May I present to you all Lee Duigon!
1. What genre are your books?
They are a certain kind of fantasy in which I try to generate wonder without recourse to magic.
2. What draws you to this genre?
I’ve always loved myths, legends, tall tales, and fantasy. I guess I just never outgrew Sinbad stories. Also, I find fantasy gives me scope to tell the kind of story I want to tell. In fantasy, within limits, anything goes.
3. What project are you working on at the moment?
The Glass Bridge, Book #7 in my Bell Mountain series, was just published late in January, and in a few months we’ll get into editing Book #8, The Temple. Come spring, I hope to be ready to start writing the next book in the series. But for the time being, I’m just recharging my novel-writing batteries.
4. What’s it about?
Well, I’ll have to continue the story from where I left it in The Temple. The series is about religious upheaval and revival, political chaos, and the fortunes and adventures of a number of main characters. One good thing about an ongoing series—you always have a logical starting-point. But when it comes to details, as yet I have no idea what the new book will be about!
5. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is special?
Writing eight books leaves you with a lot of main characters. Let me just mention a few of them. Jack, a poor boy, and Ellayne, a rich girl: they climbed Bell Mountain in obedience to God’s calling, and have survived many adventures since then. Ryons, a slave boy: descended from the last anointed king, he finds himself made King of Obann by the grace of God, with an army composed of men from many nations of the Heathen, and a destiny he can’t begin to understand. Gurun, a girl from a faraway island in the North: it seems her destiny is to be queen of a country that her people know only from the ancient Scriptures. Martis, a former assassin for the Temple: originally sent out to murder Jack and Ellayne, he has taken an oath to defend them for as long as he lives.
What they do that is special is to survive—under very difficult circumstances—and to try to carry out God’s will, even when it’s hard to understand. They have to do it without magic, without super-powers or magical implements: by courage, by hard work and endurance, and by faith.
6. Have you ever written anything else?
You should see the pile of my novels that were never published! Some twenty-five years ago, I did succeed in getting four of my horror novels published; but that stopped when the horror market collapsed. The sheer quantity appalls me. I’m not counting the writing I’ve done as a newspaper man.
7. What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Principally, to create a body of work that will be of lasting value to readers, that will live longer than I do, and that will give glory to God and be useful in His service.
8. Which writers inspire you?
Many—Walter R. Brooks, L. Frank Baum, Kenneth Grahame, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Agatha Christie, Arthur Upfield, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, of course, Sir Thomas Malory—the list could go on for quite a ways.
9. When did you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?
By the time I was ten, I was making up monster stories to amuse my friends. I was brought up with a love of reading, and this made me want to create good books and stories of my own. By the time I was in high school, I saw that writing and story-telling were the things I was best at. In fact, I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t writing.
I think I write because I have to. My head would explode if I were somehow prevented from writing. I don’t think there’s any other kind of work that would make me happy. After all, we all want to do what we do best. Don’t we?
10. Do you have a special time or place to write?
When I’m writing a book, I like to work outside during spring, summer, and fall.
11. Where do you get your inspiration?
Mostly I pray for it. But everything is grist for the mill—my own life experiences, history, movies, books, current events, and the Bible. I try to steep myself in the Bible, in hope that it will inform the kinds of stories I write. Also, I get a lot of ideas from dreams.
12. Do you work on an outline or do you prefer to see where the idea takes you?
I used to outline like nobody’s business—thorough biographies for each and every character, and rafts of index cards, color-coded to the subplots so I could put them in lots of different arrangements until I found the best one.
Now I merely tell the story as it comes to me. I can hardly believe I do that. It shouldn’t work—and yet it does.
13. Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you overcome it?
What with my books, my daily blog posts ( http://leeduigon.com/ ), my weekly column for News With Views, and my regular assignments for my employer, The Chalcedon Foundation, if I ever came down with writer’s block, I’d be in big trouble. But I think having so many different things, and different kinds of things, that I have to write—really have to—stops writer’s block before it starts.
14. What is the hardest thing for you about writing?
For me the hardest thing is not knowing whether my work is having any impact. And once I’m in the zone, I find it hard to deal with interruptions—people calling you up to sell you stuff you don’t want, quarrelsome neighbors, etc. When my wife sees I’m really into it, she does her best to shield me.
15. How do you market your books? Why did you choose this route?
You could take a stray cat off the street, and it would know more about marketing than I do. My focus is very narrow—content, content, content. Nevertheless, my publisher, Storehouse Press, is so small that they’ve made me responsible for my own publicity, etc.—areas in which I am not skilled at all. I’m grateful they’ve got all my books up on amazon.com and provided me with a blog which is supposed to stir up interest in me and my work, I should live so long…
16. How much research do you do?
If you’re writing fantasy, everything you read about and see and hear is research. After all, you want the reader to be able to believe in your fantasy, so you have to make it realistic. So if you’re writing about, say, dragons, which don’t really exist, read everything you can find about dragons so you can imagine and then create a dragon that’s believable. Preferably one that doesn’t talk like a 12-year-old text messaging.
17. Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
My first draft is always longhand, on a legal pad, and my finished product is typed on the computer. I would never try to compose an original on the computer: it’s too fast, not enough time to think.
18. What are some of your favorite books/authors?
C.S. Lewis, “The Chronicles of Narnia” Tolkien, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” Agatha Christie, the Miss Marple mysteries (amazing! an unarmed detective who can’t beat up the bad guys or even run away) Edgar Rice Burroughs, “The Chessmen of Mars” (totally wild and crazy, and yet totally believable) Jules Verne, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”
Gee, look at that—it seems I read mostly old stuff. Well, that’s one way you know it’s good stuff—because it’s still here, and still a great read, after such a long time has passed.
19. Are you currently reading any books?
I’m always flabbergasted when I encounter someone who wants to be a writer, and yet doesn’t read much. The only way you can learn how to be a writer is to read incessantly! There’s no substitute for it. So of course I’m currently reading books—just now, Inspector Ghote’s Good Crusade (1966, more old stuff) by H.R.F. Keating, which I missed the first time around, and which is royally entertaining me.
20. How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Well, um, they could read my books! And there’s always my blog, http://leeduigon.com/ , where you can click “Books” to see cover art, blurbs, and sample chapters from all my books. Plus there’s a new post every day; quite a few of them have to do with my take on the art of writing fiction.