Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Depth of Deception: Interview with Author Alexander Galant

Author Alexander Galant joins us today on tour with Virtual Book Tour Cafe. His book, Depth of Deception, doesn't sound like your run-of-the-mill Titanic book! Join us as we discover the story behind the book. Welcome Alexander!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I'm a Canadian, and I live just outside of Toronto. I've worked in theatre and in the film industry for about 10 years. Then my daughter was born and I didn't want to be working 12-16 hours a day. Being away from her that long made me miss a part of her life where she was changing every day. So I looked for ways to work from home.

Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?

I never planned to be a writer. I worked in various aspects of the film industry to become a director. I started writing out of necessity: rather than paying someone for film rights, I wrote and directed my own short films. Then I heard about the International 3-Day Novel Contest and wanted to take part in the challenge. I took one of my film ideas and wrote what would become an early draft of 'Depth of Deception'.

What is your favorite non-writing pastime?

I enjoy directing theatre and short films and have won awards for both. Technically it's another form of storytelling, working with actors and crew to bring a story and vision to life. Sometimes, especially in live theatre, it can be magical.

Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?

It's not quite at the full-time career status that I'd like, but it's getting there. In the meantime, I'm currently putting my filmmaking experience to use and making independent book trailers and corporate videos.

If you had to sum it up Depth of Deception in 30 or less words, what would you say?

1982: a young woman is found in the Atlantic with a ticket for Titanic. Is it a bizarre case of time-travel that links her to an unsolved murder from 1909, or an elaborate hoax?

What inspired the idea behind your book?

Depth of Deception was inspired by a tabloid headline I saw back in 1990: "Titanic Survivor Found On Iceberg". At the time I was too broke to buy the tabloid but I thought it would make a great film. I didn't do any serious writing on it until 2006 when I used the idea for the above mentioned 3-Day Novel Contest. Written in 72 hours it was only 70 pages long - not very involved. Later, in 2010, my agent urged me to expand it into a full length novel.

Do you have a favorite character in Depth of Deception? Who and why?

Callum Toughill (the insurance investigator) became my favorite character. He wasn't in the original draft of the short novella, but during the expansion he became a major character. He had wanted to become a police officer but due to family issues, was forced to settle as an insurance investigator. Falling into a job that you don't like is something that many people can relate to, including myself. Suddenly he gets his wish as he looks into an unsolved murder that his grandfather had investigated, and finds himself over his head as someone wants to make sure he doesn't solve the murder. Careful what you wish for. As I wrote him, the character took on a life of its own and sometimes would do things that would complicate the story but made it more interesting. It was a lot of fun.

What has been your greatest challenge in writing this book?

Throughout the book, I had to maintain the mystery of Myra, the woman found in the North Atlantic. In order to do that, I couldn't have much of the narrative told from her 'point of view' because if we were in her head, that would kill the mystery. This is not easy when she's the main character but almost every interaction is done through someone else's point of view.

Will you share with us a short preview of Depth of Deception?

Edward glanced over to the opposite end of the room where the 1/144 scale model of the Titanic sat under glass. The RMS Titanic had been an obsession of his for most of his life. Most considered it unhealthy, but it was quite understandable since seventy years ago this month he and his family barely escaped from the sinking of the Titanic. While most survivors tried to forget the events of that horrendous night, Edward knew the truth: Those who survived the sinking of Titanic… never really escaped from it.
Edward felt himself shiver and glanced about. All warmth was drained from the room as clouds drowned out the rising sun. Edward's gaze drifted to the television set. A prank? To what end? What purpose would the death of this poor woman serve? Edward turned back to the model of the ship. How ironic that this is happening now.
. . .
Three hundred miles away, on a different television screen, the image of the mysterious woman being wheeled on a gurney through the double doors of a hospital’s Emergency entrance was shown. From the television speaker, the voice of the reporter talked over the image on the screen, "The woman was found alone adrift on a wooden deck chair of a ship. She had no identification and only had a book and a child’s teddy bear clutched in her hands…"
The unsteady camera zoomed into the unconscious face of the woman.
His glass of brandy smashed on the hardwood floor. It couldn’t be!

What kind of research was involved for the book?

As a historical researcher I do an insane amount of research. The unsolved murder is inspired by a historic unsolved murder from the early 1900's so I researched that quite a bit. Then there was all the Titanic history that I took from books, and helpful emails from Titanic historic societies. I also have a virtual model of the Titanic in my computer so that I could wander around from room to room. Of course, the internet was useful, because people posted old newspaper clippings, and old photos from 1912, which are, interestingly enough, easier to find than pictures from the 1980's. For example, it was easy for me to find what the Glasgow police uniforms and 'wagons' looked like in the Victorian era, but finding a picture of a 1982 Glasgow police car was not easy. Finally, I used a contact in the film industry who put me in touch with a company that rents period police cars in the UK, and they sent me a photo.

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?

Ssh! I'm writing.

What do you have in store next for your readers?

I'm publishing a short psychological thriller entitled 'Same Crime Tomorrow' on Kindle. It was once a short film idea that was too costly to film - especially since short films rarely make their money back.

As for the next novel, I was going to be working on 'Bloody Mary Kelly', a double-time period mystery, but an idea that I had five years ago has resurfaced and it's a murder mystery set in Paris in the 1800's. We shall see which one demands to be completed first.

What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author? 

Actually holding a bound, printed copy of it in my hand was a great pleasure. Until that moment it didn't feel real. I also find pleasure in reading positive reviews from total strangers. You expect that your friends will say nice things because they don't want to hurt your feelings but total strangers don't have to be nice on Amazon or Goodreads. So reading glowing reviews from people I've never met is a good feeling.

What type of hero do you like best?

Reluctant ones. Perhaps because I'm an Alfred Hitchcock fan, and the heroes in his films were usually ordinary guys who were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

What type of heroine do you like best?

Smart heroines. Never cared for the damsel in distress type. I like strong female characters.

Is there any place and time in the world and in history that you would like to visit?

The mid-1950's. I would love to see Elvis in his youth performing on stage.

What is your favorite scene in Depth of Deception?

There are several. I like the scenes with Callum and Father Landon. But my favorite is the ending. I wrote the ending before I wrote anything else. Although I expanded some details and cleaned up the dialogue, the scene itself never changed. And from what I've read in the reviews, it's had the effect I wanted.

Which authors and books have most influenced your writing style?

Alexandre Dumas and John Jakes for using historical figures intertwined with their fictional characters to add credibility to the historical fiction.  Robert Bloch for his suspense and twists. Leon Uris who can weave immense and accurate historical research into a great story. Then there was this novel that I read when I was eight called 'Cue for Treason' written by Geoffrey Trease. It was the first historical fiction book that I read and I had read it many times. It also had historical figures like William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I in this action adventure that was written for kids. 

How long did it take to get this book from idea to being published? What was the most grueling process?

The idea was first sparked 22 years ago when I saw the tabloid headline. The most grueling part was when I sat down after my agent told me to expand it from the 17,000-word version that I had written for the contest to a full length manuscript. She wanted it to be around 80,000 words.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers today?

Once you finish reading 'Depth of Deception' you can go to the website (www.depthofdeception.com) and access the Easter egg in the bonus feature page. Since it contains 'spoilers' it can only be accessed by a password that one would know if they have read the book. 

The Book
The year is 1982, and a beautiful young woman, dressed in Edwardian clothing, is found floating unconscious in the North Atlantic with a 1912 boarding pass to the RMS Titanic. Over in England, Callum Toughill, an insurance investigator, is assigned the case of a missing brooch that was stolen during a horrific, unsolved murder in 1909 Glasgow. He is chosen because it was his own grandfather who had botched the original investigation. Despite the painful family memory and likelihood that all evidence will be long gone, Callum dives in. As he begins to uncover the tangled truth that the missing brooch may have ended up on the ill-fated RMS Titanic, someone is one step ahead, trying to stop him. Miraculously the mysterious young woman, nicknamed 'Myra' because of the inscription on her locket, survives and awakes in a Manhattan hospital with no memory of who she is. Myra’s vague recollections are from the gilded age of 1912 and she is lost in the alien, harsh world of 1982. A respected and wealthy Titanic survivor named Edward Hoffman assists in exposing her as a fake, but the plan backfires and stirs up more details in Myra's memory which include the fact that Edward may be her son. Is it a bizarre case of time-travel or an elaborate hoax?

The Author 

Alexander Galant was the historical researcher for the novel 'Dracula the Un-Dead', which was on the New York Times Best Sellers list in October 2009. Alexander also co-wrote the screenplay adaptation that was optioned briefly by Jan de Bont and adapted the novel into a dramatic stage reading for the Toronto book launch of Dracula the Un-Dead, which brought out the highest turnout for any event on the book tour.

Alexander has also written and directed several short films including "The Jigsaw Puzzle", which won the Festival Buzz Award (most talked-about film) in the New York Independent Film Festival; "First Light", Winner Bronze Remi Award for Fantasy Horror at the WorldFest Houston, USA, Special Commendation Award at the Festival of Fantastic Films, UK, and Best Technical Achievement from the International Festival of Cinema and Technology; "The Missing Piece", Winner Silver Remi Award for Suspense Thriller at the WorldFest Houston, USA; and co-wrote and directed "Star Wars: Blasted Behavior", a finalist in the Atom Films/LucasFilm Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge (George Lucas was one of the judges), which also won the Best Foreign Sci-Fi Film Award at the New York International Film Festival and continues to make the festival circuit this year.

Alexander's love of historical details can also be seen in some of the stage productions he has directed, such as the silent film era of "Singin' in the Rain" (Act-Co Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement in Live Theatre), a 50-year span in "Love Letters" and the World War II Amsterdam annex for "The Diary of Anne Frank".

Where can your readers find you?

Twitter: alexandergalant

Is your book in Print, ebook or both?

It's available in both!


  1. Sounds interesting. Hard work too, Alexander. Congrats on completing Depth of Deception.

    I have so many books to read, but I hope I'll get to read this one.

  2. Fantastic interview. Thank you for hosting Alexander today :)

  3. It certainly sounds as though you have the experience to research out what's needed for a book like this. It sounds great Alexander! Thank you for joining us today!