By Jennifer Shea/Quinte Arts Council
David Alexander is a quiet, unassuming man. A retired Belleville art teacher who is an avid sketch artist and painter, Alexander has recently been pursuing creative writing.
Alexander’s self-published his first novel, the science fiction Song of the Wayzender (Amazon/Kindle) in 2020. What began as a poem evolved into a 143-page book that Alexander sees as the first of a series (he has already started writing the follow-up). One of Alexander’s artworks is featured as the cover for the Kindle edition of his book.
Song of the Wayzender features a female lead character, Amelia, who captains a starship. She accidentally becomes involved with an off-world miner who works in the asteroid belt (Carver); they meet when she saves his life. Another key character is a centaur, an alien in disguise. His job is to cultivate humans to become part of a larger interstellar organization. “He plants these clues which are actually little bronze figurines. They have an extra attachment to them that suggests they fit into some kind of puzzle. The figurines are set like little breadcrumbs in different places for Amelia and Carver to find. Eventually, they put them together and form the Wayzender,” says Alexander.
The Wayzender is a vehicle that not only transports its passengers through space, but also through time. The book’s title was drawn from the vehicle’s complex vibrations when in motion that are perceived as sublime music to human ears. “I’m not a musician,” says Alexander, “but when I hear beautiful music, it transports me to another place. It transcends time and space.” Interestingly, Alexander does not illustrate the Wayzender in his book; it’s up to the reader’s imagination to determine what the vehicle looks like.
Alexander’s book is not without its elements of conflict. The “baddie” is a powerful figure named Admiral Pierce, a retired leader of the space force who has been infected by a malevolent being that results in him becoming a puppet to the alien race known as the Cordovans. They bend him to their will and for their purposes. He has an ally, Scalper, who is the head of a big crime syndicate in the asteroid belt. A variety of interesting alien creatures also figure prominently in Alexander’s book.
Alexander is an avid reader of science fiction and he has been influenced by authors Arthur C. Clarke and Frank Herbert. Alexander gained some experience navigating the world of self-publishing previously when he wrote and published a children’s book.
Asked about his choice of a female protagonist for Song of the Wayzender, Alexander commented that he and his wife had a grand niece live with them for four years while attending Albert College as a day student, and some of her character traits influenced those of the fictional Amelia.
His underlying principles when writing Song of the Wayzender were largely based on his personal philosophy: “I tried to base it on certain truths, some universal ideas that perhaps aren’t fully appreciated and they should be: loyalty, truth-telling, and overcoming jealousy and passion.”
A Drawing and Painting graduate of the Ontario College of Art (OCAD) and the University of Toronto, Alexander originally hails from Windsor. “Very early on, I had an idea that I wanted to be a book illustration artist. I went through the drawing/painting stream at OCAD and got into that. Then I did some freelance work in teaching.” The latter is what led to his long career as an art teacher.
For several years, Alexander was a participating artist fellow of the Patmos Workshop and Gallery, and later the Alpha Gallery, exhibiting throughout southern Ontario. He is an active member of the co-operative Gallery One-Twenty-One and can often be found welcoming guests as a volunteer at the Gallery.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 Issue of Umbrella magazine, out now.