Back from what was recently a tropical paradise and now is being scouted as a possible location for the shooting of “World War Three”, Alfie Elkins shares with StarkLight Press a little about his story, based on his time in Venezuela, his past and his difficulties in getting binders.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been up to in the past few years.
I started out as a bank clerk in London, then took a teaching degree and taught in public school for a number of years. I then went (perhaps stupidly) to a first aid course so I could help out on excursion trips, and got hooked on medicine. I then became a paramedical specialist with the NHS, and a few years ago, I moved to Venezuela to help them to revamp their emergent care services.
I’ve spent the past two years in Venezuela helping overhaul a public health paramedic corps that is now in shambles due to the current unrest. So, time well spent. Hopefully some of the procedural changes and policies we’ve developed are still preserved and the improved work culture will restore itself once the turmoil is through. Then it would be a good use of time.
Currently, I’m in Manitoba, resting with some mates of mine and keeping one eye on the river levels, because flooding is the last thing I need to round out this long, strange trip of mine!
2. Explain for our audience a little bit about the inspiration for your tale, and the themes that inform it.
Venezuela was a trippy time, and a peculiar place to me. I had no idea how riddled with folk voodoo, magic and superstitiousness it would be- so much so, that it bumped up against my work life as a paramedic. People would shake sticks with little things on them at me. They would prevent me from saving someone until an offering had been completely burned. They would leave little gifts outside the paramedic building (cigarettes, whisky, weed, other things, food (areppas, hallaca, mondongo bowls etc) out for us. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of little favelaways and dark nooks and corners in Caracas alone, let alone in the other areas of the cities in Venezuela.
I had been helping Tony and Virginia write on the Tales from Space Continuing Stories (I love that series! and working on it is a true pleasure) when I had a truly bizarre encounter with another Brit. It was eerily similar to the sort of thing that we have been injecting into the ultimately doomed GAGA universe, (I don’t want to give too much away here, but let it be known that ‘this sort of thing’ we are writing on gives the GAGA new hope, and not in a Star Trek IV kind of way, but a holy sh*t, this opens up everything! kind of way). I started writing a journal entry about it (as I had been continuing to keep a kind of regular accounting of the time I’d been having, and it turned into my story, Nueve Dedos, Pellirojo.
The whole time was very surreal when the encounter happened, and the writing time after- one of those weird times when you think, is this the Neverending Story? Am I writing reality? Don’t know, but I’m very grateful to StarkLight Press for keeping so much of the espanol intact, as it cannot be truly separated from the story.
3. What’s your preferred method for writing: computer/smartphone, typewriter, hand, voice transcription? Tell us the most unusual place you ever wrote down a tale- in the elevator at work, on horseback, in a crowded subway?
The past few years, whatever is handy. Since I joined the NHS, I’ve been writing story ideas and things on abdominal pad wrappers, tissue boxes or what-have-you. In Venezuela, I had a notebook, and was able to use the smartphone, but with increasing irregularity in my cloud access, I moved more to hand writing and note-taking again. Which was refreshing. I can thoroughly recommend it- I miss handwriting!
4. Where do you like to go best to recharge your creative batteries?
Somewhere quiet, and ideally a little out-of-the-way. Which is how I met el estrano in my story. Ideally, I’m a night hawk, so I like it after dark, places that were bustling, now quiet. Soaking up the residual hustly bustly in the nighttime seems to help inspire and organize my thoughts. Or give me some!
5. What, in your opinion is author kryptonite? (antithetical to the creative writing process)
Overthinking, and overcomparison. Definitely. Also, I bloody hate autocorrect and that new Google finish function. It’s great for driving the flow right off!
6. What are your three favorite mainstream books, and what are your three favorite indie/independently published works?
I like Robert Ludlum, and Agatha Christie, and Kyril Bonfiglioli. Any of them (I know I had to pick books, but I’m going to be broadly incorrect!) I have to say that indie works are great, and I love to peruse them whenever possible, but the Tales from Space universe is just phenomenally detailed and well-plotted, with characters and scope that stick in your head, no matter how preoccupying your day has been, which keeps me coming back to the series and also pestering the core group of authors for more.
7. What is the last movie you saw? Give our authors a brief review.
Speaking of Bonfiglioli, I finally got to watch Mortdecai, which was, wow, not one of Depp’s better performances. I think it was cinematographically a good representation of the books, with the exception of the over-CGI’d location cards (but hey, Johnny Depp had to earn his money by badly Britishly narrating something, right? It was a book, after all).
I thought that Ewan McGregor just nailed Inspector Martland, however, and the scenes involving the Inspector were just delightfully paced and worked! It was like watching a fan edit of the movie of Bonfiglioli’s work, with the real movie being about the case, and then all these strange fan-acted scenes injected in between of someone in a bathrobe mincing about, pretending to be Charlie Mortdecai.
I would watch a series based on Martland and the international MI-6 angle, by the way, Netflix.
8. What are your next big projects, so that our audience can keep an eye out for them.
I’m working on a memoir of my time in Central America, which blends what I’ve researched and seen first hand of the local culture with my own time there. Untitled yet, but I hope it’ll be ready for full-color publication in 2020.
Also, a few short stories for the next Tales from Space anthology, as well as some independent stories from other worlds in which I’ve written a few times before.
Most excitingly, I think, I’m partaking in The Irregulars, Part 2, which is set to be a really rollicking ride through the world of international espionage, psychic operations of governments and- believe it or not- cybersecurity, biometrics and Celtic culture! Can’t say much on that, but I’m writing with Van Fleming, Will Norton (an old mate of mine), Leanne Caine, Krista Michelle, Tony Stark and Virginia Carraway Stark as well! It’s going to be a real spot of fun, that one!
Thanks for taking the time to respond to our questions, Alfie! You can find his story, “Nueuve Dedos, Pellirojo”, in StarkLight Volume 5.