Tell us something about yourself, Dee.
Hi, thank you for giving me this opportunity. Well, I was born in Nottingham, UK, which is famous for its associations with Robin Hood. My grandmother would often take me and my sisters to Nottingham Castle when we were young. It’s basically a Victorian house now but there are still parts of the medieval castle left, including some spooky underground tunnels. We also went to Sherwood Forest and other such places so, from an early age, I was steeped in myth and history. I went on to study Medieval History at Nottingham University and got really interested in the myths and legends of the time. That set me off on the idea of creating my own ‘historical’ tales.
Oh, I’m jealous! What a great world for a fantasy writer to grow up in!
These days, as well as writing, I work as a specialist teacher and assessor. I feel for those people who find reading a burden or too difficult and try to help them build their skills to the point where they can function in the hopes that, one day, they may come to enjoy reading as much as I do.
That’s interesting. I used to teach English as a second language to the foreign born as part of our church’s ministry. It’s very rewarding and I built some great relationships with some wonderful people. So, what are the major literary influences in your writing?
I don’t expect there are many fantasy writers who haven’t been compared, favourably or not, with J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I first read the trilogy when I was ten and I still dip into it every now and then. I must admit, I do skip over some of the wordier descriptive passages but, when he wrote it, he did not have the advantage of people being well-acquainted with foreign landscapes from film and TV as we do. Michael Moorcock, too, was and is an influence (more below) and so is Roger Zelazny, especially his Amber series. Female writers are in there as well: Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Katherine Kurtz and Mercedes Lackey, to name but a few.
I loved Kurtz myself! Is there a book or books that inspired you to become a writer?
When I was a young teen I went on a caravan holiday with my best friend to the south coast. It rained virtually the entire week and we spent a lot of time inside the van. Luckily we both enjoyed reading but soon got through the books we’d brought with us. The campsite shop had a small book section and that’s where I found The Sleeping Sorceress by Michael Moorcock. I was amazed. I’d never read a book like that before and immediately fell in love with Elric. From then on I was a fantasy fan and I have been ever since. When I came to write my own books that’s what I had in the back of my mind.
What is your writing process?
I roughly map out where the story is going, with major plot lines, characters etc. I literally draw a map as I go along and keep a timeline, as well as lists of characters. I write chronologically in the main, though if I’m hit by inspiration for a scene or piece of dialogue I’ll note that down at the time. I tend to craft most sentences as I go along, I don’t just bang the words down then tidy up later. This makes me slower initially than a lot of other writers but saves me editing time later on. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea for a short story and write it up straight off. Then I have to resist turning it into a full-length novel!
Every short story I’ve ever written has become a novel at a later date. I compliment your self-control. Let’s say you were about to be banished to a remote Alaskan cabin. I’ll make it easy for you. It’s summer, so it’s warm and the cabin is already stocked with basic food stuffs and bug spray. What books do you take with you?
Whichever book I’m currently reading tends to be my favourite! I would take Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files; Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy; lots of Michael Moorcock books, especially the Elric ones; Mercedes Lackey’s herald-Mage series; and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. For starters, of course!
Well, of course. You can never have too many books! Tell us about the Firelord’s Legacy, which is a series of books in the epic sword and sorcery vein.
Firelord’s Legacy has been described as a classic fantasy series. Originally planned as a trilogy, I decided to divide books two and three in half to make a total of five, as those volumes were quite substantive. The books are based on a world called Riom which, thanks to a magical catastrophe two thousand years previously, is facing destruction. The only hope is to restore The Firelord’s Crown, which was instrumental in the original disaster. However, as the blurb says, “the circlet was divided up amongst six companions who took ship and headed for safety when their homeland was destroyed. During the voyage one of the ships vanished but the segment her captain guarded will be needed to complete the Crown.”
Thus you have the premise for a good, old-fashioned quest but also, something very important to me, the book deals with how the main characters face up to the demands made on them. Book 2 in the series, Firelord’s Heir, was recently reviewed by a Harper Collins editor and they picked up on how each character is a mixture of light and dark with issues to work through. I’m not afraid to kill people off in the books either, though not as regularly as George RR Martin!
Well, that’s good because Martin is positively homicidal, but I also applaud the ability to let characters die. So what are the plans for the future?
I’m currently working on the final book, tentatively called Firelord’s Vow. Several threads will be wound up, there might even be the odd happy ending, but for whom? Even I’m not sure yet!
Your next series is the Mirrorsmith Chronicles, featuring Junah, the brash and wisecracking mirrorsmith who is sworn to seek out the shards of the Dark Mirror before its evil can plunge the world into chaos. You’ve published a short story “teaser” in the Fusion anthology that Breakwater Harbor Books put out. When will the first book be published?
The first full novel is currently doing the round of agents until I get bored of waiting, probably. It’s a standalone, unlike the Firelord books, although I may write a few more short stories of Junah’s adventures. His companion, Sissik the wail (think lemur) is quite popular so she might even get her own tale or two.
What inspired you to write a science-fiction/fantasy hybrid book?
I think I like the idea of a character who is free to move among different worlds, a bit like Dr Who I suppose, where he is from a technologically advanced civilisation whose gadgetry seems magical to less advanced peoples. Again, this likely reflects my love of Moorcock, and Zelazny for that matter, who both did it so well.
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