Graham Vivian Lancaster [gvl]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
Probably Noddy on my own.
I have been writing since I was four years old - just notes for my folks etc., but decided it was time to seriously get some of the creative thoughts down, somewhere between Production Management honours and Master of Business degrees. I started longhand with a pencil and foolscap paper, tried a typewriter but soon gave up on that idea and bought a computer. Then I decided to write full time about twelve years ago.
Allowing anyone to read your first works is really baring your soul and many writers hit the wall almost at square one. My daughter was a keen fan and dedicated critic who devoured whatever I had written and at the age of fourteen was writing two novels of her own at the same time.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
Novels. Every genre is challenging if I want to end up with something I'm not shy to put my name on, but a novel of 100 000 words + is the ultimate as you have to remember over a period of months, perhaps years, that what happened on page 40 no longer suits what is happening on page three hundred and ninety.
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What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Spontaneous! A mad scramble out of bed in the middle of the night for pen and paper or computer.
There is no set regime and I'm not disciplined in that regard as I don't write 9 to 5 and then go for dinner. When it is happening, there might not be dinner, but breakfast tomorrow, or whatever whenever. If the missing part of a story or forging links together are not there I know it will come when the sub-concious has worked it out and go SCUBA diving in the meanwhile. Under the ocean has an amazing effect of clearing any clutter from my mind and allowing processes to continue unhindered.
I write in nine different genres, so there is never writers block because if one thing isn't working, something else always is.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Good poetry is a different multi-layered language that has all the elements of suspense, intrigue, love, tragedy, brevity and careful word usage that could be a book on its own.
I will often develop a piece of prose for a novel by first constructing a poem to work out the length and depth that best fits.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
I like writing action, therefore positive energy must flow in voice, thought, action and every facete of the story.
Obviously beginning, middle and end are a format for novels, but there is a lot more to it than that. Characterizsation, story line and names are as essential as correct facts and personal experience. Readers will soon know if you are winging it.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Normally third person but first person does have a place, especially in humour.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Well known is an individual opinion? Kahlil Gibran, Oriah Mountain Dreamer for their insights and freedom of thought. John Gordon Davis for his action, adventure, tenacity and for his love of the story.
Norman Mailer, often for his brevity of words and story telling.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Personal experiences of business, war, hunting, fishing, SCUBA, boating, water sports, sky diving, cooking, love, success, failure etc.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
The raconteur animates well with a glass or two of red wine.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Not really, but whose to say?
internal conflicts do motivate story lines and in that way are perhaps cathartic.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Positive response is always rewarding, but negative criticism bears introspection and evaluation. Some readers think a character is 'larger than life,' but that depends on the life they have lived.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
My novel 'Strength Of Ten' won the South African Writers Circle top Quill Award.
The new novel, 'Thermocline' recently came third in best first chapter of a novel
and poetry; commended, highly commended as well as some 'practic some more.'
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
No, my instinct has been good so far with novels 'Wind Song' and 'Strength Of Ten' selling well, with waiting lists for 'the next one.'
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I might find my voice in a particular piece of work, but its a building block to greater things.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Sponteneity can't have discipline. When it's there I write day and night. When it tails off it's time for a break. Breaks are normally long enough to catch up with a propper meal and sleep.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Nothing. I close my mind to everything else.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on computer - lap top if I'm out of office. Novels - perhap a difficult piece might be printed out to get a different perspective.
Poetry is normally written in pencil in a school excersise book wherever the mood strikes and a shop is close at hand to buy what I need, or someone has a sheet of paper, then it's transferred to computer when there is time. Difficult poetry is printed and corrected but there is no set format.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I can't complain.
My first book, 'Bert And Co.' (humour) was published out by Reach Out Publishers / Shuter and Shooter.
The second, 'Wild And Dangerous' (first of three teenage adventure) was published by Ampersand Press.
'Strength Of Ten' (novel) was published by Imaginites in Australia, who will make the motion picture as well.
'Fledgeling'(poetry) was published by Poet's Printery
The other fifteen books are published by Trayberry Press and Alexander House.
Alexander House will publish 'Journeys' in mid May 2009, a world anthology of forty two poets I have put together with my Indian co-author.
What are you working on now?
'Journeys,' my own poetry, a new novel, book of humour.
My poetry is being translated into Hindi in India, Romanian in Romania, Spanish and French in Puerto Rico and published, so life is busy. I have just finished checking a book of translated verse for a Romanian Bishop, which will be published in the next few weeks in Romania.
I publish mainly poets and there are two anthologies, other than 'Journeys' under way.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Courage! The best poem in the world lives in darkness in a shoebox at the top of someone's cupboard.
Don't show 'anyone,' show someone knowlegeable who can give an unbiased assessment.
Graham Vivian Lancaster
Pietremaritzburg, South Africa