Thursday 4 April 2013

Guest Author Interview - D A Lascelles

To celebrate my return to the living we welcome a new author to the guest author interviews, today we meet D A Lascelles:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Name, rank and serial number? I’m D.A Lascelles and apart from being a writer I am also a teacher and I used to be a scientist. I do lots of other things too but you can find out about them from my blog... I wrote Gods of the Sea for the Pulp Empires Pirates and Swashbucklers anthology ( and Transitions for Mundania Press ( which seems to mean I am now a proper writer.

What first inspired you to start writing?
Reading. I remember reading books in primary school and thinking ‘I can do that’. I started dabbling in it, mainly copying styles from the books I was reading. As I got older, I got better at it until, in the middle of secondary school, I wrote my magnum opus ‘The Day Aliens Attacked the School’. It was the greatest piece of literature ever written, far outshining Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens and all those amateurs.

Actually, it was rubbish but some of my friends enjoyed it. Or at least they told me they did. The follow up was an awful trope filled fantasy. Later on, I joked that the Producers of The Faculty owed me money for stealing my idea.

I sort of stopped writing seriously at that point (well, I never really started). In university I mainly wrote plot and background stuff for Live Action Roleplay and a couple of short stories which basically got stuffed in a drawer and forgotten about. In the last 10 years or so, however, I began seriously looking at this publication lark.

How do you get in the mood for writing?
Of all the things I do, I think the best is walking. It certainly helps when I am blocked. A change of scene, doing something else other than sitting at a computer, with time to think about things properly always kicks off some inspiration or other. I also get a lot of ideas in the bath. Once you have ideas, writing is a lot easier. I also find that if you are unmotivated on one project, changing to another can help you get back into the writing mood.

What is your favourite book?
I don’t think I really have a favourite as the books I read tend to vary based on the mood I am in and sometimes what I am writing. A top contender has to be Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys which is, in my opinion, a far more entertaining book than American Gods, which I also love. I also enjoy Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum which, as an occult mystery, blows anything by Dan Brown out of the water. Finally, my current favourites (because I am reading them right now, this will change when I start something else) are Charles Stross’s Laundry series of books. I love the mix of spy thriller, geek references and Lovecraft that he pulls off so well.

If you could work with any author, who would it be?
Like my favourite book, this is a question with no single answer. Also, like teachers in my experience, authors tend to be violently opposed to working with others because we have our own ways of doing things, dammit, and your way is wrong. But, I would not say no to a collaboration with Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman. Were they to offer, of course. I’m waiting by the phone just on the off chance, by the way, they are free to call whenever they like. Anytime. Day or night...

What do you enjoy most writing?
I’m always keen on anything fantasy or SF but in particular I love writing scenes where a character hallucinates or dreams. Shifts in the perception of reality appeal to me. In Transitions, for example, Brandon and Helen see the final scene in Gaius Lucius’s tragic story when Helen kisses Brandon and in Gods of the Sea Everyn becomes possessed of the power of a God and sees the universe as a machine he can manipulate. I’m always interested in inspirations and what can trigger them and stories such as Watson and Crick’s use of a spiral stair in determining the structure of DNA and Kekule’s dream about the worm Ouroboros giving him the idea for the benzene ring are fascinating. It makes me think about things like dreams, vision quests, prophesies and the like and how our minds work to solve problems – sometimes operating at a level far above what we can perceive and so we see the solutions as visions rather than a logical series of steps.

And the least?
Transitions started out as a contemporary romance tale with no supernatural elements. I got about a couple of pages into it before it bored the hell out of me. It was just not clicking for me and I guessed if I found it boring it would be for my readers too. So I suppose plain, ordinary romance with no trimmings is what I enjoy writing the least. No doubt when I get more practice at it I will find ways to make it more interesting, but for now I find it very difficult. There are better writers out there than me who do a far better job of contemporary romance.

Once the paranormal scenes were added to it, I found it far easier to write. It was also then that I realised that the contemporary scenes in Transitions were not the romance plot in this story. While the two characters in those scenes do get together and have their happy ever after, the real love story is the one in the past – the tragedy of Gaius Lucius and his wife.

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
To get out there and just do it. You cannot be a writer unless you write. Also, get involved in the community both online and in real life – meet other authors, talk to them and learn from them. Many of the authors I have met have been wonderfully supportive. They may hit you with some uncomfortable truths about your writing but if you survive and learn from that then you will improve as a writer. I used to be really arrogant about my writing but a short time working with others showed me how unfounded that arrogance was. No writer is an island, you need others to show you your true strengths and weaknesses.

What are you working on at the moment?
After the Pirates and Swashbucklers anthology was released, the editor told me he really liked the world in which it was set and wanted to see more of it. So, I am currently working on an anthology of stories set in that world. This will include an edited and revised edition of my short from Pirates and Swashbucklers, Gods of the Sea, as well as a direct sequel to that called Gods of the Deep. This is a novella, though at the moment it seems to be trying to turn into a novel. I’m also signed up to the third volume of Pirates and Swashbucklers and waiting to see if another story of mine is being shortlisted for a Dark Superhero anthology.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
Transitions has been out since August 2012 and is available from Mundania Press ( and many other places including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and so on.

It is a paranormal romance story divided between 1st century Roman Britain and modern day Birmingham as the ghost of Gaius Lucius, a Roman officer, seeks his wife who he believes to have been reincarnated in the body of Helen, a university student.

It was written as part of my involvement with the BBW Romance writers group ( for their Shades of Love anthology. The group's aim is to promote more fiction, especially romance fiction, involving strong female characters who are not a standard size and this is the third anthology series they have produced. There are five stories in addition to Transitions - Love by Proxy by Julie Schriver, Opposites Attract by Judy Bagshaw, Haunted by Skyla Dawn Cameron and The Art of Falling in Love by J.D Thompson and they are all released by Mindania as individual ebooks. Once all the ebooks have been released, the collection will be gathered together into a paperback form. There are some wonderful authors involved in this series. Judy Bagshaw, for example, is a great writer of BBW fiction and Skyla Dawn Cameron is probably better known for her superlative Urban Fantasy work but shows that she can handle a romance plot better than I can. I definitely suggest that you check out all the books in the series.

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