Interview with Alex R. Encomienda

Alex penned two pieces for Afterlives of the Writers:

one on C.S. Lewis called The Council Meeting, one on Jean-Paul Sartre called The Chamber.

1. When did you first want to become a writer? What were your writing ambitions then? Have they changed since then?


I first wanted to be a writer when I was around ten. I used to write little stories during my reading flex class in third grade. I had always been drawn to creativity. I grew up as a quiet, introverted child so naturally, I had my head in the clouds quite often. I gravitated towards writing because with literature you can share your ideas and thoughts without standing on a stage. I didn't have any strong ambitions until I was around fifteen, however.

I never imagined being an established author and even now, I still see myself writing for small presses as an indie author but I'd love to break into the top literary markets. When I was younger, I wrote about things I saw in films and things I heard in music. Now, I still have that inspiration but a lot of my new writing comes from a simple idea that I carefully dissect.


2. What made you want to write a piece on each of the writers that appear in the anthology?


I wanted to write about Sartre because I had always been an avid reader of his work. I was first introduced to 'The Wall' when I was in college and I was deeply intrigued by his strange characters and their ideologies. I take a lot of inspiration from Sartre in my own work. Sometimes, his stories fit closely with how our reality is today and how our psyche works.

And with C.S Lewis, I wanted to write something that I can imagine him writing. Of course, nothing I write can compare to his visionary work but since I grew up as a Christian in a faithful family, I knew that I wanted to write about his ideas in an intimate story involving his wife, Joy. The concept of being so devoted to God even after death while your loved one is elsewhere was interesting to me. I absolutely love the way he goes in detail about the flaws in human nature. He inspired me greatly.


3. Do you have a favorite book by each of those writers?


Yes, I definitely have some favorites. With Sartre, my introduction was The Wall but after reading more of his work, I grew to love 'Nausea' and later on, 'No Exit'.

With Lewis, I always loved reading 'Mere Christianity' because to me, it was a landmark book for Christians. I can read it again and again and still learn new things or pick up new perspectives. Some other favorites are 'The Screwtape Letters' and 'The Great Divorce'.


4. Do you believe in the possibility of an afterlife? And if so, where would you like to go in your afterlife, and what might you do?


Yes, I believe in the afterlife. I'd like to believe that we carry our human memories and state of mind but there is a complication with that because anything involving humankind will always carry the bad along with the good. I'd like to be in a haven where all distress and suffering is nonexistent. The idea of the afterlife is overwhelming so I'd have to imagine it being like the scene in 'What Dreams May Come' when Robin Williams reunites with his family.


5. What's the next writing project you're working on?


I'm working on several literary fiction stories. I usually like to work on two or three at a time so that I can switch between them when I'm going through a creative drought. One of the stories is going to be a detailed insight into a torture device in the year 2029. Think 'Black Mirror' meets The Mars Volta's 'Frances The Mute'.

I also just had a short story titled 'Lechery' published in Adelaide Magazine's upcoming September 2019 issue.