So: you’ve read Dragonslayer, you’ve read Knight of the Silver Circle, and you’ve preordered Servant of the Crown (and read the excerpt several times, of course). We know you’ve got to fill the time between now and March 10th somehow, so we spoke with author Duncan M. Hamilton about his writing process, the experience of publishing on an accelerated schedule, and… pancakes vs. waffles, naturally.
Books 1 to 3 are coming out so fast! How many words do you write a day?
Unless I’m on vacation, or have something else on, I write every day. In the past I’ve set myself a target of about 2000 words per day, but it’s a very loose concept that I’ve been gradually moving away from. On a day when the boilers are running at full pressure, 6000 seems easy, and on a bad day, 500 feels like crawling across a field of broken glass. Stopping at 2k on a day when I’m running at full steam seems a waste, and trying to force out 2k on a bad day just means 2000 words that’ll need heavy editing or deletion later on, so it’s a bit of a false economy. These days I’m starting to think about it more as focused time at my desk, and let the numbers fall where they may. I’m finding that’s a more effective approach, and better for maintaining a healthier work/life balance!
Your whole series is coming out in less than a year! What fantasy series have you read from start to finish lately?
I’m embarrassed to say I can’t recall. I tend to mainly read history these days.
What’s your writing routine?
I keep trying to establish a set routine, but haven’t managed it yet. I’m hoping the new ‘time at desk’ approach I mentioned in the first answer above will help develop that. It’s more of a lifestyle really. I’m trying to cut down on the 3am finishes though, which I’ve a bit of a bad habit of.
How do you fight writer’s block?
To be honest, I don’t believe in writers block. You’ll have good days and bad days writing. Making a thing out of the bad days just makes a thing out them – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I’m having a slow day, I’ll sometimes take a break for an hour or two and spend it on one of my many distractions and hobbies. That lets me forget about the story for a little while, and when I get back to my desk it’s usually with a refreshed attitude. The bottom line here is, I love to write. I always have. At times it feels like a compulsion, and it’s usually harder for me to stop than it is to get started.
On the Series
How do things get bigger and better in book 2?
Everything starts to gain momentum – things that were getting pushed up the mountainside in Book 1 have tipped over the peak and are accelerating down the other side, often beyond the control of the characters who pushed them up. That forces the characters to deal with events that become ever more expansive, and have ever graver stakes. There’s also a lot more from the dragon point of view, which from the reader feedback I’ve been getting on Book 1, seems to be something people are really enjoying.
We got into a little trouble a few months ago trying to define what a dragon was on social media. What’s your take? What makes a dragon a dragon?
I’m a bit of a traditionalist. For me it’s four legs and two wings. Something with two legs and two wings is a wyvern! I think the term ‘dragon’ is a bit of a catchall now, though, for all of the great serpent/lizard style creatures from world mythology and fantasy. Personally, I like to learn about the differences, and the unique names that go with them.
[Editor’s note: read more of Duncan’s thoughts on dragons right over here.]
We know playing favorites can be dangerous, but we love the array of dragons coming in book 2. Do you have a favorite?
Yes, and I think that’ll be obvious when you read it!
Other than the dragon, what are your top fantastical creatures?
Probably werewolves. Their mythology has always intrigued me, and I went through a gothic horror werewolf story writing phase in my late teens. It’s something I’ve been tempted to revisit a few times…
What’s your favorite fantasy ingredient? (For instance, faves around the office include: Chosen Ones, lost royalty, talking animals, magic has a cost, etc)
Oh, so many to choose from. That’s why I love to write fantasy. The lore of lost and forgotten civilizations, with the promise of ancient and powerful objects (particularly swords) to be discovered, is an old favorite. Farm boy saves the kingdom is another. As is reluctant, older, disaffected warrior finds redemption and new purpose in life against the backdrop of fierce dragons and cunning foes. Hmmm… why does that last one sound familiar?
Alright. Fantasy rapid fire time!
Broadswords or dual-wielding?
Damn you! I want both! (not necessarily at the same time)
Wizards or warriors?
Pancakes or waffles?
DAMN YOU! I WANT BOTH! (preferably at the same time)
Ice Dragons or Fire Dragons?
Animal companion or magical object?
Going to have to go with the magic sword on this one.
Lone wolves or teams of misfits?
Lone wolf unwillingly placed in team of misfits.
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