Oct 27, 2018
Author Mark Barrowcliffe (also known under his pen names MD Lachlan and Mark Alder) joins us in this episode.
Mark tells us about his first loves in sf, including Alan Garner, Ursula K Le Guin's Earthsea series, Tolkien, Moorcock, and Andre Norton. He talks about his enjoyment of Tolkien and Garner injecting mythology into their fantasy, and Moorcock's ability to challenge his readers by posing difficult questions.
When discussing his own writing, Mark reflects on the exhilaration of letting his characters tell their own story, and how this helps when writing characters that come from different backgrounds than his own. He also shares his thoughts on how his experiences practicing boxing, martial arts and fencing give him insight into the scariness of fighting, and how youthful experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs provided inspiration for writing the unreality of a werewolf's state of mind. And he talks about using the trappings of fantasy in storytelling without descending into escapism, and why it's important to refuse to impose modern sensibilities on characters from other periods in history.
We talk at length about his latest — and final — instalment in the Wolfsangel series, The Night Lies Bleeding. He discusses the difficulties of writing a story set partially in a Nazi concentration camp, his research into some of the prisoners who were kept there, and the story's exploration of the problems faced by characters who try to maintain a distance from the world, and who descend into evil.
We also chat about Mark's experiences with Dungeons & Dragons: from his teenaged years dealing with trolls both in and out of the game's quests, dressing for the part, his ruminations on that period of his life in his book The Elfish Gene, and returning to roleplaying years later.
And Mark gives us some hints about the latest story he's working on: a swashbuckling fantasy about a female fencer in the court of Versailles, inspired by the adventures of a real woman known for her duelling victories and romances.
Our interview took place in June 2018 via a Skype connection between Mark's home in Brighton, UK, and my studios in the Lair of bloginhood, currently located in a century-old, unused plantation irrigation tunnel in a mountain on Kauai.
You can find Mark's books under his various pen names at your local bookstore.