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The Thoughts of Alexander Marshall

As most of you know, I run a competition in the Clarendon House anthologies whereby the best story, as voted for by readers, wins the author a chance to have a collection of stories published under his or her own name, upon which royalties will be paid.

Some of you may recall that the competition for Galaxy: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Science Fiction Anthology 2018 was won by Alexander Marshall. He is working on his collection right now, tentatively calling it Prism - and I hope to publish it early next year. But in the meantime, I thought you might be interested to hear some quotes from his works, some of which may appear in the collection.

‘Stop dramatising everything, as though you were in a play and the world was your audience. They’re not interested. Stop pushing and start melting, sharing, giving.’

‘We create our own isolation, our own poverty.’

‘Lack of wealth is an illness. Mainly psychosomatic.’

‘Money is like blood. Not enough of it leads to dying areas. How to recover? Create more blood cells and pump them out to areas in need? You need bones and a heart for that.'

‘I have an Enemy. My enemy wants me to feel bad. Wants me to introvert. Wants me to be anxious. Wants me to remain paralysed and unproductive. Wants me, in effect, to turn into stone. If I become entirely self-fixated, poor and helpless, unable or unwilling to help others, my enemy wins.’

‘To be independent, one has to create an emptiness around one. That’s the problem.'

‘Dark fiction can lead the reader as far away from the light as is possible to imagine; comedy brings them back, at least halfway. A proper story welcomes them home.’

‘To create something, you need to introduce space.’

‘Angels are projections of God; human beings are produced by removing God from them.’

‘Life is a choice: to remain existentially empty, or to walk back to God.’

‘A first draft is just raw material, like paint and canvas to a painter. Painters don’t have to make their paints or canvases, though - writers do.’

‘A finished novel should look nothing like its first draft, just as a chair looks nothing like the tree from which its wood came. If you want to write a great novel, though, carve a chair which evokes the tree whence it came.’

‘The job of a writer on earth is to evoke glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. So that others can see it. You’re a kind of glorified window cleaner.’

‘You want a story to be about something in the same way that a landscape painting is about the landscape, not about the painting. People should want to read your work not because of the work but because of what it gives them an inkling of.’

‘Hell is full of people who have stopped looking.'

‘If you become too interested in your own personality you turn your back on what your personality was for.’

‘In Christ's hour of need on the Cross, the Robin tried to remove the thorns, causing a splash of blood to stain his red breast. And so he was saved too, and lives throughout the winter, a bright spot in the snow.’

‘You remember Blackpool rock? Those sticks of pure sugar, stamped with the name “Blackpool” all through their length, so that no matter how many bites you took, you could still read “Blackpool”? Christ is the name in the rock, His watermark stamp is on everything. Even the fallen angels who must tear and rend and blind themselves to that fact. The Devil constantly rips himself apart and finds the name of Christ stamped on his bones.’

‘You know, I think they have that “Pearly Gates” idea of Heaven backwards. We’re said to arrive in front of them when we die and ask St. Peter’s permission to enter - but I think it’s the other way round. Heaven is asking to enter us, every minute of every living day. We’d better start opening our gates, before it’s too late.’

‘Seeking to drive that wedge deep, he brings about denial.’

‘We live in the heart of the Empire of Denial. Writing fiction that is worshipful is an act of rebellion against the Empire.’

‘The underlying economy is cooperative and mutually constructive. Society is sustained by cooperativism regardless of wealth. People help without thought of direct exchange, but based on trust in the “invisible economy” of interactive support, the economy of Heaven.’

‘In marketing, failure is emptiness; success is where the product is the solution. Prospects are in the middle, swinging between emptiness and a belief in the external product.’

‘How do you attract people? You attract them by being like them.’

‘Character is a mechanism used to introduce the story. The character attracts the attention of readers by being like them, then puts that attention on the story. Stories use character as a mechanism to draw readers in.’

‘I put away my bags of emptiness, my self-created hollowness and toys, my pretences and my illusions, my future and the holes in my past, my incomplete, unfinished world. I put my book of my body, my family, my work, my race, my life, my universe, my dreams, down, and look up into the face of God.’

‘What if Eternal Life were the life you’re living, but condensed into a single instant that you were going to experience for Eternity? Fill your life with Love.’

‘Faith is the alertness to, and awareness of, a light that shines in and through this world which does not emanate from it, nor belong to it.’

‘We are encouraged often to quibble and argue with those whom we meet every day, and to have good feelings only for those on the other side of the planet of whom we have no real knowledge. Our daily lives thus become full of bickering and unpleasantness, while our purest thoughts become vague and unattached to anything in our vicinity.’

‘One only really realises the nature of one’s relationship to God when one glimpses that relationship in others.’

‘Our job is to attract attention then step aside. That applies to fiction, to marketing and to Life.’

‘We’re looking for God with the same passion with which He looks for us.’

‘When you meet someone you love, you offer to them that part of themselves which was missing.’

‘Faith means always believing in the most impossibly happy of all endings, no matter what.’

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