Susan interviews Alexis Hall with Darian & Ash of “Glitterland”
Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
Welcome to the Blog of Sid Love, Alexis Hall, author of the newly released, critically acclaimed “Glitterland”! And while we wait on Darian and Ash to get here, let’s pick the author’s brain to get some insight and insider information on the book and the quirky and beloved MC’s.
Alexis, welcome! How does it feel to have your first book released and your first blog tour underway?
AJH: Slightly weird, to be honest. The whole experience of having a book that I wrote that is a book, like a book, a real book that people are reading, is just blowing my tiny mind right now. I know in the grand scheme of things it means absolutely nothing, the world will keep spinning, and the tide will come in, but I still can’t believe it. This is my first blog tour to match my first novel, and I’m very excited to be here.
We at Sid Love’s adored this book! It was funny and sad, beautiful and ugly, charming and hurtful, lonely and loving all at the same time! Can you tell us about how the idea came about and how the process of writing this book all the way to its release played out?
AJH: Wow, that’s quite a big question. The book was sort of vaguely inspired by a UK X Factor contestant called Rylan Clark. You can see his performances on Youtube, and I heartily recommend you do. Dancing fashionista pandas. Enough said, right? Anyway, when he was on the show there was quite a lot of backlash against him, both of the homophobic variety and the, in some ways more problematic, wrong sort of gay variety. So although I wasn’t trying to write about Rylan Clark, I wanted to write a book about someone who had the same sort of qualities that I felt Rylan Clark was being condemned for displaying. But I also wanted to have the character taken seriously, not just played for laughs, which is what led me to pair him with an overly educated, bipolar depressive crime writer.
In terms of writing the thing, it went relatively smoothly, if that doesn’t sound like boasting. But I had a very clear idea of who Darian was and, actually, writing Ash’s voice came very naturally to me. I bunged it off slightly speculatively to Riptide, fully expecting them to say “no way in hell, what is this nonsense about a bimbo and an arsehole” but I guess they saw something in it.
The journey from writing to release was pretty fascinating to me. It involved a lot of things I’d never really thought about like dialogue tags, writing blurbs and having an author bio. I’m actually apparently a bit unusual because I enjoy being edited. I think that might be largely because I have really good relationship with my editor, Sarah Frantz, and I think she’s the bees knees, but there’s something kind of miraculous and humbling about a really clever, insightful person working with you to make your stuff better. The main GLITTERLAND edit was actually the end, but that’s another story and I think I’ve probably already given you far more random information than you could ever need or want.
And for those of us NOT from the UK, what does the significance or even the ‘inside joke’, if you will, of being from Essex mean?
AJH: Oh gosh. So, Essex is a part of the UK, the population of which is stereotypically seen to be shallow, vulgar, ill-educated and materialistic. Essex boys are supposed to be loud and drive fast cars. And Essex girls are supposed to be vapid and sexually promiscuous. I hope I didn’t reinforce those stereotypes too much in GLITTERLAND.
Darian and Ash are so different, aren’t they? Which do you most relate to / identify with?
AJH: Unfortunately, it’s probably Ash. I worry that I’m basically kind of an over-educated tosser like he is, and I think I share a lot of his flaws and fears. I’m quite invested, perhaps too invested, in having control over my life, and I think this can make me quite difficult to be with sometimes. The truth is, I’d love to be more like Darian but I’m far too self-conscious.
And speaking of, here they come! We’re very excited to have DARIAN and ASH, the MC’s from “Glitterland” join us! Alexis, would you mind if we focused our attention on the lovebirds at hand?
AJH: Be my guest, but if you persist in calling them lovebirds, I fear Ash will leave.
*big smile*…Ok, so I am VERY excited to meet you both!!!! I’m such a fan! WELCOME!
Darian: Ahwight Suz. It’s well special to be ’ere.
Since we’re all so curious about the two of you and your relationship, let’s do a rapid-fire Q&A session, shall we? Ok, here goes:
What is your favorite thing about your partner?
Darian: Aw, he’s like proper classy. I nevva fought someone like him would go for someone like me.
Ash: Well, I am mentally ill.
Darian: You’re so funny, babes. So, yeah, he’s well funny too, and he went to like a proper university and he’s dead clever, and he’s like read like everyfing. And he keeps pretending he’s a right bell end, but he’s not.
Darian: Your turn, babes.
Ash: This whole exercise makes me very uncomfortable.
Darian: Oh go on.
Ash: He makes me happy. Can we move on, please?
Awwww….*smiles*. Ok, what is your biggest pet peeve about him?
Darian: He’s a right monster in the morning. You just can’t talk to him til he’s ’ad his tea.
Ash: He persists in dragging me along to events like these.
(I think you secretly are enjoying yourself! 🙂 ) If your flat was on fire and you could only grab one thing to take with you, what would it be?
Darian: I’d take Ash, obvs.
Ash: I think I am capable of leaving a burning building on my own initiative.
Darian: Oh great, then I’d take my hair gel cos like if the firemen showed up and my hair looked a state I’d be well put out.
Ash: There’s a photograph of which I’m rather fond. I suppose I’d take that.
Darian: Aw, you’re so sweet, babes.
Ash: I didn’t say it was the one of you.
Darian: But it is though, right?
Ash: Next question please.
(*snicker*) If you could go shopping and purchase an outfit of your choice for your partner, what would you buy?
Darian: Oh, he totes needs to get a onesie.
Ash: A onesie is not an outfit. It’s a travesty.
Darian: But they’re well cosy. Like wearing a hug.
Ash: If there’s one thing Darian does not need, it’s more clothes.
(pssst…I love Darian’s clothes!!! Sparkly!) Ok, now, what does the perfect date night between the two of you entail?
Darian: We like to stay in. I know that sahnds a bit like … rubbish.
Ash: Oh the exciting life we lead.
Darian: We make our own excitement, babes.
Ash: I suppose we do.
If you had to describe your partner in ONE WORD, what would it be?
Darian: Oi, that’s bang aht of order.
Ha! Well, it’s clear you two are very smitten with each other and make each other happy! It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you both…and you too, Alexis! Which reminds me, Alexis, will we see/read any more about Darian and Ash in the future?
AJH: I hadn’t planned on it. I think the story stands as it is. I enjoyed writing Ash and Darian, and I enjoy thinking about them, but I don’t think there’s anything more to say. There’s a 5000 word short which I’ll be releasing free on the website at some point in the future, probably around the time of Riptide’s anniversary. To be honest, it’s just a piece of fluff and it doesn’t stand alone or contribute all that much to GLITTERLAND itself, but I sort of missed the characters and I felt like indulging myself. It also kind of addresses a couple of things that didn’t end up in the published book, like why Ash dresses like he does, and how Darian feels about the tattoo.
Very cool! Well, for the story of Darian and Ash’s relationship, written by the talented Alexis Hall, make sure to buy and read “Glitterland” (links below)! It’s one of my favorite books of the year and I promise you won’t be disappointed!
*hugs all around*
Darian: Aww Suz.
Ash: Please don’t do that.
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the 21st century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a 17th century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy my book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.