Today I'd like welcome Lucas Aubrey Paynter, author of "Outcasts of the Worlds" to the Thursday interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Lucas Aubrey Paynter holds a Creative Writing degree from California State University Northridge—which looks really good when one talks about how they want to write for a living. A fan of engaging storytelling in any medium, he spent years developing the worlds, characters and conflicts that Flynn and his company encounter, before settling at his desk and writing Outcasts of the Worlds, the first part of a much larger tale to come. Currently residing with his wife in Burbank, California, Lucas enjoys reading in a variety of formats, potentially over analyzing character motivations and arcs, and the occasional good, stiff drink.
OK - HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
The word "save" technically depends on the context. Save from what? As I'm dealing with something more in the epic adventure setting I'll assume that we're talking about moral peril, and that would be an easy yes. I've gotten myself in a little hot water in the past for acting on a loved one's behalf (and learned I couldn't throw a decent punch at the time in the process :-p) so it's fairly in character for me to engage in a little well-meaning brashness.
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
It's more of a value of life question; being alive (as I'm sure I'm not the first to suggest) is going through the motions to survive, while truly living makes being alive (as in, those motions to survive) worth doing. You can do one without the other for a little while, but I don't think any human being can function properly on just one indefinitely unless they lack something in their character that should make them complete. I see the two as an interlinking idea, a sort of yin-yang thing, if you will.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
The assurance that if I don't, I'll accomplish nothing and my life will be an empty slate that no one will remember. I know that sounds morbid, but that's actually it. I do like writing. I like making things up more, since they're perfect in my head and trying to lock things together is terrible at times. But I had a point years back where my goals seemed much farther off and I considered letting go of them and I instantly hated where that thought took me. So whenever I know I need to write some more, I just think back to such thoughts and let that carry me through.
No.4 Why do humans want children?
My first response would be to say that we're biologically wired for it, even if that wiring doesn't always kick in or function properly. But if we're going to talk intellectually, it's probably because they're our best shot to leave something behind of ourselves, for good or for ill. It's not about making the world a better place necessarily, but making the kind of world that we think is a better placed based on self-serving points of view. It's why there will be parents out there who shelter their kids from foreign and potentially harmful ideas, because those are the ideas their world-view does not want to see reproduced.
Of course, I think that's more the subconscious idea than the conscious one. Aside from that, I think a share of us just do it or think about it or want to do it because it's expected of us. It's something we're told we do when we grow up, and if it hasn't made us grown up than it's a reminder that we haven't yet, we're getting overdue and time isn't going to slow down and wait for us.
So basically there's no one answer. :-p
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "Outcasts of the Worlds" ?
Having never written a book before, I had no idea how word count translated to page count, nor did I give it any thought until I was working on the tenth or eleventh chapter of the book. Where I thought I had a reasonable plan, I had found I'd written something much meatier than I ever realized!
For a brief while, I struggled with the idea of removing major characters or trimming events to get to the big set pieces better, but only found that doing so would gut the story of its heart and soul. Instead, I ended up looking ahead to where I thought Outcasts would end and where it could and the tales that would follow. The bright side was that the change of pace shortened my finish date by a considerable margin. I'd expected to work through the summer and into next January before I was done, but I finished writing Outcasts of the Worlds after holing up through July and August!
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
I'm just going to Douglas Adams it and say "Don't panic." This really is the best advice you'll ever hear, and it's helped me in a fair share of rough situations and allowed me to be responsible for my actions in most every situation I've gone through. This isn't to say I haven't done my share of stupid things, but at least I know I was doing them when I did them because some part of my brain remained calm enough to analyse the situation and decide a response instead of just flailing around helplessly.
A little detachment is perfectly healthy in my opinion, just be careful not to overdo it.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "Outcasts of the Worlds" ?
This took me a while, and I didn't actually settle on this title until halfway through the story. For the longest time, the big question is "what is the book about," which is not to say I didn't know, but rather I had trouble deciding if the title should reflect the "big" plot of the story as the intro to a larger epic, or some specific element contained therein.
What mattered most to me, particularly with Outcasts (where the larger scale plot doesn't come up until the time is right) was the characters, and when I considered the themes and settings and asked what they have in common, I realized that they were all Outcasts. Of the Worlds. But you probably came to that same conclusion by now.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
I think I internalize it more than is healthy, but I always make a point of maintaining my composure and not freaking out. Once my mind has stopped screaming "what do you mean it's not perfect?!" I do try to take any critique offered in earnest to heart. Publishing Outcasts has been no exception, though it's at least a case where I'm aware of most of the problems the story may be perceived to have (some of it being subject to taste and priorities) and I've been able to brace myself for any negative response to date (which largely hasn't been too negative, at least).
No.9 Why should people read your book?
If you're looking for something in the realm of unconventional fantasy with sci-fi elements, if you like distinct characters and ensemble casts, shifting and varied locales and survival and introspection and self-examination, there may be something for you in Outcasts of the Worlds, and I hope you'll give it a chance.
The only people I'd probably caution against this book (in the interest of fairness) are folks that want a story that's entirely self-contained. While there's a definite state of change and development from where the book begins and where it ends, the larger plot does not resolve so much as it hits turning points. In the danger of evoking a far more revered author than myself, this is Fellowship of the Ring...ish. There's still a bunch of towers and other things to go before we hit Return of the King.
But if you're game and you like grand scale things, I hope to see you there.
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Usually when I try to solve this one, my mind comes back to a big empty field of white. Basically, a clean sheet of paper, when even the blackness of space exists as more of a color to me because I associate it with being something. Beyond that, I don't really have an answer and I'm reluctant to assume anyone else out there does. I don't like dismissing the notion of a higher power, but nor do I subscribe to the notion that they have much interest in us or our collective well-being.
This may be reflected a little in my literary work. Maybe a little.
Thanks Lucas for taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out his book "Outcasts of the Worlds" on
Beyond the remnants of Earth lie many worlds, connected by pathways forgotten and invisible. They were left by the gods and have been found by Flynn.
A confidence man. A liar. A monster. Flynn has seen himself for what he really is and has resolved to pay for everything. Even if it means spending the rest of his days locked in Civilis, a tower prison for society's unwanted - "half-humans" gifted by the fallout of nuclear holocaust centuries past.
Jean, a prisoner in the neighboring cell, has different ideas and despite himself, Flynn finds himself joining her daring escape. After rescuing her friend Mack, the three flee Civilis as Flynn pieces together the hours before his capture and finds himself drawn to an abandoned facility where a rift to another world opens at his nearing.
Together they will venture farther beyond the stars than humanity ever imagined, find others like them that will never belong, and tangle with forces both ancient and immortal. They stand alone, hated and scorned - and the last hope of making things right in a cosmos gone terribly wrong.