Authors in Isolation: D. William Landsborough

It has been a while since I’ve done these interviews! First of all, a huge thankyou to everyone who has submitted an interview to me, and a massive apology for how slow I’ve been getting them out. The last few months haven’t been easy.

Today, I bring you an interview from D. William Landsborough, an awesome author who released his first novel Archangel in 2019. I’ve included the link to his book down below, go check it out, and let’s give Doug a warm welcome to the Scar’s Den!

First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write? 

Hi there! My name is Doug, though I write under the name D. William Landsborough. I write primarily dark fantasy and my first book, Archangel, was released in February of 2019. It is the first in the Shadow’s Advent series and takes place ten years after the war between Heaven and Hell erupted on Earth. Unfortunately for us, Hell won. Archangel picks up after the war has already been lost as Uriel the archangel, who has been kept in Heaven this whole time, descends to Earth to start the fight anew. Since then, I have also released its sequel, Revelations, which is book two of the Shadow’s Advent series.

I’m also planning a climate sci-fi and a horror novel, which is both exciting and terrifying.

How do you develop your plots and characters? 

I don’t think I develop plot and characters separately. Rather, I like to think of a big-picture idea for the plot, usually focusing just on where we start and where we end, as well as the main characters. From there, I dive deeper into particular chapters or scenes and use those to flesh out the secondary characters.

Both plot and characters start out as sort of almost-blank canvasses with the main details there, but they become more and more complex as I further plan and write.

Tell the world about your current project!

Some fans might kill me, but I’m taking a small detour from the third Shadow’s Advent book to try something new: a horror novel. Though my two books to date are definitely on the darker side of fantasy and draw on my love of horror, this project is turning out to be a lot nastier! In this work in progress, our main character is cursed with knowing when people die. In the days or hours leading to someone’s death, their face will contort and become—honestly—quite gross and they will scream at her. Though she’s become somewhat accustomed to it, her life becomes a little more complicated when her own reflection does the same thing to her.

Who would you say is the main character of your latest novel? And tell me a little bit about them!

I’m going to focus on Shadow’s Advent for this one, since my horror novel is still definitely a WIP. In my dark fantasy series, the main character is Uriel, an archangel. Uriel, in this new, hellish world, is a great main character because of the flaws he has. What I really try to do is create this inner struggle with Uriel between wanting to uphold the piety and morals that he has held dear since he was created, and the horror and darkness that surrounds him and the other angels. It is tough for him to justify the omnipotence of his father, God, when such tragedies have occurred. 

Have you been to any conventions? If so, tell me a little about them!

Tragically, only as a convention-goer, not in any role as an author. When I first released Archangel, I was wrapping up another stint in college and trying to balance that all with a new job. I don’t think I really gave the book the publicity attention that it deserved.

When the thought of conventions came up, I justified putting it off until I could get a second or third book out to try and justify the cost. I actually had my first public book signing back in February of 2020. I was absolutely in love with the whole thing and was eager to get my next one going. Then the pandemic hit in full force in March, and there just haven’t been opportunities since, so I’m really eyeing that light at the end of the tunnel.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

The earliest I can remember is back in the fifth grade, so about at age ten or eleven. This is when I was given R.A. Salvatore’s The Dark Elf Trilogy and really got immersed in fantasy. With that love sparked, I wrote short stories and even tried my hand at starting a book in the next year or two, though I remember the first three chapters of that book being about a handwritten page each!

If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

Iceland! I got to travel there a couple years ago and still think about it all the time. It’s a truly breathtaking place with kind people and a laid-back way of living. Plus, the landscape is so varied that I know I could come up with something great.

What advice would you give new writers?

Make a habit of writing. I can’t say this enough, but just take 30 minutes every day to write something, even if it is 500 words one day and 5 words the next. Establishing that habit helps to keep your momentum and it really helps with kicking your brain into a creative mindset rather than feeling like you need to wait for inspiration to strike.

What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding?

Not necessarily for place, but I drew a lot of inspiration from theology and folklore when coming up with my angels. Uriel, for example, has a lot of traits that are used to describe him in academic religious writing.

I remember watching a movie (though can’t remember which one), where a young priest proclaims that the Bible is like the ultimate graphic novel. That resonated with me because, while not being religious myself, there are a lot of stories and characters that can be used as a platform in religions around the world, so long as you do it respectfully.

What inspires you to write?

I have the goal of making writing fiction at least a part-time income for me and a sustainable one at that. I absolutely LOVE writing, so to be able to do it more than just in my spare time is the dream that inspires me to write.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Hitting about halfway through a work in progress and trying to get to that 75% mark. My books aren’t generally short, so after about 50-60k words, there is a bit of momentum lost from it no longer being a new and shiny project, and you’re still far away from the finish line. Mustering up the motivation for that section is always tough for me.

What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?

On an ideal day, it’s wake up, make coffee and write for 30-60 minutes. Then start the day job and write another 30 minutes on my lunch. Then, if I’m feeling really good, write another 30 after work.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write in any of your books, and why? 

Anything that sets our heroes back. I find that, especially in fantasy, the most character development happens when our heroes are faced with something borderline devastating. It’s that growth that I love to write.

Did you learn anything from writing your latest book? If so, what was it?

It was while writing Revelations that I learned to make writing a habit. It took about five years to write Archangel but only about a year and a half to write Revelations and publish it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?

Plotter. No offense pantsers, but your way of writing scares me more than the horror novel I’m writing.

If you had to give up either snacks and drinks during writing sessions, or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?

I don’t snack during writing sessions, so I’d have to go with that. Half the time I have coffee with my writing it goes cold, because I like to just type away until either my timer runs out or my fingers get tired!

Which is your favorite season to write in, and why? 

Winter, because I can more easily justify not going outside!

It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it? 

I start with an idea in my head about the character, their personality traits, how they feel about other characters, etc. Then I start writing and they tend to grow themselves. Sometimes backstories appear that I never thought of in the first place, and sometimes you think of an action or piece of dialogue in the moment that just suits them perfectly. I am a big proponent of letting your characters grow naturally.

What are your future project(s)?

This year I am focusing on my current horror WIP, the third book in the Shadow’s Advent series and finishing up the first “season” of Nightshade, my urban fantasy short story series on Patreon. After that, it’s more horror, more Shadow’s Advent, more Nightshade and hopefully the climate sci-fi soon.

What is your favorite book ever written?

Revelations! If I can’t count my own, then I’d probably have to say American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It tends to fluctuate based on my mood, though!

Who are your favorite authors?

Neil Gaiman, Richard Kadrey, Adam Nevill, V.E. Schwab

What makes a good villain?

My villain, Dante, is one of my favourite characters and I think that’s because he isn’t just bad for the sake of being bad. If you can make you villain relatable or understandable or if anyone can empathize with them, then you have a great villain.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What is this spare time you speak of? While I try to balance writing books, freelance writing and a 4-day a week part-time job, I do enjoy playing board games, watching movies and the like. When the weather isn’t so chilly (and there’s less of a pandemic), visiting friends for weekend cottage trips or get-togethers is always a blast.

If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

As long as I’m writing something that is interesting to me and others, I’m happy with it. 

Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?

Coffee! But I say that as I’m drinking tea. My better half is a tea drinker and my French press cracked, so I’m drinking more tea than I normally would. It doesn’t quite scratch the same itch for me, though.

You can travel to anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?

The more I think about travelling to another planet, the more work it seems like it will be to not die. With that in mind, I’d love to go somewhere like the Northwest or Yukon Territories; somewhere quiet and beautiful.

What superpower would you most like?

The ability to project common sense onto people. Is that too sassy?

What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)

I’m going to go with any of the Sandman Slim books that are in the movie poster style. Very unique and fitting vibe for those books. And while it’s still on my bookshelf unread, the cover of Gods & Monsters by Janie Marie made my buy it with only a glance at the synopsis.

It’s a very difficult time right now for the world. When quarantine and pandemic comes to an end, what is the first thing you would like to do?

My fiancée and I had to put off our wedding by a year, from last August to this one, so I am really looking forward to our new date this year and the honeymoon that follows. I know it might not look the same as if it had happened pre-pandemic, but we’re going to make the best of it.

That, and hug a lot of people.

Finally, 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)?

I’d love for you to swing by and say hi. I’m mostly active on my website (www.dlandsborough.com) and over on Facebook (www.facebook.com/dwilliamlandsborough). Hope to see you soon!

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