Welcome travelers, to another one of our featured interviews. About a week back, we had the wonderful opportunity to promote the work of a very talented up-and-coming author who just released his second book and has a third on the way. D. Alexander writes novels that are an interesting blend of black and white and colorful abstract, so I can say with confidence that I knew this would be an interested interview. Now, I’m pleased to pass along the conversation to you. Read on to learn more about D. Alexander, and his books, the Memoirs of Elikai!
Tellest: Hello Alexander! First off, I wanted to thank you for giving me some of your time. It’s clear that you are doing a tremendous amount of work for your series, and I know that it can be a task to find some other free moments throughout the day to chat about ourselves. I’m very excited to be able to learn more about you, and to show readers why they should keep you on their radar as you continue adding to your catalog!
D. Alexander: Hello, Tellest. I sincerely appreciate being featured on your site and for helping me get my book series out there to your devoted fans. I have put a lot of work into this series, but it is just the beginning, and I look forward to diving in further throughout this interview.
T: I always like to talk about a very specific topic as we open these interviews. Everyone gets their love of writing from somewhere, and I’d love to know what yours was. Have you always been a big fan of the fantasy genre? Did you have any favorite authors growing up, or did you have a talented member of your family who would spin entertaining yarns? Or was it something different altogether?
DA: I grew up in an environment that I felt was not the best for me then, and fantasy was an escape and a way to come to terms with what was happening to me externally and internally. I adored magic, being the hero, and finding my true love (which I now have), but fantasy made me believe that I was unique and worthy of being loved in an environment where I did not feel that. Please, know that I do not speak ill of my upbringing now that I can reflect on it and know more that I am older and wiser. But at the time, fantasy was the only way to feel special, which is why I have dived so deep into fantasy books such as the Pendragon series by D.J MacHale. Books like Pendragon, Anime like Sailor Moon, and various music artists like My Chemical Romance and Angel & Airwaves were the foundation of the Memoirs of Elikai. I felt such a solid connection to them that I wanted to create something like that, and I started super lousy fanfiction. It wasn’t until I watched the 100th episode of Smallville when Jonathan Kent died that I discovered all the stories I had been creating on paper, in my head, and within my outward life were the Memoirs of Elikai. I want to thank Emperor Phantonix for coming to me because without him, it would have never clicked, and all those concepts and ideas exploded inside me. Then as if a Miracle there was Michael and Danny, and the beginning of an eternal adventure.
T: There are a lot of dualities in your story, from the main characters to the intangible thoughts and people who personify them. What made you decide to go down that route when it came to telling your tale?
DA: I knew there would be a complex question, and here it is. Honestly, this comes from my mental health and those intangible thoughts and situations that play out. Most of what the main characters go through in the first book comes from my internal struggles, so it was an easy route to take because it was my own. Now, I do not have magical powers, so my salvation came from writing and putting myself into these as a form to make sense and to connect readers with complex and intangible thoughts that people don’t want to discuss. You have to remember that a good or bad storyteller has to reflect what people say, do, and think on the inside because there is more going on than someone wants you to see. When it comes to the hearts of man, the dualities have to be in play; otherwise, you aren’t getting the whole story of these characters. That is why as Danny tries to find the King of Free Will, you see him see the truth in these characters regardless of whether they want him to see it. I want these characters to connect with the reader and to show them that you are found in these pages, that your intangible thoughts are reflected in you because you are a child of Creation. Even if the Memoirs of Elikai is just a story, the emotions and the truths personified by these characters are real, and they are you. These are the Memoirs of how the hearts of Creation decided which philosophy to govern them forever, and this is I took that route because it is the only way.
T: You’ve got a pretty sizable amount of content on your TikTok account, and we’re certainly seeing a sort of renaissance on that social media platform, in the form of BookTok. Have you been seeing a lot of reaction to your TikTok posts? Where do you go for ideas to flesh out that part of your marketing?
DA: TikTok (BookTok) is the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. I am currently taking a break because promoting a book that has virtually no romance (yet) is challenging. However, I will note that the BookTok community is fantastic. I have had more engagement and interactions with the first Memoirs of Elikai in the last four months than I did in the first four years, apart from the release of the first Memoirs of Elikai. When I started building my community and algorithm, I went from 1 follower to 1500 within three months, but in the middle of August, they changed their algorithm, and it has been the worst because my interactions are bare bones. After all, whoever TikTok is showing my videos to, is not who it needs to be presented on their FY page. This is why I am taking a break because it can be so discouraging and taking a break can reset the algorithm and let me rebuild it.
My inspiration comes from the vast and impressive indie authors I follow on my page. They have helped and guided me in what to do, when to post, how to post, and what trends and sounds are favored to make the most significant impact on readers. Every time I see a video that I love, I will alter it for my book and my readers to get them to give the Memoirs of Elikai a chance because this series is life-changing and has saved my life countless times.
T: Do you do any paid advertising on the platform, or has your experience thus far been 100% organic?
DA: Honestly, I do not think any indie author or authors, in general, get exposure by purely organic means, and if they do, I am proud of them. I have done a few ads, but most of my interactions and sales/reviews have come from me building a connection with readers on Booktok. When you can build rapport with readers, get to know them, and know what they like from books, I can usually trailer the Memoirs to them, unless they only read romance. Well then, I am dead in the water, but as an indie author, I try to redirect them to another author’s book if mine is not what they want/need from a book. I can’t count how many times I have turned readers to a few romance indie authors because, at the end of the day, we are a community, and we have to support each other. Booktok has given us a fantastic platform, but it only works when we connect and build strong connections with each other.
T: For someone who has heard of BookTok (and maybe even someone who hasn’t), what sorts of trends should someone try to add to their account? What sort of videos should they try to emulate. Basically, what has worked for you, and do you think it would work for others as well?
DA: Honestly, Booktok is fantastic, and what has indeed worked for me has been connecting with fellow authors and readers. I have built rapport with those who have read my book, and while my videos are not viral or reach massive amounts of people because it’s a dark fantasy, those readers and fellow authors help me get out there. Booktok is different for everyone, and your experience will differ, but community support seems to be the most common for everyone. The best advice I can give you is to explore, find your niches, such as romance, fantasy, etc., and like and interact with fellow booktokers before posting. Then, build the algorithm in your favor so when you do post, your audience is ready.
T: What do you think are the next steps that you’re going to try to lay out for your marketing journey? Writing the story really is only half of the story. The marketing can be a lot of work, certainly!
DA: I have a marketing plan primarily through promoting on TikTok and reaching out to significant publishing reviews such as Publishers weekly. As I prepare to release the third book, I will get various ARC readers to promote it through social media platforms. It is also worth getting it on websites like yours that are tailored to fantasy readers who want more from their stories than the generic books being published right now. Being an indie author is trial and error, and I have made many mistakes. Still, I know what needs to be done, and hopefully, by partnering with websites like yours and various other methods on the internet, this once in lifetime story can reach the readers that need it.
T: You mentioned that your book is one of a kind, and it truly is. Since it’s got enough of an abstract idea, I think it’s fair to state that there’s not anyone who has put the same spin on their story as you have. Sometimes that’s a challenge to talk to people about. We’ve seen your blurb on the write-up we shared on Tellest last week, but what do you think your elevator pitch would be for something like Memoirs of Elikai? You’re in a room with someone for all of one minute. How do you get them excited about your wonderful world?
DA: I will be shameless here because I genuinely believe in this series, so here is my one-minute elevator pitch. This is the once-in-a-lifetime series that will provoke your imagination as it drags you through the darkness, the pain, and the sorrow of the hearts of Creation as they fight for the right philosophy to govern their souls forever and finally be at peace. Reader, you will be forced to reflect on yourself, which side you believe rightfully belongs on the Eternal Throne, and what you are willing to do to ensure your side wins. The Memoirs of Elikai is the series you have been waiting for because the fight for Creation is not black and white, or your concept of good vs. evil because this is a matter of perspective, and that person’s will, as the hearts of Creation end the war. Reader, the Final War for Creation and the age-old debate which philosophy, Free Will & Destiny, will you fight for even if it means total oblivion. This is your story reflected back at you; this is the story of your loved ones, your friends, your neighbors, and your enemies.
These are the Memoirs of Elikai.
T: Writing a book is challenging enough, but you’ve taken up some interesting subject matter that can sometimes be observed through an abstract lens. Despite this, your book is not only cohesive, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable. How did you marry the idea of personifying free will and destiny as characters and give them such rich details and depth?
DA: This is where I feel like a historian writing their Memoirs because I can see them as if a movie was playing in my head. These characters have been with me since I was ten, and they have stayed the same, even if I haven’t. That is why it is easy to present these characters who embody Free Will & Destiny because they are fundamental to me and have been inspired by various people in my life. The best way I can explain this is that the Memoirs characters are a doorway to people you know, and one day, in one book, you will find the doorway to your personality, your story reflected back at you. To me, Free Will & Destiny is a living argument throughout human history and even in religion, so I feel the hard work is already done with personifying it. Still, real people and characters make it rich in detail and depth, and I hope to continue this as the series progresses.
When you meet the characters such as Michael, Danny, Matthew, Izabelle, etc., you will find people you know or wish you had at one point in your life. These characters have been so easy to see and understand because they are the people I wish I had when I was growing up and the internal and external turmoil that was my life. I believe that is why I made these philosophies and ideas are so enjoyable and thought-provoking because I feel at the end of the day, the war between Free Will & Destiny, while complicated because of the hearts of Creation, at the core, they are simple. Still, the people of Creation complicate it, and we will see this as the story progresses through the following ten books: which side do you indeed choose when the Final War begins?
T: Your book certainly touches on religion and spirituality, but never in a way that felt truly overbearing or preachy. How did you balance how you were going to include that in the story without making it feel like it was too foundational or exhausting for those who might not be overly comfortable with the subject matter?
DA: Do you want to know how I did this? My content editor, Joseph. He helped me scale back on the “religious” aspect and pushed me to make it more philosophical, so it did not come off as overbearing or preachy, especially in the first book when Danny finds the King of (Light) Free Will. We did not want people to feel like this was just pure religious fiction, and that was a tricky balance because the Memoirs do play on the major religions, and balancing that to make people comfortable, we had to alter it to the philosophical but keep it in a way that the majority of people understand based on their religious upbringing. Based on the reviews, we did as best we could because each reader will see differently into this story and its themes based on their perspective. We had one reviewer, my favorite reviewer to this day, who said this isn’t Christian fiction and not to compare it to the Chronicles of Narnia. Still, another says they see the Christian themes. Hence, as the story progresses, we plan to add various religious elements to connect with readers from almost every faith background while keeping the philosophy of Free Will & Destiny as the focal point. I know Joseph will keep that ship on course, and I can’t wait to use various religious elements without keeping the story preachy or overbearing. Still, again each reader will have a different opinion on this.
T: Religion can be a tough nut to crack, especially when it’s not a religion that you subscribe to. Certainly, invented religions offer a bit of freedom of expression, but when it comes to real life religions, it can be nerve-wracking adding them into your work. Do you ever worry about doing justice for representation? If not, what gives you the confidence to know that you’re making sure people feel seen the right way?
DA: Religion is simply an idea that people put stock into because it makes them feel better about themselves or gives them hope and is generally based on their culture and heritage. I do not find adding an idea to the Memoirs of Elikai because it helps people understand the gravity of what the Final War between Free Will & Destiny will have and has had on not only the hearts of the people in MOE but in our history as well. This is where I care more about proper representation because this age-old debate reflects more on human history than any one religion, regardless of how popular it is in the current era. When you study history, the war between free will & Destiny is ever represented, even if it hides in religion, so the point of the Memoirs of Elikai is not about making people feel seen; it is about making them see the truth behind why we are here, and what people are willing to do for what they believe is correct. That is why I am not nervous about adding religious elements because it shows people what was, what is and what will be done in the name of an idea, of a concept, and that is what the meaning of this war is. What are you willing to do in the name of the Philosophy you want to win the throne?
T: Grenoff is an invention of your story (if I’m not mistaken). What gave you the inspiration for such a place, and the hidden magic that you’ve written about that sort of permeates it?
DA: Grenoff was the last piece for the first book because I had the settings for the first book in various locations, but none of them fit into it. I remember it was the rewrite before what became the first book that I needed a place. This location felt like home because, at the time, I was unstable in my living situation. I reflected on a time when I was happiest, and that was Hazlehurst, Wisconsin, where I spent most summers with my grandparents. It always held a special place in my heart, so their lake home became the foundation of Grenoff. I also got on google maps and found a significant and deserted lake, so I built the town in that location and then used various architecture to design the city once that piece was laid; that’s when I saw it. I saw the Grenoff bell tower, and it was like its bells booming as it appeared in my head, and as the sun set, the southern clock was consumed by the neon violet light, which I knew had to be that color because of Phantonix eyes. It wasn’t until I moved to Pullman, Washington that the northern clock became red from the bell tower on campus, and I created my bell tower before seeing WSU. Still, because of their bell tower, I wanted the east to be yellow and the west to be emerald, again a tribute to other fantasy works.
Once I saw Grenoff, I knew this was the end, I had finally seen the final piece of what I was missing, and I knew it was time to sit down and write the first book. I am so grateful for Grenoff that I plan to end the series with this magical place as one of the final words. Grenoff, the forgotten city, is no longer ignored and will always be a home to the fans of the Memoirs of Elikai because it is our true home. I know that sounds silly, but I hope to instill throughout this series that Grenoff, no matter who wins the eternal throne, is home.
T: While your main characters are very catching, and readers will no doubt want to spend time with them, you’ve got enough of a cast that it feels at times like an ensemble. Who is your favorite character to write, and has that surprised you, or were you expecting that?
DA: I love this question because I have had a few readers say that I created a lot of characters, and it can feel hard to connect to them but let me say this: these are the Memoirs of how Free Will & Destiny waged the Final War, so there will be a vast ensemble of characters throughout the series. This story cannot be told from an individual perspective because that would not honor the souls and hearts lost when the eternal victory claimed Creation. You will see stable characters throughout the series, but as free will is still the governing force in their eyes, they can still change the story based on themselves, as we see at the end of the second Memoirs of Elikai: The Ritual of the Fallen.
Now, my favorite character will always be Michael, not for who he is in the first book but as he progresses throughout the series and how his love for Danny is rechallenged time and time. His story arc was the most surprising to me because two years ago, after I ended the second book and the endless rounds of edits, he finally showed me his journey, which was hauntingly beautiful. While most peoples, from what they have told me, most peoples’ favorite characters are Matthew and Izabelle, my heart has and always will belong to Michael. This is a funny tidbit: I always thought I would end up with a man like Michael, and while the love of my life physically resembles him, I ended up with Danny.
T: It sounds like you don’t exactly put your characters or your story on rails, and that sometimes they take the reins away from you, for good or bad. Have you had any moments where you were writing that things took an unexpected turn that you were just not prepared for at first?
DA: Tellest, I will have to expand on what I said earlier because of your statement. I do not feel these people take the reins away because these are their stories, lives, and choices. I know it sounds like I think they are real, but in a sense, they are. I can offer wisdom and guidance to them, and a few times, I have told them no, this is not happening because that is out of character, but most of the time, I trust them; they know what they are doing. The story is alive, and critical moments are set in stone for the story’s arc. Still, I did not see the dance scene in book two would be what it was until they permitted me to know because this story is the memoirs of endless people and the countless lives they lived when fighting for the right to the philosophy they believe is best for the hearts of Creation. That is why I feel like the historian at the beginning of book one because I am simply just recording their story. Yes, at the end of the day, I am the writer; I am Chuck from supernatural, but I do not write their stories simply for entertainment purposes; if I wanted to do that, I would have written a more straightforward series, but they chose me to tell the Memoirs of the Final War between Free Will & Destiny. I will honor their voice and stories just as any historian should, and from our history, we know that biases have changed so much, and I refuse to do that. The reader may seem that the story has gone off the rails, but believe me, they know what they are doing because these are the stories of people fighting for peace, regardless of their side.
T: You’ve already finished two books, and your third is on the way. Now that you’ve been at this for a little while, do you feel that the work gets easier the farther along you go?
DA: Absolutely! I have always said that the first book was my worst because it was the story I knew the least. However, the further I dive into the Memoirs of Elikai series, the easier the story comes to me because I know it is more evident than in the previous novels, but that doesn’t mean I do not discover new twists and turns. One of my core truths is that when I am writing the Memoirs of Elikai, I feel like a historian because I feel like I am writing a history book, or their memoirs, instead of a fantasy book series. I am working on book three, and watching these characters play out in my head is like coming home but finding that home slightly altered because they are still choosing different paths. After all, they are still governed by the philosophy of free will.
T: We kind of touched on two other pillars of your book, with the world, and the prose, but when it comes to the characters, do the new ones still require a little bit of research and development, or do they sort of flow a bit easier off the pen or pencil (or keyboard) because you have other characters to balance them against?
DA: Yes, as a new character comes in, what I thought of them initially may not be who they were because of my limited view at the time of their introduction to me when I was young. Let’s take, for example, the third general of Free Will that has presented themselves in the Third Memoirs. While I knew the general concept of this character, when it was time to introduce them, they shifted because he was finally ready to show me who he indeed was and break the prospection I had of him. When I was writing him, I could picture the scene, and my original thought and image, dissolved. I saw him clearly, and I knew that I had to do a bit more research and development into him and the characters the reader has been following this whole time. In this story, these characters change based on what happened in the books before and matching it to what comes takes time and effort to ensure they are true to who they are and not just messing them for shock value. Every piece connects, and every character and every move will impact the rest of the series and the Final War itself. Even if it is just a single sentence in the vast knowledge of this book, each detail matters. Just recently, I discovered a twist that one of my characters has been hiding for the last two books, and how that impacts the story will be huge. So, in a sense, yes, everything you said is correct as it is a balance, and that is why I am grateful for my team because they ensure that these characters are actual to themselves and the reader.
T: If someone was having difficulty in creating a story, or continuing along with one that they’ve slowed down on, what advice would you give them?
DA: Finally, a question that I have no problem racking my brain for an answer because this one hit home for me. If a writer is having difficulty creating/writing a story, the best advice I can give them is to stop, take a step away, and rediscover what inspired them in the first place. For me, this can be taking a walk to music that speaks to my characters, reading a series such as the Mortal Instruments or the Pendragon series, or watching Sailor Moon or Fairytail. From my experience, the spark of inspiration needs to be reignited, and sometimes that can only come from what inspired you in the beginning.
T: You’ve come to a place in your life where there’s a lot of self-acceptance, but it sounds like you have a wonderful support team as well. What do they think about knowing a published author, and how do they like the books? Do they ever give you inspiration that you can integrate into your stories?
DA: I have an incredible team that has inspired and helped guide this story to the best it can be, and most of it comes from my content editor, Joseph Hantho. He has a never-ending pursuit of challenging me and pushing to the max because of his devotion to this series; he knows how it ends and the journey because as he started editing it, he needed to know it all to make sure all the connections fit into place. I remember the night I laid it all out for him, and it took me like four hours to explain it. Then, when I finished, he was blown away because this story doesn’t follow where you think it will go; as the story of the Final war continues, you will see that it is beyond what I have portrayed but hinted at in the first two books. How he knows how it ends has inspired him, which has challenged me to make sure this story is rock solid and that all the pieces are in place, and to make me show the reader that the truth has been there from the beginning regardless of the journey that I take you on because as you see in the prologue, the final war is over. These are the Memoirs of how it happened. This, in a sense, inspires me to know that when the readers end the journey, they can either be at peace in the final kingdom or fade from creation knowing that they did what was best for them and that it was worth it in the end. I want to inspire people to see that they have the power they always did and that they, in the end, they will make the final decision, but to do that, they have to know everything and to do that, I have my work cut out for, but in the words of Bobby Pendragon, “Hobey-Ho, Let’s Go.”
T: We mentioned TikTok earlier, but where else could people go to find out more about your work? Do you have any other social media that people could poke around on to see news about your stories?
DA: Yes, of course! I am building a website for the Memoirs of Elikai that will host our new newsletter and will link to my social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads. I highly encourage readers who want to be an ARC reader for book three to get the first two because I will be moving fast as the third Memoir in the Final war between free will & Destiny is nearing completion. However, as we advance, all critical information will be pinned on the website and then on the Memoir’s social platforms.
T: With the third book nearly upon us, do you think that will wrap everything up with the Memoirs series? Is that going to be it for you for a while, or do you already have another story in mind to switch your creative output to?
DA: Oh no. I am sorry; I thought I mentioned this above. The Memoirs of Elikai are going to be a long series as there are seven Crusaders and the Emperor himself, so this series could be anywhere from 8-9 books. Then the Final War, so we are not even close to wrapping up the Memoirs of Elikai, in fact we are just starting. However, that doesn’t mean I will not shift gears after the third book, as I have a dark fantasy romance that I want to start and publish before I get to work on the fourth Memoir of Elikai. So, the Memoirs of Elikai series will always be with me, and I am sure that when it is finished, their wont is much for me after that. However, you never know what can come after the ending because nothing is ever truly finished, is it?
T: David, thank you for spending some time chatting with me about your massive series, and for showing Tellest and your readers your process, some looks behind the scenes, and for sharing a bit about yourself. I had a great time, and I hope you did as well!
DA: Thank you for this opportunity. I am happy to have talked more about the Memoirs of Elikai. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever need anything more from me. Readers, I hope to hear from you soon. Which side will you fight for, Free Will or Destiny?
I want to once again thank D. Alexander for taking the time to speak with us about his already incredible series, and to pull back the curtain on the books that are to follow. It was great to see his process, and I’m grateful that he was able to spare some of his time when he’s obviously so busy with a project that requires so much bandwidth! Don’t forget, the author is hard at work on book three, with more yet to come. While you’re waiting though, why not pick up the first two? You can start by checking out The Memoirs of Elikai: The Children of the Solstice on Amazon!
Latest posts by Michael DeAngelo (see all)
- Sci-Fi Promo – The Dawn of AI (PAPER WAR Book 1) - December 1, 2023
- Character Art – David Garus - November 29, 2023
- Interview with the Authors of The Golden Gull – Steve Drew - November 29, 2023