Joining me around the campfire today is indie fantasy author D. William Landsborough. Take a seat by the fire and settle in.
- Hi Doug tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
Hi Matthew! My name is Doug, better known as D. William Landsborough, and I’m a dark fantasy author. My debut novel, Archangel, came out in February of 2019 and its sequel, Revelations, is coming out in December of this year. Both books are part of the Shadow’s Advent series.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
I think there are two things I love most about fantasy. First, I love the ability for fantasy to be anything, for it to be an escape to be anywhere you want. Even when those escapes aren’t great places—my books take place in a post-apocalyptic world run by demons—you can still get lost in them, learn to love characters and witness things that just aren’t possible in the real world.
Second, I love the spectrum that is fantasy. You can get your high fantasy fix with elves and dwarves, but there is a lot more in the genre. In my writing, my dark fantasy takes place ten years from now. So you have angels and demons facing off, but they are doing so in the ruins of cities. Then you have urban fantasy, which takes everything we love about Middle Earth and shoves it into today’s society. They all share elements, but there is so much variety and diversity within the genre that it’s hard to get bored.
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
As of writing this, I have just wrapped up the last little bits of Revelations, Book Two of Shadow’s Advent and the sequel to my debut novel, Archangel. It will be releasing on December 10, 2020.
Oh boy, the challenges. Archangel took me four or five years to actually finish. It was a long road of starts and stops, ups and downs. No one knew it existed except for a handful of close friends, and I wasn’t even sure it would ever see the light of day. Then, when I did get it out there, I didn’t just get a positive response, I got fans!
Then I realized that writing a book was difficult, but writing a sequel is much tougher. Not only do I have to get it out in a timely manner, but there was a constant voice in the back of my head asking “What if it sucks? What if I disappoint these people who are supporting me?”
So I tried combating both. Unfortunately, turning my previous 5-year writing process into a 1-year one was challenging. I wasn’t writing as quickly as I wanted to and after a while I realized I wasn’t writing the story I wanted to. I found about halfway in that I hated what some characters had become and where the story went. So I made a tough call: I scrapped it and started again.
Once I did that and took another swing at it, I realized I was on the right track. I realized this was the story I wanted and I’m confident it’s a story my readers will love. So I forged ahead, behind my initial timeline but content.
Then the pandemic hit. That’s not news to anyone, and everyone has been affected in their own way. Beyond the isolation and challenges that have accompanied the pandemic, I actually became much busier. I’m fortunate to have not lost my job, nor did my partner, and I recognize that not everyone was as lucky. However, I work for a charity and she is a teacher; both of us became exponentially busier and more stressed almost overnight. For someone writing in the early hours of the morning, during lunch breaks or at night, sometimes stress from this crisis just pushed Revelations back… which then served to stress me out more!
Now, the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere, but I was able to consistently work on Revelations and it’s just about ready for release!
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
Flawed characters are by far my favourite to write. When writing my main character, Uriel, there was a lot of potential for him to have “Superman Syndrome” (at least, that’s what I call it). I find Superman to be incredibly strong, but without flaws or depth. I’m sure there are comics and storylines out there where this isn’t the case, but most mainstream depictions of Superman show him being this bulwark of good who just shows up, punches something and saves everyone.
That’s flat. I like characters who make mistakes, who aren’t perfect. I want my characters to be affected by regret and pain because that makes them relatable. I don’t want them being picture-perfect heroes, nor do I want my villains to be one-dimensional evil-doers. I want them to have their own flaws, to make us root for them sometimes. People are complex and have flaws, so characters should too.
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
I have two tips here. First, establish a habit of writing. Archangel took so long because I thought I could only write when it strikes me, when my creativity is at its peak. You have a talent and the only way that book will get written and you’ll grow as a writer is to start writing. Ten, fifteen, thirty minutes a day all adds up.
Second, understand that you and your work will grow and develop. You won’t write it perfectly the first time around, but that’s why we revise our work and why we have editors. While many people have a talent for writing, it’s still a skill. If you practice and make a habit, you will become better!
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
Well, as I admitted before, deadlines are tough for me, especially after taking so long to write my first book. One of the tools I use for my writing now is Dabble. I know a lot of my fellow authors swear by Scrivener, but I’m a Dabble convert. I could go on about it, but one of the best tools is their Goal function.
Essentially, you pick a date you want to be done by, an approximate word count goal and how many days off you want, and it will spit out a number that you should write every day to reach your goal. If you hit that word count, you get a nice congratulations message that is actually pretty encouraging. If you write over or under your goal, your daily goal adjusts for the next day.
Once I combined that tool with an actual habit of writing, I could easily track my progress and stick to my deadlines!
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
I was a pantser for Archangel and it took me five years to write, so now I’m a plotter. The pantser lifestyle works for some people, but I need at least a chapter-by-chapter outline to write the story I want. That outline must be flexible so I can adapt as my story develops, and sometimes I have scenes within those chapters heavily outlined if I have a really great or necessary idea, but usually an outline by chapter works for me.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
There will be four more books in the Shadow’s Advent series, and book three is what’s next for me. I want to get that out within the year, because I feel like I owe that to myself and my readers after taking almost two years between Archangel and Revelations.
At the same time, I’d like to start exploring other book ideas. I am creating an outline for a near-future climate sci-fi, and I have an idea for a horror novel on the backburner that’s giving me the evil eye. There are some other ideas floating in my head, too, but they are mostly just notes in my phone right now.
Ultimately, I want to get to a place in my writing career where I am putting out one Shadow’s Advent book a year and one other book a year!
- With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?
With 2020 in particular, you’d think I want lighter stories, but my writing style is a dark one. Terrible things happen in the stories I write and enjoy, and I often venture into the bleak category. That being said, I write this way because I think it makes the triumphs or just moments of hope that much brighter. We need Thanos to snap his fingers to have that inspirational moment where all the portals open in Endgame, and it’s so much better for it.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
Honestly, with the latest Star Wars disappointments and J.K. Rowling doing everything she can to make me and many others dislike her, Lord of the Rings is a clear winner. Beyond the negatives of the other two, LotR is such an incredible example of world building and it holds a very special place in my heart.
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