Having served in the Military since he was eighteen and moving back and forth between Prince Edward Island and Halifax, Nova Scotia for various international deployments with the Royal Canadian Navy; Alex Donahue spends most of his free time writing both historical fiction and slice of life contemporary fiction.
It’s Sunday. Do you know what that means? It’s interview day! Let’s read, learn and connect with this year’s fantastic bunch of writers, editors and agents. Next up: author Alex Donahue on his book, LEON AND CHRIS.
Alex’s Advice for Writers
“If you can say it with fewer words, then say it with fewer words.”
You might have noted that Charlie Kaufman isn’t known so much for his novel, but rather his screenplays. Often, I noticed writers (not just rookies, but well-educated writers as well) get too into one medium. What I mean is, when they want influence; they look at other novels. I need to take influence from everything. Music is a one a lot of people use, but don’t forget plays, paintings, or experimental projects.
I maintain that one of the most beautiful and well-crafted pieces of art to come out in my lifetime is Silent Hill 2, for the PlayStation 2. Which I think has one of the strongest senses of atmosphere of any story ever created. And it’s from a medium, I fear, too many story tellers ignore.
I came up with the story while reading about economics, oddly enough. Specifically, the Great Depression, which is when my story takes place. I found that many historians will write that the Great Depression lasted from 1929-1939. But if you ask anyone who lived the that era, they’ll tell you things got much worse when the war started. Which makes since, all our resources were diverted for the war effort and we rationed just about everything. I wanted to tell a story about what it was like to grow up living at home, during arguably the hardest time of Canadian history. A story about poverty, from the perspective of characters who would hardly know the difference, at the time.
Without getting into spoiler territory. I wanted to subtly show how that the Depression ended because of the perseverance of the communities and the individuals who live there. That said, the two titular characters “Leon & Chris” got their namesake from two of the main characters from the Resident Evil series, Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield. Little Easter egg for you.
In my life when I talk to anyone about the works of Katsuhrio Otomo, namely Akira, they might know of the film, but no one I know is has read the books. Akira has amazing artwork and a powerful story. I read all six books in a day, something I’ve never done before. I’m usually a slow reader.
Another great book to read is Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made. Which features the screenplay and history of the movie Napoleon, as well has details about Kubrick’s film that never saw the light of day.
In both cases it was actually their films that got my attention. Films are extremely important for novels. Harry Potter would not be the household name it is, if it weren’t for the movies.
I also remember in high school, when we read All Quiet on the Western Front. Under the title there was quote that said, “The Greatest war story ever written.” And I thought, hm, I’ll be the judge of that. After I read it, I realized they were right. I knew I wanted to write something as deep as that someday.