One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. In the Finals I’m taking part in the competition as one of the judges in Fantasy Book Review‘s team. As I did with our group’s authors, I decided to offer a spot to the Finalists too to be featured on my blog. You can check out all of our content during Phase 1, and everything that’s happening during the Finals on my SPFBO 4 page!
In the lulls between runs on the ambulance –and sometimes the lulls between employment at various ambulance companies– he writes fiction.
Welcome to the Asylum! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
Well, I’m a paramedic, I have a degree in history, I got a national rating in sabre fencing back a few years and a few pounds ago. I joined the Marines right out of high school, then I went to college and worked a variety of jobs before landing on the ambulance. I have a wonderful wife and a bright, funny eleven year old son.
Say, you can live in the fantasy house/lair of your dreams. What would it look like?
It would be an old rambling mansion, filled with old armor and swords and faded banners. It would have an enormous library with a few big leather chair to sit in and read. I love to be surrounded by books. Like a fortress of words to hold back the tides of ignorance. Throw in a nice wine cellar and a well stocked kitchen and that would be about perfect. It would have to be close to, or ideally in a city. Solitude is nice in moderation.
What is your favorite fantasy creature and why?
Well, Nicholas Eames has me hooked on Owlbears lately, but I’m going to have to go classic and say dragons. Wise, ancient, majestic. It’s hard to get a more iconic fantasy creature than that.
Why did you decide to become an author and how did you end up choosing self-publishing?
The thing that made me want to be a writer, specifically of fantasy, was reading JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit, when I was maybe ten years old. That was my first real fantasy book, and the idea that you could create a whole rich world and populate it with so many amazing creatures was an epiphany. From that moment, I knew I was going to be a writer in some form or another. My writing style is nothing like Tolkein’s, but I have to give him credit for lighting the spark.
As far as self publishing, I spent some time doing the agent hunt, and found I was spending a lot of time and effort submitting into the void that could be better spent trying to push the book directly to readers. Self publishing has come a long way in the past few years, and with the right input from good betas, editors and other writers, it’s totally possible to produce a solid book without a traditional publishing house.
Which author would you say is your greatest influence as a writer?
Wow. Hard to choose among so many. If I had to pick one, I would probably say Steven Brust. I love the wry, self deprecatingly funny voice he used for his Vlad Taltos series, and I think that style rubbed off on me. I also respect the fact that he has written so many books in so many different styles. The Taltos series is more or less crime fiction in a fantasy world, and feels very much like detective fiction. His Khavren novels are set in the same world, but earlier and are a direct homage to Dumas’ Three Musketeers, which I loved as a kid. Then he wrote a few very eclectic books. Agyar which was a nice twist on the vampire story, The Sun, he Moon and the Stars, which is a story that weaves Hungarian folklore into a tale of modern artists working in a shared studio, struggling to find success and is a great take on the creative process. There are a number of others, but I don’t want to go on all night. If you haven’t read Brust, I’d hunt down his stuff. He also gave us a very nice interview when I was working at Quantum Muse, so I like him on that level as well.
I have to give a nod to George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman historical fiction series, and Fritz Leiber’s pulp Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories for their influence on my sword and sorcery stuff.
If you could go back in time and offer any advice to a younger Patrick prior to releasing Out of Nowhere what would it be?
Listen to your betas. Most of the criticisms I ignored wound up being things that reviewers brought up.
What SPFBO means to you? What do you hope to gain (fame and wealth aside)? What are your experiences so far?
Obviously, I hope to widen my audience. I’m excited at the prospect of getting well-known bloggers to read my work and maybe spread the word.
So far, I have been impressed at just how supportive everyone has been. This is a great group of people who are really dedicated to seeing good writing get noticed. And there is a genuine passion for the genre. It may sound cliché, but if nothing else, I feel enriched by the friendships and contacts I’ve made thanks to SPFBO.
What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?
Who told you about the Devil?
Music is a big influence. Music does a great job of evoking feelings, which inspire stories. I try to throw some nods to the music in the text. That and I find inspiration in everyday life. Funny things that happen or that people say give me ideas that stew and bubble away in my subconscious until they turn into something.
How do you relax after a long writing/research session? Do you have any hobbies (writing not included :P)?
Fencing is my big one. Originally sport sabre, now I’ve gotten into HEMA sabre, which has less rules and a heavier blade. More like real sword fighting. Probably a bad choice as I make my way into middle age and my body starts to betray me, but it’s hard to beat the adrenaline rush of a sword fight.
I also like to cook and brew my own beer. I read a lot, which I think most writers do, and I like to finish the evening on the couch with my wife, watching movies.
What was the most exotic place you’ve visited? Did it inspire any of your work? How that experience affected you personally?
I’m not sure what would be the most exotic. There’s a magic in a snowy forest, the silence of it. But I try to feel inspiration from anywhere I go. Most of my stories are inspired by more mundane places. Three decker tenements with the smells of ethnic cooking suffusing the hallways, dingy alleys between brick buildings covered in graffiti and strewn with discarded syringes and empty liquor bottles.
Which character of your book do you identify with the most and why? Who would you like to live with in an asylum?
I identify quite a bit with the main character in Out of Nowhere. He’s a medic, his past as an immortal let me play with the history I love so much, and I gave him enough of my own interests and outlook that he was easy to write. Almost self-indulgent, really. But for a first book, I don’t think that was a terrible idea.
As far as who I’d like to live with in an asylum, for real people it would be my wife. Our madness is complementary, so if you have to be crazy with someone, find a crazy that works with your own.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the good or the bad ones?
I read them all. The good ones make the hours of struggle worthwhile. The bad ones…well, sometimes they’re amusing, and sometimes they make me want to get defensive and argue, which is never a good idea.
But sometimes, if you listen, the bad ones can help you become a better writer.
Are there any books that have been/ are being released in 2019 that you are excited to read?
I just finished Nicholas Eams’ Bloody Rose, which I’d been looking forward to since reading Kings of the Wyld last year. I’m hoping to grab the third one as soon as it comes out. I plan to grab Josh Erikson’s sequel to Hero Forged.
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. I could reread it for ever. I love the moral mental gymnastics the protagonist goes through, and the way he becomes a better person despite his best efforts. I love Pratchett any day, and I’d probably read his grocery lists, but that’s my favorite.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
For the love of God, Montresor!
If you’d like to get in contact with Patrick LeClerc, you can find him on social media: