotal scenes where there’s a strong POV element or complex imagery. I had to re-write the first sex scene between Tiago and Raphael in “Beauty, Love and Justice” dozens of times, trying to get the right balance between the erotic imagery in Tiago’s head and the comic mess the rest of us can see.
Tell us about your latest book.
My first book, “Beauty, Love and Justice”, (Urbane, 2015) set in Paris, London and Lisbon in 2012, tells how young, successful Portuguese commodity trader Tiago tries to fulfil his two ambitions – to become a saint by bringing down corrupt commodity magnates, and to find perfect love as the husband of his adored but indifferent mentor Raphael – and how these dreams are derailed by past lives, ex-lovers, family ties, a nutty scientist and couple of narcissistic TV academics.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing - and why?
Indie/collaboration - I simply don’t have the skills or bandwidth to promote quirky, clever, literary books to traditional publishers who don’t know me from Adam. I’ve been very lucky to work with the wonderful Matthew Smith, Founder of Urbane, since 2013. Matthew adores books, is a fantastic editor, and has always shown great faith in me.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
The next two Spiral Wound novels describe background to - and fallout from - “Beauty, Love and Justice”.
In “These Modern Girls” (Q2 2017) which starts in Autumn 2011 and finishes in spring 2014, fiery engineer Sophia, a Brit expat working in Lisbon, meets carefree, libidinous medic Ines (Tiago’s older cousin), and stumbles on a family secret that forces her to revisit her deeply held beliefs on truth and honesty.
In the third Spiral Wound novel “The Commodity Fetish” it’s 2016, and Tiago and his conspirators are implementing their plot against the commodity moguls – with unforeseen consequences.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
To write stories that take the reader by the hand and say: “Open your heart. Life is Beautiful. Hang in there...” I feel lucky to be here and I want to inspire my readers to that way too, so I aim to write hopeful stories in which flawed, decent people in tough and tragic situations find beauty, love, and the strength to keep going.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
I think it’s a quote from Plato: “The real tragedy of life is to be afraid of the light.”
The thrusting Adonis of the trading floor, he has ambitious plans that just might secure a halo to complement his angelic looks.
But poor Tiago is in love, and can’t start his quest for sainthood until he’s convinced urbane art dealer Raphael Davide they’d make the perfect power couple.
Raphael’s a slave to beauty with his own designs on the undeserving rich, and a suave exterior that belies a gentle – and recently broken – heart. But though Raphael’s in safe hands – his sister Clara and her husband Rob would lay down their lives to protect him – Tiago’s not so lucky. He’s a boy with a hidden past. And by unhappy coincidence, Raphael’s obsessive ex, cracked rocket scientist Tomas Paul Gosele, may know enough about that past to destroy everything.
Tiago clearly needs friends he can trust. His new neighbour Amelia Postthridge seems a nice enough girl, as eccentric scientists go. But Amelia is mad, bad and dangerous to know, and pursuing her own ambitious agenda. She’s going to win the Nobel Prize with the world’s ultimate apple, and she’ll happily chew Tiago up and spit out the pips to achieve her aim.
Beauty, Love and Justice may be in short supply for our hero in this climate of ambition and deceit – but when the heart speaks what’s a boy to do?
View the Excerpt
Available from -:
Urbane Publications: http://urbanepublications.com/books/beauty-love-and-justice/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beauty-Love-Justice-Alcina-Faraday-ebook/dp/B01HU8ZKZ4
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Love-Justice-Alcina-Faraday-ebook/dp/B01HU8ZKZ4
See Alp's Review on Goodreads
With the help of a strange cadre of archaic craftsmen, the two girls fall in love in Lisbon during winter and spring; but when Ines’ cousin Tiago and his lover join them for a summer holiday at the family estate in the Alentejo, Sophia starts to realise that truth is more than fact.
If you like “Beauty, Love and Justice” you may like “These Modern Girls,” the second novel in the Spiral Wound series.