Marcus Alexander is the author of children's fantasy fiction series Keeper of the Realms, published by Puffin and comprised of Crow's Revenge, The Dark Army and Blood and Fire. He's an avid advocate of children's reading and is one of the most enthusiastic authors I've had the pleasure of working with, and he also makes fantastic graphics like the ones featured here!
Marcus has written a great guest post about writing and imagination, which you can read below. Thanks, Marcus!
YA authors do more than write, we tour too. But whether I’m visiting schools at home or abroad one of the most frequent questions I get from young writers is ‘how can I boost my imagination?'
No doubt I like to big up travel as a way to enhance imagination and crank open your mind. Meeting other people and learning from other cultures is a must. But as much as I’m known for my travels sport and adrenaline have been a great source of inspiration too.
I do gymnastics, parkour and mix up my styles of dance. I love board sports; I’ve spent months at a time snowboarding and living in the Alps, I’ve sandboarded in the Sahara and back in the day I used to fight professionally too. And all that motion, that adrenaline and gut wrenching high has shaped my writing.
Before I’d step into the ring and fight my hands would shake. Uncertainty would grip me. I’d think of all the things that could go wrong. I’ve broken bones in my feet fighting, my ribs too so my mind would spin with all the horrible possibilities that might befall me when the bell goes and my opponent starts laying into me. But these sensations, this knowledge of myself allows me to better create and shape my characters as they too prepare for action.
Marcus doing some crazy stuff! (Don't try this at home!)
I’ve recently started skydiving and although I love the sensation of freefall I can’t stand the act of throwing myself out the plane. That initial lurch and feeling of helplessness terrifies me. And although the rest of the skydive is beautiful I now find that each time I climb into a plane I have to struggle, really struggle, to master my fear. But it is this insight that allows me to better paint my character’s development as he or she is forced to deal with the obstacles that they face.
The fantasy sport ‘K’Changa’ that my heroine Charlie Keeper plays in the realm of Bellania was born from my desire to give her the opportunity to feel every bit as alive as I feel when I snowboard. And to come up with a truly fantastical sport I looked to those I used to play, capoeira and the sports I’d witnessed in my travels; chinlone from the Golden Triangle and tekraw from Thailand/Malaysia. By ripping elements from all three and squishing them together I came up with something new, something fresh that if only I had the skill I’d love to indulge in too.
And for all my young writers out there, the advice I’d give you is pursue life with a vengeance. Get out there and taste everything. Do everything. Don’t just rely upon your mind but use your body for motion and movement. How can you create fight scenes and chase scenes without having tasted them for yourself? How can you create a hero or heroine without having endured and understood the fleeting high of victory or the enduring drive born from the ashes of a bitter loss? Either way you cut it sport and adrenaline gives you better insights not just for yourself but for your writing too.
Get your move on.
(Wait! Hold up! A super quick word of warning! Yes, I’m favouring extreme sports, yes I promote the idea of snowboarding and parkour but I urge doing so in a safe manner. If you’re under 16 I can’t stress the importance of safety. Save fights and unguided training for when you’re an adult. So for now stick with capoeira, TKD, dance and all that funky fresh good stuff as a means of feeding that imagination…)
How cool is this?!
See some of Marcus's acrobatics and aerials on YouTube here and don't forget to check out his official Charlie Keeper site here!