Interview with David Lundgren: 'Publicity is surely the key to being successful as an author'

David Lundgren was born in “a pokey town in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia)” and spent the first 18 years of his life there. He grew up in an environment “that seemed to combine the best elements of both an American and English heritage with a hybrid African lifestyle.” Lundgren is also a musician, which gave him the creative spark to create the Melforger series. He spends his time in San Francisco “teaching, enjoying frequent – and often frustrating – games of tennis, trying to learn the blues on piano, attacking Sudoku puzzles with relish, and attempting to make some headway with the ever-increasing pile of books that is waiting patiently at my bedside, developing its own gravity.”

His latest book is the fantasy/science fiction, Rhapsody.
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About the Book:

In RHAPSODY, the Forest has been completely healed and the battles of Books I and II are over, but a corrosive blackness that has been haunting Raf still seems to be growing in strength. They return to Miern to stop a traitor from assuming control of the city, but find themselves caught up in a deadly plot as they race against time to stop a dark and horrific power being unleashed on them all.

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  • Rhapsody is available at Amazon.
  • Read the first chapter here.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, David.  Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Rhapsody?

A: Rhapsody is the final book in The Melforger Chronicles, which is a trilogy I started writing in school a long time ago. I say ‘started writing’ yet it was more keeping record of the hodgepodge of ideas for plot and characters that struck me at inopportune times (most seem to be scribbled on the back of math worksheets, I’ve noticed). Well over a decade later I finally sat down to tie up the hundreds of mad jottings, and the first book, Melforger, was born in 2012. The second, Disharmony, closely followed. And Rhapsody is the thrilling (hopefully) conclusion to the story.

Q: How did you choose your title and was it your first choice?

A: All three book titles have an association with music in some way (an element that’s integral to the story). Melforger is from the old root word for music, ‘mel’, Disharmony is obvious, and then Rhapsody itself. Apart from being a perfect description of the protagonist’s connection with music, I think rhapsody is a beautiful sounding word, and the third book is really quite dark and sinister in parts; I loved the contrast of the two.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author.  What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

A: Publicity is surely the key to being successful as an author. The greatest challenge – particularly in this new era of technology and social media - is to figure out how to be resourceful in getting your story in front of potential readers, vying with the millions of other titles out there. With the Young Adult genre, word of mouth is invaluable, and my publicist is helping to boost the book’s presence online as much as possible (online tours, radio interviews, etc.) to try to break into some young - and enthusiastic! - circles. Having worked in the past as a teacher, I’ve also delivered creative writing workshops at schools both in California and Zimbabwe (a natural pairing), and not only have I had the opportunity within these to talk about my books to my target audience, but I’ve also been fortunate in having Melforger taken on as a class reader.

Q: Open to a random page in your book.  Can you tell us what is happening?

A: Raf, a sixteen year old forester boy, is traveling with his friend, Cisco, and the ousted ruler of Miern. Unfortunately, their guide, a rather weird caver (who has offered to take them back to the city, but who they suspect has dubious motives), has crashed their desert wagon and they are now stranded in a thoroughly hostile wasteland with almost certain death awaiting them. Without wanting to give away too much, Raf attempts to use his ‘talent’ on a whim, closing his eyes and using his abilities as a melforger to try to save them. Pretty exciting stuff. A great page to open to!

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Not in this trilogy. But definitely new stories, yes! I love the Young Adult genre and find it a creative and boundless world to work in. It also has some of the most enthusiastic and loyal fans out there who are always hungry for new, original material.

Q: What is the one thing you learned about your book AFTER it was published?

A: That a book takes on a life of its own, somehow. People think differently and extract different experiences from reading it, see it in different ways, view it from different angles, like it for completely different reasons - some of which take you by surprise.

Q: What is your most favorite time of the day or night to write?

A: Absolutely the night. I’ve found most of those lucky patches - those veins of writing where you feel it flowing – in the late evenings. For some reason, that’s when my brain works best.

Q: What is usually better – the book or the movie?

A: Almost always the book. There are some things that are very difficult to imagine in detail without seeing them (or an interpretation of them, at least) in a big visual format (think Avatar, Lord of the Rings), while in other ways, books give you, the reader, scope to flesh out the story in your own mind which I think is often a more engaging and satisfying experience. With books where the character’s perspective is really important, where you’re in their head a lot of the time and hear their voice and personality (think Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Fault in our Stars), movies can really struggle to capture that (there’s only so much voice-over accompaniment you can take) and possibly end up becoming quite anaemic.

Q:  You’re about to write your next book.  What did you learn from your previous book to help you write your next book?

A: Plan everything meticulously in advance! I’m no longer afraid to smother my writing area in copious timelines and charts and sketches and sub-plots (and have developed a domestic treaty by which I wash dishes and vacuum in return for occupying the walls).

Q: Finally, what’s your best tip you can give to writers who want to be published?

A: Start building a network of readers NOW on various social media platforms. If you can gather a tribe of evangelists who love your writing and will happily and enthusiastically spread the word to everyone they know, you’ve won half the game already. Almost the first question from any publisher’s mouth will be exploring what platform you have already, what you can bring to the table in terms of audience and exposure, how you can help them sell your book.
Q: Thank you for your interview, David.  Do you have any final words?

A: Happy reading! I hope you enjoy reading the Melforger trilogy as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thanks for your time.

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