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Lucy Turns Pages: Author Interview: Alan K. Dell, Science Fiction Author

Author Interview: Alan K. Dell, Science Fiction Author

1. Please introduce yourself (who are you, what genre/s do you write in, what books do you have out)

Hi there, my name’s Alan and I write sci-fi in a variety of subgenres. My current titles are all in my Augment Saga universe. There’s The Re-Emergence, which is a space opera and prequel novella. Then there’s From the Grave of the Gods, which is the first full-length novel in the series and is a contemporary/near-future hard sci-fi.
2. What are your favourite books?

I absolutely love the books of The Shadeward Saga by Drew Wagar, they’re a masterful blend of sci-fi and fantasy in a style that’s been likened to Anne McCaffrey. Fantastic concept and characters, and the whole thing runs very high emotionally. I could not recommend them enough! More recently, I have found a great love for Ursula K. Le Guin’s work as well, and A Wizard of Earthsea I think tops the list for me in an immense body of work. I also really enjoyed Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time. So I think those really represent my top three.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an author?

It wasn’t so much that I realised I wanted to be an author, as I realised after ten or more years, that I really needed to get this story (the Augment Saga) out of my head. I could have written it all and never told a soul, but somewhere along the way of doing the artwork and all that worldbuilding etc… I decided it needed to be published as well. And so I kind of feel like I slipped into becoming an author.

4. What is your favourite part of the writing process? What is your least favourite and how do you get through it?

I think my favourite part is the worldbuilding. It’s a lot of fun to come up with a vision for the future and the ways in which the world in my stories has changed from the present day. My least favourite part is definitely when I’ve had to do any substantial re-writing. With one of the things I’m working on now, I had to write back in someone I had killed off in an earlier draft and that was not fun! Smaller aspects of editing I’m fine with, but when something requires a major rework, it can be a challenge for me to keep a grasp of it all.

5. What is your writing routine?

I don’t really have one. I try and write when I can/when I feel up to it. Sometimes I might write multiple days in a row, sometimes I won’t touch it for a week. Depends how I’m feeling, and whether I got stuck on a scene or not. If I did get stuck I’ll have to take a few days to think it out. But I’m not really able to devote a specific time or amount of hours to writing regularly, though I do try for after the kids have gone to bed. I do like to listen to music when I write – instrumentals and videogame soundtracks mostly – as I find it helps me focus.

6. How do you balance writing (and everything else to do with it) with the rest of your life?

Balance would be nice, but I just try to get writing in when I can. Between work, spending time with the kids, or engaging my other hobbies, it can be difficult to fit writing in there as well.

7. What inspires you? How do you beat writers block?

It depends on my mood, but I’m inspired by a few different things. Artwork is a major one: if I see a particularly excellent book cover, for instance, it’ll inspire me to get back to my own WIP. I’ve also recently bought an artbook of John Harris’s SF paintings. The man is a phenomenal atmospheric artist and his work really gets the creative juices flowing. Another one is reading, especially if the prose is excellent; Le Guin is a prime example. Every so often I’ll crave another hit of her prose, and the way she constructs her writing is inspiring.

Beating writer’s block is a different thing altogether. I watched Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on YouTube and he suggests to just write through the block, and it’ll sort of jumpstart the creativity again. It’s something I’ve tried to some success. You have to be careful with that sort of thing though: if the blockage is something to do with how a scene will play out, then yeah writing through it can help unblock things. But I’d be wary of advising someone who is blocked because of stress or burnout to soldier on. That wouldn’t be healthy. You need to take breaks too. It depends on the situation, there’s no magic formula for getting unstuck. I’ve done both tactics for different circumstances.

8. How do you keep consistent/write a lot?

I’m not consistent at all! But I keep going through sheer determination. I’m a great one for starting projects, getting bored when I reach a certain point (where my brain *feels* like I’ve “completed” the task to an acceptable degree) and losing interest altogether. I really, really don’t want that to happen with writing. I’m terrified I’ll totally lose interest in writing before I complete my series. Thankfully, this project engages a lot of my interests – I create my own cover artwork and supplementary stuff, I do all the graphic design, typesetting etc… I love all that stuff. So if I find one aspect getting tedious, I can do another aspect quite happily. I’m hoping that’s set me up for the long-term.

9. Does anyone read or edit your work before publication? If so, how did you find them?

Yes! First of all, I often turn to my wife for help with certain things – spotting plot holes or inconsistencies, mainly – and when I’ve got a clean draft, I get in contact with a couple of friends and family who will beta read for me. I reached out to another writer for help with my first novel and his insight was invaluable. I had From the Grave of the Gods sent off to a professional editor (Charlie Wilson from Landmark Editorial) when the beta feedback had been implemented. But I used what I learned from the editor on that book to self-edit The Re-Emergence.

It’s still a learning process for me, so I’m not sure what I’ll do yet when my next book reaches that stage.

10. Can we have a sneaky look at your future plans?

Absolutely. I recently did a cover reveal for my next book in the series, The Flight of the Aurora, which is another novella meant to bridge the gap between the first novel and upcoming second. You can see that here on my blog: I’m hoping to get that out by the middle of this year, subject to change of course. It still needs editing, beta reading, editing some more, typesetting and all that. So, we’ll see.

In the longer-term, I’m also working on the second novel titled, The Shadow of Arcadia. I was hoping it would also be this year, but that’s looking a bit iffy at the moment.

11. Finally, what advice would you give to other writers (inspiring, those publishing and those published)?

Write on. Write for yourself. Write what you would want to read. And don’t be ashamed of taking the breaks you need.


Website & blog:




The Re-Emergence:

From the Grave of the Gods:

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