Witches of London: Lars, by Aleksandr Voinov
Publisher: 44 Racoons
Release Date: August 10, 2016
I am so excited to share this interview with Aleks with you all. He’s an old favourite author of many and has just published his first book of a new series, Witches of London.
Please welcome Aleks with me on our blog today and look out for the cool giveaway at the end of this post.
Mel: Aleks, I’m so happy to have the opportunity to ask you all the questions today and would love to start with your new book and series Witches of London. Please tell us how it came alive and what it was inspired by.
AV: Thank you for having me on such very short notice! I think the idea for the story is really from a brainstorming session I did during lunch in a café – I was pondering that old writing chestnut about “write what you know”. And, well, one of my stranger jobs during my student days was I worked on a tarot-reading hotline. (I quit when I realised that I’d really need proper counselling skills to do the best for my clients—reading the cards was the easy part of the job!)
So I really wanted to write about that – a tarot reader falling for a client. But then I figured, hey, what if the tarot reader has other “magickal” friends, like an astrologer? And then Lars showed up, who’s into rune magick and the Norse gods and Asatru, and he came alive immediately. So I pushed the tarot reader to the side for the moment and went with him first.
But I knew I had a series, covering several aspects of what we’d call “contemporary magick/witchcraft”, and we meet all the characters in the little “coven” that Lars belongs to. There’s an astrologer, two Wiccans, a “life coach”, a shaman/healer. And I can always add new people to the group, so it’s theoretically a wide open series. I really thought it would be a small cycle of novellas, but so far all I’m getting is full novels. Which is fine. I prefer writing novels anyway. The only disadvantage is that they do take me 3-4 months each.
Mel: Ah well, novellas or novels… You know, we’ll read it all 😉
What is it that you personally like most about Witches of London and what do you wish readers take away from it?
AV: Oh, I love the characters. I started reading the tarot aged 14, and I know people who are into Asatru (the Norse faith), and I’ve done a lot of studies myself—learned hypnosis, energy work, Reiki, NLP, and I have Wiccan friends, who are generally awesome. During various “alternative healing” courses I’ve met a great deal of fun, interesting people, from corporate coaches to shamans. London’s magickal/therapeutic scene is very lively.
It’s great fodder for writing. I’ve also started studying astrology after some interesting consultations with astrologers who helped me through a recent “crisis of faith”. It appears the current Saturn/Nepturn series of aspects was messing with my medium coeli, so I had all the social upheaval we’ve seen in the world over the last 2.5 years play out in my own life as a series of battles between independence and structures limiting/restricting me. The good news is, Saturn and Neptune are nearly done, so my life should be a lot easier than it has been. So looking at those big patterns and archetypes is fascinating. It’s an interesting field of study, and I love the historical aspect of astrology. Several of the top Nazis, for example, were deeply intro astrology, and you have powerful kings and queens in history who wouldn’t take a step without their court astrologer.
Just about everything in those books is based on people I know, discussions I’ve had (or listened to). I’ve known this kind of person since I started on my own path. At the end of it, I think it’s a question of faith and truth, so I’d say the books are ultimately about kinship, the search for truth and empowerment, and love definitely plays a role, of course.
Mel: What did you have to do to get this stunning cover? As far as I am concerned it’s the best this year and maybe even ever.
AV: When Tif (TiferetDesign.com), who’s been a great friend through that same personal crisis over the last few months showed me that cover, it blew the top of my head clean off. I’ve been carrying it around on my mobile phone since she sent it to me. I love that cover so much. She made it when I was only a few thousand words into the book, and she so very much nailed the character. The tree thing is just amazing—while I mentioned trees right at the start, I then really worked the tree/wood metaphor because of the cover. It’s when the book influences the cover and then the cover influences the book. I’m lucky to have such talented friends.
Mel: I can’t get over the beauty of it. Every time I see it again, it still blows my mind, and it’s really fascinating that you were influenced in your writing by it, too.
How did you become an author and what motivates you to write?
AV: To me, it feels quite natural – I’ve been telling stories since I was a kid, quite elaborate at times, playing with my stuffed animals who all had long backstories, so like your typical kid, really. The main difference maybe is that I never grew out of it. We all play with stuffed animal/unrealistically proportioned dolls/Lego as kids, but at some point, we’re supposed to grow out of it or are told that what we’re doing is “childish”. That never worked for me. As to motivation – I really want to tell the stories, share them with friends, and writing them down makes them feel “real”. Once you have readers who are waiting for the next book or are so sweet and kind to you, you also want to please them, of course, so readers absolutely make me more productive – I have so many cool characters to share, so I better get on it. Other people watch TV (though I’ve been known to do boxed sets in between books.)
Mel: Please tell us a bit about your other books. What are your favourites? Do you have a favourite character?
AV: My favourites are, not necessarily in that order: Skybound, Broken Blades (with L.A. Witt) and Nightingale. And Witches. Skybound and Nightingale are technically the best pieces of writing, and Broken Blades was a beautiful collaboration. But I love many of my characters—I do love Armin from Broken Blades, Francis de Bracy from Return on Investment, and all of them for different reasons. Armin is a truly noble spirit, and Francis is a slightly dysfunctional genius. Lars in Witches has a huge heart, and I love Julian because he’s snarky and powerful and very gracious/generous despite everything.
Mel: Skybound was my very first of you. I have to say, I was scared by you and your books – you have a reputation, you know – and I think it was the perfect start. The beautiful writing totally won me over and then there was so much more to discover. 🙂
What do you read for pleasure? Which are your favourite books and why? Do you have any recommendations for us?
AV: I try to stay up to date with my favourite writers in the genre, lots of them are friends I’ve known for years, but more recently I’ve moved towards making an extra effort to read “newcomers”—people with just a couple releases out, and there’s plenty of new talent in the genre, which is heartening. I also try to read more self-publishers than I used to (I’ve started a self-publisher author group on Facebook and met some great people there, so I’m trying to keep up with at least a few of those).
Mostly, I read research books, so that’s non-fiction, as some upcoming books are heavy on the history. At the moment, that’s military history, WWII, and I now have a pile of books on astrology and chaos magick to get through for the next Witches book (which will be about the astrologer, Julian).
Mel: What can we expect from you in the future? What are your plans for your writing career and which books are coming out next?
AV: I’m using 2016 to wrap up some sequels and follow-up books I’ve had in mind for some years. I’m definitely going to write Dark Heart (the Dark Soul sequel) and Exile (the sequel to Incursion). I’m also putting a lot of time and effort into re-launching my books as indie releases as they return from their original publisher. (Such as getting amazing new covers from Tif.) I currently have two series I want to continue—Return on Investment (at least two more books) and Witches (two or three more books, depending a bit on whether people like it or get tired of the idea).
2017 is wide open country at the moment. I want to write at least three more books set in the world of Kendras and his Scorpions, so I’ll re-launch the Scorpions series in 2018 (new covers, more books).
Overall, 2014/2015 was the year when I decided I’m quite happy with a day job that feeds me and keeps a roof over my head. I’ve found that even with a stressful nine-to-six day job I’m still overall more productive and happier with my writing than I was when I tried to live off writing. Realistically, I should be able to write four new books a year without burning out, so that’s what I’m going to do. 🙂
Mel: Wow. That’s a lot! But seeing that so many great books will be coming out makes me very happy and I can’t wait. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions and good luck with writing many more wonderful books.
After a homophobic pagan group rejected him, Lars Kendall is a solitary heathen on the Northern Path, loyal to the gods of the Norse pantheon. But being on his own sucks. So when he finally meets a mixed group of other queer witches and magick-users, it’s like finding family. If family involved exploring past lives and casting spells.
Rhys Turner quit a stressful job in the City after his high-strung boyfriend of six years walked out. He sold the expensive flat in central London and bought a run-down house out in the suburbs. Never mind that it needs walls knocked down, its garden landscaped, and what the hell is up with that carpet?
With his health failing, Rhys is desperate for a clean slate and a new start. He isn’t ready to fall in love with anybody, least of all the hunky builder who looks like he’s stepped out of a TV show about Vikings—tattoos, long hair, and all. But as strong and loyal as Lars is, he also has a very soft heart, which might be the hardest thing for Rhys to resist.
Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he works as an financial editor, writing coach, and complementary therapist. At 41 years of age, Voinov has written more than two dozen novels and published five novels with German publishers. After many years working in the horror, science fiction, cyberpunk and fantasy genres, Voinov is now primarily writing queer fiction.
Interests at the moment include WWII, medieval siege warfare, William Marshall, the Golden Age of Piracy, and whale-hunting. These interests are subject to change from one day to the other, and Voinov single-handedly sustains two bookshops in London.
You can find Aleksandr online at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com/
You can purchase Witches of London: Lars from:
For a giveaway, Aleks offers a Skype/Google hangouts tarot reading/consultation (30-45 mins). Seems more fitting than a gift card. 🙂
Please leave a comment on this post and the winner will be picked randomly on Thursday 25. Don’t forget to subscribe or leave your contact info, too, so I’ll be able to contact you. Good luck to all participants.