Lex Trent Game – Learn Your Fate

The dark gods and goddesses at Headline Towers have worked their magic to give you a sneaky peek into your future. Want to know whether great riches or great doom or great foolishness lie in store for you? Just go to http://www.lextrent.co.uk and play the Lex Trent game, if you dare. This is not a game for the faint of heart. These are guaranteed fates, guaranteed to come true, guaranteed.*

*Please note, that neither Alex Bell, nor the Headline Gods, can be held legally or morally responsible for any consequences, reasonably foreseen or otherwise, of someone’s reaction to learning their fate. These include, but are not limited to, unwise investment decisions, making premature funerary arrangements for oneself or for one’s friends, refusing to leave the house, or running away to sea or space in despair.


Second Lex Trent Cover Revealed!

Here is the final version of the second Lex Trent cover, in all its fiery glory:

I love this cover soooo much! The title too, you will notice, has also now been revealed. The book is no longer Untitled Lex Trent – A Lex Trent Novel but Lex Trent Fighting with Fire which, I think we can all agree, has a much nicer ring to it. This is my favourite of all my published books to date. I had so much fun writing it and I can’t wait for it to come out next February. Roll on New Year (but not too fast because I want to get my money’s worth out of Christmas first – have a hell of a lot of Starbucks eggnog lattes to fit in between now and then).

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Upcoming Events

Eeks, October was a crazy busy month for me – hence the lack of blogging. This was partly due to the launch party we had for Lex Trent. I love launch parties (in fact I love any kind of party), and the ones I had for Ninth Circle and Jasmyn just flashed by too damn fast. So, this time, we decided to make a weekend of it with a murder mystery at Stratford with some of my favourite people from the book world.

And before anyone can make any shrill accusations of cronyism or nepotism or whatever kind of favouritism this might be considered to be – I must point out that, of the three reviewers who attended, only one of them (Amanda Rutter from Floor to Ceiling Books) had actually given me a good review. And Amanda is my favourite because she stays up drinking with me until 5am, not because of the review (although that certainly doesn’t hurt – I like a person who has good taste in literature.) Amanda’s write-up of the event, complete with a small selection of the less obviously drunken photos, is here: http://floor-to-ceiling-books.blogspot.com/2010/10/its-murder.html

So October was a bit mad, and it looks like the rest of the year is going to be pretty much the same.

First up – there’s the Richmond Literary Festival where I will be holding a Fantasy Adventure workshop on 13th November for kids from 10 years up (older kids and teenagers are also very welcome – the workshop will suit both). Please note there will also be chocolate and prizes because . . . well, I really like chocolate and prizes.  Here is the facebook event link: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=162168253815519&index=1 Here is the link for the Richmond Festival: http://www.richmond.gov.uk/literature_festival And here is the Chainsaw Gang flyer advertising me and my fellow Chainsaw Gangsters, who are also doing workshops over the festival: 

I have no idea why they’ve used the book covers to advertise Gordon, Sarwat and Alex’s workshops whilst using my face to advertise mine. Either they really dislike my book cover, or they really like my face.  Anyway, moving on . . .

Secondly, I will be attending a Local Author Evening at Waterstones in West Quay on the 18th November from 5.30-7.30pm. I’m not sure of the exact format of the evening yet but it will be a multi-author event to coincide with the turning on of the Christmas lights at West Quay and, last I heard, there was talk of mince pies being present as well (win!)!

Thirdly, I will be doing a panel event for teens at Redbridge Book Festival on the 11th December. I believe the other panellists will be fellow Chainsaw Gangsters Sarwat Chadda, Alexander Gordon Smith, Sarah Pinborough and Sam Enthoven. That’s all I know at present so will try to remember to confirm details of those last two events once I have more information.

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Library Event

Just a quick post to say that I will be doing a library event in Southampton next Wednesday at 3.30pm. The event is an open one so if anyone wants to come along and listen to me talking about Lex Trent and writing then feel free! Copies of the book will be available to buy and, of course, get signed, on the day. More details here: http://www.southampton.gov.uk/s-leisure/libraries/alexbell.aspx

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Two Things About Lex

Since Lex Trent came out I seem to have done loads of interviews for it. Or maybe it just feels that way to me because a lot of the questions I’ve answered have been replicated and so I find myself trying to think of new ways to answer the same question. I enjoy talking about Lex, so I’m not complaining. Taking time to do your bit to promote a book is a necessary part of a published author’s life.

But there are two questions that have come up a few times now, which I want to set the record completely straight on, and so I’m going to answer those two FAQ’s here on my site as well.

The first one has to do with the fact that Lex’s grandfather in the book suffers from a disease called the Soulless Wake. This is, essentially, a fantasy world version of Alzheimer’s. In almost every interview I’ve done about Lex, I’ve been asked where this came from and, more than once, people have suggested that perhaps it was because of Terry Pratchett’s diagnosis. I want to be completely clear about this: the inclusion of an Alzheimer’s type disease in Lex Trent has nothing whatsoever to do with Terry Pratchett. I have not – and will never – exploit another writer’s illness as a plot point in one of my books. In fact, at the time that I wrote the first draft of Lex Trent – back in my second year of university – Terry Pratchett had not even received his diagnosis yet. My grandfather, though, had been diagnosed with the disease two years previously. This is the reason that it features in the book.

I usually try quite hard to avoid allowing my own life to seep into my novels, but I suppose to some extent it is unavoidable. Everything – both good and bad – that happens to a writer, contributes to who they are. As Dan Simmons has his Wilkie Collins character state in his excellent book Drood: ‘I was a novelist. Everything and everyone in my life was material.’

It was not a conscious decision of mine to address the very serious issue of Alzheimer’s in what is, after all, meant to be a light comic fantasy novel. It crept in, somehow, on its own – I suppose because it was something that was very much on my mind at the time. However, once it was there, I decided to keep it, because it seemed to fit with Lex’s back story very well, and I don’t think that the odd serious scene detracts from the overall light-hearted nature of the book. If anything, I think such moments compliment the rest of it.  

I did not react to my grandfather’s illness in the cowardly way that Lex does in the book. I did not abandon him because he had Alzheimer’s – but I understand the temptation. It is not easy to visit someone you love very much indeed only to have them not really know who you are. My grandfather was still alive when I got my first publishing deal, but although he was told about it, I don’t think he really took it in. If his reaction when I won a short story competition at the age of thirteen is anything to go by, I know he would have been absurdly proud, and if I had signed my deal even one year earlier, then I would have been able to tell him about it properly. This remains one of the few real regrets that I have so far in my life.

My grandparents lived several hours away from us so when we went to visit, the trip involved a full day’s outing. We tried to make it there every six weeks. I went, but I had to force myself to go. My grandmother, on the other hand, cared for my grandfather day after day almost for the rest of his life, and however difficult it was for me to see him every six weeks for a few hours, for my grandmother this was a reality that she lived with permanently. She became his full time carer, despite suffering from health problems herself. The way that she was with him was one of the most brave, loyal, devoted things I have ever seen in my life. I would like to think I would conduct myself with the same grace and dignity if I were ever in her position but I seriously doubt I would be capable of that kind of selflessness. The point I wanted to hint at with Lex was that there are different kinds of bravery. Lucius, who is Lex’s wimpy, weedy, gentle twin brother, could not cope with the thrilling adventures Lex takes on, but he willingly stayed behind to look after their grandfather when he became ill – something that Lex simply could not do.

That is where the Soulless Wake comes from. It is a direct result of my own experience – not an insensitive exploitation of someone else’s suffering.

The second – and far less important FAQ – is people believing that I decided to call the main character Lex because that name is a variation of mine. This is not the case either. It is true that Lex and I share some similarities in that we were both law students; we both share a sort of dread of the idea of working as lawyers; and we both had grandfathers who had Alzheimer’s. But the reason I gave Lex his name was because of this man:

 This, as any Smallville viewer will recognise, is Lex Luthor, as played by Michael Rosenbaum. I was watching a lot of Smallville at the time, and I loved Lex as a character – I thought he was far more interesting than Clark. I also liked the fact that the name ‘Lex’ has instantly notorious connotations. That was the reason that I took it. Lex is therefore named for super-villain Lex Luthor. He is not named after me.

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