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11.16.2011

Author Interview: D. F. Lamont

I would like to welcome D. F. Lamont to the blog today!
He is here to talk about his debut Novel The Jinx.
You can read my review here.




Bio:

D. F. Lamont, 42, is married with children and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jinx is his first work of fiction.


When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for a long time. In university I had talked about starting a student newspaper, and in third year, in 1989, I did. It had a great response, and that experience ended up determining what I’ve done for a living – writing, editing, layout and design, journalism and PR.

Why did I begin writing? I started writing for myself for a couple of reasons. One was that in 1998, while I was working for a satirical magazine, which mostly made cruel fun of powerful people, I ended up working on three very personal pieces of writing – two eulogies and the speech for my wedding. I realized that words, and how you can put them together, can move people to feel better. They can provide comfort and solace in a way that I didn’t realize. 
I also decided to sit down and write something – and finish it – because in my work in P.R., I would sometimes write press releases or ads that would make the event I was trying to promote sound better than it actually was. This is actually the opposite of what you want in marketing, where you want to “underpromise and overdeliver”. But I thought, “if my own writing is the end product, maybe I can just sell that.”
I also have a Master’s Degree in English Literature, and when studying my favourite literary critics were the ones who took a practical approach to criticism, because they cared about good storytelling.

What inspired you to write this book?

The idea came from a dream that I had that I was having very bad luck, which then stopped affecting me but seemed to affect the people around me. People were having nasty falls in the kitchen, that sort of thing. In my dream, I ran away to keep them safe, and ended up coming up against big monsters made of boulders, running down a mountain road towards me. So I took that kernel of the story and built a book around it.  

Are any of your books based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

This is my first book, but I definitely share some experiences with the characters. Like Stephen Grayson, I also have an older brother who did karate, who used to jump out at me and say “Defend yourself!” I also caught my shoe in the front wheel of my ten-speed on the first day of Grade 8. But he isn’t me and his family isn’t mine. But I do dig through my own experiences in order to try to “anchor” those of my characters. 

What books have influenced your life most?

Wow! That is a big question. They tend not to be fiction. One is “Talkin’ Moscow Blues” by Josef Svorecky, who is a Czech refugee who moved to Canada. It is a book of essays on Jazz and Politics, and he has an incredible perspective because Czechoslovakia was occupied first by the Nazis and then by the Communists, and he talks about the similarities between the two totalitarian states and their hatred of freedom of expression. Another is Grammatical Man, by Jeremy Campbell, which is about information theory – in fact, the ideas of entropy and chaos and order in The Jinx all come from information theory. For Science Fiction, probably The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem.  

Do you have any current projects you’re working on?

I am close to finishing the first draft of my next book, which is also a science fiction fantasy book for young readers. If you like the Jinx, I think you’ll like what I’m writing next. I have a couple of other projects in the offing as well, including a comic book I would like to do. 


Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I find it easier to come up with plots than with characters. With the last book, and the one I am working on now, there was a point where I could sketch out the whole plot as an outline, and then I fill it in. But some stories have a bunch of elements and I just can’t bring them together, and it’s not always clear to me what I’m missing.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Well, The Jinx is pretty short. I’m not sure how other writers manage to tell such long stories. But it took about eight months to write, with quite a big break in the middle. I hope to be done this next book in about three months.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Plenty! Write what you like, not what you know. Remember: stories are about conflict. Don’t wait for inspiration, that will come to you in the writing. Write at least 1,000 words a day, every day. Try not to have more than three people talking in a scene.

This list of “rules” for writers is really good:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one

What do you think makes a good story?

Whether it’s a film, a TV show, or a book, I like the feeling that I am being immersed in a real and different world. That’s what my favourite books do: Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series, Robert Van Gulik’s Judge Dee Murder Mysteries, the original Star Wars Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. It takes a lot of different elements to make it work.

How do you react to a bad review?

Generally the reviews have been very positive, and not just from my friends and family! A couple of boys who bought it told me they really liked it. One of them says The Jinx is his second favourite book after The Hobbit. In lots of areas of my life I am “passionate” (a polite way of saying I blow my top) but after writing for so long I am kind of technical about my writing.
I want my writing to move the reader – to be excited, or creeped out, or laugh, but I know not everyone is going to like it, the way some people aren’t going to like certain kinds of food. Some people don’t like chocolate. You might say, “How can you possibly not like chocolate?!” but if you don’t like something, you don’t like it.

But if the people who might like it really love it, that’s what matters to me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I do almost all of my writing in my home office, but I bought an old-fashioned fountain pen and a notepad and I love writing on that as well. Last month I sold copies of The Jinx at a table at the Central Canada Comic Con in my hometown and I found it really relaxing to work there. I had to keep reminding myself to try to sell my book to passersby because I was getting absorbed in the writing.

Anything you would like to add?

If you’re looking for a fun book for your kids, aged 9-13, check out the Jinx! You can buy it as an e-book for $2.99 anywhere, and if you order through lulu.com, you can get a paperback version for 15% off – just $12.74.



Thank you for stopping by and answering some questions for us!


You can find out more about D. F. Lamont on:


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