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Interview with Indie Author Lucas Bale

Today’s interview is with Indie author Lucas Bale, who is currently working on the Beyond the Wall series books, which are Hard Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia novels. Mark your calendar now, as the opener to The Beyond the Wall series, The Heretic, is coming July 2014.

Tell me as much as you can about yourself in only one sentence.
I am currently a criminal lawyer looking to change direction and realise a long-held dream of writing inspiring and thought-provoking fiction.

Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, or I’m so undercaffeinated it’s frightening!

I start at 8am on my days off and drink tea at my desk. By 3pm, I’ve had anywhere between seven and nine mugs of tea. Sometimes, I don’t even eat…

I just might have an overuse word problem. Ijust can’t help myself. There are justtimes when I just need to just express myself. What’s your biggest writing hangup?
Curiously enough, ‘just’ is one of those words I have to be careful of too. But I would say that my descriptions are the first thing I pare down in the first pass over my work after that lightning first draft madness.

I’ve been described as a bit Dashiell Hammett in my first drafts, but I don’t mind that—I tend to let myself go nuts when I am furiously scribbling those first thoughts and then I’ll pick one or two key features of a description and focus on those, deleting anything else. Then I let the reader imagine the rest. I think that’s one of the joys of reading fiction—imaging a scene or character for yourself rather than being told everything by the author. Robert Crais is great at that, as is Hugh Howey. Also, shorter, punchier descriptions mean no loss of pace and, as I write thrillers under the pseudonym Marcus Cameron, my sci-fi has elements of the thriller genre and style too.

Share the love with a creative shoutout to your favorite Indie book or author:
For me it’s Jason Gurley. His writing style is smooth and almost poetic. It’s emotional and heartfelt and he brings to sci-fi a genuinely thought-provoking instinct. His stories come from a very personal, character driven point of view. And his covers are breathtaking (he’ll be designing all of mine). The Last Rail-Rider was a great short which I read on a train!

Share a metaphor or simile that explains your writing process:
I don’t really have a process yet. I am new to the craft, learning all the time and flexing my newly discovered muscles. I tend to plan for a while—perhaps a month or so—interspersing writing odd scenes as inspiration strikes me whilst I am undertaking that process. When I’m ready, and the plot is outlined to my satisfaction, I’ll get on with writing scene after scene, usually in order. Also, I tend to edit sequences after they’ve been written rather than waiting for the end of the first draft. I find this easier as I am still finding my own voice. So a metaphor (or more like an image) for my writing process, mimicking my own mountain-writing background, is meandering along a misty mountain trail with the flank of the rock-face falling away into fog with a compass which only works half the time but having half-memorised the map beforehand.

Pantsed or outlined? How do you tackle a new story?
As I’ve said, I plan pretty assiduously. I am currently working on the outline for the second book in the Beyond the Wall series. However, because the themes are central to the whole series, as well as individual books, and there is quite a bit of world-building going on, I find it easier to have a solid outline which I can depart from if I like or change when I want. I work out where the inciting incident is located; where the hook is (and whether it works); where the key event is; which scenes make up sequences and that there are escalations within those scenes and sequences which get progressively stronger; where each Act ends and so on. I am not slavishly tied to it but it helps my writing move along at a clip if I have a map of roughly where I am going. However, I do tend to change things. In one novel I wrote recently, an important character who I envisaged being around at the end of the novel, died at the end of Act One. I didn’t see it coming until I wrote the scene.

Tell us about your latest or upcoming novel:
The Beyond the Wall series is a five-part story set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Two centuries after Earth has capitulated and descended into a new ice-age, humanitys few remaining survivors have achieved faster-than-light travel and fled. They slowly colonise a handful of terraformed systems but war strikes at the fabric of humanity’s survival. Now governed by an authoritarian power, headed by the Consulate Magistratus, religion is forbidden. Earth’s history is buried in Archives only the Magistratus may read. The war is said to have been caused by men driven insane by the vast empty reaches of space so travel beyond the boundaries of the New Republics territory – known as the Wall – is forbidden and FTL travel through tunnels in the fabric of space is tightly controlled. The Magistratus protects those who submit to its authority within the pampered confines of The Core but casts out all others to the poverty and disease-stricken border systems each under the control of a Praetor and his Peacekeepers. Stimulants are outlawed and crime is punished by banishment beyond the Wall or to the brutal mining colony of Kolyma. Every citizen must be implanted at birth with devices to monitor every nuance of human existence – failure results in termination of the child. Yet some of humanity strives to be free and there are those who defy the Magistratus and preach a new religion, a new way of life. Revolution is coming…
 Do you stick to one genre or switch it up?
I write crime and spy thrillers under the pseudonym Marcus Cameron. The first of those, and in fact my first novel ever, is called Thread of Fate and is part of a series. I hope to release that around the same time as the Beyond the Wall series opener. I didn’t want fans of my stuff to see something I’d written and expect one genre and find another so I kept them separate. That may be old-fashioned, but it seemed sensible.

Where do you write?
For years I have always wanted a study and now I have one. A quiet place I can concentrate and where everything is laid out so I can work without distractions and interruptions. Easy access to my reference material, all my books lined up to give me inspiration and my desk on which is perched an iMac with Scrivener (and Lightroom for my photography). Perfect!

E-reader, print book, audiobook, or a combination?
E-reader for the train and carrying around with me and print book for the feel of pages on my fingers and for something to treasure. I have not yet experimented with audiobooks.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I am currently a criminal lawyer so that takes up a great deal of my time. I intend to become full-time writer shortly, however. Additionally, I write adventure travel features and edit a major online adventure travel and expedition magazine called Sidetracked. I am also an adventure travel photographer. Did I also mention I have a family? Not sure when I sleep…

Aliens have conquered Earth and are forcing you to give up either reading or writing. What’s it going to be?
Escape or revolt! I can’t be without either. But I guess if I must chose one, I’d stay a reader. I’ve been one for as long as I’m able to remember. There’s too much talent out there to give up immersing myself in wonderful stories.

Be sure to check out Lucas Bale’s Website and follow him on Twitter: @balespen

Thanks for participating in Indie Author February! The next time my characters get themselves in a legal bind, I know who I’ll email. 

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  1. Criminal lawyer eh? I practice family law and estate planning, and I always thought that I’d like to delve into criminal (especially since my debut is about a 17 yo girl who is forced to kill because her DA mother has enemies luring her to murder). Anyway, I am always drawn to attorney-turned-writer types 🙂

    • Crime was always my first love – I was drawn to criminal law from day one at law school. Writing is an essential part of the job but maybe not in the same way! I write crime and spy thrillers under the name Marcus Cameron and sci-fi under the name Lucas Bale. I find switching between the two genres keeps me creatively alert. Both debuts are coming around July 2014 so I am obviously very busy and very excited right now. Your debut sounds interesting too – what a premise! I’ll keep an eye out. Thanks for your comment!

    • Thanks for stopping by! It seems like there are quite a few attorney-turned-writer types out there. I’ve come across several of you, and I think it is very interesting. I wish you both the best!

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