October 2012 Artist of the Month - ZanderXL
Each month the Renderosity community votes on the Renderosity Artist Of The Month [AOM] ... October's AOM is ZanderXL!
Who is ZanderXL?
Hmm… well now, we could spend hours discussing the philosophical implications of that… but I wont! Simply put, Zander is a derivative of my name “Alexander”. XL was originally taken from one of my favourite groups, Junkie XL, but is also kinda suitable as I’ve been told that I’m a “big guy” (6’ 4”, built like ye olde brick privy – so people say). I was originally born in Glasgow, Scotland, but have lived and travelled all over the place. I’m 37 years old, married to my terrific (and patient) wife, Kate, and have two awesome kids: Heather (7) and Ethan (2). Anything else you want to know? You’ll have to buy me a pint first!
How long have you been writing?
How long? When I think about it, for about as long as I knew how to put words on paper, I guess. I’ve always loved the idea of story telling, capturing people’s imaginations and taking them on a ride (visually or literary). A lot of time was spent writing stuff for role-playing games that I was running. Always believed that the story aspect of that kind of thing was far more important than the rules that governed them, and I really enjoyed how players could get so wrapped up in what was unfolding that they thought of their characters like they were real people! It’s that kind of feeling that I hope to recreate in my other works. Even though the reader isn’t “playing” the character, I hope they will find some level of empathy with one of them and get wrapped up in their journey through the story.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I have a couple of serious projects going on. One is a story set in a fantasy style setting called “Flesh & Steel” (you can see a small glimpse into this world in the bits I’ve posted here on Renderosity). The other is a novel called “Torn Skies.” This is a kind of mix between sci-fi and cyberpunk, with a bit of a supernatural twist thrown in. One of my images here, called “Interceptors,” will give you a tiny peek at one aspect of that world.
What do you think your best piece of work is and why?
My best piece of work is the one I’m working on right now: “Torn Skies.” Why? Because it’s frackin’ awesome, that’s why!! Ha, ha. Joking aside, it has a setting that I think is quite unique in the genre and has scope for many, many tales. In other words, it’s got “legs.” Any agents or publishers reading this - get in touch!! (Ha, ha! Had to try - shy kids get nothing, right?)
Who, or what inspires you?
Oh man… what’s the word limit on this thing?? I could go on for days about the things that give me inspiration… but, I suppose the biggest driving force is the stick that the wife belts me with to keep writing. “TYPE!!” – SMACK! (love you hun!)
Seriously though, I usually draw inspiration from the “darker” side of writing and art. Stuff that’s maybe truer to the real human condition, regardless of its setting. This can be literary, visual, or music. Even some games have been inspirational in their portrayal of people and setting.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Hmm… the initial creative process is great fun. You know, the part where you kind of stare off into the middle-distance as your brain goes wandering? Then you blink and find that several hours have passed! That can be fun. I also really enjoy the stage when the planning and mapping is done and you get down to the actual writing. Once that first sentence is down and it begins to flow out of you, it can be the greatest creative feeling. Heh, I also find it amusing when the characters begin to “talk” in my head. It’s like several people having a conversation at once… hang on… does that mean I “hear voices”??? Oh well… off to the asylum!
Do you have any tips you would be willing to share on the writing process?
Well, I can only talk about narrative style writing. Can’t comment on poetry or prose or anything like that. I guess I would say if you have an idea then embrace it, allow it to develop, and KEEP AT IT. Once you get that initial spark, continue to refine it and let it grow. Also, don’t be too precious with your ideas. Sometimes you have to go back and hack away stuff that just doesn’t work.
From the standpoint of getting the work done, I find it very handy to write down a kind of chapter-by-chapter outline of key events that take place. It becomes a sort of road map that forms the skeleton of the story. It also helps with maintaining continuity and pace and seeing how things fit together.
The only other thing I would say would be to really take some time to make your characters like real people. Regardless of setting, people are people, and their flaws and idiosyncrasies give the reader something to relate to. I find the “super clean, impervious to all, flawless, mega-hero” types get old and boring VERY fast. But then, take that archetype and maybe give them a problem, like alcoholism… then you’ve got something interesting! Also, look at dialogue. Really listen to how people talk to each other. It’s easy for dialogue to become hackneyed, clichéd and stiffer than a crowbar. I find it useful sometimes to actually read out my dialogue, as that’s when you’ll get a sense of it being a turkey or not. Anyhow… enough waffle!
How has this online community (Renderosity) enhanced your work, relationships, and learning?
Even though I’m a small fish in this big old pond, I’ve “met” some genuinely cool people here and their advice has been really helpful (y’all know who you are…). There are also some flippin’ tremendous artists here whose works have been truly inspirational. It’s a great community and very supportive. Aw hell, y’all rock the Kazbah!
Do you have any parting comments, or advice for other writers or artists?
Keep creating! Regardless of skill level, keep adding to the maelstrom. Keep the fire burning! And whatever other colourful metaphors you can think of…
And, as two wise, young men from San Dimas, California once said: “Be excellent to each other!”
We invite you to have a further look at ZanderXL's Renderosity Gallery!
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**There's still time to enter in the Writing Halloween Contest 2012: "Unhappily Ever After"!**
Artist of the Month is highlighting a talented Renderosity artist that has been nominated by mods and admins, and voted by the community. Recognition is given to this member for their collection of works for that year.
Since we only select one AOM per month, it is not about their works for that particular month. Instead, it is about highlighting a talented artist's works for that year, and they are recognized during that month.
To learn more about Renderosity's Artist Of The Month [AOM] award, and to view our past AOM's, please visit the AOM page.