Meet author Alex Sumner and enter to win a Kindle copy of The Demon Detective!

Author Alex Sumner writes dark fantasy/occult tales. The author himself is a bit of a mystery. He doesn't reveal his true identity, so I don't even have an author picture for you.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading The Magus, the first book in Alex Sumner's Magus Trilogy. The subject matter seemed quite scary. But I was curious enough to have a look. The book kept me entertained, with the intriguing murder/mystery plot and I was soon hooked on the series. The Trilogy is not really like anything I've read before. It deals with subjects such as magic, occultism, satanism, alchemy, secret societies, etc., etc. Sumner's talent is to take quite dark subjects and makes them entertaining.

He was kind enough to agree to an author interview and he is also giving away a free Kindle copy of his short story 'The Demon Detective'

To enter, please leave a comment below, or simply 'like' this blog post. A winner will be chosen at random on 31st March 2012.

Here's the interview:

I saw on your bio that you’ve been writing since 2001; you began with non-fiction including subjects such as astrology, tarot, alchemy and magick.  Many of those topics are covered in your fiction series, The Magus Trilogy.  When did you first begin writing the trilogy, and was it your intention from the start to write a series of books or is that something that developed as the story unfolded?

I first had the idea of turning my hand to fiction in 2006. Dan Brown had just successfully defended himself against a charge of plagiarism in regard to The Da Vinci Code, and some remark he made to the TV reporters round the time convinced me that it might be worth reading after all (I had held myself aloof from the hype surrounding the book up til then). Reading it – which I did in one sitting in the course of twenty-four hours – I felt gripped by two very extreme and completely opposite emotions. The first: that Brown had done an admirable job in engaging interest, in creating a “page-turner.” The second was the complete lameness of the puzzles that the characters were supposed to be solving! I was solving them before the characters were! Several times I had to suppress a violent urge to shout out “Look, it’s bloody mirror writing!” or “It’s an anagram of ‘Leonardo Da Vinci,’ for fuck’s sake.” I finished the book convinced that if Dan Brown could write a book as bad as this, and make tons of money in so doing, then I could do the same! Plus, I would make sure my books contained better research. And more sex.

That was my plan. What actually happened was that I realised writing fiction was more difficult than I’d first imagined, which delayed and almost put me off the project. So I took the trouble to educate myself in the noble art of Creative Writing, which got me my inspiration back. That was also when I decided to make it a trilogy – it seemed only natural to trace the character development of the Nichola, the heroine.

On your blog you continue to write non-fiction articles about various mystical subjects. Which do you prefer, fiction or non-fiction writing?

They each have their merits. I write non-fiction pieces to communicate my ideas immediately and directly. I write fiction to communicate my ideas in a more subtle and roundabout way. Also, I’m quite up front about trying to make money out of fiction, but my non-fiction work is my attempt to do pro bono work for the Universe.

You have dedicated a page on your website to the fascinating topic of lucid dreaming, where you teach a virtual course in the subject.  Have you always been a lucid dreamer, or did this develop with your interest in the subject?  Can you remember what your first lucid dream was?

No! I was only lucid for a brief moment before waking up. I think it was something like I was walking around somewhere, and I realised I was dreaming, and that was it. This would have been about seventeen years ago. Mind you, I seem to remember that once I had broken my duck, as it were, the number and quality of my lucid dreams multiplied rapidly within weeks.

What’s your favourite lucid dream that you’ve experienced?

The one where I proved the existence of God, and the reality of life after death, or “the inter-carnatory experience” as I now call it.

I think I inherited my talent for lucid dreaming from a past-life, because I went through quite an “awakening” when I first heard about it. But really I think that anyone can experience lucid dreams if they are prepared to practice hard.

The Magus Trilogy is a very entertaining series of books.  It’s a murder mystery series but with an original twist, dealing with topics such as occultism and magick. What is the difference between magic and magick? Enlighten us.

“Magick” is an archaic spelling which was re-introduced in the 20th century by Aleister Crowley. He used it alternatively to mean: 1. the science and art of causing change in conformity with Will; 2. rites which aim at, follow on from, or are generally connected with, attaining “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel”; 3. Sex magick; and 4. all of the above.

“Magic” on the other hand Crowley used to refer to either stage-magicianship, illusionism, etc, or any occult practice of which he happened to disapprove.

The police station action in the Magus Trilogy was very realistic.  Are you a fan of TV cop shows?

That procedural realism was mostly inspired by the fact that I was a fan of The X Files when it was on. I seldom watch TV nowadays though.

There is a lot of technical information in The Magus trilogy about murder investigations, occult practices, the Freemasons etc. etc.  How much time did you spend researching the subjects and what were your sources for research?

About police procedure - a lot. As much as I felt necessary to convey the authentic flavour of what homicide detectives in London have to go through. I think the icing on the cake was to look up the actual annual homicide statistics broken down by month so I could get an idea about how many new cases per day a homicide detective could expect to be assigned.

About the rest of it though - less “research” per se than you would actually imagine - because I already live that lifestyle, so I was just drawing on my everyday life experiences -

HOWEVER - I must point out though, that the occult practices of the villains in the three stories were ramped up for dramatic purposes. Especially the villain in the first book, “The Magus.” For him, I was deliberately trying to be transgressional - trying to make him the most vile person I could imagine. Anyone who tries to reconstruct an occult ritual based on that character's practices will either go to hell or be locked up in Broadmoor, or both. I asked myself: “what's the most outrageous occult practice I can think of?” And then I had that character do it, e.g. there is a certain scene in which he tries to evoke a demon using a method that is liable to leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Only later, after I had excavated all these evil occult practices from the bottom-most recessess of my consciousness did I find out that this is actually what passes for a normal night down at the real-life Chaos magic organisation “The Illuminates of Thanateros.”

How long did it take you to write the Magus Trilogy?

The first book took an abnormally long amount of time, because I was still learning to write. The second and third books, around about seven or eight months each, because I knew what I was doing. I think I finished “Licence To Depart” soon after Christmas 2010, but I delayed releasing it because - using my powers of astrology - I had worked out that the planets would be best aligned for me releasing it in May 2011.

You have three new books available: Shall we Kill the President ?, A Greater Power, and The Demon Detective.  Can you tell us a bit more about each of these books?

One of the goals which I Cosmically-Ordered myself in 2011 was to write a Lester Dent type of short story. That was how I invented the character of Guy Shepardson, the eponymous “Demon Detective.” He’s like a James Bond type of character, except that instead of using fancy gadgetry he casts spells, mostly involving demons of varying degrees of helpfulness. The writing of the first story proved enjoyable and gave me a large boost of inspiration of what to do next. I had finished the Magus Trilogy and it would not have worked to continue writing books with those particular characters, so I needed a new direction. So I came up with the idea to write a series of Dark Fantasy short stories.

As to the stories themselves, “The Demon Detective” kicks off the series by showing how modern day sorcerer becomes a Detective-of-sorts after an old friend of his is murdered. “A Greater Power” is about an adventure he has out in the Oxfordshire countryside when another acquaintance of his found dead in mysterious circumstances.

The third story is actually a novella: “Shall We Kill The President?” has Guy visiting the United States on holiday, and uncovering a plot to kill the President. This is an adventure featuring Vampires, Demons, US Politicians and Catholic Priests, not all of whom are villains in this story. ;-)

Which of the characters in The Magus Trilogy do you most relate to and why?

Almost all of the characters represent different aspects of my personality. The unsympathetic characters are the repressed, evil, dark and sinister aspects of my psyche which haunt my nightmares, whilst the sympathetic ones are aspects of my conscious personality. Nichola, the main female character, represents my Anima; the Magus himself is my Wise Old Man archetype; whilst Gary, on account of his intelligence and heightened sexual prowess, obviously represents me in real life. ;-)

You are very active on YouTube.  One of your most recent videos, Manifestation, is interesting.  Can you tell us a bit about your thinking behind creating the video and what you hope it can achieve?

It is a magic spell to Manifest good things in your life, and in the world generally. Prosperity, success in all sorts of human endeavours, happiness, celebration, respect for human rights and world peace, and even higher consciousness. All you have to do is watch it – preferably several times, as each successive viewing gradually unlocks your power to Manifest all these things. The soundtrack and the images were specifically chosen to induce that state of consciousness.

Do you have any tips for someone who is considering self-publishing their own book?

1. Marketing is everything. You should prepare for the fact that only 1% of the people who see your publicity will be willing to pay good money for your book. So in order to have a best-seller, you should be aiming for a “reach” of at least one to two million people. (If you can improve on this ratio, that's a bonus.)
2. “Calibre,” a free to download ebook manager contains its own Kindle-converter. This is an excellent way of checking the formatting of your book before you submit it to KDP or SmashWords.
3. The best time to release a new book is when the planet Mercury is well aspected with a waxing moon. But make sure Mercury is not retrograde, as this would be a Bad Thing.

Who are your favourite authors and what is it about their writing that you like?

Apart from Dan Brown, I would say my biggest influence is Michael Moorcock. I always enjoyed reading his Elric books as a teenager. Then when I turned to writing fiction myself I discovered that he had also written a lot of essays containing helpful advice for new writers.

Other authors: Christine Feehan, author of the Ghostwalker series, influenced the sexy side of the “Magus Trilogy.” Also, I have to say: my favourite author of Literary Fiction is Ben Okri. I am quite certain that he is a future Nobel Prize winner.

Is there a book you own that you’ve read more than once?

Plenty! But there is one in particular which springs to mind – a non-fiction book called The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order by Israel Regardie. I bought it in 1996 and it has disintegrated through use. I purchased my first Kindle device purely so I could have an electronic version of it as a replacement.

If someone wanted to read your books, which would you recommend they read first, and why?

The books of the Magus Trilogy are colour-coded! Black, White, Red - the three colours of Alchemy, which are the three stages of perfection of the Philosophers' Stone, also the three stages of initiation - the first order, the second order, and the mysterious third order. In the first book Nichola is plunged into Chaos as her life is turned upside down on first meeting the Magus. In the second, as a police officer she becomes an adept: but at the end she is stripped of everything she holds dear, so that at the beginning of the third she is staring into the Abyss (almost literally) and realises she has to strive by her own efforts to reach her final goal.

Or more prosaically: get The Magus first because it's the first book in the series.

Are you reading a book at the moment?

Yes, mainly a lot of non-fiction books for my own personal edification and indeed for possible background information for future stories. Now that I have a Kindle device I’m making full use of it! At time of writing I’m reading an old book called Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece which was like one of these dime-a-dozen New Age knock-offs when it first came out, but lots of people keep coming up to me and saying that it’s really good.

What do you think of e-books as opposed to print books?

I think e-books are the future – especially seeing as there are a growing number of great quality e-book readers on the market. An e-book is better value for money for both the writer and the reader. They don’t weigh anything, and no trees are harmed in their making. So that it actually gets my goat that currently, e-books are subject to VAT in the United Kingdom, whilst print books are not. The government is always banging on about how it is supposedly concerned about the environment, so I should have thought it makes more sense to make e-books VAT-free.

I try to tell people how e-books are enviromentally-friendly, but some of them tell me that they need to feel a real book. I think they have the sap of innocent trees on their hands. :)

How do you go about choosing a cover for your books?

I design them all myself, using Adobe Photoshop. The images all refer to scenes from each book, albeit in an abstract and sometimes symbolic way.

What are you working on now?

A story featuring Guy Shepardson, the Demon Detective - uprooted from his usual surroundings and trying to survive in an alien environment. My working title for it is This Is Not A Fairy Story. I'm aiming to have it ready for the Summer Solstice, June 21st 2012

Where can people buy your books?

All relevant links can be traced through my website

Both my print and e-books (i.e. Kindle) can be purchased from Amazon

My ebooks are also available in alternative formats from :

You can also find my ebooks on iTunes, Diesel, Barnes & Noble and more by searching for “Alex Sumner.”

Thank you, Alex!


Remember, if you'd like to win a Kindle copy of The Demon Detective, leave a comment below or simply 'like' this post.
Good luck!
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message 1: by Julie (new)

Julie Powell Secret identity and dark fantasy - great mix.

message 2: by Darcia (new)

Darcia Helle Oh, Maria, you did it to me again. I must read this trilogy!

Great interview, both of you. Alex, I'm fascinated by the topics you write about, both nonfiction and fiction. I'm looking forward to reading your work!

message 3: by Maria (new)

Maria Thanks, Melanie, Julie and Darcia! I think you'll enjoy this trilogy. It kept me hooked! :)

message 4: by Maria (new)

Maria Thanks to all who 'liked' and commented on this post. The giveaway is now closed. If you're a lucky winner you'll be hearing from me soon!

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