20 degrees heat at 11pm last night. That sort of thing shouldn’t happen. Anyway, rant over! I unfortunately missed yesterday’s planned roll call due to health issues, but I’m back with my latest interview. This time it’s with Patrick LeClerc, author of his SPFBO entry Out of Nowhere and his Immortal Vagabond Healer series. Just rolls right off your tongue? A link to his book is down below, as well as the links to the other interviews. (That section is getting increasingly long…)
Interview with Patrick LeClerc, author of “Out of Nowhere”
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
I’m a paramedic with a degree in history. I enlisted in the Marines right out of high school, and worked a series of jobs while I figured out what I wanted to do. I unloaded trucks, I plowed snow, I painted houses, delivered pizza, probably a few things I forget. In college I was a nationally ranked sabre fencer, and now I do historical European martial arts, archery and brew my own beer.
My writing is every bit as focused as my career has been. So I write some urban fantasy, some historical fantasy, some sword and sorcery and some military s/f. The constant thread would be a hero who is skilled and competent, but always a commoner. Never a member of the aristocracy, never the “chosen one.” I also like to focus on camaraderie. My protagonist is never a lone wolf. Nobody really is for very long. I like the character to have a tribe, a group that he can depend on.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I start with an idea. Usually it’s a character. Then I try to put that character in a situation and see what would happen. From there, the plot kinda grows organically. The character’s reactions will drive the and the plot will uncover more about the character and eventually I have a story.
I’ve tried to outline, but it kills my drive to write. I wind up wasting far too much time staring at the blank page. If I just jump in, I write much faster and more than make up the time I need to neaten things up at the end.
Tell us about your current project.
I’m finishing up “Robbing Death,” a sequel to “Broken Crossroads” which is a pulp inspired sword and sorcery novel. The main characters are a thief and a retired mercenary. It’s a lot of swashbuckling, witty banter, vicious crime syndicates, ancient curses, glittering treasure. It’s a lot of fun. I was inspired by Fritz Leiber’s “Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser” stories.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
The main character of my submission to SPFBO is an immortal who can heal others with a touch. He is without his oldest memories, so he doesn’t know his origins, or why he can do what he can do. He does know that people fear what they don’t understand, so he has spent centuries living incognito, lying low, often as a soldier, since armies move around a lot and the faces change, and now as a paramedic, which is also a transient workforce, but also where he can use his talent for healing without drawing too much attention to himself.
One of the driving forces is he knows any friendship is temporary, which is another reason he works the jobs he does. He surrounds himself with comrade who will be very close, depend on one another deeply, but for a relatively short time.
Now, just as he starts to develop some deeper connections, his life is endangered, and he has to make a decision. Run away, moving on and starting over, like he has for centuries, or fight and protect his current life and the people who matter to him.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Write. Don’t overthink it, just write. You’ll write a lot of bad stuff at first, but that’s part of the process. And read a lot. Pay attention to how your favorite authors use language.
And above all, do not let the ‘rules’ you’ll see on every writing forum shackle you. Listen to Barbosa. Rules are more of a …guideline, really.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Well, worldbuilding for ‘Out of Nowhere,” the book I submitted, isn’t really much of a topic, as I used our world. The city of Philips Mills is a composite of a number of cities I worked in as a paramedic.
What inspires you to write?
Lots of things. If I had to pick one, it would be music. Song lyrics tend to evoke images that I want to build stories around.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Writing in first person. I like the immediacy that first person brings. I like the voice, I like being in the MC’s head and writing in a conversational tone. But when the MC doesn’t know what the antagonist is doing, neither does the reader. That can make it tough to build suspense or tension, because the reader simply doesn’t see the impending danger.
You can do it. It’s a common issue in detective fiction, where our hero has to work out the situation and deal with limited knowledge, but it is a challenge.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I really love writing banter. I love the back and forth between characters.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned a ton. This was my first published novel, and I found a great group of writers who were able to give me some amazing feedback. It wouldn’t be the book it is without that help. Stephen Godden Ren Warom, Louise Cole, Gary Bonn, Raymond Coulombe, Kevin Wright, Janet Alison Brown, Timothy Goyette. All great writers who gave me a lot of direction. You should read their stuff. I know Kevin has a book in the competition
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
My main character is a paramedic with a lot of military experience. So that wasn’t hard. I have a good background in history, so the immortal thing, the memories of the past wasn’t hard. His friends I drew from people I know, mixing and matching and making composites. The villain was tough, especially as, being a first person narrative, I didn’t get into their heads at all, just showed their actions from my protagonist’s perspective.
My advice on writing characters is to observe the people around you. Then file off the serial numbers.
What are your future project(s)?
I have more books planned for three series. “Out of Nowhere” which already has one sequel, “Spitting Image,” will be an ongoing series. My near future military s/f is getting a prequel, and my pulpy fantasy story is getting a sequel. I also have some ideas about a fairly straight Paramedic story and vague ideas about a different urban fantasy story. More like classic detective fiction than “Out of Nowhere” is.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
International jewel thief.
A life of travel to exotic locations. Daring acrobatics. Thrilling escapes. Seducing beautiful INTERPOL agents.
I could get behind all that.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
The best place is my own website: inkandbourbon.com You can find everything there. I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and currently contributing to Quantum Muse Books, which is a association of independent authors who help one another bring out our books.
Thanks for the opportunity to answer some of these questions.