The ‘Use Only As Directed’ Interviews: Alex Isle

28 07 2014

In my (admittedly somewhat limited) experience, stories that explore the summoning of demons either go full-tilt into hellfire and brimstone territory, with imprecations of torment and peril at every turn and each breath, or they play it for laughs, as if by reducing hell to the level of a damnable bureaucracy they can somehow reduce the power of death’s terminal sting. Alex Isle‘s story in Use Only As Directed (the anthology that Edwina Harvey and I edited for Peggy Bright Books) is called ‘The Kind Neighbours of Hell’ and it, I think, treads a middle path between the extremes outlined above, to great effect.

Here are Alex’s words on the subject:


What should readers know about you before they sit down to read ‘The Kind Neighbours of Hell’?

Erm – that I haven’t actually sold my soul, so the process is purely theoretical?  I don’t think readers need to know too much about an author before they read the work; it can get in the way.  I’ve read a lot of horror and fantasy myself and also practised as a witch, but trust me, that wasn’t anything to do with summoning demons!

What provoked you (or, if you’d rather, encouraged you) to tell the story you did? What was the germ of the idea that led to it?

When I read the theme of the anthology; demonic possession/summoning was what came to my mind first of all, which I guess also tells your readers something about me.  I thought that demons would almost certainly have to know more about it than their summoners, so how come they have to do what the summoners ask?  Maybe the summoners are instead manipulated by demonkind to do what the demons want….. It made sense to me at the time.

If you were told you were only allowed to keep one sentence from the published story, what sentence would that be, and why?

“Your world was created because of their wish.”

I’m not sure why.  I looked through the story and that stood out.  Maybe it summarises the whole manipulation by demons thing.  This is a weird question.

One of the things that intrigued me about ‘Kind Neighbours’ was the way in which it speculated about the way in which the arcane rubs up against the real — for example, whether the vial of holy water retains its effectiveness when it’s accidentally been through the washing machine. How do you know where to set the limits of this kind of thing?

It’s a fairly standard idea with magic that it can be contaminated, or that people/objects need to be purified before magic can happen.  Religious and magical ritual feature special garb, purification of self and tools etc.  So if holy water came into contact with the unclean, then it would no longer be holy or usable for a holy purpose.

What are you currently working on, and what would you like to tell readers of this blog about your current endeavour?

It’s a book, or it will be a book if I can ever get myself to a proper book length!  Some readers may know about my collection Nightsiders; four stories set in the middle of this century in a Perth abandoned due to climate change and featuring people who stay behind and transform the deserted city.  This story is about the evacuation of the city 15 years earlier, featuring some characters who stay behind willingly or otherwise, those who see advantage to be taken and those who will become something entirely new.  At the moment it’s called No Friends Day, but this may change.  I’ve got would-be survivalists, the purely pig-stubborn, a crazy professor (not based on anyone I know, honest!) and some cannibals, so far.  Offers to publish gratefully received.


If you’re curious to learn more about Alex’s writing — and Nightsiders, mentioned above, is well worth a look — you might also wish to check out her website at

If you’re now feeling motivated to read ‘The Kind Neighbours of Hell’ and the other stories in Use Only As Directed, the links are here: (PBB (publisher, pbk, epub, pdf, mobi); Amazon (mobi))

Tomorrow’s interview: Ian Nichols, ‘Mister Lucky’.




One response

31 07 2014

Oh that sounds like a great read! I’ll have to get it!

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