Interview with Author Dean Alexandrou 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I first became interested in language as an art form in school, after being prompted to read the book Gormenghast by a temporary English teacher who was covering for our main teacher. (Sadly I cannot even remember his name to thank him!) Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake, uses words like daubs of paint, to create imagery that is more than just the rendering of a scene or story. After reading it I had a new appreciation for words and the way they could be used to add character to something as simple as walking along a corridor. Conversely, at the opposing end of the artistic spectrum I have also always been in awe of particle physicist Richard Feynman. His ability to explain extremely difficult principles of physics to a casual reader through perfectly selected, but simple words, phrases, and analogies, is another use of language that I love to emulate.

My personal journey into writing did not start until years after leaving school, and has really only just begun. Through my exposure to the entertainment industry I have gradually found myself as the writer of several short screenplays and scripts, increasing in length, until taking on a novel was the next logical step. The rules and restrictions of writing in screenplay format have always felt extremely limiting in expressing complex ideas that do not take place through dialogue. And, since most of the concepts I am interested in exist within a kind of internal, cerebral space, writing a novel was the only way I could explore them freely.

I have spent most of my adult life freelancing between different disciplines, some in the world of entertainment – film making, working at media agencies, occasionally on-screen – and some working in tech – coding, consulting, R&D at software companies. There are so many weird and wonderful things that I have encountered that I would love to spend the time writing about, either as elements of a story, or in isolation in their own right. Hopefully I will get the time. There is so much I would like to share.


2) What inspired you to write your book?

Initially, SYMUTAL was an idea for a film – or rather the seeds of an idea. With the onset of Covid lockdowns in 2020 there seemed a perfect opportunity to flesh this idea out in much greater detail than I had ever intended. I dived headlong into writing it as a novel, then fully rewriting it… then fully rewriting the full rewrite… and again, over several iterations during the next few years. In addition to the story elements of the book, there are many ideas of computing and science that I felt have never been articulated particularly well outside of reference manuals or non-fiction. I wanted the reader to be exposed to some of the beauty that I feel is inherent in a scientific view of the world. Algorithms are beautiful, and they are everywhere.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Firstly and foremost, I want the reader to have fun through the characters and their journeys. But beyond that I guess I would like people to understand the world around them as something that is in constant flux, composed of a continual conflict of ideas – every object being the expression of an underlying principle of science.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I don’t really see myself as having chosen a genre to write in, per-se – I don’t think I could write in any other genre. It just feels like I am expressing my inner self through characters and story.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit down with the meta-character The Hoshoku-Sha Corporation, and ask them to what end their progress was intended.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have no idea to be honest. I think that contacting real readers, such as yourself, and reaching out to them is likely to be more fruitful than any number of broader social media approaches. I am still gathering data.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Since writing SYMUTAL, a few other people have asked me what my process was – people similar to myself who feel they have an idea to express but are not trained in writing, or are not experienced in writing long form content. I would say this:

Once you decide to write something, do it. Pin a sheet of paper to your wall and every night at midnight write down the number of words you have written that day. Never lie. Never cheat. Write the number. Your word count. Pin it somewhere so that you can always see it. If you don’t feel like writing that day, do it anyway. If the words feel like they are not coming out creatively that day, or you don’t have your “muse” with you, write anyway. Write something. Move the story forwards. Do it until you reach the end. No matter what. Every day. Until it’s done. Even if it is only one paragraph that day. Do it.

The reason I think people should adopt such a cold-mannered, relentless, Terminator-like approach, is that once they have finished the story they will want to rewrite it *anyway*. Guaranteed. No matter how good the first draft is, they will want to improve it. Nobody will be happy with their first draft…. Therefore, do not spend 12 months procrastinating on writing a single sentence because you want it to be perfect. It won’t be perfect the first time. So just write it, regardless of mood. Refine it on the next pass.

It is much easier to refine something that already exists (your first draft) into something you are happy with (your second, third, draft), than to create it perfectly all in one go. So you will save more time writing two drafts, fast, than you will by waiting for your first draft to come out perfectly.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am gradually making the book SYMUTAL into an independent movie. I am trying to honour the integrity of the book’s key principles, and shoot as much as possible in the style of the writing, rather than condense it down to a traditional script.

Once I have completed that I will start writing my next book. I find it difficult to overlap creative ideas and give each one my full attention.

I have attached some photos. Not sure which ones match the interview questions. Use any you think fit.

Chilling in the hammock may well be the right vibe! 🙂


About the Author 

I was born in Dubai UAE, moved to England when I was 5, and grew up in London. Currently I live in Bangkok Thailand with my girlfriend. My background has been a mix of different careers and locations, with a lot of technology roles (I have spent a lot of time as a programmer, and digital nomad), and have also had a few forays into the entertainment industry. Suffice to say I find it difficult to completely categorise myself in any normal, sensible way!

Much of this contrasting medley of places manifests itself through my writing, and will be apparent in the book Symutal, whose story is interwoven between Earth, the Moon, and virtual reality, but with a strong interlinking storyline. It is speculative, dystopian fiction, but with occasional scenes borrowed from my own experiences.

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