Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
D G Lamb, 62 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and began college at Ft. Scott Junior College in Kansas, but finished at Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colorado. After bouncing around for a bit, I spent six years in Lexington, Kentucky to complete my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, coming to Phoenix to complete a post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at Barrow Neurological Institute. I’ve been in the Valley of the Sun ever since.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e., your education, family life, etc.).
In my day job, I am the Clinical Director of Arizona Neurorehabilitation, a program of professionals seeking to assist people who suffer from some type of neurological condition (traumatic brain injury, brain tumor resection, aneurysm rupture, etc.) to become more independent and possibly return to gainful employment. I’ve been married to my wife, Tambra, for almost 30 years. We have three grown children: Jacob, an IT Project Manager with his MBA in Oklahoma City; Sheridan, who is completing her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy this summer in Southern California; and Cadence, who has been working steadily as an actress for the past year and is about to begin a 15 month internship at the State Theatre of Virginia.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My debut novel, The Deepest Cut, just won its third major award, the 2018 Bronze medal in the Teenager category at the United Kingdom’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards.It was particularly exciting to receive such a reception in a different culture, as well as because it competed within all genres in that age category. The Deepest Cut has previously been presented the Literary Classics 2018 Gold Medal for Young Adult Science Fiction and the Independent Author Network’s Best Science Fiction of 2018!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Back in May, 2013, my son Jacob came to keep me company while I was recovering from surgery for prostate cancer. Passing time in the hospital room, he described an idea he had been developing in his mind for a novel. Then he asked me if I had any ideas for an interesting story. I did. Jacob asked follow-up questions that prompted me to develop the story further, and with the surgeon mandating two weeks of recovery at home, I had the time to actually begin writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until 2017. Having thought through a general story arc,I had diligently spent most of my Saturdaysover those four years writing, until it finally occurred to me that I should actually consider publishing the story. I felt that I could call myself a writer when I finally held an actual book in my hands in October of that year.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, the whole thing started in The Womb. “Uh?” you say? Well, I wastrying to distract myself from the pain of grinding up a hot Arizona mountainsideunder a 70-pound pack during a Boy Scout trek with my son.Thinking that perhaps my situation was God punishing me for some recent transgression (perhaps I was a little dehydrated at the time), my thoughts shifted to how some in psychology characterize God as a big Skinner-box in the sky, referencing the famous behavioral psychologist’s work as a paradigm for divine intervention. Such theological ruminating is much too heady for me, but it got me to thinking: How would someone create a futuristic Skinner-box? I thought of a room that responded to the occupant, not only changing the temperature and lighting, but also colors and smells, even the firmness of the floor.In my mind I dubbed it, that’s right, The Womb. But what would be the purpose of such a room? What kind of society would need such a place? And so, the world building focused on the question of how the future would need to evolve for there to be a society that would seek to shape human behavior in such a manner, to have access to subjects to mold to their purposes, and to explain what those purposes would be.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title to the series, Driven to the Hilt, references the idea that the main character, Joshua, is driven to the very limits of his abilities (the hilt) to survive all of what life is propelling at him.The Deepest Cut more specifically echoes the major loses Joshua endures during that first volume. The titles for the two subsequent books, Forging the Blade and Tempered Steel, obviously contain the general knife motif, but also reference the act of creating an edged weapon, which is a developing subplot where hidden observers seem intent upon turning Joshua into some type of weapon to be used for unknown purposes. Finally, there is the involvement of a shadowy organization known as the Black Daggers.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Actually, I include different visual elements to convey additional information within the printed word. A primary manifestation of what I have labeledDynamic Formatting is the addition of spaces as a substitute for lapsing time, such that the more spaces, the longer the pause in phrasing. This is almost always done in dialogue, both during conversations and character’s internal thinking. To my eye (and internal ear), the resulting rhythm helps further describe the exchange and more completely present the characters.Dynamic Formatting also uses multiple fonts. I am not the first writer to do this but based upon my own reading, I use this device more extensively than other authors. So, the base font is Times New Roman, (which includes all of Joshua’s speaking and thoughts), but Franklin Gothic Book is used for dialogue by minor characters. I chose other specific fonts for major characters, aiming to enhancing character presentation while also maintaining readability. By alternating fonts, dialogue identification phrases can be eliminated (e.g., he replied, she said, George answered, etc.), speeding things up for the reader and creating a more natural flow in the verbal exchanges. A space between paragraphs indicates an in-chapter change in character point of view. Finally, I occasionally use spacing to create a dramatic effect.
As for the second half of your question – Females are the most challenging. Early on, I received feedback that many of the females in my story were very one dimensional and not very interesting. This was a horrible thing to hear, mostly because it was true. I have since worked very hard on making the girls and women I create to have varied personality and motivations. My efforts to improve havecertainly been helped by havingfeedback from my two daughters and my wife, who is a professional actress and director and is quite capable of articulating refined aspects of character. Now I feel that there are strong male and female characters within the story who come across as real, flawed but striving to overcome their weaknesses. I hope they are engaging for all readers, regardless of gender or age.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Actually, there have been two times where I experienced what Joshua describes as “slowtime.” Nowunlike Joshua, I can’t produce it on demand, but I did have the experience of time seeming to slow as I faced life threatening situations on the highway, so it is a very real phenomenon to me.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, not specifically. But in a general sense, my descriptions of The Swamp were informed by being in the wilderness throughout the Boy Scout experience, both my own and with my son. We backpacked many miles of mountain and desert trails throughoutArizona, explored Yosemite, the Pine River in Colorado, the Lost Coast of Northern California, Philmont High Adventure, among many. Several trips to Hawaii also provided first-hand exposure to a tropical ecosystem. And, of course, I’ve traveled to many fantastic places in my mind through my reading of science fiction.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Well, initially my daughter Sheridan had a fabulous idea for a cover. Unfortunately, she began graduate school shortly thereafter and was unable to create her vision. Sadly, I was not up to the task. So, we turned to Ebook Launch.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I am hoping readers will gain an enhanced appreciation for the importance of taking conscious control of their own decisions. In my work as a psychologist, I see that many problems arise when people passively allow the world to act upon them, convinced they have no choice but to endure whatever life brings. It would be wonderful if a reader took heart from Joshua’s example and became “resolute,” assuming active control in whatever way they can to create positive changes in their life.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I am having a hard time putting a finger on a single writer who stands out above all others, either new or old. I will say that I was greatly impacted when I read Shogun many years ago. I was as shocked and dismayed as James Clavell’s main character when a samurai chopped off the head of a villager who was too slow to bow his head. Through his nuanced depiction of feudal Japan in the 1600s, I experienced an epiphany two thirds into the book when I realized I understood the reasons behind that samurai’s brutal behavior at the beginning of the story.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I have had a variety of friends who have been very supportive, a buddy from graduate school, a couple with a child who shared common interests with our children, and people who I know in more of a professional capacity.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Not really. For my own sense of closure, I am committed to completing my original story arc for the first book, which I now estimate will take five novels. I am hopeful that having received multiple awards for the first book will help it stand out from the deluge of independent publishing out there.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Well, a number of people were a bit miffed about the cliff hanger ending of Tempered Steel, although they admit the cliff is not that high and they are just eager to read what happens next. I consider that a success,so I suppose that means no, I would not change it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. For me, I was surprized to find that the characters have developed their own voices. I was even more surprized that their voices can change in unexpected ways. For example, the ending of Tempered Steelshifted in a new direction as it developed. Now, based upon what happened, I find that previously written dialogue does not always have the right tone. What has happened has changed them and the way they think and talk. Say, who’s in charge around here anyway?
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Ah well, given that Joshua is around eleven during The Deepest Cut, it would have to be an unknown child actor. So I’ll just have to leave it up to the director to choose.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
As my father used to say, “You can’t catch fish if you don’t have a hook in the water.” Relative to writing, that translates in my mind to: start writing. Don’t wait until it is all fully formed and ready to be read. Start writing and find some trusted beta readers and work on your craft.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yes. I would love your feedback! I feel I am very open to outside ideas and I’m very interested in what people think. This is particularly true of Dynamic Formatting, but also any thoughts about world building, character development, just about anything actually. Please send an email to email@example.com.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Kim by Rudyard Kipling.A close friend recommended it as having parallels with the journey of my main character, Joshua.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. But my mother was an elementary school teacher, so my brothers and I were read to a lot! And as a consequence, we all began reading on our own very early in life. I do remember that during the summer of 1969, while we were living in Gunnison, Colorado (my father was taking continuing education courses), I watched the first step on the moon and became enamoured with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Many more things as I get older. I have to work at laughing more, but tears just come more easily nowadays.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Well, of course, historical people come to mind, Christ, Freud (I’d have to brush up on my German), Lincoln, and so forth. But I would also like to meet many of my ancestors, ride with them a bit as they crossed the prairies, seeking a better life. What was life like back then? What made them tick?
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Most of my spare time has been occupied by writing for the past six years. Given that it cannot really be considered a vocational activity at this point, it must be a hobby. Although it is often hard work, it is also usually something I look forward to and enjoy. After all, I’m eager to find out what happens next with Joshua and his friends.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Surprisingly little these days. What’s the joke? 500 channels and nothing to watch. My wife and I are currently watching a series of DVDs on Western Civilization.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
A grilled thick Porterhouse steak (medium-rare), bread pudding right out of the oven,homemade lemon curd on buttered toast; copper with a tint of orange, vermillion, burnt umber; too many to list, really, but I’ll give you a smattering of what’s on my phone – Bobby McFerrin (My Better Half), Blue Oster Cult (The Reaper), Waylon Jennings (Come and Gone), Weather Report (Birdland), Florence + The Machine (Heartlines) and Agnes Obel (Riverside), and most of Dave Matthew’s catalogue.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Assuming I was no longer working, I’d force myself to get out and hike during nice weather, visit family and friends whenever possible, and explore some drawing / painting projects I’ve had rattling around in my skull for a few years (my second Bachelor’s degree is in Art).
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Telling familyand friends how much I love them and sharing all of my hopes and dreams for their lives going forward.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I am very fond of what was written on the stone of a character in the movie, Being There: Life is a state of mind.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I would invite people to check out https://www.driventothehilt.com/ . Also, The Deepest Cut is currently available on Kindle Unlimited for a limited time.
Amazon authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/D-G-Lamb/e/B077RHLKJP/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1