Interview With An Unpublished Author - Loke Mattsols Lundin
Welcome to my series of interviews with writers on the journey to becoming published authors. Their stories are as unique as the individual and their experiences. I'm sure we can all relate to their hopes & struggles in pursuit of their dreams.
Next on my list is Loke Lundin, aka @MxCabal to his Twitter friends. Let's see where Loke is in the process and what we can learn about this up and coming author.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Oh dear, this is always the hardest question to answer. I’m a 30-ish former tattooist and academia escapee from Sweden. Writing and art are the two great loves of my life, closely followed by books, but I am also a complete and utter nerd for anything history/religion related, as people learn the hard way when they ask me something on those topics. Online I love interacting with people, but in real life I am unfortunately terribly socially awkward, and tend to be something of a hermit. Just about the worst thing you can do to me is to put me in a super crowded place and tell me to go talk to people. I also swear like a sailor, often find myself adopted by little old ladies, and have a bad habit of accidentally writing English with Swedish grammar.
2. When did you decide to become a writer?
I’m not entirely sure it was ever a conscious decision, to be honest. I’ve always been writing, ever since I was a kid. As far as I remember I spent more time in class writing little stories or jotting down ideas than I did taking notes. But everyone around me were always very quick to point out that being a writer just wasn’t realistic, no matter how much it made sense to me or how badly I wanted it. So it’s not really until now, when I’m in my thirties that I’ve gathered enough courage to actually go for it, and not just dream about it.
3. Are you using a pen name and why?
I’m not using a pen name, no. I did consider it, but in the end, I want to go by my real name because it would mean the world to my parents, neither of whom really had a chance to take these sorts of chances, to be able to see our surname on the cover of a book. Maybe I will if I decide to write in an additional genre, to avoid confusing people who thought they bought a fantasy book but got a thriller.
4. What should people know about you?
As a writer? Hm. Well, I’m neither cis nor straight, live with both chronic and mental illness and have been an activist and advocate for lgbtq+ and mental health issues since my teens - and I use these experiences and themes frequently in my writing. I believe in tackling heavy subjects in as honest and realistic a way as I can, without exaggerating or shying away from it, and I really try to make sure that there is accurate representation of groups/experiences. If I get something wrong, I own up to it and educate myself. Feedback is my favourite thing in the world, because it teaches you so much about your own writing.
Of course, living with the physical/mental health problems that I do, it means my writing process and work capacity looks a little different, and that I don’t always have the ability to interact or promote myself the way I wish I could. But I always try to interact as much as I can, and be open about what’s going on because I believe it’s important to not just share the victories and hide the other stuff. We’re all just people, after all.
5. What inspired you to begin your current project?
A Song of Crows came about when I was working on my MA thesis in History of Religions, which I wrote on neo-pagan movements. So I was reading a lot about paganism for school, and then some more history related stuff in my free time, because I’m a huge nerd - mainly Scandinavian Viking era/early medieval Europe - and I had some little fragments of something swirling around in my head. I had this mood, that I could really feel very strongly, and this feeling of something that had to do with massive mountain ranges, old forests, stormy seas. Flocks of corvids, big battles, huge religious ceremonies - that kind of thing. So it started out really vague, and then one evening, two songs came up after each other in one of my playlists, “Lyke Wake Dirge” by Steeleye Span, and “Selig” by Helium Vola, - and there it was. The first scene basically just slammed itself into my head, I wrote it down as fast as I could, and then I just had to try and go with it from there. Originally, this story was written as a fanfic, and I think it was somewhere around the tenth chapter that I really felt that this story could actually work on its own, and began planning for the process of disconnecting it from fandom and making it an original story. It’s not going to just be scrubbed, but is being re-worked completely.
6. How’s the process going?
It’s going pretty well at the moment. I had to go on hiatus for nearly a year to focus on my mental health, and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find that mood again, or the right pacing, and so on. But as it stands now, I’m three chapters away from a completed first draft, and I’ve already got some chapters in the hands of alpha readers, just to get a few fresh views on it as it looks right now, which is going to help me a lot when I get to start editing.
7. Do you have an estimated date of completion?
No, I’ve stressed myself out very badly with deadlines on this already, and with my current life situation I would have a very hard time meeting that deadline. But I feel pretty confident that I’ll be neck deep in editing before fall since I write pretty fast when I sit down and get to work. So I’m feeling pretty good about my chances to complete the draft before the end of the year.
8. Do you plan to self-publish or query for traditional publishing and why?
I’m going to try to go the traditional route, even though I find the querying process absolutely mortifying, because it feels like a more secure and structured way of going about it. It will be less things for me to juggle, which is a very strong argument it itself since I have limited resources in terms of energy and health. But self-publishing is definitely an option! I’m going to sit down and get some more opinions on both alternatives before I make any final decisions.
9. What is your goal as a writer?
To have written a book that someone found something in that resonated in them. Be it a character they could relate to, a part of a storyline that made them think/feel something, or just a sentence that stayed with them. I don’t know if that sounds terribly pretentious of me, but basically, I just want to know that someone somewhere read what I wrote and felt seen and heard.
10. What is your goal for this book?
To get it printed. I honestly don’t allow myself to think further than that right now. If I get to see this book in print, then I have succeeded beyond what I ever dared hope for when first starting out. Oh, and for me to get to also write part 2 and 3 of the story, since this is a trilogy.
11. Any advice for your fellow writers trying to survive their first book?
Just keep writing. I know, I know, it’s the most frustrating advice ever. But honestly, just keep at it. Find a way that works for you, and stick to it. I can’t write every day, sometimes I can’t sit down and write for an entire week or two, because that’s how my life is, but I still write. If all you get written in a day is five words, then that’s still five more words than you had yesterday. It still counts. It always counts. And it adds up just as much as the 2k word writing sessions. And don’t listen to all the self-proclaimed experts giving out writing advice left, right and centre. Don’t worry about the adverbs and the em-dashes and the POV’s and the whatnot. Your voice is your voice - don’t let other people decide what it should sound like before you can find it for yourself.
Oh, and two more things: remember that a first draft doesn’t need to be good, it just need to exist; it’s the skeleton of the story, not the final product. And remember that writer’s block means your brain is exhausted. Take a day off, go on an adventure, see other things, do silly little writing prompts. It’ll go away eventually. And then you just keep writing.
I'd like to thank Loke for being my guest this week. You can find him on the following links:
Patreon link: https://www.patreon.com/lokelundin
Story link: https://archiveofourown.org/works/6863551 (fanfiction format)
---------- Music links ------------
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75YFXV0Q5X8 (Lyke Wake Dirge - Steeleye Span)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_OJpblQ2SU (Selig - Helium Vola)