Alex Scarrow used to be a rock guitarist, then he became a graphic artist, then he decided to be a computer-games designer. Finally, he grew up and became an author. He has written a number of successful thrillers and several screenplays, but it’s Young Adult fiction that has allowed him to really have fun with many of the really cool ideas and concepts he was playing around with when designing games.
He lives in Norwich with his family.
You can follow Alex on Twitter @AlexScarrow
Kristin Centorcelli: Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Alex Scarrow: Well, I’ve been a bit all over the place really. I spent the first ten years out of school chasing a record deal with loads of different rock bands, all of them unsuccessful! In my later 20’s I finally decided it wasn’t going to happen and had to get myself a job. And I got really lucky. I found myself working for a computer games company doing pixel art. I spent ten years in the computer games industry finally ending up as a senior games designer. But then, I found myself getting quite bored with that, eventually migrating to writing short stories, then novels….and eventually getting my first novel published in 2006. Been writing ever since!
KC: You’ve written thrillers, the YA series “TimeRiders”, and you have a brand new series coming up this year, “ELLIE QUINN”! You’re a very busy guy! Will you tell us a bit about “TimeRiders” and “ELLIE QUINN”?
AS: TimeRiders is the series that has helped raise my profile. It has been extremely successful and published now in more than 30 countries. It’s a nine book series about three teenagers who’ve been recruited to an agency (extracted from the very last moments of their ‘natural lives’). The agency has been established to ‘police’ time travel, to prevent instances of illicit time travel from altering the time line, thus, altering the present.
The other series, ELLIE QUIN, is a thriller that takes place in a far future that in many ways is so much like our own. It’s about a very ordinary girl, who for some reason has something about her (not saying what!) that could alter the destiny of all of mankind. She’s pursued across the ‘Human Universe’ from world to world by some very scary types. But in a way, it’s the universe that is the main character! It’s bright, fun place full of funky things, ideas….to give you an example, in this universe there’s this nail polish all the girls wear, that, when it dries, you can watch TV on it – a different channel on every finger! Some people have described ELLIE QUIN as ‘HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy‘ meets ‘Bridget Jones’. (Somebody else described it as ‘Thelma and Louise in Space’!) ELLIE QUIN is something of an experiment for me as I’m self-publishing it. Currently it’s only available through Amazon as an ebook, or for print, through their print label.
KC: The TimeRiders series takes your characters not only through time, but all over the map! What sort of research do you do for the novels?
AS: A lot, is the short answer. I tend to read around a period of history that I know the next book is going to take place in for several months before starting to write.
KC: Has there been one book out of the series that you’ve enjoyed writing the most?
AS: That is such a hard question to answer. If I had to pick just one, it might be the 4th book THE ETERNAL WAR, because of the whole steampunk vibe in it.
KC: Was it hard to make the transition from writing adult thrillers to writing YA?
AS: Not really. I didn’t change my writing style at all from the style I use for my adult books, I merely dialed back the profanity!
KC: What (or who) are some of the biggest influences on your writing?
AS: I read a LOT of Stephen King as a youngster, and still do dip into his books. I’m sure some of his voice has percolated through into my writing style.
KC: Alex, I read on your website that you do quite a lot of school visits, which is awesome! What is your favorite part of talking with the kids?
AS: I do a LOAD of school visits! I think I’ve been to over 200 schools! I love talking to the students about writing, how I got into it and how books – the oldest entertainment platform out there – is still by far the best value for money when it comes to thrills.
KC: What’s next for you?
AS: Well, I’m working on developing another new series to publish with Penguin in the UK. Unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about it! It’s top secret!