Monday, October 27, 2014

Talking Books with 'Rhapsody' David Lundgren

David Lundgren was born in “a pokey town in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia)” and spent the first 18 years of his life there. He grew up in an environment “that seemed to combine the best elements of both an American and English heritage with a hybrid African lifestyle.” Lundgren is also a musician, which gave him the creative spark to create the Melforger series. He spends his time in San Francisco “teaching, enjoying frequent – and often frustrating – games of tennis, trying to learn the blues on piano, attacking Sudoku puzzles with relish, and attempting to make some headway with the ever-increasing pile of books that is waiting patiently at my bedside, developing its own gravity.”

His latest book is the fantasy/science fiction, Rhapsody.
For More Information
About the Book:

In RHAPSODY, the Forest has been completely healed and the battles of Books I and II are over, but a corrosive blackness that has been haunting Raf still seems to be growing in strength. They return to Miern to stop a traitor from assuming control of the city, but find themselves caught up in a deadly plot as they race against time to stop a dark and horrific power being unleashed on them all.

For More Information

  • Rhapsody is available at Amazon.
  • Read the first chapter here.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

One of the things I try to do is to make a habit of staying active on a daily basis as writing is such a sedentary, cerebral activity. So I try to get outside and move around as much as possible (healthy-body, healthy-mind, etc). I’m a keen tennis player, dabble in a bit of golf (the most frustrating game in the world), am an avid NFL fan, and even occasionally get roped into playing cricket; this is what you get for being an international (I’m originally from Zimbabwe, you see). Along with writing - and devouring other people’s books, of course - I’ve been a Lead Instructor for a Bay Area innovation camp and worked as a curriculum-designer. I also deliver creative writing workshops at schools locally and internationally. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t also confess a sad addiction to Sudoku and the cryptic crosswords that the Brits love so much.

When did you start writing?

My official ‘writing’ (that is, not including the ridiculously embellished journals I used to send to my family, chronicling my wacky travels after university) was Melforger, the first book in The Melforger Chronicles trilogy. There was no exact moment when it began as I had been building the ideas for it for many years. However, I started putting in the serious effort that writing a book demands about four years ago, culminating in Melforger coming out in 2012, Disharmony in 2013, and now Rhapsody.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

Getting to the 100th page of the first draft of Melforger and realizing that I could actually do it. It had seemed such an abstract up until that moment, and then all in one moment, it suddenly crystalized and I knew it was real, that I loved it, and that I wanted to commit to getting stuck in and finishing it.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I’m not sure I’d want to go anywhere to write the book, actually; I need a quiet, comfortable desk, free of distractions, and free of noisy neighbors to be able to write. I also need space to spread out my notes and research and timelines and sub-plots – far too much to travel with! As a backup option, I occasionally seclude myself in a booth at the local Panera where the muddled background noise somehow helps keep me focused (not to mention the availability of inspiring hazelnut coffee...)

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

To be honest, in this hypothetical world we’re talking about, I’m sure teleportation would exist, so I would take the opportunity to jump around the planet visiting family and friends who are spread far and wide, catching up with them. If teleportation didn’t exist, I would love to seize the opportunity to actually do some casual reading which seems hard to find the time for these days.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

Where would I want to travel to find inspiration for the next story? Probably Indonesia or Brazil. I love creating settings, and I’ve been in person to all the extreme landscapes in The Melforger Chronicles – from forests to deserts to savannah plains. The jungle is one that has eluded me so far, and if I get to travel to one, I can’t imagine not being inspired to use it in a new yarn!

Back to your present book, Rhapsody, how did you publish it?

I avoided the traditional route and instead used CreateSpace to publish it, hiring an editor, proof-reader, designer and publicist to make it as awesome as possible.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Not very far, but I planned a few camping trips into the redwoods of California to try to capture the feel and atmosphere for the forest in The Melforger Chronicles.  I’m very lucky to have been brought up in Africa as it gave me the opportunity to capture the experience of savannahs and deserts which were key landscapes in the trilogy. Forest experience was a little lacking, however. Most of my research, though – and there was a copious amount of it – was from books and online sources, making sure that the technological, musical, cultural and natural elements all worked. For any reader who’s kind enough to suspend their disbelief and sink into my world, I was very keen to make sure there weren’t any jarring inconsistencies that snapped them out of the spell.

Why was writing Rhapsody so important to you?

Rhapsody is the final book in The Melforger Chronicles trilogy, concluding the story and bringing the entire journey to a dizzy and brilliant halt (hopefully!) – so there’s why it was important! As for writing the trilogy as a whole, I suppose if you look at my love of reading sci-fi and fantasy as an only child, my upbringing in Africa with its jaw-dropping wilderness, and how I’ve been surrounded by music my entire life, it seemed an obvious for me to find a way to string them all together and create my own original story.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

Traveling and getting out there, seeing the world in all its rich and weird beauty, is one of the best ways to find inspiration. If I push myself to be creative, to proactively find a novel idea, it’s a struggle. I don’t think it tends to work like that for many people, and it’s more often the case that you are struck by something unusual and original when doing something else – often something mundane and completely unrelated to the book. Whatever it is – whether it’s playing sport or doing the dishes or traveling on the Muni in San Francisco or hiking the redwoods – I find myself frantically scribbling down ideas on bits of paper or writing texts to myself to keep track of those key breakthroughs. As to why it happens like that, perhaps it’s a question of making links or connections between unrelated ideas, or some change in perspective giving you a subtle new angle or approach by which to view it. Or, even more likely, I suspect our brains need space to ‘incubate’ and play with ideas without any conscious pressure. I’ve found myself at my most creative when I let go the drive to come up with new ideas and let them come to me by doing other things to distract me.

Any final words?

Thanks for having me! I hope you enjoy reading the trilogy as much as I enjoyed writing it. And whatever you think – reviews are always welcome!

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