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Monday, May 12, 2014

Featured Author & Giveaway: Alex Norris

Alex Norris
Alex Norris is an author and undergraduate at the University of Cambridge.

Connect with Alex Norris on Twitter @AlexSNorris or visit his website:

Q&A with Author Alex Norris:

  1. What part of the story was the most fun to write? The most challenging?

    I always enjoy writing no matter which part of the book I’m focused on, but there were certainly parts of this story that were harder to write than others. Anyone who has read the novel will know that it contains some fairly gritty scenes and some rather unpleasant events and these were, at times, very hard for me to write about. On one hand, I was keen to portray the events in the book in as realistic a way as possible, but on the other, I was cautious not to stray into giving overly explicit descriptions. There were times when I was unsure of how much sexual detail would be appropriate for certain scenes, but ultimately I think I struck a fairly good balance.

  2. What are your writing goals for the next five years?

    Ideally, I’d like to release a new book every year. At the moment I’m sticking to that goal and am planning to release my second novel this summer. As I’m currently in my final year at university though, the future is a little uncertain at the moment. I don’t know where I’ll be in a year’s time or what I’ll be doing, but whatever it is, I will certainly make sure I have plenty of time for writing.

  3. Which of your characters is most like you?

    My main character, Lewis, is based very heavily on myself. At first I was cautious of creating a protagonist based on so many aspects of my own personality, mostly because I worried people would take the story as a memoir rather than a work of fiction. However in the end, I decided that the most important thing for me was to include a strong sense of realism. I decided that by drawing from my own emotions and experiences (some of Lewis’ memories are almost indistinguishable from my own), I would be able to create a character that was both convincing and relatable.

  4. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?

    I put lots of myself into my writing purely because I want to write realistic fiction that is heavily based on real life. Throughout the entire novel you can find references to popular culture taken straight from real life as well as the odd episode that I have loosely adapted from my own experiences. I find it’s very easy to fall into clichés when writing about certain themes and so I try to depend on my own experiences as much as possible. At one point of the book, Lewis is dogged by memories of a boy he was infatuated with, but who let him down. The whole episode is taken more or less word-for-word from my own experience. It is quite cathartic to talk about such difficult experiences through the prism of fiction – it gives you some distance from the events and lets you assess them objectively. Ultimately though, the aspects of my own life that are in the book are not necessarily specific to me, but are experiences and emotions that most people will have gone through, or will go through, at some point. I hope that people will be able to relate to what I write, and understand that much of it doesn’t come from imagination, but from memory.

  5. How do you research your books?

    Before I started writing this book I was wary of tackling such difficult issues as homelessness and prostitution. I was therefore very keen to do some good research so I could write about these themes convincingly. I volunteered with a local organisation that feeds people without homes or on low incomes, and it was my experiences there that inspired much of the story. I also talked to shelters about the problems facing homeless people and made sure I did abundant research online.

For the sexual aspect, my inspiration simply came from the slew of messages that I, as well as a lot of gay men with an online presence, receive from people soliciting for sex. I thought it would be interesting to ask what would happen if I was ever to accept such an offer. Although I never went as far as meeting any of these men, I was fortunate enough to talk to people who had met with men in exchange for money. Their experiences helped me get an idea of what it’s like to have sex for money, outside of the clichés we are often subjected to in films and on TV.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    I would like to change the way all people, regardless of age, view homelessness. So often we encounter homeless people, especially in big cities, but think of them as little more than inconvenient distractions from our own comfortable lives. I would like to think that after reading the book, people will reassess the attitudes they have towards people who have fallen on difficult times. 

    In terms of sexuality, I would like young readers to appreciate the fact that in the case of the novel’s protagonist, his being gay is very much a non-issue. Unlike a lot of LGBT literature, this is not a coming out story. This is a story of a young, gay student whose sexuality does not define him or dictate his experiences of university. It does, however, provide him with a unique idea of how his status as a young, gay man might help him raise money for his new homeless friends.

Now Available from Alex Norris:

Angel Cambridge University isn't everything Lewis wanted it to be. Still hung up on a lost love affair from the past and surrounded by friends he loves and loathes in equal measure, Lewis' life takes a dramatic turn after a chance encounter with homeless Rosie. Desperately seeking meaning among the vacuous student lifestyle, Lewis embarks on a quest to help those without homes and without voices.

Through a string of secret and sordid affairs with strange men he meets online, Lewis tries to raise money for his new homeless friends. Along the way he'll encounter a transvestite with the lips of Brigitte Bardot, a gorgeous French traveler, and a slew of lonely men willing to pay for satisfaction.

But as Lewis delves further into the depraved, secret life of Cambridge's backstreets, his faith in humanity and hope for his own future decline rapidly. How low is he willing to sink to make some cash?

Angel Giveaway!

Alex Norris has generously donated a free copy of Angel for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on May 19th.


  1. This looks really I interesting book. Please put my name into the hat as I would love to read it. Thanks


  2. Looks like a great read.

  3. Mmmmmmmm interesting well worth a read

  4. Congratulations on your first release! Thank you for the chance to win a copy.
    ruralmom08 (at)

  5. I can't wait to read this book and your future work! (coreyolomon at gmail dot com)

  6. Thanks for participating in the giveaway contest. The contest is now closed and the winner is: Carly Rose. Congratulations!