Graduate Spotlight: Alex Frail

Meet Alex Frail, a recent graduate from UMass.
 
 
HC: So, where are you from? How did you end up at UMass and what was your major?
 
AF: I’m from Newton, MA, which is just a few miles outside of Boston. Even though I originally intended to go to school in Boston, I first came to UMass for its affordability. I loved it out in Western MA immediately. Most days I wish I still lived there. I majored in Political Science.
 
 
HC: During your time here at UMass, what organizations were you involved in?
 
AF: I tried to stay busy while at UMass. I first joined MassPIRG my sophomore year. Throughout my junior and senior years, I was a writer and editor for the Daily Collegian’s Film & TV sections. Got to see a lot of great films with the paper, and learned so many lessons on improving my writing. In senior year, I was hired over at Earthfoods Café, one of the student-run businesses at UMass. I loved my year at EFoods. It’s more than a business, as are all seven of the student coops. They teach their co-managers a variety of important skills, and they can offer great outreach to the community.
 
 
HC: Favorite on and/or off campus spot?
 
AF: I was a huge fan of the library lawn, so it was too bad it was covered in construction my last two years. I got in a lot great Frisbee before it was closed off. But the new complex between the Student Union and the pond is pretty beautiful, too. It’s a great spot to build my freckle count.
 
HC: Rumor is you have some cool tattoos...where and what are they?
 
AF: Yes, yes, the rumors are true. I wanted one from a young age, and I thought if I got a few, I’d get assorted designs from books and stories that had a huge influence on me and my writing. So, on my arm I have the Deathly Hallows logo, which is a bit cliché, I admit. My second one was a bit more original, some important numerals written in the Tengwar from The Lord of the Rings. If wasn’t clear from the trend, I’m a huge Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire fan, too. Maybe the next one will come from that.
 
HC: What is your best UMass memory?
 
AF: One of my fondest memories from UMass is when I wrote a band feature for the Commonwealth. They're great people, Abby and Miguel, and fantastic musicians. We did this fantastic photo shoot in a chapel and they happened to be standing in the twilight falling through two windows, while everything else was in shadows. That shot is a stunner. I also love the days of my senior year sitting on my stoop and on my roof. 
 
 
HC: So, how is life as a post-grad?
 
AF: Post-grad life is okay, a bit less engaging than the undergrad days. It’s more by-the-numbers, 9 to 5, and repeat. I actually miss taking six classes and working three jobs. I probably don’t have the stamina to do that again, but it kept me on my toes.
 
HC: You wrote a book called Calypso Sun, what is it about?
 
AF: I did! I’m wicked excited about this project. Calypso Sun began as a terrible version of Lord of the Rings back when I was 10. I set that project aside until I was about 17, when I started writing more experimental material and focusing more on theology than outright fantasy. That’s what became Calypso Sun. It’s a standalone, literary fiction book about a country divided over religious conflict. It’s almost entirely subjective, since there’s no omniscient narrator. All three characters who deliver the story do so in their own unique voice and in a manner riddled with bias.
 
 
HC: How long did it take you to write it and what was your inspiration?
 
AF: All in all, the project that became Calypso Sun took about 6 years to complete, so a little over one fourth of my whole life, not that that’s been a terribly long time. I was really inspired by two main things. First, I have always been fascinated by theology and why we believe stories in religious texts. I was raised Catholic, but now I’m atheist. Even though I’m a nonbeliever, I still love the texts that have shaped our world, and I do believe they offer vital lessons to us. I wanted to write about a similar world to ours, about a similar country to America, and see if I could chart the struggles of my characters who grapple with the strict religious doctrines from centuries before. It connects the national and impersonal beliefs to the personal and intimate effects.
 
The second motivation I had when writing Calypso Sun was the fallout that has occurred throughout history – and continues to occur today – because of doctrinal conflict. In my book, there are two brothers who shape the whole world that’s left behind for the narrative, but they’ve been dead 300 years by the time the novel begins. I wanted to study this phenomenon.
 
HC: When will this be available to the public?
 
AF: I’m planning to publish Calypso Sun through Amazon and Kindle beginning in late July or early August. It should be available in bookstores soon after that.
 
 
HC: Any advice for life after college? Or, just life in general?
 
AF: Keep adventuring! In post-grad life, it’s so easy to slip into a routine that has no time limit based on semesters. Definitely important to keep exploring long after commencement.  
 
 
Photos: Alex Frail's Facebook/Earthfoods Facebook Page