Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Interview with David Lundgren, Author of Rhapsody

David Lundgren was born in “a pokey town in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia)” and spent the first 18 years of his life there. He grew up in an environment “that seemed to combine the best elements of both an American and English heritage with a hybrid African lifestyle.” Lundgren is also a musician, which gave him the creative spark to create the Melforger series. He spends his time in San Francisco “teaching, enjoying frequent – and often frustrating – games of tennis, trying to learn the blues on piano, attacking Sudoku puzzles with relish, and attempting to make some headway with the ever-increasing pile of books that is waiting patiently at my bedside, developing its own gravity.”

His latest book is the fantasy/science fiction, Rhapsody.

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I suppose, as a start, I’d have to describe myself as a bit of an international nomad. I was born in Zimbabwe and then lived in South Africa, the Caribbean, the States, the UK, and then returned to the States three years ago. (No flies on me!) I was lucky enough to grow up in Africa where the vast and daunting wilderness was on your doorstep, the sun was always shining and giving you an excuse to spend time outside, and – lacking TV back then – was surrounded by a huge collection of books in which I submerged myself. An avid sports enthusiast, wannabe cook, Sudoku addict, keen hiker, and general life-junkie, I love to get out of my comfort zone and collect new wacky experiences whenever and wherever I can.

When did you begin writing?

Although I logged my travels through the use of highly embellished chronicles that I sent home to my family once I left Zimbabwe, the ‘real’ writing was the start of The Melforger Chronicles, something that had been forming as an idea in my imagination for as long as I can remember. Piecing it together over the previous decade in fits and procrastinating starts, I truly delved into writing with focus and seriousness while living in England some five years ago.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

For planning and idea-building, I know that the moments where ideas pop into your head and sudden sub-plots bloom are rare, and they can happen at any time – usually when I’m not prepared to take down feverish notes and capture the genius before it fades (ahem). However, for the writing itself, the best time for me to find that groove where it all clicks is without a doubt at night-time. For whatever reason, my brain only finds the balance and focus needed once the sun has set. I’ve long since stopped trying to fight it – that’s just how it is, so I embrace it.

What is this book about?

Rhapsody is the final book in The Melforger Chronicles trilogy. It follows the progress of Raf, a sixteen year old boy, as he confronts a diseased and terrifying villain who is the cause of a corrupting darkness that is killing the world (so nothing very serious, then). The stakes are particularly high for Raf’s forest home as the villagers live hundreds of yards up on natural platforms that are dying and collapsing underneath them. Of course, being fantasy, there is a kind of magic involved in the story – a unique, original and enthralling kind (hopefully) – of which Raf is a potent wielder: a melforger. However, he’s only barely started on the hazardous journey through the desert to get to this villain before he finds himself yanked off course to face dangers and challenges that push him to his limits.

What inspired you to write it? 

I grew up feeding my imagination on the worlds of Tolkien and Jordan and Eddings and Pratchett. With the rich experience of growing up in the wilds of Africa and being emersed in music since the day I was born – and obviously along with a hunger to create my own stories – I think it was inevitable that I’d try to tie it all together in a ripping yarn!

Who is your biggest supporter?

It’s hard not to say the obvious ‘family’ response here – my parents and relatives have been a solid rock of support. But the unswerving pressure to really dig into it came from my partner who has proved to be a loving, bullying lass who sometimes seems to know me better than I know myself.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I put together a group of colleagues all over the world (7 of them, to be exact) who work as my guinea pigs, each giving me feedback on different aspects of the drafts, from flow and pace to character journeys to fantasy formulas. They all know to be brutally honest and, once I’d got over the shock of being told some harsh truths, it’s the most useful thing I could have set up.

Who is your favorite author?

That’s so hard to answer! Authors that had a big influence on me would have to include Tolkien, Eddings, Pratchett, Jordan, Martin, Adams… to name just a few! If I had to say what my favourite book was overall, it’d probably be The Power Of One by Bryce Courtenay – a seriously inspiring book set in apartheid South Africa.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Amazon – either Kindle or paperback. The link for the trilogy is:

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Please visit the website, www.melforger.com, where you’ll find, among other things, some of the trilogy’s maps, links to reviews, as well as a picture of me with a one-armed monkey called Hercules on my shoulder (naturally).

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

I went in to local schools and offered to take creative writing workshops and also chat to aspiring student writers. Getting to know the students, letting them get to know you – that’s a great way to create a link and a reason to buy into you and to read your books. I recently found out that the first book of the trilogy, Melforger, has been taken on as a class reader in a prestigious girls’ school – talk about a flattering and awesome promotion!

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

There’s no silver bullet. You have to do anything and everything you can to rise above the millions of other competing authors – do different things, or do things differently. Build up a loyal audience, grow a thick skin, don’t let the set-backs hold you down, and keep learning and evolving as you write.

What is up next for you?

Although I had plans to put my hand to writing more of a sci-fi story next, I found myself suddenly putting together a new fantasy with some great ideas I had in my recent travels and I’ve now dived deep into the planning of that. When you get a rush of creativity about something, you’ve just got to go with it!

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