Wednesday, January 7, 2009

[Interview] Lucien Black

Lucien Black currently resides in Orange County, Ca with his wife and children.

He started writing in 1991 and helped to produce an independently published comic book. His own first book, No Vacancies, Vol. 1 started off as a series of comic book scripts.

Currently, he is working on the second volume of No Vacancies.

In this email interview, Lucien Black talks about his concerns as a writer.

When did you start writing?

I started writing in 1990. I had no aspirations to be a writer at first, but after a writing course in high school I started to enjoy the idea. My teacher at the time, Terry Fugate, was a great influence and after I graduated I started composing scripts for comic books.

I joined up with a few friends and about two years later we published our first independent comic book. We were very excited but our investor backed out at the last minute and left us to fend for ourselves. We were able to get book one printed, but subsequent issues were shelved.

I eventually tried to move out on my own and get my own comic book scripts published. I had four or five story lines I was developing and really wanted to break into that industry. I submitted work to all the major publishers like Marvel and DC Comics and even the smaller shops but no bites on the work.

So I continued to write as a hobby and started and restarted my stories over and over again until about two years ago.

My wife convinced me that I should convert my scripts to short stories and publish them that way. After some hemming and hawing I started re-writing them and developed the first version of No Vacancies. What I decided to do was keep the serial feel of the comic book and develop some stories that would continue in future volumes of No Vacancies.

How would you describe your writing?

My works are fictional stories with action adventure, horror and superhero themes. Future works will include other genres but for now the majority will focus on those.

I love the superhero genre and try to find new ways to tell those types of stories.

Who is your target audience?

Anyone that likes action adventure stories like Indiana Jones, horror, comic books, short stories, mysteries.

I truly think my work can lend itself to a pretty wide audience. I think that anyone that can be hooked in by an action packed story with fantastical occurrences will enjoy the work. Once they are hooked, I believe they will come back for more.

Which authors influenced you most?

It's difficult to narrow down one or two main influences to my work. There are many comic book writers such as Chris Claremont and Alan Davis that were very inspirational to my earlier endeavors. Beyond that Lee Child, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Stephen King, Stephen J. Cannell, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, etc.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

My biggest concern as a writer is definitely confidence in my work. I am without a doubt my own worst critic and tend to really be hard on my work.

Writing a story that draws the reader in, gives them an exciting ride and leaving them wanting to either know more about a particular character or to read the next part of a story and doing it well is a major obstacle. In the end I just have to let the chips fall where they may and see what turns out.

How have your own personal experiences influenced your writing?

Absolutely, yes. I think what personal experiences bring is that absolute sense of realism. One of the main problems in comic book writing is that many writers miss adding in those life experiences. If you are trying to accept characters as real, there has to be that human element.

Divorce, death, loss of jobs are all critical aspects of life that should be blended in with the action or horror. When I started re-writing these stories and redeveloping my characters, I added in many elements from my own life that I thought would add that sense of realism.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

Simply finding the time to get the work developed. Thankfully, I have time during my lunch hours to focus on work, but between work, school (still working on my degree) and life it is difficult to find time to focus.

How many books have you written so far?

My first book, No Vacancies, Vol. 1 was published in October 2008 by Lulu.com.

I took cues from the serials of old, and used the concept of serialized fiction to introduce readers to my work. No Vacancies is a compilation of four short stories and some poetry that somewhat fit into each tale. The genres are action adventure, superhero and horror tales.

"One More Sunday" follows Detective Sam Arkwright as he attempts to put together the missing pieces of a murder. "Outcast and Devotion", which is set in the fictional city of Hudson, NY, and in which a serial killer is leaving behind mutilated bodies and the police are baffled. In "Devotion", Dr. Alastair Cromwell struggles to resurrect his late wife, Annette. Will he succeed and at what cost?

Part 1 of "High Stakes", introduces a louse of ma, Jack Ander. Abused by his father; branded a coward. Is he destined to be a hero?

Do you write everyday?

I work a full time job outside of writing and I actually use my lunch hour for writing. It is a solid hour of me focused on just my writing and what is great about it is that I actually have it scheduled every day. There are days when I am not in the office so I may lose a day here and there but that isn't necessarily a problem.

Outside of that time, I generally write in the early morning on the weekends, when the house is quiet.

I find that I have to really focus myself to get quality output.

Since I am working on various short stories at any given time, I tend to flip back and forth between writing one or the other. I find that if I get stuck, it helps me to step away from one story and gain some momentum on another. Typically when I come back to the story I skipped, I am refreshed and have all sorts of new ideas to jot down. I also keep a journal close at hand when ideas pop into my head, this way I don't lose them; especially dreams.

How did you chose a publisher for No Vacancies? Why this publisher? What advantages or disadvantages has this presented?

It was published by Lulu.com in October 2008. It has great advantages to an independent writer to complete a script, submit the book and cover art and then within a few short hours the book is available to the public.

The disadvantages are mostly on the marketing side. Finding ways to publicize my work is difficult. There are some packages you can purchase through the publisher but that takes time. At this point, it's basically word of mouth. I have a few other ideas for marketing but it will simply take time to get everything into place.

Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?

Making sure that the reader was left wanting more. I always want a book or story to end and my first response to be, "Where can I read more about that character".

What did you enjoy most?"

Researching settings. In the story, "High Stakes, Part 1", there is a scene where young Jack Ander, the main character, is waking up and he hears a radio program. So I researched which radio program would have been on the radio at the moment he woke up and who would have been singing/talking at the time. That is a part of the writing process I have only recently added to my work and it just adds so much depth to the story.

What sets No Vacancies apart from other things you've written?

Since this is my first novel, I think it sets the stage for my future works.

Writing these in a serial type format gives me the avenue to explore multiple stories and worlds in each volume. I like having the freedom.

What will your next book be about?

The next book is another volume of No Vacancies which will contain parts two of both "Outcast" and "High Stakes" (two on-going short stories). I will introduce a new on-going short story that is an espionage thriller and two additional self-contained short stories.

I expect that to be completed in the next four to six months.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Without a doubt, publishing No Vacancies, Vol. 1 was one of the most amazing feelings. When I got the first copy in hand, I was like a little kid with a huge smile. To see my own finished work was an awesome feeling.

Possibly related books:

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3 comments:

A. F. Stewart said...

A great interview, I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Lucien Black said...

Thanks AF. I hope you enjoy!

North Fifth Street said...

"The fictional city of Hudson, NY..."

That is - to distinguish it from the real city of Hudson, NY?