Alex Cousins discusses his first novel, The Last Resort
We go to university to eventually make it somewhere in our lives and achieve our goals. University of Regina Political Science student, Alex Cousins has done just that of his own volition. Not even done his first degree, Alex has decided to self-publish his first novel, The Last Resort, a sci-fi novel surrounding the ideas of wealth, societal position, and what it really means to be a hero. The novel asks many of the questions we’re afraid to ask ourselves, basically.
The Carillon sat down with Cousins to get a better understanding of what his new novel is about, and what it was like to publish a book so young. The conversation quickly took a theoretical turn, maintaining the questions he wants his readers to ask themselves, namely, what does it really mean to be a hero?
Carillon: How does it feel to be publishing your first book?
Alex Cousins: I didn’t even know it was going to happen, but it feels awesome. I’m twenty-one and self-publishing, so I don’t really know what to expect. It’s pretty weird.
C: The Last Resort is a sci-fi novel, so what personal flair would you like to add to the genre?
AC: Well, I’m trying to make it a mixture of Orwell and Tarantino, if that makes any sense. Since science fiction is a fantasy world, I can build whatever setting I like, so I really want to focus on creating my own world and changing the rules of the typical sci-fi narrative. I’m trying to embody different aspect of traditional heroes and questioning why it is we call them that.
C: What do you think a hero is?
AC: That’s a tough question. I don’t have an answer to that, actually. That’s exactly what I want to get my readers thinking about, too. The word is only as valuable as you want it to be. We throw the word “hero” around so needlessly nowadays, like, “Oh, thanks for lending me your pencil. You’re a hero.” It’s pretty meaningless. In a more traditional sense, to be a hero, you’d have to be what society deems the right way of living, and what is that? Nobody knows. Hero’s have to be successful, as well. What does it mean to be successful? That opens up a whole other array of questions: Were you born into the right family? Did you have access to money? Did you have the right resources, or did you crawl your way to the top from nothing?
C: Are these the sort of questions that The Last Resort explores?
AC: Oh, totally. For example, without giving away any spoilers, Sybil Wright was born into the right family, so she had success handed to her through societal position. Her mother, Helen, provides her with what she needs, so Sybil goes to her for everything, because everyone needs resources, right? No matter how high up you are. It brings money and morality into question. Can you be a hero if money is your merit, and what is the contrast between psychopathy and heroism?
C: As university students, we never know how to measure success and “heroism” until we’ve branched out into careers, or found our calling elsewhere. How did your studies at the U of R help you with your writing? You’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking about abstract concepts, being a political science student.
AC: Well, I’ve always been writing down my own stories. I have to write, so it didn’t really matter. Studying philosophy and asking questions through my classes was my practical application. But I definitely owe it to U of R’s Philosophy and Political Science programs, as well as the history classes I’ve taken, since they really encouraged me to keep reading and keep learning. University has made me a better writer, I think.
C: What advice can you offer university students who want to start writing and hopefully publish their work one day?
AC: Basically, if you want to do something, do it! Be fine with all outcomes and be okay with taking a risk. Putting yourself out there is both terrifying and amazing, but it’s worth it. Keep asking questions and keep learning. Your professors are a great resource and they are always willing to point you in the right direction.
The Last Resort hits shelves at the beginning of August, and Alex is thrilled and humbled to share his hard work with the world. For anyone who’s interested in having a chat, and possibly getting a signed first edition of the book, he is hosting a book launch right on Campus! His goal is to bring readers into his literary world, providing an array of meals and décor that would fit perfectly into the setting of The Last Resort. The book launch’s dates are tentative as of this moment, but Alex is aiming for Sept. 24-25 to make his debut into Regina’s literary community.