Saturday, May 30, 2020

Author Josh De Lioncourt

My Interview with Josh De Lioncourt!

Josh with his sister's dog, Bella.
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.  I think my readers will enjoy getting to know you – I certainly have!
1.     The way we see ourselves is quite revealing.  Therefore, I always begin with the same question – please tell us how you’d describe yourself?
I tend to think of myself as a creative in general. Apart from writing stories, I write music, develop software, podcast, etc. I enjoy trying out new mediums for creating things; sometimes new formats stick for me, sometimes they don’t. Nearly everything circles back around to stories though, no matter what the medium is.
2.     Before we delve into your writing, I’d like to explore you as a person and reader.  I know you love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, you’re a trekkie, and you love coffee.  All good things ๐Ÿ˜Š Let’s discuss!
·        When did you first discover your love of literature?
o   I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of Dr. Seuss books and the mini comics that came with the Masters of the Universe action figures I played with as a child. Around the age of six or so, I started reading The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Mark Twain, and all sorts of other things. By the time I was twelve, I had discovered Stephen King and Ursula K Le Guin, and, not long after, Anne Rice.
    Who came first; the reader or the writer?
   I’m sure it was the reader, although the writer wasn’t far behind. I remembered acting out and telling stories into a cassette recorder as early as the age of five, and I remember drawing my own Inspector Clouzot comic book at some point before I lost my vision at the age of six.
    What author(s) or book(s) had the most influence on you, and why?
   A lot of authors have influenced my writing in various ways. Stephen King’s mastery of storytelling, Anne Rice’s vivid and beautifully descriptive prose, and J.K. Rowling’s whimsy have probably had the biggest impacts on my fiction specifically. That said, I’m a firm believer that writers always can find something new from one another, whether it’s what to do or what not to do. :)
    I know you love Stephen King.  What draws you to him?  Do you have a favorite book or series?
   I love almost everything King has written. His Dark Tower series is definitely my favorite, but in a way that is cheating, since The Dark Tower encompasses just about all of his writing in one way or another. The core Dark Tower books are such a magical blend of different genres (epic fantasy, sci-fi, western, etc), that they really drew me in. I love fantasy first and foremost, but I tend to especially enjoy books which blend elements that are not typically found together.
    Am I right to assume J.K. Rowling is one of you favorite writers?  What about her work speaks to you most – her style, the storytelling, the characters, the magic?
   I really enjoy Rowling’s work, both with the Harry Potter series and her current mystery novels. Her ability to tell stories that are both dark and whimsical is amazing—and that’s hard to do well. She walks that line masterfully. And, really, who doesn’t love Harry Potter?
·        Of the four houses in Harry Potter, why do you consider yourself to be a Ravenclaw?
o   I’m absolutely a Ravenclaw!
·        Are you a general fan of Star Trek franchise or do you follow a series?  If so, which do you prefer, and why?
o   I like most of the Star Trek franchise, but I’m primarily a fan of The Original Series. I’ve watched and enjoyed the various series to greater or lesser degrees. Controversially, I don’t particularly care for The Next Generation. I find its characters to be a bit flat, personally. Discovery, Voyager, and Enterprise all rank pretty highly for me as well.
    As a reader, have you read any of the Star Trek books – why or why not?
   I read tons of Trek novels in my teens, and still pick them up from time to time. I’d probably read more of them if they were more regularly produced as audiobooks. Audiobook releases of Star Trek novels tend to be sporadic.
    If you have, which do you recommend, and why?
   The very best Star Trek novel of all time, as far as I’m concerned, is The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes. It explores the backstory of Saavik, who was featured prominently in the second and third Trek films. She’s half Vulcan, half Romulan, and her journey from desperate circumstances to the stellar Starfleet officer we see in the films is, to quote her teacher, Mr. Spock, fascinating. Apart from King, Rice, and Rowling, The Pandora Principle probably had quite an influence on how my writing has evolved. In the broadest of terms, Saavik’s characterization in that book probably laid the groundwork for the character of Emily Haven in my Dragon’s Brood Cycle series, although I hadn’t really thought about that until this moment.
·        COFFEE…  need I say more? ๐Ÿ˜ŠWhat a perfect companion for books!
o   I agree! In the last couple of years, I’ve begun roasting my own coffee beans, which is a fun hobby and, when it’s done right, tends to produce far better coffee than you can get any other way.
3.     Let’s talk about you as a writer.
·        What prompted you to become a writer, and how did that transition into being a published author?
o   I’ve been writing since I was quite young, telling stories into a cassette recorder based on Star Trek and Masters of the Universe. When I was in the fourth grade, I submitted a sci-fi story to a writing competition at my school and ended up winning first place in the district. That story was probably the first really competent story I’d written, especially taking into account that it was derived from a television series or film franchise.
o   I kept writing throughout my teens and twenties, and I had a few non-fiction things published (mostly in tech magazines). I always wanted to publish novels, but life always seemed a bit too hectic. When the self-publishing renaissance began in the early 2010s, I knew that was for me. The idea of controlling my creative output appealed to me a great deal, and so I set out to finished Haven Lost, which had been simmering in my mind for twenty years at that point.
    Were you a novelist before you wrote for Apple, or did you get involved with Macworld and Maccessibility afterwards?
   I had some tech pieces published in various places long before I was a published novelist. In fact, my first published work was an article I co-authored about the accessibility of Apple II computers in Coast Computing magazine back in 1990.
    How had technical writing compared to creative writing?
   I definitely see the appeal of both kinds of writing, but I think I’m a far better fiction writer than technical one. Usually, if I write something technical, it is because I see a very specific need for the piece in question to exist.
·        You write and record songs with your wife, Molly.  Are these available for purchase or viewing?
o   At the moment, you can listen to a song I wrote and Molly sang as a companion piece to one of my short stories in The Dragon’s Brood Cycle. It can be heard at the official website at https://dragonsbrood.net in the section about Harmony’s Song. We are in the process of recording a pop album as well, but that’s a project that is still very much in progress.
    Are you a lyricist or can you also compose?
   I write both music and lyrics. I tend to prefer classic-style pop music—from back before “Pop” was a genre. When I was growing up, “pop” just meant it was popular on the charts, but the genres of such songs and artists could vary greatly, and even the songs on a pop album could be quite distinctly different styles or genres. George Michael, Sting, Elton John, Lisa Loeb, Dido, Tori Amos, and countless others have influenced my musical taste and composing.
    How does this compare to both technical and creative writing, which are very distinctive crafts?
   Writing music is a bit more immediate. It doesn’t take nearly as long to write a song as it does to write a 150K word novel.
   For me, song ideas are usually like bolts of lightning out of the blue; sometimes, novel or short story ideas can be that way too, but they mostly need to ferment in my mind for a while before I put words to virtual paper.
    There isn’t a huge leap from music to limerick.  Are you also a poet?
   Occasionally, although nearly anything that starts in my mind as a bit of poetry eventually transforms into a song.
·        What is your writing process?  I mean, do you prefer an outline and silence, or would you rather let the story carry you while you listen to music?
o   I typically have a series of what I call touch stones in my mind (or written out) for a story. Essentially, these are key moments or points that I know need to happen along the characters’ journeys. There might be as many as ten or twelve of these touch stones for a novel. As I write, I keep them in mind, but ultimately, I let the story (and especially the characters) carry the narrative. Often, the characters take me places I never expected, and occasionally I have to rework the touch stones because the characters have decided to do something unexpected, and that’s one of my favorite parts of the process.
o   As far as music goes, I find that I need silence to write. I know a lot of writers put music on while writing, but I find myself getting lost in the music and unable to focus on the story. I wish my brain worked that way, but it just doesn’t. That said, I will sometimes listen to music while I’m just taking some time to think about a story or a character, and I can sometimes find inspiration for a scene from a song before I start actually writing it.
·        Where do you find your inspiration for your tales?
o   Everywhere and anywhere! All writers draw from their personal experiences to some degree, no matter how fantastical the story or setting they’re working within. My stories tend to have predominantly female protagonists, because those are the characters I tend to enjoy reading most as well.
4.     Are you traditionally published, with a small press, or indie? 
I’m an indie.
·        Why do you feel this was the best route for you professionally?
o   I definitely prefer having control over my creative works, so that is part of it. I also enjoy many of the technical aspects (e.g. learning how to construct a well-formatted ebook for various ebook platforms), although it can also be frustrating at times. There are many things about being an indie which are tough, like getting covers produced (since I can’t see them). I tend to be intensely uncomfortable with self-promotion, but I’m working on it!
·        What advice would you give to a novice author? 
o   Not everyone will, or even should, like your work; your work’s quality or value is not diminished or increased by who does or doesn’t like it. Everyone has different tastes, and you can’t please everyone. If you try, you’ll end up with a story that is likely dull and appealing to just about no one.
o   For a while, I was taking negative commentary far too much to heart. In time, your books will find their audience. Just about any book, as long as it is well-crafted and relatively error-free, will eventually find its readers. Be patient and have faith.
    Would you guide them towards a literary agent, small press, or indie publishing, and why?
   I think all three approaches have their merits, and I would encourage any aspiring authors to evaluate what is the best fit for them. If a small press wanted to work with me and could take over the aspects of the process I’m not especially well-suited to, I’d consider it even now. It’s all in what is the best fit for the author.
·        What do you think is the best thing about being published?
o   For me, it’s having the stories out there for people to enjoy. The first draft is for me; the rewrites, edits, second drafts, etc, are for me too, but also for an audience. If I can bring joy and entertainment to readers, that is the most fulfilling part of publishing my work.
o   My latest short story Treasures and Trinkets was a story that meant a tremendous amount to me. I was really nervous about putting it out there, but the response was extremely positive, and there have been readers who have told me it meant something to them as well. That’s the greatest feeling int he world.
·        What do you think is the worst?
o   The negative reviews that have absolutely nothing to do with the work. I got a one-star review once because the reader was having trouble figuring out how to download the book to their Kindle. That stings!
5.     What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?
I’m currently working on two novels; one is the next installment of The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, and the other is a stand-alone. I’m also hoping to produce Treasures and Trinkets as an audiobook soon as well.
·        What is your current WIP?
o   Right now, I’m primarily focused on the third full-length volume in The Dragon’s Brood Cycle. It picks up where book two left off and focuses on some new and different themes than the first two volumes did. I’m excited to finish it!
·        What is the best way for readers to connect with you?
o   Either Twitter or Micro.blog. I’m @Lioncourt on either platform.
Once again, thank you for taking time out of your busy day.  It has been fun hanging out with you.  I wish you great success, health, and happiness!


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