Interview with C.J. Lever

When did you first start writing?
I first started writing when I was in high school. It was mainly poetry then, but the written language has always been a passion of mine. About twenty years ago I started my first fantasy novel, inspired by reading such terrific authors as David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey (I love dragons), Robert Jordan and Stephen R Donaldson. It was terrible, but had some good points - for example the characters were great, in my obviously unbiased opinion. About ten years ago I started another fantasy novel. Life took over and I never got past the first few chapters. A few months ago I stumbled across that manuscript again on an archive disk. Reading it I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It's a curious thing that an author can actually forget what they have written - the storyline was a complete surprise to me! That was the beginnings of The Rubinicon.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Losing myself in the story. I honestly don't know, when I sit down to write, where the story will be at the end of the day. I am often bemused – but delighted – by the way the characters develop. One of the characters in The Rubinicon was supposed to be a villain when I first introduced him to the story but he just refused to go that way. I start with a beginning and a clear idea of where and how I want the story to end, and then just write. For me writing a novel is a bit like reading one - either way I don't know what's going to happen next until I get there. To answer the question I would have to say the greatest joy is watching the stories develop themselves, sometimes despite my intentions.
What do your fans mean to you?
This is my first published book, but I'm looking forward to the chance to find out!
Who are your favorite authors?
Fantasy-wise it's definitely David Eddings, Stephen R Donaldson and Anne McCaffrey. I also enjoyed Robert Jordan, but it got a little tedious waiting for the next ten books in the series. I stopped reading him as I sort of felt like he was gouging the concept a bit too much. I have also enjoyed Sci-Fi, but haven't read much for a long time - particularly Robert Heinlein and Asimov. I read thrillers as well - Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly, Harlen Coben and David Baldacci are some of my favourites.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Going to work to earn money doing something I love. My day job is as a barrister-at-law. By night I use my written word skills for my novels and by day I use my oral word skills to try and persuade the Court. I love them both!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working at something I love. How lucky am I?
What is your writing process?
When writing a fantasy novel it's obviously important to have a clear view of the world you're creating. I usually start with a written outline as to the politics, religion, topography and general characteristics of each of the countries I'm creating. Although I let the story go pretty much where it wants (between the beginning and the end at least), I still have time lines where I sketch out what happens on each day as I write the story. I refer to these timelines constantly to ensure consistency. For example, you can't have one character meet another when they were separated by 500 miles two days ago (unless they can fly or course, which is a different matter). I also have a list of characters with physical descriptions and major identifying characteristics. I have a map which I add to as I make up more towns and geographical features throughout the story. Then I sit down and just write and wonder where the story and characters will take me today.
How do you approach cover design?
Get a professional to do it.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
iPad. Love it, love it, love it! Use it every day - don't know how I lived without it. Mind you I spent years working for an Apple reseller and have only ever used Macintosh as my personal computer, so I'm a bit of an Applephile,
Describe your desk
Do I have to? Black, two metres long, scattered with paraphernalia from my writing, quilting and family history research projects. I thought about cleaning it up before I answered the question but - Naahh.
Published 2014-06-20.
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