An interview with Alex Bell
Alex Bell was born in 1986 in Hampshire. She studied Law on and off for six long years before the boredom became so overwhelming that she had to throw down the textbooks and run madly from the building. Since then she has never looked back. She has travelled widely, is a ferociously strict vegetarian and generally prefers cats to people. Lex Trent Versus the Gods is the first fantasy book that she has written for young adults.
Do you class lying, cheating and swindling as some of your finer points or are you the complete opposite to Lex, a goody-two-shoes?
You wouldn’t believe how much of a goody-two-shoes I am! It’s enough to make you sick! I never even got a detention at school, although I did steal something by accident once, if that counts.
The age-old advice given to authors is to write about what they know. By making Lex a lawyer-in-training, a job role you can identify with from personal experience, were you able to place a greater feeling of authenticity upon his character?
I suppose having been a law student I was able to tap into my own experiences when writing about Lex’s legal background, but I’m not sure I completely agree with the adage that you should write about what you know. I think that would be too boring. I don’t have any personal experience with flying ships or enchanters or moody Gods, but I wrote about them in Lex nevertheless. The whole fantasy/sci-fi genre is based on writing about what you don’t know.
What emotions would you hope your young adult readership experiences while reading Lex Trent Versus the Gods?
I would hope younger readers and, indeed, older readers, would enjoy Lex as a piece of light-hearted escapism that takes them to a world that is a hell of a lot more exciting than this one.
Are the tragic-ending and the anti-hero more to your taste than the Hollywood ending and the clean-cut hero?
The anti-hero is most definitely more to my taste – the Flashman series of books is one of my very favourites. But I’m a sucker for a happy ending.
The soulless wake, an illness that afflicts two characters in the book, will remind many readers of Alzheimer’s disease. Is this intentional and is there a reason why you made it so central to the story?
The soulless wake is, to all intents and purposes, Alzheimer’s. I started writing Lex Trent when I was nineteen, two years after my grandfather had been diagnosed with the illness. This aspect crept into the book without my really meaning it too – I suppose because it was something that was on my mind at the time. I see in your review you wonder whether Terry Pratchett’s diagnosis had anything to do with it but this wasn’t the case as Terry Pratchett hadn’t even been diagnosed at that point.
If a major movie adaptation of Lex Trent Versus the Gods was proposed and you were allowed to select actors from past and present to play roles, who would you choose to play Lex, Schmidt and Lady Luck?
Well, they’re not actors, but something about Jedward reminds me irresistibly of Lex! Apart from the hair, it’s almost uncanny how much they look like the Lex I see in my head. Add to that the fact that Lex is also an identical twin – well, it’s just a match made in Heaven!
As for Schmidt, having seen Charles Dance play a solicitor in the BBC production of Bleak House I think he’d be great in the role.
I’m not sure about Lady Luck, but obviously she would have to be a beautiful, ditzy looking blonde.
Is this the end of the road for Lex or will we be hearing from him again soon?
You will certainly be hearing from Lex again soon! He will be back for another Game involving even more dangerous rounds with much tougher competition! And he will meet his match in his new companion – who will be extremely different from Mr Schmidt – and who only takes orders from Lex when it suits him to.
What fantasy books did you read as teenager?
The Discworld and Harry Potter books were my favourite fantasy books but I read lots of other stuff outside the genre too.