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Author Interview: Lucy A. McLaren

Interview

Use three to five words to describe yourself.

Introverted, naive inquirer, curious, listener.

Can you give us a little background on your debut?

My upcoming release, Awakening: The Commune’s Curse Book 1, is my debut novel and first in a trilogy. The multi-POV story is set in the Kingdom of Septima, where a ruthless cult rules in all but name, hunting down children born with ancient powers in an attempt to strengthen their hold over the kingdom. Evelyn, 18, finds herself on the run from soldiers of the Commune as she tries to protect two children, Raif and Rose. It soon becomes all too clear how much danger they are in when young Rose reveals incredible and deadly powers. Commander Jonah Sulemon doggedly pursues them under the orders of the man he loves, Commune agent Lord Torrant, and Evelyn is forced to accept the uncertain safety offered by a rebel group or risk capture—or worse—at the hands of the Commune.

Can you give us any insight into your planning and writing process?

I tend to be a pantser rather than a planner. I do have a vague idea of where a story is going before I start writing, but more often than not I get bored of planning and want to jump into the writing process. I find it exciting not being 100% sure when a story is going before I write it. I’ve met new characters and written scenes before I’ve really known they were coming, which amazes me. My subconscious is clearly a step or two ahead of me!

I used to write every day but since I had a baby in summer 2021, that’s been challenging. I’m getting more into a routine now and have started writing on my phone more, which is a compromise that means I can write more even though it’s not ideal. One day I’ll get back to writing on my laptop.

Silence or music or other when writing/editing?

I do like a good soundtrack when writing or editing, anything from my favourite video games and films including Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings. It’s been silence lately though, so as not to wake the baby.

Based on your experience, can you offer a piece of advice to budding authors?

One thing I didn’t do was let the first draft of Awakening sit and rest which was a mistake. When I finished it back in 2018 after NaNoWriMo, I was so excited that I went straight into querying it which I *definitely* shouldn’t have. My advice would be: when you finish a book, put it away and let it sit for at least a couple of weeks. Then you’ll go back to it with fresh eyes, seeing error and plot holes you may not have seen before. Take this from someone who learnt from experience!!

You can erase one book or series from your mind entirely so that you can read it again for the first time, which do you erase?

Oh, definitely His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. It’s my favourite series and I’ve reread it more than anything else. To be able to go back to that series anew would be amazing.

Who are some of your favourite authors/books?

His Dark Materials (obviously). Robin Hobb’s writing is wonderful—I think her character work is second to none, and aspire to that in my own writing. I love Joe Abercrombie’s ability to create completely flawed, yet completely sympathetic characters.

Who are your favourite book characters?

Definitely Lyra from HDM (there’s a pattern here). She’s one of the first female protagonists I remember reading, and is incredibly clever. She doesn’t need to be “strong” in the traditional fantasy sense of being a fierce warrior wielding a sword. She uses her wits to get what she needs.

I also love Captain Kennit from Robin Hobb’s Live Traders Trilogy—although he’s an awful man, he’s excellently written and his childhood experiences so clearly paint his adult thoughts feelings and behaviours. As a professional counsellor, this is something I really appreciate seeing in my favourite stories.

Do you have any favourite magic systems?

You know, I’ve never really thought about it! Magic isn’t something I feel is essential to tell a good fantasy story. I don’t mind if a story has magic and doesn’t explain every single lore or reason behind it. Perhaps in that sense, I’d say I do like how George R.R. Martin deals with “magic” in A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s not really explained, and I like the mystery that brings into the story.

You can bring one world from a book or series to life and live there, which world do you choose

Okay I’ll try not to say HDM again ha! I’m going to go with Lord of the Rings trilogy/The Hobbit because Hobbiton sounds like my kind of place. Nice and relaxed, lots of eating… I’m in!

What book or series would you love to see on the big screen?

Anything by Robin Hobb or Joe Abercrombie would be amazing.

You can collaborate with one other author, who do you choose?

Oh, wow, definitely Robin Hobb. I admire her skill so much. It would be an honour to work with her.

Have any cultures/civilisations inspired your writing?

I take a lot of influence from contemporary society. Living in the U.K. and seeing issues like Brexit and the Windrush scandal play out has given me a lot of areas to explore and work with. I’m also passionate about discussing issues like sexual assault and how those who experience it are treated, as well as mental health issues like trauma.

What is your favourite mythical creature?

Dragons are cool but I’m going to say a fairy because they can grant wishes, right?

What is your favourite mythical race?

Elves. When I watched Lord of the Rings as I child, I was completely drawn to this graceful, intelligent race.

You can have one superpower, what is it?

Teleportation. That could definitely come in handy. That or being able to freeze time so I can get more sleep—the eternal struggle of a new parent.

You have the ability to morph into any real—not mythical—creature. Which creature do you choose?

Some form of bird—an owl? Flying seems like it could be fun, and very useful.

You can go back in time and live a different period of history, when do you choose?

The old west, purely because Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of my favourite video games. But, to be honest, I’m under no illusions—I know I’d likely die from something seemingly innocuous!!

You can meet any five people in the world, who would you choose?

Because of the endless possibilities here that are overwhelming my brain, I’m going to be boring and go purely writers I admire who it would be amazing to meet: Robin Hobb, Philip Pullman, George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie and J.V. Jones.

Would you rather…

  • ride a dragon or fly a spaceship?
  • have the ability to fly or be indestructible?
    • Be able to fly!
  • be an elf or an orc?
    • Be an elf.
  • have the ability to travel to mythical worlds, from your favourite books, or the ability to travel faster than light and visit planets and solar systems in this world?
    • Mythical worlds, for sure.
  • face one orc or three goblins in battle?
    • Eek!! If I have to choose, one orc but I think I’m screwed either way.
  • be an expert swordsman or archer?
    • Archer. I’ve always wanted to try archery.
  • be able to wield elemental magic or raise and control the dead?
    • Elemental magic, please!
  • live in a city under the ocean or one floating in the clouds?
    • One floating in the clouds. Shipwrecks freak me out.
  • be able to see the past or see the future?
    • See the past to relive memories. Seeing the future feels like it would be a burden.

Thank you for taking the time, we really appreciate it.